Tax Free Childcare is a Government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs.
If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare.
For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. You can receive up to £2,000 per child per year - 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.
The scheme is available for children up to the age of 12 (or 17 if the child has any disabilities).
To be eligible, both parents have to be working, and each earning at least £115 a week and not more than £100,000 each per year.
The scheme is designed to be flexible for parents if, for example, they want to get back to work after the birth of a child or work part-time.
You will need to update / reconfirm your income and circumstances every three months.
You can only receive support for childcare from one scheme from the following:
- Tax Free Childcare
- Childcare Vouchers
- Tax Credits or Universal Credits
But you can choose the scheme which best meets your needs and you can move between schemes when your circumstances change.
From 4 October 2018, childcare voucher schemes will close to new applicants. You may be able to get Tax-Free Childcare instead.
You can keep getting vouchers if you’ve joined a scheme and your wages have been adjusted before the scheme closes in October 2018, as long as:
- you stay with the same employer and they continue to run the scheme
- you do not take an unpaid career break of longer than a year
If you get Tax-Free Childcare
You cannot continue to claim childcare vouchers if you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare.
You’ll be able to open an online account, which you can pay into to cover the cost of childcare with a registered provider. This will be done through the government website, GOV.UK.
Parents and others can pay money into their childcare account as and when they like
You can use this account to save up money for childcare and other family members and employers can also contribute. This gives you the flexibility to pay in more in some months, and less at other times to build up a balance in your account to use at times when you need more childcare than usual, for example, over the summer holidays.
If your circumstances change
If your circumstances change or you no longer want to pay into the account, then you’ll be able to withdraw the money you have built up. If you do, the government will withdraw its corresponding contribution.
Self-employed parents will be able to get support with childcare costs in Tax-Free Childcare, unlike the current scheme (Employer-Supported Childcare) which is not available to self-employed parents.
To support newly self-employed parents, the government is introducing a ‘start-up’ period. During this, self-employed parents won’t have to earn the minimum income level.
The scheme will be available to parents on paid sick leave and paid and unpaid statutory maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
Tax-Free Childcare doesn’t rely on employers offering and managing the scheme, unlike the current scheme Employer-Supported Childcare.
Any working family can use Tax-Free Childcare, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.