How You Can Save Up To $2,100 on Summer Day Camp

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Schools out for summer and you may have been trying to figure out more ways to save. If you’re like most parents, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to keep your kids busy without breaking the bank. You may also be considering entering the job market again this summer, but don’t know how you can afford to work with the prices of daycare these days.

Whether you are a parent already working or you are planning to enter the job market again this summer, you may be surprised to find that you can save up to $2,100 on your taxes when you file just because you sent your kids to summer day camp.

Under the Child and Dependent Care Credit, you may receive a credit up to $1,050 of your expenses for one child under 13 and up to $2,100 for two or more children under 13 and there is no age limit if they are disabled. There is one catch though, overnight camps do not count.

There are a few qualifications necessary in order for you to save with the Child and Dependent Care Credit as follows:

  • The care must be provided for a qualifying person who is your dependent under the age of 13 when care was provided. Note: Care may also be provided for your spouse or certain other dependents who are physically and mentally incapable of self-care.
  • Your child or qualifying person must be in summer camp or daycare so that you can work or look for work.
  • Your tax filing status must be single, married filing jointly, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) with your dependent listed on your tax return.
  • The child must have lived with you for more than half of the tax year in question.
  • The care provider must be identified on your tax return and cannot be your spouse, the parent of your qualifying person, or your dependent child under the age of 19 by the end of the tax year.

Knowing about this little known tax credit may also help you decide if you are on the fence about going back to work. This will also give you peace of mind knowing your kids are staying active in a safe place while you save (make) money.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers. If you have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. TurboTax Live CPAs and Enrolled Agents are available in English and Spanish and can also review, sign, and file your tax return.

Comments (141) Leave your comment

    1. Hi Vidooch,
      If you pay for daycare for your kids so you can work then yes you would still be eligible for the credit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    1. Hi,
      If you receive dependent care benefits under a cafeteria plan that you exclude or deduct from your income, you have to reduce the the dollar limit that applies to you by the benefit amount. The dollar limits for the Dependent and Childcare credit are $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for 2 or more so if you had one child and your defined benefit plan gave you $1,000 towards health care you would take the $3,000 limit and subtract the $1,000 benefit. Your credit would be calculated using the result of $2,000. TurboTax figures the credit out for you.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  1. What about if it’s a private baby sitter that watches them in the summer?? Does it have to be a company with a tax id number?

    1. Hi Tiff,
      No it does not have to be a company with a tax id number. You would need your baby sitter’s social security number to take the credit meaning she in turn claims what you pay her on her taxes.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  2. My son goes to mathnasium an hour or two a day. It gives him something to do while I am at work. Usually he walks there himself while I am at work. Does this count?

    I sent him to soccer camp for a couple of weeks- 3 hours a day, He was able to walk to and from the camp while I was at work. It seems more likely that I could take a credit for this.

    1. Karen,
      Soccer camp will quality, Mathnasium seems like a tutoring program and will not apply.

      Mary Ellen

  3. My daughters daycare converts to a summer camp when the school calendar ends. She is not of school age yet so I filed my 2013 taxes as a full year of daycare expenses? Do I need to amend my taxes? Are there benefits to splitting the two different expenses vs. combining them into one?

    1. Megan,
      The daycare/summer camp expense is rolled into one expense for purposes of calculating the credit. You do not need to amend your 2013 taxes unless you did not report all of the expenses you paid.

      Mary Ellen

  4. My mother takes care of my daughter during the summer while I work. I do pay her out of pocket can I claim this on my taxes?

    1. Sandra,
      The care provider must be claiming the income you pay them. If your mother is reporting the amount you pay her as income, then the expense will qualify for the dependent care credit.

      Mary Ellen

  5. Can foster parents claim the credit? I’ve been paying part out of pocket for the day camp my foster child goes to.

    1. Laura,

      If you can claim the foster child as a dependent, you can qualify for the credit if you meet all the other conditions of the credit.

      Mary Ellen

    2. Hi Laura, I’m also interested in fostering kids. How does it work? You can call me if you’d like: 503-314-9184. Diane

  6. I was able to locate the tax ID for the YMCA where my daughter is attending summer day camp (it’s on their website, who knew?!). When I add this to my taxes, do I need to provide anything else besides the tax number? Do I need to print off receipts proving I paid for camp? Do I need to request any forms from the YMCA to claim this? Thanks in advance!

    1. Kelly,

      You will want to keep the receipts with your other tax documents for the year, but they do not need to be attached to the tax return.

      Mary Ellen

    1. jweakle,

      According to the instructions for form 2441,
      Generally, married persons must file a joint return to claim the credit. If your filing status is married filing separately and all of the following apply, you are considered
      unmarried for purposes of claiming the credit on Form 2441.
      You lived apart from your spouse during the last 6 months of 2013.
      Your home was the qualifying person’s main home for more than half of 2013.
      You paid more than half of the cost of keeping up that home for 2013.

      Mary Ellen

  7. Does sending the kids to Jamaica with their grandparents for part of the summer count for tax savings.

    1. Omont,

      No, I think that would fall into the category of non-qualifying overnight expense. But I hope they all have a great time.

      Mary Ellen

  8. My wife stays at home and my 3 year old son goes to pre school for 3 days a week. Am I eligible for this credit?

  9. this article is incredibly misleading – whether it’s child care during the school year or child care/summer camp during the summer, it’s still dependent care expenses.

    1. Tara,

      You are right, these are part of the total dependent care expenses that will qualify for the credit.

      Mary Ellen

  10. I am self-employed, and my husband works full-time. Can we take the deduction? Our son has been in a summer day camp all summer.

    1. Kristy,
      Yes, sports camp and other enrichment camps will quality for the credit.You will need the name, address and federal ID number of the provider of the camp, just as you would for any other provider.

      Mary Ellen

  11. I’m self-employed, and my husband works full-time. Can we take this deduction? I have had my son at a summer day camp all summer.

    1. thezwomann,
      Self-employed individuals must show a profit on their Schedule C in order to qualify for the credit.

      Mary Ellen

  12. I think this was mentioned in a previous comment–but is a federal ID number required? What is the best way to get that? I have two weeks of summer camps planned–1 through the local city/rec and the other through a private org. Thanks!

    1. spottytrends,
      Yes, a federal ID is required. The providers are used to providing that number to the parents so all you need do is request it. It may also be on the receipt you get.

      Mary Ellen

  13. I imagine that teachers qualify if their child was attending camp and work in the classroom (or for the classroom) was accomplished while they attended, right?

    1. Kimberly,
      If you are working during the summer, the dependent care expenses paid while you work will qualify for the credit.

      Mary Ellen

    1. Mike,
      None other than the gratitude of the parents. The kids must be your dependents for you to qualify for the credit.

      Mary Ellen

    1. Lori,
      If the person you paid does not have a federal ID, you will not be eligible for the credit.

      Mary Ellen

  14. How does one claim this for looking for work? What is needed for documentation. Applications? Interview statements or verifications?

    Great opportunity to get out and interview while kids are sent to dsy camp. Yet, don’t want to plan on credit and not get it if I do not get hired for suitable employment.

    1. kidlikes3,

      If you are job-hunting or a full-time student, TurboTax will ask you the right questions to determine the credit. You should keep a log of your job-hunting journey for the records.

      Mary Ellen

  15. I didn’t know this! I send two to camp every year. About $500-$600 per week per child. Thanks for the “Heads up”! TurboTax rocks!

    1. Natasha

      Dependent care expenses for a 13 year old who is not disabled will not qualify for the credit.

      Mary Ellen

  16. My daughter & her 2 minor children moved in with me again last Aug. My daughter does not work because we have a disabled family member living with us. My daughter has been helping me care for her. Do I qualify to get the tax break for putting my 2 grandchildren in summer camp so I can continue working.

    1. Cathy,
      You would need to be claiming your grandchildren as dependents in order to quality for the dependent care credit. If they are dependents, then yes, you will qualify for the credit.
      Mary Ellen

    1. Yes. My wife and I tried to get this credit and we only were able to deduct 20% of our childcare/camp expenses, due to our income – over $84K, but under $120K. I can’t find the exact bracket anywhere though.

  17. I had camp expenses last year of $1444.00 for two kids under 13 and I work,my husband works so we qualify.But I did not put on last years taxes is it worth it to amend my taxes? We did get a refund!

    1. Yes, it is probably worth it to amend your taxes. Depending on other factors, you could get a very nice additional refund.

  18. Child and dependent care require a SSN or an EIN to claim the credit. My child went to five different summer camps while I worked. How do I get their SSN or EIN when it was a basketball team fundraiser for instance.

    1. I believe that if you are deducting it as a donation(for a fundraiser for example) you can’t also take it as the child care credit. It’s one or the other. Still would need their EIN number

  19. Thank you so much,Now How do I get my taxes from last year 2013 adjusted because I did not know this to have put it on that and they went to camp last year too?

    1. Karen.

      You will need to file an amended return. If you used TurboTax, you can log back in and say you need to amend. TurboTax will walk you through the process.

      Mary Ellen

      1. Thank you so much for this info I’m going to amend my taxes this weekend.I got the ID from my local Park district with no hassle.

  20. Lisa,
    My wife stays at home with our four kids during the year & summer and I’m a teacher so I have summer months off from work (although my pay is spread out over 12 monthly pay periods). Would we be eligible for this credit? We file jointly. Also, is this a full reimbursement or just a percentage reimbursement of what was paid to a care provider?

    1. PMaestro,
      The dependent care credit is only available to married couples when both of the parents are working, full-time students, job-hunting, or disabled. If you wife is staying home with the kids, or you are home during the summer, the dependent care paid for that period does not qualify for the credit.

      The credit is a percentage of the amount paid.

      Mary Ellen

  21. My son goes to the local skating rink during the summer. he is 9 and a regular attender on the weekends during normal business hours. However, during the summer, the rink opens considerable earlier (0730) for parents who work. It is advertised as Skate Camp, so I’m hoping this qualifies!

    1. The child care credit is so that if you are a single parent and work or if both parents work you have someone who can care for the child (children) if your wife stays at home then the credit wouldn’t apply. I am an accountant

  22. My kids went to various summer camps while my husband and I worked. The camps did not provide a federal ID number. How can I claim the credit when I don’t have the ID required to file the form for childcare expenses?

    1. Lucy,
      You can contact the various providers and request the ID number if it was not on the billing statements.

      Mary Ellen

  23. My son goes to the local Boys and Girls Club camp because my husband and I both work. We would qualify for this credit. A couple of years ago we tried to claim this camp and it was not accepted by TurboTax because there was no federal ID number on the papers that we received of our payment. Should this organization have a federal ID number to provide with payment verification?

    1. Yes they should be able to provide you with their federal ID number as they would have to pay taxes on the money that they made (it’s a business of some type)

  24. Hi, I am going through a divorce but am currently still married. My divorce will most likely not be finalized until late this year. I pay for all child care expenses both during school year and summer. What are my options re filing status that would enable me to deduct child care expenses?

    1. Hi Mary,

      If you are filing a joint tax return with your soon-to-be-ex, and you are both employed, job-hunting, full-time students or disabled, you can claim the credit on the joint tax return.

      If you are not filing a joint tax return, and you did not live with your soon-to-be-ex from July 1 through the end of the year, and you were employed, job-hunting, full-time student or disabled, you can file as head of household and claim the credit.

      Mary Ellen

      1. Thank you.
        Follow up question – I believe that when the divorce is finalized, we will agree to split the child deductions — he will claim one child next year, I will claim the other two. Since I pay all of the child care expenses, I am wondering if I can claim all of them, and/or if he can claim any of them.

  25. My son attends private school. I understand that I can not get a credit for his private school tuition but his summer day camp is through the school does qualify? Can I claim his after school care that is separate from tuition on my taxes. Thank you

    1. Shoni,

      Yes, after school care and summer day camp provided by the school will qualify if they are separate from school tuition.

      Mary Ellen

  26. My wife’s parents are taking care of our twelve year old son during the summer while my wife and I are at work. We give them some money every month. Would we qualify for this credit?

    1. Jon,

      If the grandparents are reporting the income from the childcare, you can qualify for this credit.

      Mary Ellen

    1. Shawn,

      Enrichment camps will quality as long as they are not overnight camps. You will need the name, address and federal ID number of the camp provider for the credit.

      Mary Ellen

    1. Cynthia,

      If both parents are working, job-hunting, full-time students or disabled, even 1/2 day camps will qualify.

      Mary Ellen

    1. William,

      If the non-working parent is disabled, a full-time student, or looking for a job, you would qualify. Otherwise, you will not qualify.

      Mary Ellen

  27. Hi I pay for my 2year old to attend daycare while I work and have been for over a year how would I add this to my tax returns?

    1. Hi Mieshah,
      TurboTax has questions about daycare in the Family section of Deductions. You will need the name, address, and federal ID number of the provider(s) and the amount you paid. TurboTax will do the rest.

      Mary Ellen

  28. Touchy subject– what if my son attends day care as a result of divorce proceedings…. do the expenses incurred while still “married” but without a spouse to look after him count?

    Have been sole provider to him for >$3000 of childcare expenses, however, I am still technically married. Yes, he has lived with me the entire year. Yes, it is because I have full-time work. No, my (soon to be) ex is not employed- she simply chose not to see him or be involved in his life.

    1. Matt,
      If you are filing as head-of-household, you will be able to claim the dependent care credit. If you file jointly with your spouse, she would have to be employed also.

      Mary Ellen

    1. cvclac,
      There is not an income limit for taking the credit. Based on your income, the credit may be limited to 20% of the amount paid.

      Mary Ellen

    1. I would not recommend lying about it. You don’t have to prove job hunting for every hour the kids are in day care, but you should have a log of what you are doing day to day, like internet search, send applications or resumes, phone or live interviews, etc.

      Thank you,

      Mary Ellen

  29. Where on the form do I enter this credit? Is there a prompt for summer camp? I don’t remember one.

    Thanks for the tip!

    1. Hi Nicoel,
      If you’re using TurboTax we don’t have you worry about the forms. We will ask specific questions about your dependents and whether or not you paid for child care and put the credit on the correct form. Summer camp is not called out separately as it is all part of the Child and Dependent Care Credit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  30. Hi Lisa,

    My two kids are in camp, and we appear to qualify for this tax credit.

    My wife and I are married filing jointly, and I work full-time. Does my wife also have to be “employed or looking for work” in order for us to qualify for the credit?


    1. Hi Jay,
      If you are married filing jointly, your wife also has to be working or looking for work to be eligible for the credit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    1. Hi,
      Only if you take your kids to camp so that you can work or look for work.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  31. Hello,
    I have 2 kids, age 7 and 9. Through my employer I get a dependent care credit of $5,000 for care for after school, during the regular school year. Is this $2,100 in addition to that?

    1. Hi Carrie,
      If your employer is paying for your dependent care, you would not be able to take the Child and Dependent Care Credit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  32. Is this in addition to the child care deduction(around$6,000) that I already take for daycare during the school year? I can’t remember the exact amount. Also, if my Daycare hosts a summer camp that is registered for separately than the morning and afternoon care during the school year, does that apply as well?

    1. Hi Trishia,
      No it is not in addition to the Child and Dependent Care Credit. It’s one in the same. You get a maximum credit up to 35% of $3,000 ($1,050) for one child and 35% of $6,000 ($2,100) for two or more children.
      Summer camp applies as long as your children are going to summer camp so you can work or look for work.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    1. Hi Ron,
      As long as the care was so that you could work, was for the safety of your child while you work, and the child is your qualifying child, you may be eligible for the credit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  33. I do not believe I qualify for the dependent care credit due to my tax bracket, but do have a cafeteria plan with a dependent care account through my work. Are you saying any care provider so the parent may work qualifies as dependent care, even if not a licensed child care provider? If so, ski lessons/camps during winter or spring break or days where school is closed qualify as well? And after school classes and camps to extend parent’s work day?

    1. Hi Diana,
      Not any, but if you send your child to daycare or summer camp so you can work or look for work you may be eligible for the credit. They don’t necessarily have to be licensed, but would have to give you their social security number or federal ID number in order for you to claim the credit. After school care so that you can work would qualify, but not ski lessons.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  34. In regards to “The care provider must be identified on your tax return”, how does that work if my child attends camps run by local city parks and rec department?

    1. Hi,
      If you pay them, you would identify the organization you pay and you would need to indicate their federal ID number.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. How do teachers qualify for this? We are employed 10 months, but not looking a job during the summer. Workshops and planning occupy much of our summer time.

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