Working parents with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money paid into the account. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. Therefore, you could receive up to £2,000 per child - that's up to £500 every three months. If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child - that's up to £1,000 every three months.
You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £125 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.
If either you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more, you can’t get Tax-Free Childcare. You can’t use Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers, Universal Credit or tax credits. You can use it with the 15 hours and 30 hours schemes.
You can apply for Tax-Free Childcare if:
If you have a partner, when you apply for Tax-Free Childcare, they need to be working and expect to earn, on average, £120 per week and less than £100,000 per year.
A person is your partner if you are:
If you're under 25, you should expect to earn at least £113 a week.
If you are under 24 or an apprentice, you should expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours, at the National Minimum Wage and Living Wage rate
which applies to you.
Every three months, you'll need to reconfirm you're still eligible for Tax-Free Childcare using your childcare service account. It's easy to do; you just tick a box to confirm that your details haven't changed. You'll be reminded to do this four weeks before the reconfirmation deadline.
You can't apply for Tax-Free Childcare for a child who is:
If you're adopting a child, you can apply for Tax-Free Childcare when a court has made an adoption order.
You can apply for Tax-Free Childcare if you're self-employed and have registered your business with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
You can use income from both your employment and self-employment to meet the minimum income.
Your first 12 months of self-employment is referred to as your ‘start-up period’. During this time, you don't have to earn the minimum £120 a week to be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare.
You can average your self-employment income across the year to meet the minimum income criteria. You need to meet the minimum income requirements, using just your self-employment income, if you take this approach.
You can still apply for Tax-Free Childcare if you are on:
You can also apply for Tax-Free Childcare, if you are not working, but expect to start a new job within the next 14 days.
You may still be able to get Tax-Free Childcare, if you or your partner are not in employment and the non-working partner gets:
If you apply for Tax-Free Childcare, you won't be able to get:
Your Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit payments will stop automatically if you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare.
You should apply for Tax-Free Childcare before asking Jobcentre Plus to stop your claim to Universal Credit, because there may be other reasons why you're not eligible for Tax-Free Childcare.
If you are currently using Childcare Vouchers, you need to tell your employer within 3 months of applying for Tax-Free Childcare so that they can stop issuing employer related Childcare Vouchers.
You can use the Childcare Calculator to work out if you'll be better off with Tax-Free Childcare, before you apply and stop your Tax Credits, Universal Credit or Childcare Vouchers.
You can still apply for Tax-Free Childcare if you get:
You can't get Tax-Free Childcare if you're getting support from the government through either a childcare grant or a bursary.
You are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, if you leave the UK for:
You can apply for Tax-Free Childcare for more than one child as part of a single application.
You can only get a childcare service account, if no one else holds an account for the same child.
In most cases, you'll be told instantly if your Tax-Free Childcare application is successful.
If your application is unsuccessful we will tell you why you're not eligible.
Once you've successfully applied for your online account, you can:
How much you pay into your Tax-Free Childcare account, and when, is up to you. You can make one-off payments (for example, by debit card) or set-up a standing order to make regular payments into your Tax-Free Childcare account.
For every £8 you pay in, the government automatically adds an extra £2 straight into your Tax-Free Childcare account. You'll then be able to use the full balance to pay your childcare provider.
You can pay up to 10 childcare providers from each Tax-Free Childcare account. You'll need to make a separate payment for each eligible child.
Other people, such as family members and employers, can also pay into your Tax-Free Childcare account.
When you use your Tax-Free Childcare account to pay a childcare provider, it can take 2-3 working days for your money to reach them.
You can use Tax-Free Childcare to pay for costs such as:
If your Childcare Provider is not registered or approved, HMRC will tell you. When they do, you'll no longer be able to pay that particular Childcare Provider using your Tax-Free Childcare account.
You can continue to make payments into your Tax-Free Childcare account and choose to pay a different Childcare Provider that has signed up to Tax-Free Childcare .
If you are no longer eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, you can still add money to your account but you won't receive any government contributions. You can still use the balance in your Tax-Free Childcare account to pay for childcare.
If you no longer want to use your Tax-Free Childcare account, you can withdraw your money. If you do, for every £8 you take out the UK government will also take back its £2 contribution.