PARENTS whose teens are staying on in education after getting their GCSE’s this week need to tell HMRC or risk losing up to £1,067 a year in child benefit.
All parents earning less than £50,000 are eligible to claim this amount for their first child, while they get £712.40 a year for any additional children.
Once one parent earns more than £60,000, any child benefit is wiped out by what’s known as the “high income child benefit charge”, while those earning between £50,000 and £60,000 get a reduced amount depending on their income.
But child benefit payments automatically stop on the August 31 on or after your child turns 16, which is next month for those getting GCSE results this week.
That’s because the government assumes that at this age they’re old enough to get a job and pay their own way.
If, however, they’re staying in full time education at school or college or going onto an “approved” training or apprenticeship scheme, then their child benefit can continue.
What is 'approved education'?
HERE'S what counts as approved education for children aged 16 up until 19:
Education must be full-time – more than an average of 12 hours a week supervised study or course-related work experience – and can include:
- A levels or similar, for example Pre-U, International Baccalaureate
- Scottish Highers
- NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
- home education – if started before your child turned 16
- traineeships in England
Courses are not approved if paid for by an employer or “advanced”, for example a university degree or BTEC Higher National Certificate.
Approved training should be unpaid and can include:
- Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships in Wales
- Employability Fund programmes in Scotland
- United Youth Pilot (if started before June 1, 2017), PEACE IV Children and Young People 2.1 or Training for Success in Northern Ireland
Courses that are part of a job contract are not approved.
And kids can carry on getting this up to the age of 19.
So if this is the case, and we’ve detailed more on “approved” education in the box above, then you need to tell HMRC before August 31.
Affected parents and guardians should have been sent a form to complete, so you can fill this out and send it back.
If you’ve lost it, then you can fill one out online if you you first create a Personal Tax Account.
The latest figures from HMRC reveal around 200,000 parents still need to get in touch.
Last year, 29 per cent of parents missed out.
We’ve asked HMRC what happens if a parent missed the August 31 deadline and we’ll update this story as soon as we get a response.
If you’ve already sent back your form but things have since changed, call HMRC on 0300 200 3100.
When your child leaves approved education or training or turns 19, payments will stop at whichever comes first comes first of the end of February, May 31, August 31 or November 30.
Can I claim child benefit?
YOU can claim child benefit if you’re responsible for one or more children under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training).
You get £20.70 a week for your eldest or only child, and then £13.70 a week per child for any additional children.
You may have to pay a tax charge if you (or your partner’s individual income is over £50,000. This is known as the ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’.
Angela MacDonald, director general for customer services at HMRC said: “As parents and students look forward to results day, we’re encouraging them to meet the August 31 deadline and notify us of their children’s plans after their GCSEs.
“Letting HMRC know will ensure that Child Benefit payments continue.”
More on parenting
To help you out, we’ve rounded-up how to check if you are eligible for child benefit and how to apply.
The Sun revealed last year that hundreds of thousands of families were to receive letters chasing thousands in child benefit tax charges – although the government later U-turned on this.
We’ve also warned how a mum-of-two nearly missed out on £8,550 a year in state pension due to a child benefit error.
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