The deadline to file taxes is looming on the horizon. As you check off grocery runs, play dates, and try to fit in some time to do your taxes before April 18, it's only natural to wonder what percent of childcare expenses can be deducted on your return this year. Luckily for parents everywhere, there are some childcare expenses that can be written off as deductions and, hopefully, beef up that refund.
Figuring out whether or not you qualify to deduct childcare expenses is a bit complex. It mainly depends on your income situation and how old your children are. But there are some guidelines and resources out there to help you file this year.
According to the IRS, you can claim childcare expenses if you or your spouse can prove that your family did so to "work or actively look for work." But be forewarned: If you're married and filing separately, you can't claim the childcare credit at all. But if you're filing together in the name of the same little rascal that's crying because you gave them the wrong juice box to keep them occupied while you try to make your way through your taxes? You're all good. Breathe. This too shall pass.
The percentage of childcare deductions is adjusted to your gross income and the "amount of work related expenses you paid to a care provider for the care of a qualifying individual," according to the IRS. Is any of this making sense?
It gets more complicated — as it probably always is — for divorced parents or non-custodial parents trying to claim childcare expenses as a tax deduction. But like most things tax-related, it's worth looking into those "uncommon" deductions, even if it requires a little extra legwork. If you paid anyone, even a family member, to babysit, you need their tax identification number to make a claim. The forms make it seem complicated, but depending on your personal situation, it could be worth it.
But there are other childcare expenses than be written off, too. Although parents can't write off every soccer uniform or box of finger paints, there are some legitimate expenses that are eligible for deductions. Remember when you sent your kid to camp this summer? Some of those costs, like shots and doctors visits, along with clothing to prep for certain kinds of camps, can be claimed as childcare expenses. If it was a niche camp — like a magic camp or an academic one — all the better. If it was day camp, your family might be able to write off more than you originally thought.
Deducting childcare expenses, especially preschool or day-camps, is very plausible, and depending on the individual situation the percentage you get back could be a lot higher than you assumed. But as with most things tax-related, childcare deductions are all about specifics. Anything is possible as long as you can fill out the forms. Lots and lots of forms. That's probably the hardest part.