THE parents of around half a million 16 year olds could have their child benefit payments cancelled if they don’t act soon.
Parents and carers whose children are continuing in full-time education must let the government know before August 31 or the money will stop.
The taxman has issued an urgent warning reminding families that the deadline is now just two weeks away.
HMRC says that the rule affects around half a million families – based on the number of children that go on to full time education or training.
If you have a teenager who turned 16 this year or whose birthday is before August 31 then you will need to get in touch as soon as possible.
Families that miss the deadline will automatically lose the benefit for that child.
These payments are worth £21.15 per week if it’s the eldest child that has turned 16 or £14 per week if it’s a middle or younger child.
That means parents and carers could lose up to £1,100 next year. Over the three years until the child turns 19, you could miss out on up to £3,300.
HMRC says it has sent reminder letters to any families that are receiving Child Benefit for a child in the last year of school or home education.
Even if your child is leaving school, you might still be eligible if they go into certain forms of training, such as traineeships.
The full list of approved education includes:
- A levels or similar, for example Pre-U, International Baccalaureate
- T levels
- Scottish Highers
- NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
- Home education – if it started before your child turned 16 or after 16 if they have special needs
- Traineeships in England
- Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships in Wales
- Employability Fund programmes in Scotland
- PEACE IV Children and Young People 2.1, Training for Success, or Skills for Life and Work in Northern Ireland
Approved training needs to be unpaid and courses that are part of a job contract don’t count.
Letting the taxman know is quick and easy, so it’s well worth spending five minutes to make sure you keep your benefit.
You can either update your Child Benefit records via GOV.UK. or return the 297b form that should have been sent to you by HMRC.
Child Benefit is paid to all eligible parents or carers who are responsible for a child under 16, or under 20 if they are in full-time non-advanced education or approved training.
Only one person can get Child Benefit for each child and it’s paid every four weeks.
There’s no limit to how many children you can claim for, unlike the child elements of Universal Credit.
You’ll stop receiving Child Benefit immediately if your child:
- starts paid work for 24 hours or more a week and is no longer in approved education or training
- starts an apprenticeship in England
- starts getting certain benefits in their own right, such as Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or tax credits
If you live with a partner and either of you earn more than £50,000, you’ll have to pay some of the money back and do an annual self-assessment tax form to calculate this.
If either of you earns more than £60,000 you’ll need to pay all of the child benefit back via a tax charge.
If one or more of your children is under 12, it’s worth claiming child benefit anyway as it will mean that one partner can claim national insurance credits towards their state pension.
Filling in the child benefit form also means that your children will automatically get a national insurance number when they turn 16.
When you fill out the form, you can even tick a box on the form that registers you are eligible for it but don’t want to receive the cash. This means you can avoid having to self-assess or pay money back.
HMRC has also warned that its Post Office card accounts are closing from November 30 2021.
That means the taxman will stop making payments of Child Benefit, Guardians Allowance and tax credits into Post Office card accounts.
The government is urging Child Benefit and tax credits customers to notify HMRC of their new bank, building society or credit union account details.
It says families should act now so they do not miss any payments. You can contact HMRC’s helpline on 0345 300 3900 or use your Personal Tax Account.
What happens to child benefit if your family circumstances change
YOU need to alert the taxman to any changes in circumstances, such as if you separate or move in with a new partne.
If a family splits up, you still get £21.15 a week for the eldest child.
But if you have 2 children and one stays with you and the other stays with your ex-partner, you’ll both get £21.15 a week for each child.
If both children stay with one partner, you’ll get £12.15 for the eldest, but the payment for the second eldest will only be £14 per week.
You can’t both claim for the same child, and if you do, only one of you will get the payment.
If you have other children who are entitled to Child Benefit, you’ll get £14 for each child.
If two families join together, the eldest child in the new family qualifies for the £21.15 rate and any other children who are eligible will get the £14 rate.
If both partners have children who they receive child benefit for, then the person with the younger child will see their payments fall.
If either you or your partner start to earn more than £50,000 you’ll need to fill out a self-assessment form and pay back some or all of the benefit.