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Tax-Free Childcare

publication date: Mar 7, 2018


Working parents can use Tax-Free Childcare to pay for regulated holiday clubs during the Easter holidays. More than 55,000 registered childcare providers including school, football, art and tennis clubs have signed up.

Parents, including the self-employed, can apply online for Tax-Free Childcare – part of the government’s Childcare Choices offer – for children who are under 12.

Tax-Free Childcare will cut childcare costs for working families by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children. For every £8 parents pay into their childcare account the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year.

The money can go towards a whole range of regulated childcare including nurseries, childminders, after school clubs or holiday clubs. Parents can find out what help is available on the Childcare Choices website.This website includes a Childcare Calculator that compares all the government’s childcare offers to check what works best for individual families.

Once eligible parents have opened their new account they can start paying their childcare provider straightaway, using the government contribution.

Tax-Free Childcare builds on other childcare support already available including:

  • Childcare support through tax credits, or Universal Credit
  • 15 and 30 hours free childcare in England.

How Tax-Free Childcare works

1. Working parents can apply, through the childcare service, to open an online childcare account. For every £8 that families pay in, the Government will make a top-up payment of an additional £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children). This top up is added instantly and parents can then send electronic payments directly to their childcare providers. The maximum government top-up is £500 per quarter for each child.

2. All registered childcare providers – whether nannies, nurseries, childminders or after school clubs – can sign up online now to receive parents’ payments through Tax-Free Childcare.

  • Parents need to sign back in every three months and confirm their details are up to date, to keep getting Government top-ups.
  • Tax-Free Childcare is replacing Employer-Supported Childcare, including "childcare vouchers", which is only available to parents if their employer offers it. Employer-Supported Childcare will be closing to new entrants from April 2018, but parents who are already a member of the scheme will be able to remain in it as long as their employer continues to offer it. The tax and National Insurance exemption for workplace nurseries will remain in place. Parents moving from Employer-Supported Childcare to Tax-Free Childcare can still use childcare vouchers they’ve previously accrued.