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Tax Credits and Deductions Parents Need to Know

Credits & Deductions Education Family Taxes

Updated for tax year 2017

Parents with their kids enjoying fast rides at Funfair

Your little bundle of joy may tap into your pocketbook throughout the year, but at tax time, they can help put some money back into your pockets.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it will cost a middle-income family approximately $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015 through age 17.

Fortunately, the cost per child decreases for additional children and may be less depending on your cost of living.

Similarly, the more children you have, the bigger your tax savings. Uncle Sam offers several family-oriented tax benefits. Determining which ones you qualify for can be confusing because of the rules around filing status, itemized deductions, and income levels.

Whether you do your own taxes or hire a professional, it’s good to have a general idea of which tax breaks are available. If you don’t qualify this year, you may in the future.

Here are several popular tax credits and deductions for families:

Earned Income Tax Credit

Every year, millions of taxpayers don’t claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) even though they qualify for it.

Families earning less than $53,930 in 2017 may receive this credit worth up to $6,318, depending on income level and the number of qualifying children.

Initially, the credit eliminates the amount of taxes owed. The remaining amount is sent as a refund. Married taxpayers must file joint returns for eligibility.

Child & Dependent Care Credit

If you pay for the care of children under 13 years of age so you (and your spouse) can work, search for a job, or attend school, you may be eligible for the Child & Dependent Care Credit.

Examples of care include nursery school, pre-school, before and after school care, day camps (no overnight), and in-home nanny care. The tax credit is worth up to 35 percent of your expenses, depending on your adjusted gross income, and up to $3,000 for one dependent or $6,000 for two or more dependents. It phases out at higher income levels.

Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit is worth up to $1,000 per qualifying child if your 2017 modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $110,000 on joint returns, $55,000 on married filing separate returns, or $75,000 for other filing statuses.

If you receive less than the full amount because the credit eliminates your tax bill, you may qualify for the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit.

Medical and Dental Expenses

If your family’s unreimbursed medical and dental expenses in 2017 exceed 10 percent of AGI, you can claim the amount above 10 percent as an itemized deduction.

Expenses must be for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or treatment.

Premiums for medical, dental, and some long-term care insurance, and transportation costs primarily for and essential to medical care may also qualify. Only prescription medication and insulin are eligible.

Adoption Credit

The Adoption Credit will cover up to $13,570 in adoption expenses for 2017 depending on your income.

Expenses include court costs, adoption agency fees, attorney fees, and travel. The credit is non-refundable for 2017, which means it is limited to your tax liability for the year. Your return and adoption-related documents must be mailed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Alimony or Back Alimony

If you paid alimony or back alimony in cash during 2017, you can deduct that amount even if you claim the standard deduction.

Property settlements, child support, and lump-sum alimony paid are not deductible.

If you received alimony, the IRS considers that taxable income. Child support is not taxed.

Qualified Tuition Programs and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

Some education savings plans offer tax benefits.

A portion of distributions and earnings from Qualified Tuition Programs and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts for education expenses are generally tax-free.

Plus, up to $2,000 in annual contributions to Coverdell Savings Accounts are tax-free depending on your income level.

Student Loan Interest Deduction

Have children in college? If you claim them as dependents, you may qualify for the Student Loan Interest Deduction, American Opportunity Credit, or Lifetime Learning Credit.


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