Tax-Free Childcare is a Government scheme to help with the cost of childcare. Parents can open an online childcare account which you can pay into to cover the cost of childcare with a registered provider and the government will add to the account.
Tax Free Childcare
You can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every 3 months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year).
If you’ve already registered, you can sign in to your childcare account.
If you get Tax-Free Childcare, you’ll set up an online childcare account for your child. For every £8 you pay into this account, the government will pay in £2 to use to pay your provider.
Use the Childcare calculator to find out more about getting help with childcare costs.
You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.
You cannot get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as claiming Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.
You can use it to pay for approved childcare, for example:
- childminders, nurseries and nannies
- after school clubs and play schemes
Your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme before you can pay them and benefit from Tax-Free Childcare.
Check with your provider to see if they’re signed up.
If your child is disabled, you can use the extra Tax-Free Childcare money you get to help pay for extra hours of childcare. You can also use it to help pay your childcare provider so they can get specialist equipment for your child such as mobility aids. Talk to them about what equipment your child can get.
Your child must be 11 or under and usually live with you. They stop being eligible on 1 September after their 11th birthday.
Adopted children are eligible, but foster children are not.
If your child is disabled and usually lives with you, you may get up to £4,000 a year until 1 September after their 16th birthday.
How do I find out if I'm eligible?
Your eligibility depends on:
- if you are working
- your income (and your partner’s income, if you have one)
- your child’s age and circumstances
- your immigration status
If you are working
You can usually get Tax-Free Childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:
- in work
- on sick leave or annual leave
- on shared parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave
If you’re on adoption leave, you cannot apply for the child you’re on leave for unless you’re going back to work within 31 days of the date you first applied
Each parent must be earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week.
If you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago, you can earn less and still be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare.
You’re not eligible if:
your child does not usually live with you
the child is your foster child
either you or your partner has a taxable income over £100,000
If you’re not currently working
You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance. You can apply if you’re starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days.
Your immigration status
To be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, you (or your partner if you have one) must have a National Insurance number and at least one of the following:
- British or Irish citizenship
- settled or pre-settled status
- permission to access public funds - your UK residence card will tell you if you cannot do this
If you’re living in an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you (or your partner if you have one) might still be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare if:
- your work is in the UK
- the work started before 1 January 2021
- you’ve worked in the UK at least once every 12 months since you started working here
This is known as being a ‘frontier worker’. You must show your Frontier Worker permit to the Childcare Service when you apply for Tax-Free Childcare.