Classifieds | Place a class ad | PDF Edition | Calendar | Discussions | Moderated Chat | Home Delivery| How to cancel
Most parents remember that magical moment when, for the first time, a toddler can go play outside without Mom, Dad or a responsible adult watching every movement and every moment.
But between that day, and the day the child is truly OK to stay home alone, there often is a lot of day care to be arranged.
In the summertime, parents sometimes scramble to find things for their children to do. Many have arrangements with neighbors — I’ll watch both our kids on Monday, you watch them Tuesday — or are fortunate enough to have family to do the job.
For a lot of working parents, though, watching the kids is another expense on the family ledger: They have to pay for day care.
The Internal Revenue Service suggest that such families keep in mind now that they might qualify for a tax credit for child care expenses. So keep track of them. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is available year-round, not just when school is out for the summer. The credit is a percentage of the expenses paid for the care of a qualifying person — up to 35 percent, depending on your income, the IRS says.
The credit requires that you pay for child care specifically so you (both parents, if there are two in the household, who file income tax jointly) can work, or look for work. The credit can be claimed only if the taxpayer has earned income (wages or income from self-employment both count).
The care has to be for children under 13 who are dependents (a spouse or a dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself also can qualify.)
The day care doesn’t have to be in your home. It can be at home, at a day care facility, or even at a day camp. (But no, expenses for overnight camps, or summer school tutoring, don’t qualify, the IRS says.)
If the day care is in your home, you might be considered an employer, and need to provide the name, address, and Social Security number (or Employer Identification Number) of the child care provider to the IRS.
The IRS says to keep your receipts and keep good record of child care expenses so they’ll be handy when you prepare your 2013 income tax return.
You can read up on the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit in the IRS Publication 503. It’s online, at irs.gov. The IRS will mail the publication to you if you call 1-800-TAX-FORM and ask for it.