If you paid someone to care for a child, spouse, or dependent, you may be able to reduce your tax by claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Below are the top ten things you need to know about claiming a credit for child and dependent care expenses.
The care must have been provided for one or more qualifying persons. A qualifying person is your dependent child under age 13. Additionally, your spouse and certain other individuals who are physically or mentally incapable of self-care may also be qualifying persons. You must identify each qualifying person on your tax return.
The care must have been provided so you – and your spouse if you are married – could work or look for work.
You – and your spouse if you are married – must have earned income from wages, salaries, tips, other taxable employee compensation or net earnings from self-employment. One spouse may be considered as having earned income if they were a full-time student or they were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
The payments for care cannot be paid to your spouse, to someone you can claim as your dependent on your return, or to your child who is under age 19, even if he or she is not your dependent. You must identify the care provider on your tax return.
Your filing status must be single, married filing jointly, head of household or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child.
The qualifying person must have lived with you for more than half of 2008.
The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your income.
For 2008, you may use up to $3,000 of the expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals.
The qualifying expenses must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you exclude from your income.
If you pay someone to come to your home and care for your dependent or spouse, you may be a household employer. If you are a household employer, you may have to withhold and pay social security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. For information, see Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.
For more information on the Child and Dependent Care Credit, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. You may download these free publications from IRS.gov or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses (PDF 167K)
Form W-10, Dependent Care Provider’s Identification and Certification (PDF 31K)
Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses (PDF)
Form 2441 Instructions (PDF 32K)
Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (PDF 2,075K)
Tax Topic 602