If you have children under 12 years and work full- or part-time hours, you could get up to £2,000 a year per child, towards your childcare costs. For disabled children, you can claim for children under 17 years and could get up to £4,000 a year per child.
How does tax-free childcare work?
When you successfully apply for tax-free childcare, you’ll open an online childcare account, which you will access via the gov.uk website. For every £8 you pay in to your childcare account, the government will pay in £2, or £4 for disabled children.
You can pay money into your childcare account by:
- using a debit card
- setting up a standing order
- making a bank transfer
Other people, such as family members, can also pay in to your account by:
- bank transfer
- setting up a standing order
How do I use my childcare account to pay my childcare provider?
You will need to check that your chosen childcare provider is signed up to Tax-Free Childcare. Only registered or approved childcare providers can sign up to receive payments from parents who use Tax-Free Childcare.
Once your childcare provider is signed up, you can add them to your childcare account by clicking on the ‘Your Tax-Free Childcare account’ link on your account homepage. You can pay them directly through your childcare account and can also set up a regular payment on a chosen day each month.
When you apply, you’ll get a unique reference number for your child. You’ll need to give the reference number to your childcare provider so that they can match your payments to your child. You can find the reference number in your welcome pack by clicking the ‘secure messages’ link on your account homepage.
What childcare costs can I use the account to pay for?
Your childcare account can only be used to pay for childcare to cover hours while you are working, or for hours necessary to allow you to work. This includes childcare while you’re:
- travelling to and from work
- sleeping (during the day) after a night shift
How do I apply and what will I need?
You can follow the online steps to check whether you’re eligible and apply for Tax-Free Childcare. You, and your partner if you have one, will need your:
- National Insurance number(s)
- details of one or more of the following – your UK Passport, tax credits, P60 or a recent payslip
In most cases, you’ll find out straight away if your application is successful. For some applications, HMRC may need to do extra checks, or request more information to confirm if you’re eligible.
If you don’t have access to the internet, you will need to call the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097 to apply.
What happens when I close my childcare account?
If you become ineligible or you wish to close your childcare account, you will be able to withdraw any money you have saved. You can’t withdraw money paid in by the government at this point and will only have access to funds that you have paid in to the account.
I’m not eligible, what other help can I get with childcare costs?