Can I Claim a Nursery School Tuition on My Tax Return?

Nursery school is often a toddler's first "school" experience.
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Nursery school is typically a child care facility for babies as young as 6 weeks through children up to 4 or 5 years. Child care, including nursery school, preschool or daycare, is often very expensive. For working parents with young children, it may be a necessity. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service offers tax breaks for parents who pay qualified child care expenses.

How it Works

If you paid child care expenses so you could work, look for work or attend school full-time, you may claim the IRS Child and Dependent Care Credit to reduce your tax bill. There is no minimum amount you have to spend to qualify. A nursery school, preschool and pre-kindergarten fall under the child care category. The credit is up to 35 percent of your expenses, with the maximum amount at $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more children. The credit reduces your tax liability, but is not refundable. For example, if you are entitled to claim $2,000, but it only takes $1,500 to reduce your liability to $0, you will not receive the remaining $500 in the form of a refund.

Unemployed Spouse

If you are married and your spouse is currently unemployed, you may still qualify for the child care credit. If your spouse was not declared disabled, he must have been searching for work at the time you paid child care expenses. Your unemployed spouse must also have earned income during the year. Unemployment compensation income is excluded. If your spouse is disabled or attending school full-time and you are employed, the IRS will allow the credit. Parents who are married and file separate returns are not eligible.

Divorced Parents

If you and the child's parent are divorced, you may be entitled to claim the deduction even if your divorce agreement doesn't allow you to claim the child as a dependent for the year. If both parents pay for nursery school or other child care expenses, only the custodial parent is entitled to the credit. For tax purposes, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived the greater number of nights in a year. A non-custodial parent is never eligible to claim the child care credit.

Claiming the Credit

To claim the credit on your tax return, you must report the name, address and taxpayer identification number of the child care provider. If the care provider is a tax-exempt organization, report the name and address only. To request this information from the provider, use IRS Form W-10, Dependent Care Provider's Identification and Certification. Complete Form 2441 with Form 1040 or Form 1040A. You can't use Form 1040EZ if you plan on claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

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