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How child benefit changes affect GPs more than the pasty U-turn

Listening to the radio on the way in to work this morning, the news headlines reported that the government have reversed the decision on the so called pasty tax, which was then described as an important part of this year's budget.

Important for who? Apart from pasty makers and pasty consumers, who else is there? And of course there is the silly proviso that the pasties must not be reheated, so no doubt a National Pasty Board will be set up with inspectors in every bakery.

Perhaps one of the more worrying clauses in this year's budget is to do with child benefit. Now at a simple level, the rules sound straightforward, if the claimant has income of £50,000, then the child benefit has to be repaid on a sliding scale up to £60,000. The problem is that this is going to be done NOT by repaying the child benefit, but by that person paying extra tax.

Now most taxpayers do not complete tax returns, PAYE handles tax (including higher rates tax) quite efficiently, so this method of dealing with child benefit is going to force a lot of taxpayers to complete tax returns who would not have done so before.

The start date for bringing child benefit into the tax system? 5 April 2013? No – 7 January 2013. Does that make it easier? Nope!

Now the claimant could be a grandparent who has the grandchildren living with them, that grandparent will have to repay the child benefit if their income is more than £50,000.

There is the option to elect not to receive child benefit (even if you are entitled to it), but there is a catch to this. If you are not working to look after your children, you can get credit towards your state pension, but the condition is that you are in receipt of child benefit. So no child benefit claimed can affect your state pension.


Now many readers will think that they are not going to be affected by this, but they may. The point where you lose all the child benefit is £60,000, and that for a GP is after their tax deductible expenses and their superannuation contributions so it will probably affect more GPs than you think!


So, compared to the child benefit rules, the pasty tax issue is (excuse the pun) a piece of cake…….

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