Child benefit to foreigners

British taxpayers are funding child benefit payments for 37,900 children who live in Poland, Treasury figures show.

Well, yes. And a lot of people are unhappy about this but I\’m not sure why.

If the parent is here and working and paying taxes then they should get the same tax breaks as a British citizen working here and paying taxes. Sure, child benefit is a cash grant, but in reality it\’s just another way of reducing the tax burden for those with children. Cutting the amount that the Government exacts so that the babbies can actually be fed.

After all, we don\’t complain that such immigrants get to claim a personal tax allowance, do we? Pretty much the same thing.

6 comments on “Child benefit to foreigners

  1. Perhaps the worry is because it’s even less likely that the existence of these children will be checked up on than is the case for children who are, purportedly, in the UK.

  2. “The way you put it sounds fair…but are the working parent/s still here?”

    They have to be to qualify. Of course, there could be fraud, but that’s not what we’re discussing.

  3. “Perhaps the worry is because it’s even less likely that the existence of these children will be checked up on than is the case for children who are, purportedly, in the UK.”

    Let me think.. what we need is another database. Problem solved.

  4. I view Tim’s argument as dubious, for two particular reasons.

    Firstly, child allowances and tax relief and transfers of tax allowances between spouses are, in my interpretation, a transfer of tax allowance to one person taxable in the UK from another person who would be (further) taxable in the UK should they have any (or more) taxable earnings. This is limited to immediate family, usually living in the same household and for which there is financial responsibility. If the (supported) person is living permanently outside the UK, they are not required to pay UK tax on any earnings they have (or might have), so they should not be eligible for the allowance against UK tax or any substitute such as child allowance.

    Secondly, such an arrangement provides no reasonable method of checking the legitimacy of the claim. For example, claims may also be made under the tax scheme in the appropriate foreign country, or the child may not even exist. This is made worse where, as in the cited cases, the child has never lived in the UK. [Note: I think it would be worth checking, on this, whether it would be permitted to transfer a spouse’s personal tax allowance, where the spouse was not a UK citizen and was living permanently abroad. Again, there is the difficulty in checking whether they have earnings in their own country and/or receive equivalent allowances in their own country.]

    The only supportive case that I can currently see for what is happening is that the country of taxation is not the UK, but is the EU. Otherwise, and following Tim’s argument, all foreign workers should be eligible to claim for all their immediate family living abroad. And if the country of taxation were the EU, then (to avoid various frauds) there would need to be an EU-wide taxation system: something on which I doubt Tim would be very keen.

    [Note: this comment was drafted early Sunday morning, but not checked/proofed before other duties intervened. I acknowledge that commenters above have raising similar issues, and thought it worth publishing, not least in support for their views.]

    Best regards

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