Child benefit and child tax credit both stop automatically on 31st August on or after the child's 16th birthday, but where the child is in approved education or training, the parent who claims the child benefit is entitled to extend that claim until the child reaches their 20th birthday. 'Approved education' means at least 12 hours of supervised study per week, and the training can include an apprenticeship.
From September 2013 children who live in England (the rules are different in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland) are required by law to remain in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. So there are a lot of families out there with 16 years olds who are in approved education, but who have lost their child benefit.
If you are one of those parents, and you want to continue to receive the child benefit, you need to contact the Child Benefit office at HMRC, to inform them that your child is still in approved education or training.
Similar rules apply for child tax credit. In that case the claimant must contact the Tax Credit office.
Although child benefit and child tax credit are both administered by HMRC, you need to inform them twice, as one section of HMRC cannot pass the relevant information to another part!
You may prefer not to receive the child benefit if you or your partner/spouse earns £50,000 or more, because in that case all or part of the child benefit paid to your family is clawed-back through the operation of the high income child benefit charge (HICBC). HMRC has written to some of the parents who may be due to pay the HICBC, but not all, as they cannot correctly identify every person who may be liable to pay the charge.
If you are the highest earner in a family that has claimed child benefit since 7 January 2013, and your total income is £50,000 or more, you need to declare that child benefit on your tax return form. If you don't normally complete a self-assessment tax return form, you need to ask HMRC to set you up on the self-assessment tax return system. We can help you with that, but don't delay, as if you fail to complete the tax return form on time there will be automatic penalties to pay.