Tax-Free Childcare is a new government scheme to help parents with the cost of childcare; allowing parents to work, or work more, if they want to.
Parents can apply for Tax-Free Childcare through the childcare service – a new online application. Once parents have opened their account for every £8 that families pay in, the government will pay in £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children). This can then be spent on regulated childcare.
To be eligible, parents must be in work (including self-employment) and each earning at least £120 per week and not more than £100,000 per year.
Rollout of the childcare service
Tax-Free Childcare was launched last April and is being opened gradually starting with parents of the youngest children first. Parents whose youngest child is 6 years old or younger on Friday 24 November can apply now.
Over the coming months, HMRC will gradually open the childcare service to parents of older children, whilst continuing to make further improvements to the system. All eligible parents will be able to apply by the end of March 2018. Parents can register to get a notification of when they can apply for Tax-Free Childcare here: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/childcare-schemes-interest/welcome.
Parents can apply online via the childcare service at: https://childcare-support.tax.service.gov.uk/par/app/applynow
Supporting parents with their childcare decisions
HMRC have created the Childcare Choices website to help parents find out about what government support with the cost of childcare they may be entitled to. The website includes a link to an easy-to-use childcare calculator where parents can enter details about their personal circumstances to see what government support is best for them. The website is available at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
The Childcare Choices website also includes a page for childcare providers. This offers information on Tax-Free Childcare, as well as a toolkit of communications materials including emails, social media content and posters available for their use. The provider page is available at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/providers/
Signing-up for Tax-Free Childcare as a childcare provider
HMRC are encouraging all regulated childcare providers to sign-up for Tax-Free Childcare now so they are able to receive payments from parents through the scheme. All regulated childcare providers in the UK have been sent an invitation to sign-up for Tax-Free Childcare. For providers who have lost their letter, they can request a new one by calling the helpline available on 0300 123 4097.