THOUSANDS of middle-income parents have just days to register to file a self assessment tax return to avoid a penalty if they receive child benefit.

Parents have to pay a tax charge on the benefit if either earn more than £50,000 but you need to do this through a self assessment tax return and could be fined up to 30% of what you owe by HMRC if you don't.

Most parents can claim £84.60 a month in child benefit for their first child – or £21.15 a week.

They can also claim £56 for each extra child, which works out at £14 a week.

But the government introduced new rules in 2013 that said anyone earning more than £50,000 has to pay a high income child benefit charge (HICBC) to continue receiving it.

It is equal to 1% of a family’s child benefit for every £100 of income that is over £50,000 each year.

Once income reaches £60,000 all the benefit must be repaid.

The Sun has previously covered complaints that this change wasn't well-publicised and has left parents with unexpected tax bills.

Many may not have realised that parents have to register and pay this charge through the self assessment tax system, even if you usually get your salary through a pay as you earn scheme at work.

Anyone filing a self assessment tax return scheme for the previous tax year, from April 6 2020 to April 5 2021, needs to register to with HMRC by October 5.

You can register through the website.

Paper tax returns must then be filed by October 31 2021 or you have until January 31 2022 to file online and pay what you owe.

A freedom of information request by NFU Mutual this week found that HMRC has collected nearly £3bn in the tax since its introduction in 2013.

It found that more than 60,000 people were chased by HMRC in the 2019/2020 tax year for the HIBC after failing to register for self-assessment tax returns.

Failure to notify HMRC of the charge could result in a fine of up to 30% of the bill, according to guidance from the taxman.

Someone earning £55,000 and claiming for one child would have received £1,115.65 in the previous tax year but would have to pay £557 to cover the HICBC, according to HMRC's child benefit calculator.

A 30% charge for failing to notify HMRC that they should have paid would add an extra £167 to their bill.

There may not be a charge if you have a reasonable excuse for not informing HMRC.

HMRC has urged parents to keep paying the child benefit charges despite a landmark legal ruling that suggested some people could be due refunds.

Parents have lost out on £6.8billion since the child benefit cap was introduced in 2013.

Meanwhile, thousands of parents have been warned they could be forced to repay child benefits.

We explain how to check if you’re owed £1,100 a year in child benefit if your income has dropped.

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