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Feature Articles: Taxes


Claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit

Reviewed and adapted with special permission from the IRS by: Andrew Zumwalt, Associate State Specialist, Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri Extension


If you paid someone to care for a child under age 13 or a qualifying spouse or dependent so you could work or look for work, you may be able to reduce your tax by claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. To qualify, your spouse, children over the age of 13, and other dependents must be physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

The credit is a percentage of the amount of work-related child and dependent care expenses you paid to a care provider. The credit can range from 20% to 35% of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your income.

For 2011, 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. These dollar limits must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you exclude from your income.

To claim the credit for child and dependent care expenses, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Income: You must have earned income from wages, salaries, tips or other taxable employee compensation, or net earnings from self-employment
  • Payee: The payments for care cannot be paid to someone you can claim as your dependent on your return or to your child who is under age 19, even if they are not your dependents
  • Filing Status: Your filing status must be single, married filing jointly, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child
  • Care: The care must have been provided for one or more qualifying persons
  • Home: The qualifying person must have lived with you for more than half of 2011

There are some limitations on the amount of credit you can claim. If you received dependent care benefits from your employer, other rules apply.

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 or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).



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Last update: Friday, February 24, 2012