Fact Sheet: Child and Dependent Care Expenses

(Child Care Credit):

(Form 1040: Form 2441; Form 1040A, Schedule 2.  Not applicable to 1040EZ)


This credit provides a percentage credit in the amount of the lesser of the taxpayer’s earned income (or spouse’s earned income), the actual expenses, or $2400.00 for one individual; $4800.00 for two individuals.  For married couples for each month a spouse is disabled or a full-time student, that spouse is deemed to have $200.00 in earned income (one qualifying individual), or $400.00 earned income for two or more qualifying individuals.  The credit is intended to assist working taxpayers with dependent children.  The requirements for the use of this credit are as follows:


1.      Taxpayer Must Have Earned Income, except that for a married couple, living together, one spouse may be a student or disabled.  Earned income includes employee pay and income earned from self-employment.  If one spouse does not work, this bars use of the credit, except where the non-working spouse is incapable of self-care due to mental or physical disability, or where the non-working spouse is a full-time student at an educational institution at least some portion of five (5) months out of the tax year.  Earned income also included nontaxable earned income (NEI) such as deferred compensation (401(k) income), etc.


2.      Qualifying Individual.  The taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining the household for more him or herself and at least one qualifying individual.  Qualifying individuals include:


1)      A dependent under the age of 13 when qualifying care was provided, except that a custodial parent who waives the dependency exemption and a noncustodial parent who claims the dependency exemption under a divorce decree or separation agreement may claim the exemption.


2)      An individual who is physically or mentally handicapped and incapable of self-care, and is a dependent (or could be claimed as a dependent, except for having failed the gross income test).


3)      A spouse incapable of self-care due to mental or physical disability.


3.      Qualifying Expenses by the taxpayer necessary to ensure the welfare of the qualifying individual while the taxpayer works or searches for work (i.e., day care expenses).  Non-qualifying expenses include transportation to and from a care facility, overnight camp expenses, and education expenses incurred for the education of the qualifying individual in the first grade or higher.  Educational expenses will qualify for a child below the first grade if such educational expenses cannot be segregated from care expenses.  Use Form W-10 to obtain necessary information from a care provider.


4.      Payment to a Qualifying Individual.  The taxpayer’s spouse, dependent or child under age 19 may not be the person to whom the taxpayer is paying for services for such expenditures.


5.      Joint Return (Married Taxpayers).  Married taxpayers must generally file a joint return.  An exception to this rule exists if the taxpayer’s spouse was not a member of the household for the last six months of tax year, and if the taxpayer paid over half the cost of maintaining the principal household during the year for him/herself and a qualifying individual.


6.      More than Half the Cost of the Household Paid by Taxpayer:  The taxpayer claiming the credit must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining the household for more him or herself and at least one qualifying individual.


Flexible Spending Accounts (Dependent Care Benefits, or Cafeteria Plans/125 Plans):  Allow an employer to provide for child care for an employee.  Such benefits are paid for by the employee out of his or her salary and are not taxed up to $5000.00 (or $2,500.00 if MFS status is selected).  The amount in excess of these amounts is taxable.  Such benefits provided by an employer are non-taxable only to the extent these limits are not reached, or up to the amount of the actual expenses, or the taxpayer’s earned income including the non-taxable earned income other than the dependent care benefits provided by the employer.  When an employer provides these benefits, Part III of Form 2441 must be completed (or schedule 2 for 1040A filers).



Completing the form:


Any employer-provided care benefits (W-2, box 10) are excludable from income (up to $2500 of such expenses if S or MFS; or up to $5000 if MFJ) and reduce the amount of expenses eligible for the credit.  To the extent such benefits exceed these amounts they are taxable.  Any taxable amount is entered on line 7 of form 1040 or 1040A and “DCB” should be written on the dotted line.


1. Complete Part I of Form 2441 (or Schedule 2).


2. Look at box 10 of the taxpayer’s W-2 to determine whether the taxpayer has received any employer-provided dependent care benefits.  Any such benefits must be entered in Part III on either Form 2441 (1040 filers) or Schedule 2 (1040A filers) to determine the amount of such benefits excludable from the credit.  Enter the amount form W-2, box 10 on Form 2441 (or Schedule 2), line 10.


3. If the taxpayer had a flexible spending account, and forfeited any amount (amounts set aside, but not actually spent), enter any forfeited amount on line 11.  The difference is entered on line 12.  If no portion has been forfeited, generally, the amount provided by the employer (the amount ineligible to be used in calculating the credit, and excludable from income) will be entered on lines 12, 14, 17, 18, and 21.


4. On line 22, enter the amount eligible for the credit after deducting the amount provided by the employer.


5. On 23, enter the amount paid for qualifying expenses, less any amount paid by the employer.  (If the employer paid all such expenses, enter 0).





* The amount of child/dependent care benefits/credits are limited in the amount eligible for exclusion from income (up to $5000) and the amount eligible for calculating the credit (up to $4800).


* Up to $5000 of employer-provided dependent care benefits ($2500 if S or MFS) are excludable from income tax


* The taxpayer will have to pay tax on any DCB received in excess of $2500 (S or MFS) or $5000 (MFJ or HH)


* The taxpayer may be entitled to a credit in the amount of 20% to 30% of eligible child/dependent care expenses incurred (up to $4800 of such expenses for MFJ or HH status; $2400 for S or MFS statuses)


* In calculating the amount of expenses eligible for the credit, the amount of expenses paid by the employer is not included.