CHILD & DEPENDENT CARE CREDIT FAQS

For 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act made child, and Dependent care credit made substantially more generous. Now taxpayers can get up to $4000 for one qualifying person and $8000 for two or more qualifying persons. Thus, child and dependent care credit can help you pay for the care of eligible children and other dependents. In addition, this is a potentially refundable credit, so you might not have to owe taxes to claim the credit as long as you meet the other requirements. Below are some FAQs that can help you learn if you are eligible and, if eligible, how to calculate your credit.

  • Are you eligible to claim the credit?

You are eligible to claim this credit if you (or your spouse in the case of a joint return) pay someone to care for one or more qualifying persons for you to work or look for work, and your income level is within the income limits set for the credit.  If you are married, you must file a joint return to claim the credit.  However, if you are legally separated or living apart from your spouse, you may be able to file a separate return and still claim the credit.

  • How do you claim the credit?

 To claim the credit, you will need to complete Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, when you file your Federal income tax return. You should keep records of your work-related expenses.  Also, if your dependent or spouse is unable to take care of himself or herself, your records should show both the nature and length of the disability.  Other records you should keep to support your claim for the credit.

  • What information do you need from my care provider to claim the credit?

You must identify all persons or organizations that provided care for your child, dependent, or spouse.  To identify the care provider, you must give the provider’s name, address, and taxpayer identification number (TIN). If the care provider information you give is incorrect or incomplete, your credit may not be allowed. 

  • Who is a qualifying person?
  • Your dependent who is under age 13 when the care is provided;
  • Your spouse, if your spouse isn’t mentally or physically able to care for himself or herself and lives with you for more than half the year;
  • and A person who isn’t mentally or physically able to care for himself or herself lives with you for more than half the year, and either:
    • Is your dependent OR
    • Would have been your dependent except that (i) he or she receives more than a certain gross income amount ($4,300 in 2021), (ii) he or she files a joint return, or (iii) you (or your spouse in the case of a joint return) can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return.
  • What percentage of my work-related expenses are allowed as a credit?

The percentage of your work-related expenses allowed as a credit depends on your income (and your spouse’s income in the case of a joint return).  The maximum percentage of your work-related expenses allowed as a credit for 2021 is 50 percent.

  • When does the 50% amount begin to phase out?

The amount of your adjusted gross income determines the percentage of your work-related expenses that you are allowed as a credit. For 2021, the 50-percent amount begins to phase out if your adjusted gross income is more than $125,000, and completely phases out if your adjusted gross income is more than $438,000.

  • Is there a limit on the amount of work-related expenses you can take into account in calculating the credit?

 Yes. The maximum amount of work-related expenses you can take into account for purposes of the credit is $8,000 if you have one qualifying person, and $16,000 if you have two or more qualifying persons.  This means that the maximum total amount of the credit is $4,000 (50 percent of $8,000) if you have one qualifying person, and $8,000 (50 percent of $16,000) if you have two or more qualifying persons.

Please know that IRS continually updating information regarding the child and dependent care credit. For more information on this topic please visit IRS.GOV