CHILD AND DEPENDENT CARE CREDIT
One of the most common mistakes that messes up the childcare credit for people is listing all of the earned income under only one name on a joint return. Make very sure that your incomes are listed under each of your names. It’s pretty easy to check. Go to the Income section, and click “update” on Wages and Salary. That will take you to the W-2 Summary. Do you see income listed under both of your names?
A few other things—the childcare credit is not a refund. It can reduce your taxes owed. If you were self-employed, but showed a loss, you will not receive the credit.
The person receiving the care had to be 12 or under or qualified as mentally or physically disabled. To claim the childcare credit you need to be filing as Head of Household or Married Filing Jointly. (NOT married filing separately)
If your child was born in 2019 make sure you say the child lived with you all year. The credit is a percentage of your expenses based on your AGI (the higher the income, the lower the percentage) You must provide the Social Security number for each child you are claiming, and the Social Security number or Tax ID for each care provider. You can claim a maximum of $6000 in expenses for 2 or more dependents.
In the case of divorced or never-married parents—only the custodial parent can use the childcare credit.
You can see the amount of the childcare credit on your Form 1040
Child and Dependent Care Credit line 12 (comes from Schedule 3 Form 2441)
At this time of year most taxpayers have not even received their W-2's yet so they will not have the earned income to qualify.
Child care is "work related". It can only be claimed if the care was necessary so that you (and your spouse if married) could work. Both spouses must have earned income to qualify. Only if the child lived with you more than half the year *and* the care was required so that you could work is it allowed. If you did not live with the child or work at the time that the care was provided then it was not necessary so that you could work and therefore is not allowed.
See IRS Pub 503.