Can I get childcare voucher refunds?
Parents with unspent childcare vouchers are increasingly turning to their employers and childcare providers for help, Telegraph Money has learnt.
So what are the rules? Edenred, one of the main providers of childcare vouchers, said it did not offer refunds for unused vouchers. There could be a way to get your money back if your employer permits it, but many don’t. An Edenred spokesman suggested asking your company as childcare vouchers are a “contractual benefit between an employee and their employer”. It is a complicated situation because of the way the vouchers are purchased.
Parents can buy up to £243 worth of childcare vouchers via a “salary sacrifice” scheme organised by their employer. The vouchers are bought before tax and National Insurance are deducted. Basic-rate taxpayers saving the maximum could save £933 a year. The vouchers can be used to pay for registered nurseries, after-school clubs and childminders.
The Childcare Voucher Providers Association, which works to develop systems of best practice, said the vouchers must be refunded through your employer’s payroll to make sure the correct tax is applied. Other childcare voucher providers said they did not ordinarily offer refunds – although the information was vague.
Kiddivouchers said that under HMRC rules, refunds were only allowed if you could not use your vouchers as a result of “exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances”, at the discretion of the employer. Early Years Vouchers said refunds were allowed in cases of overpayment, but under “normal circumstances” it would not offer employees their money back. Busy Bees Benefits said it would only allow refunds via your employer. Computershare Voucher Services said it would refund vouchers if the employer allowed it. However, all refunds must be made through the company’s payroll.
Parents should also check expiry dates on childcare vouchers.