How can I claim childcare without claiming the dependent?

I can't figure out on Turbo Tax how it will let me claim the child care without claiming the child as a dependent.
  • Does the same parent have to claim both child and daycare if both live in the same household? Who claims head of household in this scenario?
  • Yes. If they both live in the same household, only one parent can claim the child for any tax benefits. The special rule does not apply for you. If there is only one child in the household then only the parent claiming the child can claim HoH
  • I am divorced and I have shared custody with my daughter (7 years old), I know my ex-wife is claiming my daughter as dependent but I am paying for childcare expenses like school lunch program. So does the question applies on me?
  • No. For tax purposes, there is no such thing as joint or shared custody, regardless of what your legal agreement says. The requirement is that the child live with you MORE than 50% of the time. One of you has to be the custodial parent and the other the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent can never claim the Earned Income Credit, Head of Household filing status or the day care credit, based on that child. However, the custodial parent may count the money paid by the non-custodial parent in claiming the credit for herself.
  • I am divorced and my daughter lives 50-50 time with her father and I.  I make too much money to claim the child tax credit and my x-husband will be claiming my daughter this year for the tax care credit.  However I paid child care expenses.  Can I still file as head of household and deduct child care expenses?  Or do I have to file as single and he claims the daycare expenses I paid? Can we both file as head of household?  Thanks!
  • msuppnick,
    Yes, you can claim Head of Household (HoH) and the daycare expenses, if you are the custodial parent.  For tax purposes, there is no such thing as joint or shared custody, regardless of what your legal agreement says. The requirement is that the child live with you MORE than 50% of the time. One of you has to be the custodial parent and the other the non-custodial parent. Only the custodial parent can claim the daycare credit, whether he/she is claiming the dependent or not. But the person claiming the daycare credit can count the money paid by either parent. You cannot both claim HoH, as the requirement for HoH is that the child live with you MORE than half the time. Hence, only the custodial parent can be HoH, even when he/she is not claiming the dependent.

    In the rare case (could probably only happen in a leap year like 2012), where the time that  each parent has the child is exactly equal,
    then neither parent can claim a Qualifying Child dependent, because neither parent had the child the required MORE than half the year.
    In this rare case the parent providing more than half the support could claim the child as a standard dependent, not a Qualifying Child dependent (no child tax credit, no earned income credit,  based on that child, and the child would not qualify the parent for Head of Household filing status).
    Yes, for IRS purposes, "custodial parent" comes down to counting on a night by night basis who the child stays with
  • thank you, so if I give him permission, can my x-husband still claim her for the child tax credit if I claim head of household and deduct child care expenses?  thanks!
  • Yes. But you are not technically giving him permission to claim the child tax credit, you have giving him permission to claim the child as a dependent (claim her exemption) and the child tax credit goes with the exemption. You get to claim HoH and the dependent care credit.

     There is a special rule in the case of divorced & separated (including never married) parents. When the non-custodial parent is claiming the child as a dependent/exemption/child tax credit; the custodial parent is still allowed to claim the same child for Earned Income Credit, Head of Household filing status, and day care credit. This "splitting of the child" is not available to parents who lived together at any time during the last 6 months of the year; then only one of you can claim the child for any tax reasons. THE TAX BENEFITS MAY NOT BE SPLIT IN ANY OTHER MANNER.
  • Thank you so much!  This was very helpful.
  • last question... if I file as single, can I still claim child care credit? then he file head of household and take her as dependent?  thanks
  • (we live in separate households)
  • No. The same conditions that qualify you for the child care credit qualify you (not him) for Head of Household. THE TAX BENEFITS MAY NOT BE SPLIT IN ANY OTHER MANNER. You're not allowed to pick & choose who gets the most benefit from claiming a particular tax attribute. The only way for him to get both Head of Household AND Child Tax credit, is for you to get nothing. And that would require the two of you to agree that he is the custodial parent.
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In the personal section  of TurboTax, the custodial parent lists all the child's information, but on the drop down menu for "dependent type", selects "non-dependent -used for EIC/dependent care only"
You may claim the childcare only in the specific circumstance where you are the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent (and no one else) is claiming the dependent. You may not claim the credit (or any other tax benefit), if someone else in your household is claiming the dependent.
The child must live with (hence the requirement that you are the custodial parent) for you to claim the child care credit.

There is a special rule in the case of divorced & separated parents. When the non-custodial parent is claiming the child as a dependent (exemption), child tax credit& education credits; the custodial parent is still allowed to claim the same child for Earned Income Credit, Head of Household filing status, and day care credit. This "splitting of the child" is not available to parents who lived together at any time during the last 6 months of the year; then only one of you can claim the child for any tax reasons.

This special rule only applies to separated parents. You may not use it in other circumstances. For example, if the grandparents are claiming the child's exemption (dependency), you would not be allowed to claim childcare or EIC. Nor may the tax benefits be split in any other manner.
  • Thank you!  I figured it out JUST before I read this, but I did learn from your reply!
  • How \ where do I mark head of household so I can claim that, and dependant daycare?
  • "There is a special rule in the case of divorced & separated parents. When the non-custodial parent is claiming the child as a dependent (exemption), child tax credit& education credits; the custodial parent is still allowed to claim the same child for Earned Income Credit, Head of Household filing status, and day care credit. This "splitting of the child" is not available to parents who lived together at any time during the last 6 months of the year; then only one of you can claim the child for any tax reasons."

    Is there a special form for this?  I'm asking as I am divorced, we have have two children, one that I claim as dependant, and the other that my ex claims as dependant.  I have submitted my taxes already and had child care expenses for both children and listed the one as a non-dependant.  Now my ex is trying to submit his taxes and says he's unable to claim his expenses and credit for the same child.
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miche_mom,
The "splitting of the child has to be EXACTLY as described in the special rule. There is no special form for this. You cannot pick & choose who gets each benefit, nor can you both claim the same benefit, e.g. the day care credit.  If the ex is not the custodial parent, he cannot take the day care credit. Since he cannot claim the day care credit, you may be able to count the amount he paid toward your credit. The general rule in taxes is that you must actually be the person making the payment in order to take any deduction. It would be best for the non-custodial parent to give the day care money to the custodial parent so she can pay the provider and get the credit. However, there is a recent tax court ruling that seems to say that she can take the credit even if the other parent actually paid the day care expenses. The theory being that his paying the day care is just another form of child support. I would  take the credit, if I were in your situation.
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    miche_mom,
    It appears from you other posted question, that you are not the custodial parent of the 2nd child. That means, it was you (not your ex) that incorrectly claimed the day care expense for that child.
    To  simplify things: the special rule  doesn't apply in your situation. It could be be applied, if you wanted to do things differently, but does not apply for how you have done them. You each claim one child and no part of the 2nd child.
    • So I want to make sure I understand the different scenarios then.  Could you define the special rule as it would apply in the following scenario:

      Two children, parents each claim one child as the dependant, mother is custodial parent due to having both children 51% of the time and higher AIG.  No child support, both parents pay a portion of each child's day care expense in an amount that is even.
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    The scenario below is the typical divorce situation (and different from the one described in your other post where one parent is the custodial parent of one child and the other parent the custodial parent of the 2nd child).
    Under the special rule. Only the mother can claim the child/dependent care credit (DCC). Only the Mother can claim the EIC. Only the mother can claim Head of Household.
    The father can only claim the child's exemption (dependency) if the mother gives him form 8332. In which case only the father claims the child tax credit.
    It appears that  you are trying to find a scenario, where you can both claim the dependent care credit for both children. That scenario cannot be created. One child equals one DCC, for one  parent  (the custodial parent only). But as explained above, the parent claiming the credit is probably allowed to claim the money paid by the other parent. You're trying to get a credit based on $12,000  of daycare when only  $6000 is allowed.

    miche_mom commented
    So I want to make sure I understand the different scenarios then. Could you define the special rule as it would apply in the following scenario:

    Two children, parents each claim one child as the dependant, mother is custodial parent due to having both children 51% of the time and higher AIG. No child support, both parents pay a portion of each child's day care expense in an amount that is even.
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