Child benefits: Unmarried middle-class couples facing intrusive questioning over lifestyle as Government tries to cut child benefits bill

| November 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

Anna Edwards

09:32 EST, 4 November 2012


12:12 EST, 4 November 2012

Tax officials will have the power to telephone parents and question them about their relationships as they monitor sweeping changes to the child benefits system.

As part of changes to how much parents receive in child benefits, the taxman will be able to call claimants and quiz them about the ‘stability’ of their relationship if HMRC records show anomalies.

The telephone quizzing will be part of a range of options the government can use to enforce the changes to the child benefit system, which restricts how much high earners can receive.

Tax officials could quiz unmarried parents about their relationship if they suspect anomalies in their tax returns

Tax officials could quiz unmarried parents about their relationship if they suspect anomalies in their tax returns

It comes as the Government attempts to take back millions of pounds from its child benefits bill.

Ministers say the new rules are
needed to help the deficit reduction plan – they are expected to save
the Government £1.7billion a year.

The changes will be implemented on January 7 and letters have been sent to more than 1 million households informing parents of the new system.

An existing manual which gives officers
advice on how to grill tax credit claimants suggests asking people about
how they split chores, who cooks and who pays for children’s clothes,
the newspaper reported.

Unmarried couples will face questioning
if Revenue officials suspect that there are inaccuracies in their
benefit payments, and they will be asked if they are in a relationship
with a high-earner, or whether the person they live with claims


The government hopes to claw back money to help with the deficit

The government’s own estimates suggest that the taxman could lose nearly £210million in the 2013/ 2014 if parents attempt to avoid the cuts and do not comply with the new forms, The Sunday Times reported.

This could be done by declaring a lower salary so they are still within the threshold to receive benefits, or not declaring who they are in a relationship with.

The Revenue office is confident that most people will be honest in their tax returns, they said.

But the changes have come in for
criticism for being complex and throwing up anomalies, such as cases of
two-earner households where both parents earn just below the £50,000

Two parents each earning under the limit could bring in £100,000 and retain the full benefit, while a couple where one earns £60,500 and the other is a full-time parent will get nothing.

For those with income of more than £60,000, the tax charge is 100 per cent of the amount of Child Benefit.

If income is between £50,000 and £60,000, the charge is gradually increased to 100 per cent of the Child Benefit.

Where both parents earn more than £50,000, the person taking home the higher salary will have to pay the charge, The Sunday Times reported.

Those affected will need to decide whether to keep receiving Child Benefit and pay the tax charge through Self Assessment, or to stop receiving Child Benefit and not pay the new charge.

If their income is less than £60,000, the tax charge will always be less than the amount of Child Benefit, and they could lose money to which they are entitled if they stop receiving Child Benefit.

Families with three children who are
hit by the incoming child benefit cuts will lose the equivalent of more
than £50,000 by the time their youngest turns 18, analysts said today.

The government expect most people to be honest when they fill out their tax forms

The government expect most people to be honest when they fill out their tax forms

long-term cost equates to more than a year’s take-home pay for many of
those who stand to lose the handout, which is being cut back in the New
Year, the financial services firm PwC found.

A family with two children faces missing out on nearly £40,000 over this period, the accountancy also estimated.

A Revenue spokesman said: ‘There will be a range of ways of contacting claimants.

‘We believe that the majority of people will fill out their forms correctly, in which case they will not be contacted.

‘Potentially people may be asked about their relationship, because that is what the benefits are based on.

‘Exactly what parents will be asked about hasn’t been decided.

‘Obviously as part of compliance procedures a question that can be asked is are they living with somebody who’s claiming child benefit.

‘Obviously we will be allowed to ask people about their relationship because it the forms the basis of their entitlement.’

HMRC have recruited an extra 1,000 members of staff to join their call centres, which already employ 8,500 people.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

good! Go after families and households – they are bankrupting the country and cause all the trouble! Just leave the job and wealth creators at Starbucks, Google and Amazon alone.


04/11/2012 15:42

People earning over 60,000 a year are exactly the ones you DO want having babies, as they are likely successful, well educated people. Why make it harder for them? It’s backward. It makes more sense to try to reduce the ones from the shallow end of the gene pool having babies.


Zürich, Switzerland,
04/11/2012 15:40

Before you start picking on those couples that pay tax,and contribute to society,why not go after those that give nothing,you know the ones.They receive multiple benefits,such as housing and council tax,these are the people HMRC should be tackling first.When you’ve done that,then stop ALL child benefit after the first two children,stop all these non-contributors from picking the pocket of the hardworking,why are these people allowed to think that it is a right to these HANDOUTS from MY pocket.


04/11/2012 15:40

No child benefit for UK tax payers but given away to immigrants with child in other countries!


with numpties,
04/11/2012 15:39

Such a tax on the middle class. It’s a paycut. Why….again…. do you tax the good hard-working people? This is so laughable in Switzerland. You are genuinely a very confused country, paying the unintelligent people to have more babies. It’s obvious where that will take you in the future.


Zürich, Switzerland,
04/11/2012 15:38

Yes, and then they will be asking how many times a week they have sex and was it good fun!

johanna scott

04/11/2012 15:23

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