Tax-Free Childcare: for parents

This information is for parents and carers, if you are a childcare provider please see Tax-Free Childcare Explained: for providers.

Tax-Free Childcare is a new Government scheme to help working families with a child/children under 12 years olds with their childcare costs. If eligible, you open an online childcare account (which is used to pay a registered childcare provider directly).

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  • Parents have an online account – just like a bank account – which they can use to pay childcare professionals. 

  • For every £8 you pay into your account, the Government will add £2. 

  • You could get a Government contribution of up to £2,000 per child, per year or £4,000 for disabled children 

  • Parents are able to track how much they’ve paid in and how much they’ve spent for each child. The top-up will be added into the account on the same day, and the total amount will be available to pay for childcare.


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Parents could be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare if they:

  • You’ll need to expect to earn a certain amount over the next 3 months. This is at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average. For example, over the next 3 months, you expect to earn at least £1,707.68 - the National Living Wage for people over 25.

  • Don’t receive childcare vouchers, tax credits or Universal Credit
  • Have children who are under 12, or under 17 for disabled children



Understanding the childcare service: a guide for parents (eligibility and application)

Using your childcare account

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You can now find out more and check your eligibility for Tax Free Childcare (TFC) (and all other government schemes) via the Childcare Choices website.

Childcare Choices allows you to:

  • check your eligibility for each of the childcare schemes
  • find out more about each scheme
  • sign up for a scheme (or show you where to sign up)
  • register for email alerts
  • find out what you need to do next

*If you are eligible for Tax Free Childcare, you can start depositing funds into your account to receive the government top up and arrange payments to your registered childcare providers.


The website allows you to select how much you earn, followed by whether or not you live with a partner. You will then be presented with your options highlighted in yellow (schemes you do not quality for will be greyed out). Under each available option you will see: “Is it for me?”. Selecting this will display further details and direct you to the relevant place such as online registration, calculators, email alerts, or GOV.UK pages. 

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