If you can claim a dependent on your income tax return and that dependent needs care, you may qualify for a tax credit from the Internal Revenue Service. To be eligible, the care must be for a qualified dependent. This means that it must be a child age 13 or younger, or a dependent who is not able to care for himself. You (or your spouse, if you file jointly) must have earned income. You must also pay expenses for care so that you or your spouse can go to work, or pursue a job hunt. You must pay money to a care provider, and that care provider must not be someone whom you can claim as a dependent.
Download an IRS Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. Carefully go through the form, step by step, using the instructions and IRS Publication 503 to guide you. You will need to figure your earned income from your W-2s, 1099s and other documents, and you must pass the earned income test to qualify for the credit.
Obtain the care provider's taxpayer ID number. You can do this by contacting the caregiver directly, or by having him fill out an IRS Form W-10 - Dependent Care Provider's Identification and Certification. The care provider must have a taxpayer ID number for you to claim the credit. Keep Form W-10 for your records; you do not need to file this form with the IRS.
Download and fill out an IRS Form 1040, 1040A or 1040NR individual income tax return. You cannot file a Form 1040 EZ and still claim the credit. You must enter your credit on line 48 of a Form 1040, line 29 of your 1040A or line 46 of Form 1040NR.
Forward the Form 2441 along with your individual tax return by the filing due date.
You must have actually earned income during the year to claim the credit. Also, the credit is not refundable. This means that you will not get a refund for the credit if your tax liability was less than the total amount of the credit.
- You must have actually earned income during the year to claim the credit. Also, the credit is not refundable. This means that you will not get a refund for the credit if your tax liability was less than the total amount of the credit.
Jason Van Steenwyk has been writing professionally since 1998. A former staff reporter for "Mutual Funds Magazine," he has been published in "Wealth and Retirement Planner," "Annuity Selling Guide," "Registered Rep." "Bankrate.com" and "Senior Market Advisor." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from the University of Southern California.