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Child Benefit - Interesting (hypothetical) privacy question

(17 Posts)
ValentineWiggins Thu 03-Jan-13 09:33:21

Here's a hypothetical for the lawyers out there...

I'm a SAHM currently receiving CB.

How would I know what my DH is earning if he wouldn't tell me?

How would DH know if I didn't't tell him that I'm receiving CB?

In either case - how would we be able to fill in our tax returns? Under Data Protection I presume that the tax office can't tell me if he earns more than £50K, and the CB people can't tell him I'm getting CB...

As far as I know there is no legal requirement for either of us to tell the other our income...so I can't say whether there is someone in the house earning more than £50K..and he can't say if there is someone receiving CB!

Thoughts?

happynewmind Thu 03-Jan-13 09:42:37

Well no its entirely possible that someone won't know their partners TRUE earnings.

But the tax office will know.
I guess in that case if the other wouldn't give you tat information you would have to submit individual returns.

But you wouldn't get CB because they would see you weren't entitled to it.

ValentineWiggins Thu 03-Jan-13 09:46:16

Except can they do that? We (allegedly) have a principle of individual taxation in this country...they can't just look and see that we live at the same address and presume we are a couple?

If they tell me I'm not entitled to CB they are implicitly telling me information about my DH's income - which surely is still a breach of Data Protection?

MrAnchovy Thu 03-Jan-13 10:05:22

HMRC have already thought of this and provided some information.

They will tell you the following:
- Whether your partner/ex-partner was entitled to receive Child Benefit for a specific tax year.
- Whether your individual adjusted net income was higher than your partner's/ex-partner's income for a specific tax year.

If that still doesn't help (e.g. HMRC might not have information about your partner's earnings for a particular year yet) HMRC will accept a tax return based on an estimate or assumption, provided you explain the assumptions in your return - so if

(i) your Adjusted Net Income is £60,000 but you reasonably believe that your partner (at the time) had a higher ANI for the year; AND
(ii) you can demonstrate that you have made reasonable efforts to determine whether this was the case; AND
(iii) he has not provided the information,

you can state this on the form and NOT self-assess for the clawback. Once HMRC have received your partner's return they will presumably write to the higher earner requesting a resubmission.

MrAnchovy Thu 03-Jan-13 10:11:10

"Except can they do that? We (allegedly) have a principle of individual taxation in this country...they can't just look and see that we live at the same address and presume we are a couple?"

Yes they can, in fact that is exactly what they have done.

"If they tell me I'm not entitled to CB they are implicitly telling me information about my DH's income - which surely is still a breach of Data Protection?"

Yes it is. There are certain exemptions from the Data Protection Act which can apply to government agencies in the course of their duties, and HMRC obviously think that the limited disclosure they propose is within an exemption.

MrAnchovy Thu 03-Jan-13 10:15:29

In particular see Data Protection Act 1988 S26(3):

Personal data are exempt from the non-disclosure provisions in any case in which—
(a) the disclosure is for any of the purposes mentioned in subsection (1) [which includes "the assessment or collection of any tax or duty or of any imposition of a similar nature"], and
(b) the application of those provisions in relation to the disclosure would be likely to prejudice any of the matters mentioned in that subsection.

MrAnchovy Thu 03-Jan-13 10:18:48

Note the one thing they are NOT going to tell you is that you are "not entitled to CB" - because YOU ARE ALWAYS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE CHILD BENEFIT. The new law is NOT the withdrawal of child benefit, it is the imposition of a charge clawing back child benefit.

And that's four posts in a row grin

HoFlippinHo Thu 03-Jan-13 10:23:34

I imagine that HMRC would simply claw back the CB from your dh if you continued to claim and your dh earned above the threshold. That way you get to keep the benefit and you don't need to be told what your dh earns.

I'm keeping CB (as my earnings are below the threshold) and dh will pay the extra in tax - the form makes it clear that this is an option available to you.

CaptainNancy Fri 04-Jan-13 00:39:10

As far as I understand if someone is earning over £60k, and their (?)partner/spouse claimed CB, but does not tell you- you can be prosecuted for not declaring the money for claw-back in your tax return hmm

How is this legally possible- that one can be prosecuted for the actions of another?
Citizens are not entitled to be taxed as a household (i.e. benefit from a SAHParent's tax-free personal allowance) yet this benefit is subject to being treated as a household.

More worryingly, the wording on the SA form seems to indicate that should another person in your household (e.g. your adult child, lodger etc) be in receipt of CB you still have to pay the clawback! shock So you're penalised when the children for whom the benefit is payable are not even your children, perhaps not even related in any way.

I expect there will be some legal challenges to this change in taxation tbh.

makemineahalf Fri 04-Jan-13 01:07:02

Yes, DH will have to pay the clawback despite the fact that I claim CB for DS, who isn't DH's child. But that was also the case when I lost my tax credits when I married DH: they treated us as a household and it's irrelevant what the biological relationship is. Has always been the way for benefits/tax credits. If I tried to claim tax credits without declaring DH's income, it would be considered fraud. The DWP and HMRC have a number of ways of identifying whether two adults are living together are a couple - including checking food/toiletry cupboards and surveillance to see whether a man stays the night!

CaptainNancy Fri 04-Jan-13 01:24:45

That is different though- your husband made a choice to take on your child when he married you- as a parent, you don't get a choice if your adult child has a child, or if you have no children, but your lodger has children.

If 2 adults with children live together, not in a relationship (e.g. to share housing costs) surely their benefits/tax allowances are dealt with separately? That is not the case here.

BiteTheTopsOffIcedGems Fri 04-Jan-13 01:30:18

The DWP and HMRC have a number of ways of identifying whether two adults are living together are a couple - including checking food/toiletry cupboards
What the hell!? How do they do this? Sneak in at night?

MrAnchovy Fri 04-Jan-13 12:19:14

As far as I understand if someone is earning over £60k £50k, and their (?)partner/spouse claimed CB, but does not tell you- you can be prosecuted for not declaring the money for claw-back in your tax return

You can, but it would be a defence if it was reasonable for you to believe that your partner was not claiming CB - for instance if they didn't have any children living with you and they didn't tell you. You cannot of course use this defence if there is any reason to believe they might be claiming CB and you don't first check with them, and if they won't tell you, check with HMRC as described below.

In practice you are unlikely to be prosecuted if you have not made a deliberate attempt to withold information - HMRC would simply assess you for the additional sum, although they might impose an additional penalty.

MrAnchovy Fri 04-Jan-13 12:24:46

If 2 adults with children live together, not in a relationship (e.g. to share housing costs) surely their benefits/tax allowances are dealt with separately? That is not the case here.

Yes it is - the definition for the chid benefit charge is exactly the same as it is for tax credits.

There have been a lot of rumours spread about this legislation for various reasons, including lazy journalism (don't start me on R4's "You and Yours"). It's probably best to check them out before spreading them here or elsewhere.

TricksyBee Wed 09-Jan-13 15:27:17

As far as I understand if someone is earning over £60k £50k, and their (?)partner/spouse claimed CB, but does not tell you- you can be prosecuted for not declaring the money for claw-back in your tax return

Rubbish, you can't commit a criminal offence without your knowledge, that is why the 'criminal mind' has to be proven in fraud cases. It is likely to be a similar offence to benefit fraud with 'knowingly allowing a false claim to be submitted' or in this case allowing them to file a false return. Say I submit a claim for benefit for my family saying we are not working etc and get benefit for those circumstances, my husband tells me he is doing voluntary work, or is off down the pub but in reality he is working and hiding the cash. I've done nothing wrong but he has committed an offence and can be prosecuted for it even if he has not signed the claim form.

Suppose SAHM claims for CB, but tells her DH she has stopped claiming. He doesn't pay the clawback charge because he thinks he doesn't have to. She is in the wrong for lying to him. But she hasn't lied to any government agency, she is genuinely entitled to continue claiming. Can she be prosecuted for lying to her husband?

TricksyBee Wed 06-Feb-13 22:31:01

Sorry for dragging up this thread but I've not been on mumsnet for a few weeks.

MamaChocaholic Yes I would say she can. She has not just lied to her husband, she has lied so he won't pay the clawback, she has forced him to act fraudulently in order to gain more money.

I can't think of any reason that the standard benefit offences could not be used when the new rules are brought in. Therefore it means FA that she didn't lie to a government agency, or she didn't sign a form, if she knew the other person was doing so and didn't tell them the truth, or she told them she was not claiming when she was then she has committed the offence and can be prosecuted.

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