Are Summer Camp Expenses Tax Deductible?

While the kids are having fun this summer, you can get some work done while minimizing your tax liability!

June 22, 2022

While the kids are having fun this summer, you can get some work done while minimizing your tax liability!

We know summer camp and income tax preparation don't exactly go together like toasted marshmallows and graham crackers.

But, there is a benefit here for anyone who sent a child to camp last summer or plans to do so soon. Because let's face it, summer camps are pricey, and any chance to cut costs is worth exploring, right?

First things first: 

What's the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction?

A tax deduction lowers your tax liability by a specific proportion. A tax credit, on the other hand, reduces the amount you owe dollar for dollar. As a result, a tax credit is more advantageous than a tax deduction.

1. The Child and Dependent Care Credit

You must understand "The Child and Dependent Care Credit" to offset the cost of summer camp. We understand that diving deep into the IRS website isn't on every parent's wish list, so we've compiled a summary of the most critical facts you should know.

You may be eligible for a tax benefit called the "Child and Dependent Care Credit" if you meet the following criteria: 

a) You (and your spouse, if you're married and filing jointly) must have earned income during the tax year.

b) You must be the child's or dependent's parent or primary caregiver.

c) You must have used the care services to work or look for work.

d) Your child or dependent must be under the age of 13 or disabled and unable to care for themselves physically or intellectually.

After you've gone through the prerequisites, you'll be ready to tackle the big question.

2. Is it possible to claim a tax deduction for summer camp?

Yes, you certainly can. Suppose you pay for a daycare center, summer camp, or babysitter to look after a qualifying kid under the age of 13 or a disabled dependent. In that case, you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35% of the cost for one child or dependent. You can claim up to $6,000 if you have more than one child.

3. What is the purpose of this credit?

While it would be ideal if all parents could enjoy summer vacation with their children, this is not always possible. This credit is intended to help working parents and guardians with the cost of raising children.

The credit is based on the amount you paid for the child or dependent care services. It also decreased the amount of federal income taxes owed, potentially increasing your refund. Ideally, this credit will allow you to spend more on your child's costs.

4. Can I deduct the cost of day camp from my taxes? 

Yes, you can deduct the cost of day camp from your taxes. Parents can claim the child and dependent care credit if their kids attend day camps, day nursery schools, and centers or establishments that provide childcare services.

When considering eligibility, ask yourself, "Is where I'm enrolling my child enabling me to work?" If you answered yes, there's a good possibility you'll be able to apply for this credit.

5. Can I deduct the cost of day camp from my taxes? 

Yes, summer camps count as dependent care. The IRS considers any summer camp, whether it's a nursery school or a pre-kindergarten program, to be child care.

6. What about sleepaway camps? Does that make a difference?

Sleepaway camps, however, are not eligible for this credit. It is impossible to deduct the cost of sending your child away for a few weeks or months as a work-related expense. On the other hand, day camps count regardless of a kind—whether sports and arts, music and outdoors, or both—all camps qualify.

7. Do virtual camps qualify for dependent care? 

It's a reasonable question, especially as virtual summer programs are becoming more popular among parents and children these days. A virtual day camp, on the other hand, does not genuinely provide child care. Because some parents work from home while caring for their children, virtual summer camps would be difficult to claim under this tax credit.

8. Do sports camps fall under this category?

Summer camps come in all shapes and sizes, with the word "day camp" referring to everything from computer camps to chess camps and other highly specialized summer programs.) Again, as long as the camp's main objective is to provide "daycare" while you work, it'll suffice.

9. Summer camps only or are childcare and babysitters included?

Money spent on babysitters, cooks, or even housekeepers who offer child care can be deducted from eligible expenses. The main thing to remember is that the care must be related to your ability to work, so babysitting or other care planned for personal reasons will not be considered.

10. What about stay-at-home parents?

Unfortunately, this credit is not available to stay-at-home parents or those who are unemployed (and not seeking work). To qualify, the expenses must be "job-related" (with "work-related" referring to expenses that allow you to work or look for work).

11. How much money will I get from the summer camp credit claim?

That, of course, depends on your income. The child and dependent care credit might be worth anywhere from 20% to 35% of the care expenses you paid for.

- If your annual income is less than $15,000, you are eligible to apply for the maximum 35 percent deduction.

- The rate decreases by 1% for every $2,000 increase in income until it reaches 20% (if you earn $43,000 or more).

12. Can I use my dependent care FSA to pay for summer camp?

Yes! Day camps are qualified for reimbursement from a Dependent Care FSA if they provide care for children under the age of 13 so that their parents can work, look for work, or go to school full-time.

What is a Dependent Care FSA? 

A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) is a pre-tax benefit account that can be used to pay for eligible dependent care services like preschool, summer day camp, before and after school programs, and child or adult daycare. It's a smart and simple way to save money while caring for your loved ones so you can keep working.

Why enroll in a Dependent Care FSA?  

- On average, you'll save 30% on dependent care services.

- Reduce your overall tax burden—funds are taken from your paycheck before taxes are deducted and sent into your account.

- Take advantage of several simple, hassle-free payment and refund options.

How Do You Save?

With a Dependent Care FSA, you can use pre-tax cash to pay for eligible out-of-pocket dependent care expenses. Because the funds you put into a Dependent Care FSA are not subject to payroll taxes, you pay less in taxes and keep more of your paycheck.

Dependent Care FSA Eligible Expenses

- Care for your child who is under age 13.

- Before and after school care

- Expenses for babysitting and nanny services

- Preschool, daycare, and nursery schools

- Day camp throughout the summer

- Care for your spouse or a relative who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care and lives in your home.

Use this calculator to see how much you can save with the Dependent Care FSA.

Okay, this is some great information... Are there any other details I should be aware of?

Last but not least, always keep receipts and records of your child's attendance at the camps. We cannot stress this enough. 

When it comes time to file your taxes, you'll need to supply the summer camp facilities' address and a federal tax identification number.

You, your accountant, or a tax professional will need to attach the federal Form 2441 when it's time to claim your credit.

Now that you've heard enough about taxes, are you ready to book summer camp? 

For youngsters, summer camp has numerous advantages. Find hundreds of in-person and virtual activities for all ages, from day camp drop-ins to week-long camps.

Summer Camp Tax Breaks Require Form

Taxes Needed For Summer Camp Tax Breaks

- Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040NR must be accompanied by the federal form 2441 (no "EZ" returns).

- You must include the child's name and social security number on your forms.

- Deposits paid to enroll a child in camp and then canceled will not be reimbursed.

- You must provide a taxpayer identification number to whoever you are paying for care.

- For the year, you must have earned money (along with your spouse, if filing jointly).

- You can only zero off your bill if the amount payable in taxes is less than your credit.

Learn About More Tax Deductions!

Vincere Tax is here to answer any questions you may have. Shoot us an email here or drop a question below. 

We would love to hear from you!

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