Shortcut Navigation:

Can I take the tax credit for child care?

The child and dependent care credit is a tax credit for up to 35 percent of certain expenses you paid to provide care for your dependent child, your disabled spouse, or a disabled dependent while you worked or looked for work. To be eligible for the credit, you must care for a qualifying person, incur work-related expenses, and have earned income.

A qualifying person is:

  • Your dependent who was under the age of 13 when the care was provided and for whom you can claim an exemption, or
  • Your dependent who was physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself and for whom you can claim an exemption (or for whom you could have claimed an exemption but for the income test), or
  • Your spouse who is physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself, or
  • In certain cases, a dependent claimed by a divorced spouse

Child and dependent care expenses must be work related to qualify for the credit. That is, the expenses must allow you to work or look for work. If you are married, you must file a joint tax return and both you and your spouse must generally work or look for work. (Your spouse is treated as working during any month he or she is employed, or is a full-time student, or is physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself.)

Your child and dependent care credit is a percentage of a portion of your work-related expenses. The qualifying expenses on which the tax credit is based are limited to $3,000 for one qualifying dependent, and $6,000 for more than one qualifying individual. The percentage used in calculating the credit is gradually reduced as adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $15,000. If your AGI exceeds $43,000, your credit is limited to the minimum allowed by this law--20 percent of qualifying work-related expenses.

For additional details, consult a tax professional.