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Middle-class families are being hounded by the taxman for thousands of pounds after accidentally falling foul of complex child benefit rules, Money Mail can reveal.
In the worst cases, parents have been sent threatening demands after wrongly receiving child benefit payments for years.
Father - Twins - Bill - £6 - Years
A father of twins was hit with a bill for more than £6,000 for five years' worth of child benefit, plus interest and penalty charges.
In another case, a father of four was sent a demand for £3,200 after being given the wrong advice by tax officials six years ago.
Mother - Child - Benefit - Son
One mother was even billed for child benefit she had not received, as her son had not yet been born.
In some instances, families say HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has refused to allow them to repay the debt in manageable instalments, leaving one couple with no choice but to take out a loan to cover the cost.
Problems - Clampdown - Child - Benefit
The problems stem from a clampdown on child benefit in 2012.
New rules introduced by the then-Chancellor George Osborne mean that if one parent earns more than £60,000, the family is no longer eligible for child benefit, which is worth £20.70 a week for the first child and £13.70 for each born after.
£50 - £60 - Portion - Payment
Those earning between £50,000 and £60,000, meanwhile, are only entitled to a portion of the payment.
The change caused uproar at the time, as families claimed it was unfair that if two parents each earned £49,000 (a total of £98,000), they could claim the benefit — yet if one parent earned £60,000 and the other nothing, they couldn't.
Experts - Thousands - People - Demands - Overpayments
Now, experts are warning that thousands of people face demands for overpayments after failing to understand the new rules or realise they had changed.
The complicated way in which the system works means that instead of HMRC just paying parents what they are owed, the onus is...
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