First Day of Summer (Summer Solstice): Summer Camp Can be Fun and a Tax Savings

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The first day of summer ( Summer Solstice) is June 20th, and with it, comes weeks away from the daily grind.  Of course, summer vacation is just a myth for American adults. Many Europeans beg to differ, or so I am told.

Indeed, summer vacation is greeted eagerly by children around the country (but not in my household, where my oldest is routinely distraught in late June by the reality of no school for an extended period). As for parents, they must prepare for challenge number one: keeping their children busy and out of trouble without breaking the bank.

Enter summer camp

Indeed, summer camp remains a ritual of growing up for some families.  Depending on the camp, the expense varies widely.  Fortunately, there is tax help – maybe.

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit  – Qualifications and Expense Limits

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit can be applied to summer camp expenses, subject to certain restrictions.  Your first consideration is the type of summer camp.  If your child sleeps over at the camp, that camp does not qualify.  In addition, if your child is 13 or older, he or she’s out – only expenses for kids 12 and under qualify for this credit.

Of course, it’s not as though you’ll instantly get tax help even if you decide to send your nine-year-old to day camp. That’s because there is another limit to the credit.  Once the total dollar amount spent on child care exceeds $3,000 per year for one qualifying child (or $6,000 for two or more qualifying children), you reach the maximum expense for which you can apply the credit towards.  This maximum amount includes not only day camp but also any child care expenses (including a nanny) you incur throughout the year.

Calculating the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

The calculation of the credit is based on the number of children under 13, your total child care expenses, and your adjusted gross income (AGI).  If you have one child and spend the maximum or more, you can multiply the top dollar amount ($3,000) by a rate based on your AGI which ranges from 20% to 35%.  The 20% rate applies to households whose AGI exceeds $43,000. Your income must be less than $15,000 to benefit from the maximum 35% rate.

If you have one qualifying child and earn $43,000 or more, your maximum credit may be $600 ($3,000 multiplied by 20%). If you have two or more qualifying children and $6,000 or more in expenses, you may receive a credit of $1,200 ($6,000 multiplied by 20%).  Keep in mind a credit reduces your taxes dollar-for-dollar and therefore may be more valuable than a tax deduction.

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit won’t make summer camp free, but it just might make it more affordable.  Just remember to use part of the savings for bug spray.

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