Ten Things to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Credit

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Child care is expensive. Month in and month out, parents across the country work hard to pay for childcare. Thankfully there is some tax relief from the government.

Lawmakers years ago recognized that parents needed some sort of relief from the childcare cost burden. The relief caps out at a certain amount and it doesn’t cover every dollar spent but it does help some.

Here’s IRS guidance on how to take advantage of the child and dependent care credit:

Ten Things to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you paid someone to care for your child, spouse, or dependent last year, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Below are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about claiming a credit for child and dependent care expenses.

  1. The care must have been provided for one or more qualifying persons. A qualifying person is your dependent child age 12 or younger when the care was provided. Additionally, your spouse and certain other individuals who are physically or mentally incapable of self-care may also be qualifying persons. You must identify each qualifying person on your tax return.
  2. The care must have been provided so you – and your spouse if you are married filing jointly – could work or look for work.
  3. You – and your spouse if you file jointly – must have earned income from wages, salaries, tips, other taxable employee compensation or net earnings from self-employment. One spouse may be considered as having earned income if they were a full-time student or were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  4. The payments for care cannot be paid to your spouse, to the parent of your qualifying person, to someone you can claim as your dependent on your return, or to your child who will not be age 19 or older by the end of the year even if he or she is not your dependent. You must identify the care provider(s) on your tax return.
  5. Your filing status must be single, married filing jointly, head of household or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child.
  6. The qualifying person must have lived with you for more than half of 2010. There are exceptions for the birth or death of a qualifying person, or a child of divorced or separated parents. See Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
  7. The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your adjusted gross income.
  8. For 2010, you may use up to $3,000 of expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.
  9. The qualifying expenses must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you deduct or exclude from your income.
  10. If you pay someone to come to your home and care for your dependent or spouse, you may be a household employer and may have to withhold and pay social security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. See Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.

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Money Clubs for Children

zealblack2bboy2band2bpiggy2bbankStarting an after school money club with a few other classmates can go a long way in the development of a child’s understanding of money. They can not only arrange trips to the bank together but they can also sit down every so often and talk about how money affects their lives. This provides a great experience that can go a long way in a child’s understanding of money.

Today many schools do not make money management a part of their daily curriculum. There are a number of very valid reasons why. Something has to be done however to bridge the money intelligence gap. The reason, at a certain point every child will grow up and have to be money smart. Without lessons on money they will have a financial intelligence gap that could hinder them. It won’t help with their family and it won’t help their work life.

Take Children to the Bank

Clubs can do a number of things to promote childhood understanding of money. As mentioned earlier members can take monthly trips to local banks. While they are there, club members can deposit allowance, birthday and holiday money they get from family and friends. They can talk with the tellers, bank managers and other employees about their accounts and how they work. They can also go over many other aspects of banking.

Children Share Reports on Money with Each Other

The young members of the club can also do reports on different aspects of money management and share those finding with their fellow members. They can go over the history of money, report on how salaries work or explain to each other how bills are paid. However, no matter what the money report is about each member gets something that they might not have received before. Those who have, can add to the conversation.

Parents Share Money Ideas with the Club

Another great way for children to bridge the money intelligence gap is to have parents come into the meetings with their own experiences with how to handle money. Parents can do this on their own, through the PTA or working with the local bank representatives.

Children look up to adults and parents especially. Parents can work together on the right ideas and presenters to give their children the best lesson they can on how to handle money.

Children of all ages can start or continue the process of learning about money management along with everything else they need to learn. The challenge however has been how to make that learning happen on a regular basis. Starting and expanding a money club can go a long way in encouraging that learning process.

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