Parents of new-borns are still able to claim child benefit, the universal payment for all children, although they are unable to register their baby’s birth due to the coronavirus pandemic, but remember to factor in the high income child benefit tax charge
Even though General Register Offices remain closed for now, parents can still claim child benefit without having to register their child’s birth first to ensure that they do not miss out.
First time parents will need to fill in child benefit claim form CH2 found online and send it to the child benefit Office. If they have not registered the birth because of Covid-19, they should add a note with their claim to let them know.
If they already claim child benefit, they can complete the form or add their new-born’s details over the telephone on 0300 200 3100. Applicants will need their National Insurance number or child benefit number.
Child benefit claims can be backdated by up to three months.
Payments increased from 6 April to a weekly rate of £21.05 for the first child and £13.95 for each additional child.
Only one person can claim child benefit for a child. For couples with one partner not working or paying National Insurance contributions, making the claim in their name will help protect their state pension.
Jesse Norman, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘We need people to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. Today’s change means new parents won’t miss out financially and can keep their families safe.
‘The government will do whatever it takes to support people and the NHS during this outbreak, and HMRC are working around the clock to help families and businesses across the UK.'
Angela MacDonald, director general for customer services, HMRC said: ‘It’s really important that new parents remember to register for child benefit, even during these unprecedented times.
‘The increase in child benefit is a boost for family budgets but there’s more to claiming than the payments. We’re encouraging people to claim so they don’t miss out on National Insurance credits that help protect their State Pension. It also helps children to get their National Insurance number automatically at 16.’
HMRC is reminding better off parents, who fall into the high income child benefit (HICB) charge category of the importance of claiming child benefit, even if they choose to opt out of receiving monetary benefits.
The tax charge applies to anyone with an income over £50,000, who claims child benefit or whose partner claims it. HMRC says that even if someone does have to pay the tax charge, they could still be better off by claiming child benefit - the tax is 1% of child benefit for each £100 of income over £50,000.
There is an online child benefit tax calculator to work out how tax is liable. Alternatively, individuals can opt out of receiving child benefit payments altogether when they complete the form. This means they will not have to pay the charge but will still protect their state pension.
The introduction of the HICB was controversial, with some families unaware of the need to either declare their child benefit payments when filing self assessment returns, or to opt out of the regime.
In June last year HMRC revealed it had reviewed 35,000 cases where a ‘failure to notify’ penalty had been charged and cancelled the penalties of over 6,000 taxpayers who had a reasonable excuse for not notifying their liability for the tax years 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16. Refunds were made in 4,885 cases and totalled £1.8m.