To qualify for the child and dependent care credit, you must have paid someone to care for one or more of the following people:
- A child age 12 or younger at the end of the year whom you claim as a dependent on your tax return
- Your spouse, if that person is unable to take care of himself or herself and has lived in your home for at least half the year
- Any other person claimed as a dependent on your return, if that person can't take care of himself or herself and has lived in your home at least half the year
You can claim the credit for money you paid for care as long as the recipient was not one of the following people:
- Your spouse
- A parent of the child being cared for—for example, you couldn't claim the credit if you pay your ex-husband or ex-wife to care for the children you have together
- Anyone listed as a dependent on your tax return
- Your own child age 18 or younger, regardless of whether he or she is a dependent on your tax return—for example, you couldn't pay your 17-year-old child to look after an 8-year-old sibling and then claim the credit
There are several other tests you must meet to claim the credit:
- You (and your spouse, if you're married) must have "earned income," meaning money earned from a job. Non-work income, such as investment profits, doesn't count.
- You must have paid for the care so that you could work or look for work. Being a full-time student or a parent unable to care for themself does count as "working" for the purposes of the credit even if you don’t receive any income for it.
- If you are married, you must file a joint tax return.
- You must provide the name, address and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) of the person who provided the care. The taxpayer ID number is either a Social Security number (SSN) or an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Ask your care provider for the number.
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