The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is calling on the government to address issues with the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC).
The HICBC is designed to claw back child benefit where the claimant or their partner earns in excess of £50,000. According to LITRG some households think making a child benefit claim is not worthwhile if it will be clawed back in full via the tax charge, with the added administrative burden of needing to complete a tax return. LITRG warns that this trend will have unforeseen consequences for the lower-earning partner and for the child.
LITRG is calling for the Government to reconsider the £50,000 threshold at which the HICBC starts to apply, if it is retained in its current form.
Victoria Todd, Head of LITRG Team, said:
'Despite its name, the high income child benefit charge can have consequences for the lower earner in a couple even though the liability to the tax charge falls to the higher earner. This is because where the tax charge applies a household may decide, quite understandably, not to claim child benefit at all. But this means that the lower earning individual may miss out on National Insurance credits, due for the first 12 years, which help to build entitlement towards a state pension.
'The Government's solution is to allow couples to claim child benefit regardless and, if they wish to avoid the charge, they can choose not to receive payments – but this is not widely known and to many, claiming and receiving a benefit are the same thing.
'This is a problem which is affecting an increasing number of families because the £50,000 threshold has remained static since the charge was introduced in 2013. At that time, the HICBC was intended to affect only the top 10 percent of earners, but each year the proportion of those affected increases as wages rise. LITRG recommends that the next Government considers uprating the £50,000 threshold, just like some other tax thresholds and allowances, to minimise the adverse consequences for those families it affects and ensure the policy works in the way originally intended.'
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