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Explainer: Can you refuse Child Benefit payments?

Parents can decide not to receive the Child Benefit payment if they wish. But how?

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

CHILD BENEFIT is a monthly payment given to all parents for each child that is living with them and being supported by them.

According to the Department of Social Protection, the child must be aged under 16 or aged 16 or 17 and in full time education; or attending a FÁS Youthreach course; or physically/mentally disabled; and dependant on the parent.

Child benefit stops when the child reaches the age of 18.

But can you decided not to accept the payment?

Refusal

According to the Department of Social Protection:

If a parent does not wish to claim their Child Benefit payment, they can notify the Department of Social Protection in writing to that effect and their claim will be stopped in accordance with their wishes.

Child Benefit payment is not stopped (subject to the conditions outlined above) without a reason, so those wishing not to receive it have to contact the department.

How it works

If a child is born in Ireland, when the birth is registered the Department of Social Protection will begin a Child Benefit claim for the child.

If the parent is not claiming this benefit for another child, a new claim is created by the department and a partially completed claim form is sent to the parent for their signature and payment details.

If the parent chooses not to return this form, the Child Benefit will not go into payment.

If the parent is already claiming Child Benefit for another child, the new baby is added to their Child Benefit claim and payment begins automatically from the month after the birth.

A letter confirming payment is sent to the parent by the department. At that point, the parent can instruct the department to stop their Child Benefit payment.

How many parents?

What is not known, however, is how many parents have chosen to opt out of receiving Child Benefit, as the department does not have these figures on record.

It may choose to keep a record of these in the future, but this has not been confirmed.

Means testing

In July, opposition political parties and other lobby groups said they were against a suggestion by the IMF that Child Benefit should be means-tested.

The suggestion was contained in the IMF’s annual report on 18 July of this year.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the same month that the Government is undecided on whether it will impose a tax on child benefit payments for high earners.

In an interview with the Sunday Times that month, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said that she has asked an advisory group to examine how taxes on child benefit payments for parents who earn above €100,000 per year could be implemented.

But she added that she was not sure if the Government is ready for such a move yet.

Poll: Should wealthy parents be given the option to hand back child benefit?

Read: Government undecided on child benefit tax for wealthy>

Read: Opposition, lobby groups come out against means-tested Child Benefit>

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