Childcare Providers - Have You Activated your Tax-Free Childcare Account ?


Young girl putting a coin in piggy bank

If you are a Registered Childcare Provider or Childminder, you can boost your business and help reduce cost for working families by activating your Tax-Free Childcare Account to make sure families can access government support when using your services. The Northern Ireland Childcare Subsidy Scheme (NICSS) also requires providers to be signed up for Tax-Free Childcare.

Why sign up for Tax-Free Childcare ?

You can help working parents with childcare costs.  

Tax-Free Childcare allows eligible working families to claim 20% of their childcare costs, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (£4,000 for a child with a disability), from the Government.

Northern Ireland Childcare Subsidy Scheme (NICSS)

The NICSS is a subsidy scheme introduced by the Department of Education (DE) on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive to help working parents with the cost of childcare.

The scheme is expected to start in September 2024, provided everything goes as planned.

Working parents eligible for Tax Free Childcare (TFC) with children who have not yet started primary school are eligible for the subsidy.  Their childcare provider must also be signed up to the TFC scheme.

See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to support the NI Childcare Subsidy Scheme published by Department of Education  here : 

FAQs Executive Early Learning and Childcare Strategy (at education-ni.gov.uk)

How does Tax-Free Childcare work ?

Both parents and Childcare Providers need to sign up for Tax Free Childcare to open an online Tax Free Childcare (TFC) Account.

Parents using the scheme pay the Registered  Provider directly for childcare using this TFC account. Payments work just as they do through an online bank account. Each payment is accompanied by a reference number for each child so providers can identify their payments.

If parents have more than one child in childcare they need to open an account for each child, however this can be done as part of a single application.

For every £8 working parents pay into the TFC account, the Government will pay £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per year per child (i.e. parents would need contribute £8,000 for the Government to top up the TFC account with £2,000).

Providers will only be able to receive Tax-Free Childcare payments from working parents if they have signed up to Tax-Free Childcare.

The amount working parents save with Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) will depend on their childcare costs.

Parents can pay into the TFC account at any time and receive the top up, up to a maximum of £500 top up per quarter (£2,000 top up per annum). These figures increase to £1,000 per quarter (£4,000 per annum) if their child has a disability. Other people, such as family, friends and employers, can also pay into the account. Payments can be made directly to the childcare provider through the online account.

How do I sign up as a provider?

An invitation letter will be sent to you once we receive your details from your regulator. If you’ve recently registered as a childcare provider, this may take a few weeks.

Your invitation letter will contain your unique user ID to sign up online and will also tell you what other details you need to sign up.

See more information here :

 Information for Childcare providers (at childcarechoices.gov.uk)

What does Tax-Free Childcare mean for Childcare Providers ? (at childcarechoices.gov.uk)

Sign up to Tax-Free Childcare if you’re a childcare provider (at gov.uk)

If you are already registered and haven’t received (or have lost) your invitation letter, you should contact the Childcare Service Helpline : 0300 123 4097

Guidance and Help if you are Self Employed (at gov.uk)

It is important that you indicate Registered for Tax Free Childcare on your profile on FamilySupportNI .

You can do this via our Self Service Portal 


Last Updated: 15/07/2024