Help with Childcare Costs

3rd February 2015

Do you qualify for extra tax credits? If you work, you could get extra tax credits to help with your childcare costs. You can claim as soon as you start paying for childcare, and only for the amounts that are actually paid by you.

What Childcare Qualifies
You must use registered or approved childcare. This can include nurseries, childminders, foster carers, out of school hours clubs and nannies. There are different registration and approval rules for each part of the UK. Check that your childcare provider
meets these rules before you make your claim.

Who Can Qualify?

You’re a lone parent : You must work 16 hours or more a week to claim help with childcare costs.

You’re part of a couple : Generally you and your partner must both work 16 hours or more a week to claim help. Only one of you has to work 16 hours or more if the other is:

  •  ‘Incapacitated’ – this means they’re ill or disabled and getting certain benefits, or in certain circumstances National Insurance credits
  • In hospital
  • In prison – serving a custodial sentence or remanded in custody awaiting trial or sentence
  • Entitled to Carer’s Allowance – even if they don’t get any payments because they receive other benefits instead

You’re off Work-can you still claim

There are situations where you can still claim for help with childcare costs. These are explained below.

You’re on maternity, paternity or adoption leave : if you were working at least 16 hours a week immediately before you went on leave – and any of the following apply:

  • you get maternity allowance
  • you’re on ordinary maternity or adoption leave
  • you’re in the first 13 weeks of additional maternity or adoption leave
  • you’re on your two weeks of paternity leave
  • You’re off sick from work
  • If you were working at least 16 hours a week immediately before you went off sick – and both of the following
  • You’re off sick for 28 weeks or less
  •  you get one of certain state benefits – for example Employment and Support Allowance, Statutory Sick Pay or National Insurance Credits because you have limited capability for work (that is your illness or disability affects the amount and type of work you can do)
  • If you were off work for one of the following reasons before you went off sick, you can still claim help
    with childcare costs:
  • You were on maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • You were on the first ten days of strike leave
  • You were suspended from work
  • You must have been working at least 16 hours a week beforehand.
  • If you don’t return to work after 28 weeks you may not qualify any more. Contact the Tax Credit Helpline if this happens.

How much help you can get?

You can get help with up to 70 per cent of your childcare costs – up to certain limits. If you pay childcare for:

  • One child, the maximum childcare cost you can claim is £175 a week
  • Two or more children, the maximum cost you can claim is £300 a week

This means that the maximum help you can get for your childcare is: £122.50 a week for one child and £210 a week for two or more children But you won’t necessarily get the full £122.50 or £210 a week – the actual amount you get will depend on your
income. The lower your income, the more tax credits you can get.

What income limits apply?

There is no set income limit for help with childcare costs. A couple with one child, paying £175 a week for childcare, will still get some tax credits with an annual income as high as £41,000. But this is only a very general guide.

It’s important to know that:

  • Different income limits apply depending on your circumstances – for example if you have a large family the income limit could be higher
  • You need to make a claim to get a definite answer to how much you are entitled to

You can use ‘at a glance’ entitlement tables to get a rough idea of the help you could get. These tables show yearly amounts of tax credits based on different amounts of income – but they don’t cover every situation.

If you want a better idea of how much you could get, there’s also an online tax credits calculator you can use. Childcare costs you can’t claim for through tax credits

You can’t claim for:

  • Payment from your employer towards your childcare costs, either in cash or vouchers – this includes vouchers in return for a reduction in your pay (known as a ‘salary sacrifice’)
  • Free early learning or nursery education – for example the 15 hours a week free early year’s education for three and four year olds in England
  • Payments from the government towards your childcare costs because you are a student, or you are starting work

You can still claim for any childcare costs that you actually pay for yourself. For example, if your employer pays part of your childcare costs in vouchers, you can make a claim for the rest. If your employer offers you childcare vouchers There is an online calculator to help you decide whether you’re better off taking the vouchers or not.

How to claim
When to claim : You can make your claim:

  • If you’ve already started to use childcare
  • Up to seven days before you start using childcare – no earlier

Tax Credit Office
Helpline -0345 300 3900
Text phone-0345 300 3909
Opening Hours-Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm, and Saturday 8.00 am to 4.00 pm.
Closed Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

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Wyre Forest Childminding Group

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