For years, it has been abundantly clear this country’s child benefit scheme isn’t fit for purpose.

The cap, which is fundamentally unfair and poorly thought out, is the first. It means couples with a joint income of £98,000 can claim the perk.

Yet families where one person earns £60,000 get nothing — even if they are a single parent or their partner doesn’t work.

Losing out: The taxman has been appalling at informing families how the tangled child benefit scheme system works

Lies: It’s been a disaster for the taxman to explain how the complex child welfare system works to families.

This cap was also frozen almost a decade ago, despite rising inflation and wage growth. As a result, more families are losing vital support.

Next, there’s the fiendishly difficult way in which the scheme gets administered.

Those who earn between £50,000 and £60,000 are only entitled to part of the benefit — and so must repay some via the not-so-catchily-named High Income Child Benefit tax charge, or HICBC. It involves filling out a tax return for self-assessment, which can be tedious.

Families with more income than the cap may not be able to opt-out of the payments.

In cases in which one spouse is not working, they can still claim child benefits. They will also be able to earn national insurance credits that count toward their state pension.

This money should then be repaid through self-assessment.

The taxman is terrible at explaining to families the complicated system.

Relying only on information given to maternity units and the assumption that everyone is reading them, are just asking for trouble.

Is it not surprising that thousands upon thousands of parents made costly mistakes in the past? 

And because HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has been so slow to pick up on these errors, many have then been landed with shock bills dating back years, along with colossal fines.

Now it is clear that the tax department has the legal authority for the examination of the financial records 170,000 families who believe they have wrongly received the benefit.

This power is usually used to investigate the worst tax crimes, not harass families.

Parents who do not qualify for support should repay the debt.

But is it really necessary to use such heavy-handed tactics, when many may have had no idea they’d overclaimed?

This broken system needs to be overhauled.

Meanwhile, as we report, HMRC might want to consider diverting a little more attention to raising awareness of the nearly £3 billion of tax-free childcare support parents are missing out on — not to mention the millions of child trust funds that have never been claimed.

Not again, Klarna

Klarna is a Buy-Now-Pay-later company. Last week, Klarna encouraged customers to get excited by going on a shopping spree with debt to make themselves feel better.

‘Stuck in a post-Christmas rut? Or perhaps you’ve got the January blues? Don’t fret — we’ve got some new and excited retailers guaranteed to put a spring in your step,’ the newsletter read.

With household bills soaring and tax hikes around the corner, it’s an incredibly irresponsible message.

Klarna said that it was investigating the incident, but it’s worth noting this wasn’t its first offense.

Money Mail announced in December 2020 that Klarna was under scrutiny by the Advertising Watchdog. It had paid social media celebrities for their endorsement of buy-now, pay-later credit. This is to make the Pandemic better.

These firms should be regulated as soon as possible.

Bargain hunt

My last column featured 10 money-saving tips for 2022, which may be familiar to regular readers.

Number two: Be super-organized and shop for Christmas paraphernalia at January sales. Do it.

Bumper rolls of festive wrapping paper are going for 20p a pop in M&S — down from £6. And I’d thought my 74p gift tags from WH Smith were a bargain!

There are only nine remaining resolutions. . .

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