IRS Form 2441 is all about child and dependent care.  It has a section that talks about the *special rules* that are applied to children of divorced or separated parents.

To be a *qualifying person*, the person had to live with you for more than half of 2013.


First, what does *Qualifying Person* mean?  According to the IRS, a qualifying person is:

  1. A qualifying child under age 13 whom you can claim as a dependent. If the child turned 13 during the year, the child is a qualifying person for the part of the year he or she was under age 13.
  2. Your disabled spouse who was not physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself.
  3. Any disabled person who was not physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself whom you can claim as a dependent or could claim as a dependent except:
    a. The disabled person had gross income of $3,900 or more,
    b. The disabled person filed a joint return, or
    c. You (or your spouse if filing jointly) could be claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s 2013 return.

Special rule for children of divorced or separated parents.

Did you know that even if you cannot claim your child as a dependent, he or she is treated as your qualifying person if you meet the following criteria:

  • The child was under age 13 or was not physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself, and
  • You were the child’s custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights in 2013. If the child was with each parent for an equal number of nights, the custodial parent is the parent with the higher adjusted gross income. For details and an exception for a parent who works at night, see Pub. 501.

The noncustodial parent cannot treat the child as a qualifying person even if that parent is entitled to claim the child as a dependent under the special rules for a child of divorced or separated parents.

Qualified Expenses

These include amounts paid for household services and care of the qualifying person while you worked or looked for work. Child support payments are not qualified expenses. Also, expenses reimbursed by a state social service agency are not qualified expenses unless you included the reimbursement in your income.

Generally, if you worked or actively looked for work during only part of the period in which you incurred the expenses, you must figure your expenses for each day. However, there are special rules for temporary absences or part-time work. See Pub. 503 for more details.

Household Services

These are services needed to care for the qualifying person as well as to run the home. They include, for example, the services of a cook, maid, babysitter, housekeeper, or cleaning person if the services were partly for the care of the qualifying person. Do not include services of a chauffeur or gardener.

You can also include your share of the employment taxes paid on wages for qualifying child and dependent care services.

Care of the Qualifying Person

Care includes the cost of services for the qualifying person’s well-being and protection. It does not include the cost of food, lodging, education, clothing, or entertainment.

You can include the cost of care provided outside your home for your dependent under age 13 or any other qualifying person who regularly spends at least 8 hours a day in your home. If the care was provided by a dependent care center, the center must meet all applicable state and local regulations. A dependent care center is a place that provides care for more than six persons (other than persons who live there) and receives a fee, payment, or grant for providing services for any of those persons, even if the center is not run for profit.

You can include amounts paid for items other than the care of your child (such as food and schooling) only if the items are incidental to the care of the child and cannot be separated from the total cost. But do not include the cost of schooling for a child in kindergarten or above. You can include the cost of a day camp, even if it specializes in a particular activity, such as computers or soccer. But do not include any expenses for sending your child to an overnight camp, summer school, or a tutoring program.

Medical Expenses

Some disabled spouse and dependent care expenses can qualify as medical expenses if you itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). However, you cannot claim the same expense as both a dependent care expense and a medical expense. See Pub. 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, and Pub. 503 for details.

Who Can Take the Credit or Exclude Dependent Care Benefits?

You can take the credit or the exclusion if all five of the following apply.

  1. Your filing status may be single, head of household, qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, or married filing jointly. If your filing status is married filing separately, see below: Married Persons Filing Separately.
  2. The care was provided so you (and your spouse if filing jointly) could work or look for work. However, if you did not find a job and have no earned income for the year, you cannot take the credit or the exclusion. But if you or your spouse was a full-time student or disabled, see the instructions for lines 4 and 5, later.
  3. The care must be for one or more qualifying persons.
  4. The person who provided the care was not your spouse, the parent of your qualifying child, or a person whom you can claim as a dependent. If your child provided the care, he or she must have been age 19 or older by the end of 2013, and he or she cannot be your dependent.
  5. You report the required information about the care provider on line 1 and, if taking the credit, the information about the qualifying person on line 2.

Married Persons Filing Separately

Generally, married persons must file a joint return to claim the credit. If your filing status is married filing separately and all of the following apply, you are considered unmarried for purposes of claiming the credit on Form 2441.

  • You lived apart from your spouse during the last 6 months of 2013.
  • Your home was the qualifying person’s main home for more than half of 2013.
  • You paid more than half of the cost of keeping up that home for 2013.

If you meet all the requirements to be treated as unmarried and meet items 2 through 5 listed earlier, you can take the credit or the exclusion. If you do not meet all the requirements to be treated as unmarried, you cannot take the credit. However, you can take the exclusion if you meet items 2 through 5.

Form 2441 Instructions, pdf download