Can I claim all daycare expenses if not claiming my child as a dependent?

My child's father and I were never married.  We split up in August but we have continued to live in the same household.  I am in the process of buying a condo now, but that does not affect 2010.  So for all of 2010 the baby lived with my ex and me.  He is claiming her as a dependent.  I was a stay-at-home mom until July and since I went back to work, my ex has paid child support since I pay the daycare and buy all the diapers/supplies/etc.  If he is claiming her as a dependent, can I claim the daycare costs?  I'm the one that writes the check to daycare but the child support amount he pays me goes towards half of that.  He says he is going to claim half the daycare costs on his return, but I don't think he can do that.  Who can claim daycare?
  • My child's mother is custodial parent and claiming my son on her taxes.  We split daycare costs.  Can we both deduct our costs?
  • No. Only the custodial parent can claim daycare costs for credit on the tax return.
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You may enter your child care expenses.  Be sure you add your child in where TurboTax asks for dependents.  There is a pull down menu ffor Dependent Type.  You will select the one that says Non dependent -used for EIC/Dependent Care Only.  Then you will be allowed to enter your Child Care expenses  The parent who pays for the care can take that part of the deduction.

TurboTip: If you and your spouse were divorced, legally separated, or lived apart the last six months of the year, then you can qualify even if the child is not a dependent on your tax return. To qualify in this scenario, you must be the custodial parent (the parent with whom the child lived with for the greater number of nights in 2010). The noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent (according to the rules for the dependent exemption) while you claim the child and dependent care credit.
  • Eileen, we were never married, so there was no legal divorce, separation, or otherwise.  We just broke up but continued to live together while I looked for my own place.  I do have my daughter listed as a Non-Dependent, and plan to deduct the full amount of daycare costs.  But what happens if my ex also deducts half of the daycare costs, which he plans to do?  If the IRS questions it, who would, in the end, get to deduct daycare costs?  I don't think it's fair that my ex should get to claim her as a dependent AND claim daycare costs.
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The only person who can get child care credit on their tax return is the one who claims the child as a dependent. The child could be the qualifying child dependent of either of you based on the facts as I understand them. The child can be claimed by only one of you and you can mutually decide who claims the child.

Another consideration is the tax benefit of filing head of household. The one who paid more than half the costs of keeping up the household that you both lived in is the only one who can file as head of household. That person must claim your baby as a qualifying child dependent to file as head of household.
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    Parents who were never married cannot split tax benefits for a qualifying child dependent. Whoever claims the child as a dependent, gets all of the tax benefits including head of household filing status (if qualified), dependency exemption, child care credit and earned income credit. You can't split the child care costs and each get child care credit.
    • Thanks Roger.  So you're saying only one of us can claim her as a dependent AND deduct daycare costs?  We can't split those things up?  So he could do both this year, I can do both next year?  Next year I'll be in my own place and will most likely have her more than 50% of the time, so it make sense to claim her as a dependent and also deduct daycare.  Does that sound right?
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