How does the CSA calculate my income?
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (or CMEC) assumed overall responsibility for the Child Support Agency in November 2008. Now parents have a choice between making a private agreement to pay maintenance for children or using the CSA.
The CSA’s calculation of your income is important when you pay maintenance, as the total contribution you must make for your child, as a non-resident parent, is worked out from their assessment of your Net weekly income.
The CSA look back at your weekly income over the eight week period prior to the calculation day. An average of your weekly earnings is then made. Your earnings during the tax year the assessment is completed can also be considered if the CSA think it is necessary.
If this average does not accurately reflect your normal earnings, any other period may be considered by the CSA. This can include earnings received or due from past, current or future employment. This could happen in a situation where you had taken a four week holiday during the eight weeks used to calculate your income, or if you have accepted a promotion that is due to start one week after the assessment.
There are a number of different categories of income that can be taken into account:
- Earnings from employment, which includes bonuses and overtime (after income tax, national insurance and most pension contributions are deducted)
- Self employment
- Some, but not all, Tax credits
- Income from a pension
A number of items are not taken into account when assessing income:
- Expenses at work
- Loans or advances from your employer
Income from certain investments is not taken into account (e.g. income from shares). However, income from a rental property, dividends, or interest from bank accounts might be included.
The CSA can also estimate a non-resident parents income and make a calculation based on that figure.
There is always the possibility for the parent with residence of the child to apply for a variation to any calculation the CSA make. This means that different criteria can be taken into account. (For more information on the sorts of criteria considered, please see our separate article “CSA - assessments”).
If you feel that your income has not been properly calculated you can also appeal the decision of the CSA.