Make sure you have a detailed account of all child care expenses — most importantly any receipts you received from day cares or after-school programs showing your expenses. When tax day approaches, complete Form 2441 and attach it to your Form 1040 tax return.
According to the IRS, you’ll need to report the name, address and “taxpayer identification number” or TIN (it can be a Social Security number or the employer identification number) of the care provider on your return. You can use Form W-10 to request the information you need from your care provider.
Note that the child and dependent care credit form is built into tax software such as TurboTax and H&R Block . Those programs will ask if you have a child under age 13 and if you paid for child care during the year in order to calculate your child care credit.
For expenses accrued in 2021, the IRS says you can claim up to $8,000 in eligible expenses for one dependent or up to $16,000 in eligible expenses for multiple dependents.
Keep in mind that the child and dependent care credit is not the same as the similarly named child tax credit. Advance child tax credit payments were disbursed on a monthly basis last year. If you’re eligible for the child tax credit and didn’t receive advance payments, you can receive between $500 and $3,600 per child as credit when you file your taxes.
Does my income affect how much I can claim or get back?
To qualify for the child care credit, a tax filer must have earned income, such as wages from a job or unemployment. If you are married and filing a joint tax return, your spouse must also have earned income. (Exemptions apply to full-time students and people receiving disability benefits.) The IRS says that generally you may not take the child care credit if you are married and filing separately.
The maximum amount of claimable child care expenses — $8,000 for one child or $16,000 flip through this site for two or more — is not affected by income level. However, the rate of return for the child care credit decreases as income increases.
For the 2021 tax year, the credit rate starts to reduce when a taxpayer’s income or household AGI (adjusted gross income), reaches $125,000. The credit rate is reduced by 1% for every $2,000 earned over $125,000, up until $183,000, where it settles at 20% for everyone earning $183,001-$400,000. For example, an AGI of $145,000 would receive a tax credit rate of 40%.
For those making more than $400,000. the credit rate again reduces by 1% for every $2,000 earned over $400,000, and becomes zero for families $438,000 or more. For example, an AGI of $410,000 would receive a tax credit rate of 15%.
Which dependents are eligible to be included in the child care credit?
According to the IRS, qualifying rules for dependents are fairly broad, but a dependent must fit one of the following criteria:
- Be under the age of 13, or
- Be unable to care for themselves if 13 or older (for example, if you have a spouse or older dependent who is impaired and incapable of caring for themselves, and has lived with you for more than half the year, or
- Be physically or mentally incapable of self-care — even if their income was $4,300 or more.
What should I know if I’m separated or divorced?
Only the custodial parent can claim the child care credit on their taxes. The IRS defines the custodial parent as the parent whom the child lived with for the greater number of nights in 2021. The rules for separated or divorced parents are similar to those governing the child tax credit and shared custody .