If you have an annual income above £50,000 and are in a couple where child benefit is claimed but you have not been paying tax on it, you have just a few days to declare it through an online self assessment form and pay the tax by 31 January.
The tax on child benefit for those on high incomes began in 2013, but tens of thousands of those who should be paying the tax have not done so. This year HM Revenue & Customs sent out 100,000 letters to people who should have paid it in 2016/17 or 2017/18 but did not.
It also announced in November that it would waive all penalties for late payment, back to 2013/14 in some cases. The High Income Child Benefit Charge – as it is officially called – is due from a person who has an income above £50,000 in a tax year – in a couple it i s the higher earner who counts if they or their partner claim child benefit.
It does not matter if the higher earner is the parent of the children or not.
So someone who moves in with a single parent and who has an income above £50,000 is liable to pay it. The tax is paid on a sliding scale between £50,000 and £60,000 and once income reaches £60,000 it is equal to 100 per cent of the Child Benefit received.
In those cases the person who gets the child benefit can cancel the child benefit.
More than 500,000 parents have chosen to do that. If your income has topped £50,000 in any tax year back to 2013/14 and you received child benefit or lived with someone who did, you should contact HMRC and register to pay it.
That will be expensive. Child benefit is £20.70 a week for the first child and £13.70 for every extra child, which is
£2,501 a year for three children. Multiply that by up to six years and the sums are very large.
Interest will be charged but penalties for late payment should be waived if your income was below £50,000 in 2012/13 and no new claim for child benefit has been made since.
For further information, go to gov.uk and search “high income child benefit”.