HMRC has scrapped child benefit fines - here’s how to know if you’re eligible for a refund

By Rhona Shennan
Wednesday, 19 June, 2019, 12:35
Could you be due a refund? (Photo: Shutterstock)

The HMRC is refunding 6,000 parents after child benefit penalty fines for higher earners has been scrapped.

Roughly 35,000 families were subjected to fines after they failed to register for a tax charge which had originally been introduced in 2013.

Why have they scrapped fines?

The “Failure to Notify” penalties were issued for the tax years of 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2016 and were given to those who did not register for the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC).

This was met with complaints from parents who argued that they had not been aware of the rule change.

The HMRC said, “The department will review cases for these years and issue penalty refunds if it finds the customer had a reasonable excuse for not meeting their tax obligation.”

According to the HMRC statement, a reasonable excuse is defined as something that has stopped someone from meeting a tax obligation which “they took appropriate care to meet.”

What constitutes a reasonable excuse is decided on a case by case basis.

A spokesperson for the HMRC said, “HMRC is listening to customers and stakeholders, and reviewing our approach to HICBC to ensure we are treating everyone fairly.”

What is the High Income Child Benefit Charge?

In 2012, the HMRC stated that anyone who earned more than £50,000 would be required to pay back some of their child benefit through a self assessment form.

This charge applied if you or your partner received child benefits, or if someone else received child benefits for a child that lives with you and they contribute, at minimum, the equivalent of the weekly amount of child benefit towards taking care of them.

The High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) also affected those whose wages increased to over £50,000 between 2013 and 2014.

How do I know if I can claim a refund?

This is the good news - if you’re due a refund, you don’t have to do anything.

The HMRC spokesperson said, “Customers do not need to ask for a penalty refund or contact HMRC. We will issue the refunds, where due, over the next six months.”

If you’re concerned about whether you may be eligible for a refund, or if you have a question about child benefit fines, you can phone the HRMC on 0300 200 3100.

If you decide to phone, you’ll need to have either your National Insurance number or your child benefit number to hand.

You can also appeal the decision if you are someone who hasn’t had their fine waived by the HMRC.

You can phone from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm on Saturday.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News