Is This Tax Deductible? My Child’s Summer Camp

Family Two black girls paddling in a canoe

Ah, good old summertime – what a wonderful relaxing time of the year. Unless you have kids, of course, in which case there’s a whirlwind of activity in your house as soon as school is out.

But then comes the blessed time of summer camp, when peace is restored for at least a few days. Although camp can be expensive, keep in mind that some of those expenses may be tax deductible. Here’s the scoop:

  1. If you send the kids away to the mountains for a week, you won’t garner a tax deduction. But send the kids away for the day, and now you are talking tax savings in the form of the Child and Dependent Care Credit, as long as your child is under the age of 13.
  2. The Child and Dependent Care Credit enables you to work or go to school, so if you have a spouse at home to care for the children, then no deduction for camp. But if you are single, or you and your spouse both work, cha-ching, you’ll qualify for the tax credit.
  3. Sending the kids into the backyard to camp out doesn’t qualify as camp. You have to make payment for camp to a real institution or person, and you must include their address and identifying number on your tax return.
  4. Taking the kids to the camp location won’t qualify for the credit. But if the cost of transportation to and from camp is included in the fees, and the camp picks up and delivers, sweet – that qualifies for the credit.

So now that you qualify, what is the credit worth? To begin, tax credits are more valuable than tax deductions, since credits reduce your tax bill dollar for dollar, so the tax savings add up quickly. You can take the Child and Dependent Care Credit for up to 35% of $3,000 in childcare and camp costs for one child or $6,000 for two or more children, depending on your income level. That can mean a tax credit of up to $1,050 for one child and $2,100 for two or more children.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers.

Comments (5) Leave your comment

  1. The gist is that it’s not day camp, it’s daycare/childcare. There is a drop off day camp near my office that is like this and would qualify. You are most likely to benefit if the kids do not already have some sort of daycare arrangement during the school year since if they do you will have other expenses already you can use to qualify.

  2. The gist is that it’s not really camp/day camp, it childcare. This assumes you haven’t already used up your credits for the year.

  3. Will Turbo Tax ask me about this when I’m doing my taxes, or is this something I’ll need to remember on my own? Last year I entered summer camp costs as daycare costs since it technically was daycare so I could work, is this the same thing?

  4. So if my kids are sent to a week long overnight camp it isn’t tax deductible? It’s only for when it’s a day/ day by day camp? As in I pick them up and drop them off each day.

    1. Hi Guy,
      Yes, that is correct. It is only for day camp and not overnight camps.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

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