Biggest obstacle is administration
There are several administrative problems for the Government if it decides to tax or means test child benefit.
Department of Finance officials have acknowledged that a tax would have to take account of a person's changed economic circumstances -- it would be unfair if they continued to be taxed on the payment if they had lost their job.
And if a system of means testing was introduced, it would also have to be capable of responding to people's changed circumstances -- which would include separation and divorce.
Officials have said the cost of an information technology system to handle means testing for the families of 1.1 million children would be another obstacle.
This would require "significant changes to IT systems. . . to deal with the processing of changes in income".
And it would be difficult to determine which parent would be liable to pay tax in the case of divorce.