Approved education for 16 year olds and your benefits

The month of August can be a very stressful time for young people waiting for exam results, and for their families. The results received will of course have an impact on the next steps taken in life, but it is important to remember that they will not determine the future prospects of any young person. At what can be a time of upheaval and emotion, there are certain practical steps parents and guardians should remember to ensure payment of certain benefits is not disrupted. It is important for parents and guardians to ensure that HMRC are notified of changes of circumstances that may affect their Child Benefit / Guardian’s Allowance and Child Tax Credit.

Ensure HMRC does not stop your payments in error

Child Benefit stops on 31 August on or after your child’s 16th birthday if they leave approved education or training. Therefore, if you do not notify HMRC to the contrary, Child Benefit payments for this child will stop. To avoid this disruption to your payments, you should notify HMRC as soon as possible. Changes in circumstances may mean you may have to pay the Child Benefit tax charge. The charge affects you if your income (or your partner’s) is £50,000 or more.

You must still report changes even if you’ve stopped getting Child Benefit because of the Child Benefit tax charge – this will help avoid HMRC clawing back Child Benefit paid to you in error.

Tell the Child Benefit Office if your child:
* stays in education or training
* later leaves education or training

If you are in receipt of Tax Credits, you should have submitted your annual declaration for the 2018/19 year by 31 July 2019. Within 8 weeks of this date, you will receive confirmation of your Tax Credits entitlement. It is advisable to carefully check the personal circumstances section of this notice for you, your partner, and your children and qualifying young people to ensure you are receiving the correct amount of Tax Credits.

You should also notify Tax Credits as well as the Child Benefit Office of your child’s current education status. Child Tax Credit usually stops on 31 August after your child turns 16 but can continue for children under 20 in approved education, training or registered with a careers service. If you get Child Tax Credit and you tell HMRC that your 16 year old is continuing in full-time non-advanced education or approved training, you can ask HMRC to update both your Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit claims at the same time. You must also tell HMRC if your child:
* turns 18 and stays in approved education or training
* turns 19 and stays in approved education or training

Approved education must be full-time (more than an average of 12 hours a week) and can include:
* A levels or similar, for example Pre-U, International Baccalaureate
* NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
* home education – if started before your child turned 16

The quickest and easiest way to report any changes in your circumstances is online through your personal tax account. This is a situation where it will benefit you to be proactive in keeping HMRC informed of your family’s circumstances, and to help prevent errors which could result in underpayment or overpayment of benefits.

Eoin McAteer