This is a post to file under “things I couldn’t find online so decided I should share”: if you’re enrolled in the UK’s Tax Free Childcare programme then you have (at time of writing) a maximum claim allowance of £2,000 each year, limited to £500 every three months. What’s not at all clear is how those three-month periods are calculated, and when the allowance resets.
As I’ve learned, it works like this. Every three months you have to “reconfirm” your enrolment. The reconfirmation dates are used as the start and end dates of each three-month claim period.
So – log into your account, then view Secure Messages, and look for the most recent message about reconfirmation. This will include a line like this:
You’ll need to check and reconfirm your details with us every 3 months and your next reconfirmation date is 19 October 2018. We’ll send you a reminder by email, nearer the time.
In this case, with a reconfirmation date of 19th October, the £500 entitlement period will run for three months from 19th July to 19th October, and so the system will release up to £500 during that period. If you haven’t reconfirmed yet, the same information is included in the initial message titled Tax-Free Childcare application for (name here).
It’s important to note that you can reconfirm far earlier than the actual deadline date, but this does not affect the reset of your allowance. So in this case reconfirming on 1st October would make no difference to the allowance resetting on the 19th.
Also: at the time of writing, the online system shows an available amount (You’ve £xxx.xx left for this period) on the Manage Account screen. This can be totally incorrect as it does not properly match up with the allowance reset rule.