Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) is a government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs.
Parents and carers who are eligible can open online childcare accounts to pay their registered childcare providers directly and the government will add to the account to help towards childcare costs and save money.
For every £8 a parent or carer pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Families can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs, or £4,000 for a child with a disability.
TFC replaced childcare vouchers for new applicants from 4 October 2018.
Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) is for working families, including the self-employed, in the UK:
- earning under £100k and at least £152 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage) each
- who aren't receiving Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers
- with children aged 0-11 (or 0-16 if disabled).
Your child will be eligible for TFC until the September following their 11th birthday, or 17th birthday if they are disabled.
You can claim for multiple children, each will have their own TFC reference number.
If you receive Tax Credits or Universal Credit, your payments will be stopped if you apply for TFC. Make sure you're better off claiming TFC by using the Government's Tax Credit Calculator.
You can use TFC to pay for registered:
- childminders, nurseries and nannies
- breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and holiday play schemes
- home care workers.
You can't use TFC to pay friends or family for childcare.
You can claim TFC if you use 15 or 30 free hours childcare. You can use TFC to cover extra childcare costs you may have.
Your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme before you can pay them and benefit from TFC. Check with your provider if they are registered.
Applying for TFC should only take about 20 minutes. Before you start your application, you will need:
- a form of ID such as a passport, or a P60
- your National Insurance number
- your partner's National Insurance number (if you have one).
Once you have set up your childcare account and deposited funds into it, you need to make payments just as you would through an online bank account, using your reference number for each child so your provider can identify your payment. You can now use this method to pay (some or all of) their childcare fees.
You’ll be able to withdraw money from the account if your circumstances change or you no longer want to pay into the account. If you do, the government will withdraw its corresponding contribution.
You will need to reconfirm your circumstances every three months using the online process.
For more information on paying for childcare please see the Childcare Choices.