Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) was introduced gradually throughout 2017 by HM Government to help working parents with the cost of childcare and will, over time, replace the Armed Forces Childcare Voucher Scheme (AFCVS).
Parents have the option to open an online savings account, which they can use to pay for childcare from an accredited and registered provider.
For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare care costs, or up to £4,000 for disabled children
The scheme is available for children under the age of 12, or under 17 for children with registered disabilities.
To qualify, both parents must be in paid employment (or a single parent in a lone parent family), each working a minimum of 16 hours per week. If a parent earns £100,000 or more, they will not be able to use TFC.
To register and for more detail about the scheme, please visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk. A step-by-step guide on how to use TFC can be accessed at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/how-to-use-tax-free-childcare/.
No child can be a member of both TFC and the AFCVS at the same time, but children on AFCVS can transfer to TFC at any stage if eligible.
The AFCVS closed to new joiners on 5 October 2018.
TFC has been fully rolled out in the UK since the end of 2017.
Eligible parents in Germany, Cyprus and Gibraltar have been able to join TFC from 21 April 2017. Other overseas locations will only become available if appropriate levels of take-up can be guaranteed to HMRC.
Childcare Providers (CCPs)
For eligible parents to use their TFC account, CCPs need to be registered on the TFC portal.
Overseas, only CCPs registered with a MOD-accredited regulator can receive TFC payments. To register with a regulator can take up to 12 weeks.
Once signed-up, CCPs will appear on the digital tool which lets parents search for childcare providers who can be paid using TFC.
The tool can be accessed by visiting https://childcare-support.tax.service.gov.uk/par/app/checkerstart.
How to identify regulated CCPs
In overseas locations, CCPs are regulated by DCYP.
Each registered CCP has been issued with a unique identifier which parents can use when searching for a setting using the online digital checker tool. Both the regulator and CCP will be able to provide parents with their unique identifier.
To search for MOD providers overseas using the digital tool, parents need to enter the regulator unique identifier and postcode (e.g. BFPO 57) into the search field.
DCYP does not have access to individual TFC accounts. For any queries about a TFC account, parents should contact the HMRC TFC Team on +44 (0)300 123 4097 or visit https://www.gov.uk/get-tax-free-childcare.
General queries should be directed to DCYP-DCYP-Mailbox@mod.gov.uk.