Tax Credits for Summer Camp

Learn which camp expenses are tax-deductible.

Spring's not even officially here, but we're firmly in summer camp mode, helping our readers get their kids ready for the out-of-school season. While you weigh your summer camp options, keep this in mind: Paying for camp may qualify you for a tax credit, as the IRS allows for deductions of certain camp expenses for children younger than 13 toward the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

Depending on your income, the tax credit can account for up to 35 percent of qualifying expenses: up to $3,000 of unreimbursed expenses paid within a year for one qualifying dependent and $6,000 for two or more. Here's what you need to know to determine your eligibility. 

  • The cost of DAY CAMPS and nonresidential SPECIALTY PROGRAMS may count as a qualifying expense, as may payments to IN-HOME SUMMER SITTERS. However, expenses for OVERNIGHT CAMPS do not count at all, as it is not considered a "work-related expense."
  • If you or your spouse is a STAY-AT-HOME PARENT or UNEMPLOYED, you are ineligible, as the applicable credit is classified as "work-related." A summer-care provider can not be a dependent's parent.
  • You can not claim expenses lost to a nonrefundable camp DEPOSIT should your summer plans change. On the flip side, if you PAY IN FULL prior to the start of camp, you may not claim the expense until the child care is received.
  • QUALIFYING EXPENSES focus solely on child care, not extras like food or entertainment. Camp-provided TRANSPORTATION may be credit-eligible; costs incurred by you ferrying your kids to and from camp do not.  

Make sure to put your tax-return forms in order. To simplify the process, ask your camp office to provide you with a W-10 form with its name, address and tax ID number. You can also input this info on the form you submit to claim a child-care expense credit: Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040NR are acceptable; 1040EZ or 1040NR-EZ are not. Make sure you include your child's Social Security number as well as the following four pieces of info on your claim; omission of any of these stats may disqualify your credit chances: 

  1. Camp or care provider name
  2. Facility address
  3. Camp Tax ID Number or care provider Employer ID (EIN) or Social Security number
  4. Total amount spent on child care for each dependent.

For personal camp-expense credit questions, speak with your tax professional and camp director.

Categories: MK Memo