What is the Child and Dependent Care Credit?
The Child and Dependent Care Credit is for expenses you paid during the tax year for the care of qualifying household members so you, and your spouse if married filing jointly, could work or look for work.
Go to this section in Credit Karma Tax: Dependent Care Providers
Who qualifies for the Child and Dependent Care Credit and how do you know if you can claim it?
Credit Karma Tax will help determine if you are eligible for this credit based on the information you provide.
You may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal tax return if, during the last year, you paid someone to care for:
- Your child who is under age 13 when the care is provided
- Your spouse who is either physically or mentally unable to care for themselves and lived with you for more than half the year
- Your dependent who is either physically or mentally unable to care for themselves and lived with you for more than half the year
- Someone else who is either physically or mentally incapable of self-care who could have been your dependent except:
- Their gross income that equals or exceeds the exemption amount
- They file a joint return
- You (or your spouse, if filing jointly) could have been claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's 2018 return.
The care must have been provided so you, and your spouse if you’re married filing jointly, could work or look for work.
You, and your spouse if you file jointly, must have earned income from:
- Other taxable employee compensation
Additionally, one spouse may be considered as having earned income for any month they were a full-time student or were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves (your spouse must have lived with you for more than half the year).
Who is a care provider?
For the purposes of the Child and Dependent Care Credit, a care provider is someone who takes care of your qualifying household member while you are either working or looking for work. Expenses must be for the care of a qualifying person and must be primarily for the purpose of their well-being and protection.
Qualified care provider expenses cannot be for food, lodging, clothing, education or entertainment.
You’ll have to provide your care provider information to claim this credit (often including their SSN or EIN) and they should claim the money you paid them as income on their own tax return. If the care provider is a tax-exempt organization, you don’t have to show the taxpayer identification number.
The payments for care cannot be paid to:
- Your spouse
- The parent of your qualifying person
- Your dependents
- Your child who will not be age 19 or older by the end of the year
Do summer camp and after school care expenses count as dependent care expenses?
If you enroll a qualifying household member in a qualifying summer day camp or after school care while you work or look for work, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit.
If the camp or after school care provider is tax exempt you will need to check the tax-exempt box on the care provider information screen on Credit Karma Tax when entering their information.
The IRS does not consider overnight camps to be work related so the cost of overnight camps cannot be used to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit. However, the cost of sending your qualifying household member to a day camp may be considered for the Child and Dependent Care Credit if they attend so you can work or look for work, even if the camp specializes in a particular activity, such as computers or soccer.
What counts as a work-related expense?
Expenses for child and dependent care must be work-related in order to qualify for the credit. An expense is considered work-related only if both of the following are true.
- They are for a qualifying person's care.
- They allow you (and your spouse if filing jointly) to work or look for work.
For married couples, one spouse is treated as working during any month he or she is a full-time student or isn't physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself.
Your work can be either full time or part time. You can work for others or in your own business.
Work can also included actively looking for work. However, if you don't find a job and have no earned income for the year, you can't take this credit.
The IRS offers additional resources to help you understand the Child and Dependent Care Credit: