Tax-Free Childcare: Reconfirmation process
In order to receive top-up payments, an application must be made to HMRC to open a childcare account. This application will only be granted if a valid declaration of eligibility for the entitlement period has been made and various other conditions are met.
That initial declaration lasts for the duration of the entitlement period and the claimant is then required to re-confirm their details for support to continue. The claimant must re-confirm their eligibility (called a declaration of eligibility) for each entitlement period, effectively a 3-monthly renewal process until they no longer require or are eligible for TFC.
Re-confirmation is done through the claimant's childcare account and, in most cases, it simply requires the claimant to re-confirm their details. Notably, the legislation requires that the re-confirmation is made regarding the claimant's circumstances and their expectations on the date that declaration is made.
When must re-confirmation be done?
Re-confirmation can be done up to 28 days before the end of each entitlement period for the TFC.
HMRC's guidance says they will send a reminder email to the claimant when their individual reconfirmation window is open. For those who have not provided an email address, HMRC will send a reminder letter about reconfirmation.
Reconfirmation is done through the on-line childcare account and claimants will reach a 'thank you' screen once they have completed the steps in the process.
What happens if re-confirmation is done late?
Where the claimant makes their re-confirmation late i.e. after the start of the entitlement period that the re-confirmation relates to, HMRC may not determine whether the declaration is valid until 7 days after the declaration was made or such earlier time as HMRC allows. If a late declaration is made, qualifying payments can only be made for the remainder of the entitlement period after the day on which HMRC determine the declaration is valid.
This appears to mean that any payments paid in before HMRC have made that determination will not attract a top-up, but it also seems that top-up payments will not be restricted in any way. The exception to this is where the declaration leads to termination of tax credit award or the person is subject to an assessment period under Regulation 21 of the Universal Credit Regulations which overlaps with the entitlement period. In those cases, the relevant maximum for the entitlement period is pro-rated.
What if the claimant does not want to continue with TFC?
If a claimant is no longer eligible for TFC at the time of their reconfirmation, they do not need to reconfirm. If they subsequently become eligible again, they can re-start their TFC by completing the reconfirmation process.
Claimants who do not reconfirm can still deposit money in the childcare account and pay their childcare costs but they will not receive the Government top-up in relation to any money they deposit once the account has become 'pay only'.
Last reviewed/updated 10 January 2020