Tax tip: Claiming childcare expenses

Ryan Gossling, income tax, childcare expenses, child care expenses

A lot of new mamas (and dadas) come to Homeroom unsure about what childcare expenses they can and can’t claim come tax time. 

Below, we look at eligible childcare costs, the amount you can deduct and which parent claims the costs. 

So, what constitutes a childcare expense?

Childcare expenses are amounts you or another person paid to have someone look after an eligible child so that you or the other person could:

  • carry on a business either alone or as an active partner
  • earn income from employment
  • attend school under the conditions identified under Educational program
  • carry on research or similar work, for which you or the other person received a grant

The child must have lived with you or the other person at the time the transaction incurred for the expense to qualify. Usually, you can only deduct payments for services provided in Canada by a Canadian resident. See other situations for exceptions.

What are eligible childcare expenses?

  • Daycare/ day nursery schools or caregivers providing childcare services. An official childcare expense receipt must be provided.
  • If you employ a nanny, those costs are deductible. Contact us if you need help with payroll source deductions here.
  • Boarding school or overnight sports schools/ camps where lodging is involved (see note in Part A of Form T778)
  • Day camp/ sports school expenses where the primary goal of the camp is to care for childrenNote: An institution offering a sports study program is not a sports school.

Who claims the childcare costs?

When the child lives with both parents, the parent with the lower net income (or zero net income) must claim the expense deduction. The supporting parent with the higher income may claim a deduction only during the period in which the lower income spouse or common-law partner is mentally or physically infirm, confined to a bed or a wheelchair, attending full- time at a secondary school or a designated educational institution or incarcerated in a correctional facility.

The amount that can be claimed for childcare is subject to special rules when the lower income spouse or common- law partner is in part-time attendance at a designated educational institution. Special rules also apply for single parents and those who have separated during the year or are divorced.

How much can you deduct?

You can deduct up to $8,000 annually for each child who is aged six or under at the end of the year, and up to $5,000 for each child aged seven to 15 at any time in the year.

This limit goes up to $11,000 annually for each child who is eligible for the disability tax credit (see topic 80). Also, the total deduction can’t exceed two-thirds of the salary or business income of the parent who is required to claim the deduction. However, it’s limited by the actual amounts paid in the year for childcare.

Still have questions? Comment below for a quick response, or call us at 604-739-9536.