Tax-Free Childcare: Declarations of eligibility
To be entitled to a TFC payment, the claimant must make a valid declaration of eligibility for the entitlement period. This section explains what a declaration of eligibility is.
- What is a declaration of eligibility?
- What is an entitlement period?
- How and when is a declaration made?
- Late declarations of eligibility
A declaration of eligibility is a statement made by the claimant which states that they are an eligible person for the entitlement period.
It is made as part of opening a childcare account and each time reconfirmation is made for the next entitlement period.
A declaration of eligibility is valid for the purposes of the main Act if:
- It allows HMRC to be satisfied that the person is an eligible person for the entitlement period.
- On the day on which the declaration is made, there is no other person who holds an active childcare account in respect of the relevant child (applies to opening accounts and reconfirmations) or is seeking to hold an active childcare account in respect of that child (for reconfirmations).
- The declaration is made in accordance with relevant regulations which say the declaration must:
- Be in the form specified by HMRC.
- Be made to HMRC by electronic communication (online) unless an exception applies.
- Contain information specified by HMRC to identify the claimant (the person making the declaration), the claimant's partner and the child (who the childcare account is being opened for) and to determine whether the person is an eligible person.
- (If the claimant or their partner is self-employed) contain the unique taxpayer reference number. If an account is being opened then confirmation that the self-employed person has applied for a UTR from HMRC is sufficient, but for reconfirmations the UTR will be needed. If the claimant's partner is self-employed in another EEA state, the claimant must provide any information asked for by HMRC to confirm that self-employment.
Entitlement periods are normally set for 3 months. However, HMRC have the power to alter entitlement periods by up to two months. HMRC may use this power for example to set an entitlement period for a child so that it coincides with the entitlement period of a sibling hwo already has a childcare account.
In some of the eligibility conditions, reference to an entitlement period means the three months from the date of declaration when opening an account, but that might not be the same as their first entitlement period. Where this is the case, we make it clear in the text. This is because at that point the claimant will not yet know the date of their first entitlement period.
We explain more about entitlement periods in our 'how does TFC work' section.
Opening a childcare account
The declaration made when opening a childcare account must be made on the day the person applies to open the account - this will be done as part of the online application process in most cases.
Claimants will be asked to reconfirm their eligibility ahead of the next entitlement period. Entitlement periods normally last for 3 months, but can be longer or shorter.
Declarations as part of the reconfirmation process (called a 'reconfirming declaration') must be made during the period beginning 28 days before the entitlement period for which the reconfirmation is being made and the first day of that entitlement period.
If the claimant makes the reconfirmation declaration in the 7 days before the new entitlement period begins, HMRC may not confirm whether the declaration is valid until 7 days after the declaration (although they may do so earlier).
A late declaration of eligibility is one that is made after the start of the entitlement period to which it relates. Where this happens, HMRC may not determine whether the declaration is valid until up to 7 days after the declaration was made.
Late declarations may reduce the amount of TFC payment a claimant is eligible for - see our 'how does TFC work' section for more information.
Last reviewed/updated 1 July 2022