23 October 2012
Posted by Lisa Wood
Once your baby has arrived, you can send off your claim for Child Benefit. However new rules come into force from January 2013 which mean that the previously universal benefit is now subject to an upper income threshold and not all families will be entitled.
If you meet the income criteria then you should be able to claim Child Benefit for your child or children if they are either:
- > under 16 years old,
- > between 16-20 and in eligible further education or
- > under 18 and registered for work with a careers service e.g. Connexions or Ministry of Defence
Only one person responsible for a child can claim Child Benefit for that child, including those who are fostering or adopting. However, the same parent/carer doesn’t have to claim for all children even if they live in the same home. If you have more than one child eligible and they live in separate homes then they can be claimed for by the same person but certain rules apply.
How much and how often?
Child Benefit is a tax-free benefit paid every four weeks. For three years from April 2011 the rate has been capped at £20.30 per week for your first child and £13.40 per week for each of your other children.
How to claim
You can get a form for Child Benefit from the 'Bounty' pack that you receive in hospital after the birth. Or you can fill in a form online and print it out from here. You'll need the original birth certificate for your baby which has to be sent along with your claim form. Find out more about how to get a birth certificate whilst registering your baby.
Child Benefit cannot be backdated more than three months so you need to make sure you get your claim in as soon as possible after your baby's birth.
New rules from 2013
The new rules for eligibility to Child Benefit, announced in the budget earlier in 2012 are due to come into effect from 7th January 2013.
Subject to the usual rules of eligibility, the benefit will still be paid out in the first instance but for families where one person earns over £50,000 the benefit will be reclaimed through a new income tax charge on that person. In effect, one parent could claim and still receive the benefit but it will be paid back via this tax charge from the higher earner’s income.
Rather than an instant removal of all of the benefit at the £50k threshold, there will be a slow tapering so for every £100 above earned above £50k Child Benefit will be paid back at 1%. This means that regardless of how many children you are claiming for, by the time the income reaches £60,000 there will be no Child Benefit left.
This withdrawal process hasn't satisfied all nor resolved the earlier issue of inequality, if both parents earn just below the £50k threshold e.g. £49k per year each, which would give them a combined household income of £98,000, Child Benefit will still be paid out.
Also, single parent households with just one income but earning just over the £50k limit will also lose the benefit.
The rules around divorced and separated households are also now known, if you separate from your partner part-way through the tax year and your partner's income is over the threshold the new rules of withdrawal will apply up to the date that you split up. After that date your new circumstances will be taken into account and benefit (or a portion of it depending on your own income) may be reinstated.
The HMRC website has more info here.