Tax-Free Childcare: Eligibility conditions

Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) top-up payments can only be made to someone if they are an 'eligible person' for each entitlement period. In order to be an eligible person, they have to meet 8 eligibility conditions. The eligibility conditions are different for the eligible person's partner. On this website we refer to the eligible person as the claimant.

Confirming eligibility conditions are met

When an initial claim for TFC is made, the claimant will be required to make a 'declaration of eligibility' which is a statement made by them for the entitlement period (usually three months) that they are an eligible person for that entitlement period. This requirement means that at the date of declaration, the claimant needs to confirm that they meet all 8 eligibility conditions outlined below. If they have a partner, they will need to confirm that their partner meets conditions 4 to 8.

They will need to reconfirm their eligibility every three months via their online childcare account. It is important that the claimant ensures their confirmation is accurate in respect of all the conditions otherwise they may find they have to repay their top-up payments. See out 'dealing with HMRC' section for more information.

Even if they meet all 8 conditions, if their partner does not, they will not be treated as an eligible person and so not entitled to a top-up payment. We explain who counts as a partner in our 'who is an eligible person' section.

Changes of circumstances

It appears from the legislation that the claimant need only confirm that they meet the eligibility conditions at the date of declaration - which is the day on which they make their declaration of eligibility statement that they are an eligible person for the entitlement period.

Any changes after that date will not affect the TFC top-up payments for the entitlement period, however if the change still exists when they are next required to re-confirm and make a new declaration for the next entitlement period, they may no longer be entitled to receive top-ups.

The 8 eligibility conditions:

Eligibility condition 1 - Age

The claimant must be aged at least 16 at the date of declaration.

Eligibility condition 2 - Responsible for the child

The claimant must, at the date of declaration, be responsible for the relevant child. The relevant child means the child who the claimant is trying to open a childcare account for or, if they are reconfirming their eligibility, that they already hold a childcare account for.

We explain what responsibility means in our 'determining responsibility of the child' section.

Eligibility condition 3 - Being in the UK

At the date of declaration, the claimant must be in the UK. See our 'being in the UK' section for more detailed information about what this means.

Eligibility condition 4 - Qualifying paid work

The claimant, and their partner, must be in qualifying paid work at the date of the declaration. There are situations where people can be treated as in qualifying paid work even if they are not. We explain what qualifying paid work is in our sub-section.

Eligibility condition 5 - Income under the threshold

The claimant must not expect their adjusted net income to be more than £100,000 for the relevant tax-year. In this case, the relevant tax year means the tax year in which the date of declaration falls. Special rules apply to working out the hypothetical adjusted net income of a resident of another EEA state who is in paid work in the UK.

A person is not treated as meeting this eligibility condition if they have made, or expect to make, a claim under Section 809B of the Income Tax Act (claim for remittance basis to apply) for the relevant tax year or the person expects Section 809E of that Act (application of remittance basis in certain cases without claim) to apply to them in the relevant tax year.

Adjusted net income is explained on the GOV.UK website.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Parents who were critical workers remained eligible for TFC during 2020/2021 if they expected their income to increase over the maximum threshold but not over £150,000, where the additional income was mainly attributable to work associated with tackling coronavirus.

Eligibility condition 6 - Not claiming Universal Credit

The general rule is that TFC and Universal Credit (UC) cannot be claimed at the same time, regardless of whether the UC claim includes the childcare element. We explain more about this eligibility condition in our 'other benefits and childcare support' section.

Eligibility condition 7 - Not be in a relevant childcare scheme

The general rule is that TFC cannot be claimed at the same time as childcare vouchers or directly contracted childcare support from an employer. We explain more about this eligibility condition in our 'other benefits and childcare support' section.

Eligibility condition 8 - Not receiving other childcare support

The general rule is that TFC cannot be claimed at the same time as other childcare support payments towards the cost of childcare which are made out of funds provided by a National Authority. We explain more about this eligibility condition in our 'other benefits and childcare support' section.

Partner's eligibility conditions

In order to be an eligible person, the claimant's partner must meet conditions 4 to 8 above. If they do not, the claimant will not be an eligible person and will not be entitled to receive a TFC top-up.

Last reviewed/updated 26 May 2022