Summer camp 2021 is here — and unlike last year, it’s set to be one for the books full of in-person and virtual fun! As parents, we couldn’t be more excited for our children to experience summer fun again. From learning new skills to meeting friends, there are so many benefits to summer camp. 

However, such experiences don’t come without planning...or costs. In fact, the American Camp Association states that in-person day camps cost an average of $199 a week. With costs in mind, many parents wonder if they’re able to write off the costs of summer camp on their taxes. We put together the answers to many frequently asked questions about summer camp costs.

Let’s break down what you need to know first. In this article we cover the following.

  1. The Child and Dependent Care Credit
  2. Can you deduct summer camps from your taxes?
  3. Why is this tax benefit offered?
  4. Can I claim day camp on my taxes?
  5. Do summer camps count as dependent care?
  6. What about sleepaway camp? Does that count?
  7. Do virtual camps qualify for dependent care?
  8. How much money will I get back from claiming summer camp credit?
  9. Final Words/Summary


1. Need to know: The Child and Dependent Care Credit

When it comes to defraying the costs of summer camp in 2021, you need to have a grasp on The Child and Dependent Care Credit. We get it, doing a deep dive on the IRS’s site isn’t exactly on every parents’ wishlist, so we went ahead and pulled some of the key information you need to know. In general, you will qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit if you meet the following criteria:

  1. You must have earned an income for the tax year (this goes for your spouse as well, if you’re married and filing jointly).
  2. You must be the parent or main caretaker of the child or dependent.
  3. The care services must have been used so that you can work or look for employment.
  4. Your child or dependent must be under 13, or must be disabled and physically or mentally unable to care for themself.

Once you review those prerequisites, then you get to the big question.


2. Can you deduct summer camps from your taxes?

Yes, you can. Whether it’s a daycare center, summer camp, or even a babysitter to care for a qualifying child under 13 years of age or disabled dependent, you can qualify for tax credit up to 35 percent of expenses of $3,000 for one child or dependent. If you have more than one child, you can claim up to $6,000.


3. Why is this tax benefit offered?

While it would be nice if all parents had summer vacation like their kids, that’s not always the case. This credit is designed to assist working parents and guardians with the costs involved in raising a child. 

The credit is based on the expenses paid to care services to your child or dependent. Additionally, it reduced the amount of federal income taxes due, which can increase your refund. Ideally, this credit opens the door for more money towards the expenses of raising your child.


4. Can I claim day camp on my taxes?

Yes, you can claim day camp on your taxes. As the child and dependent care credit states, parents can claim this if they enroll their kids in day camps, day nursery schools and centers, and institutions that provide childcare services. 

When thinking about eligibility, it’s best to first ask the question “Is where I’m enrolling my child enabling me to work?” If the answer is yes, there’s a good chance you can claim this credit.

5. Do summer camps count as dependent care?

Yes, summer camps count as dependent care. Whether it’s a nursery school or pre-kindergarten program, if it’s a summer related camp it’s considered child care by the IRS.


6. What about sleepaway camp? Does that count?

Nope, sleepaway camps are not allowed to count towards this credit. Sending your child away for weeks or a month cannot be counted as a work-related expense. However, as mentioned above, day camps count regardless of the type — whether it’s sports and arts, or music and outdoors, all camps qualify.


7. Do virtual camps qualify for dependent care?

With virtual summer camps becoming more popular among parents and children, it’s a valid question to ask. However, in reality, a virtual day camp is not actually providing a child care service. Since parents are working from home and still caring for their children, it would be difficult to claim virtual summer camps in this tax credit.


8. How much money will I get back from claiming the summer camp credit?

Well, that depends on your income. The child and dependent care credit can be worth anywhere from 20% to 35% of the care expenses you paid. 

  • If your income is below $15,000, you automatically qualify for the full 35%. 
  • The percentage falls by 1% for every additional $2,000 of income until it reaches 20% (if you make an income of $43,000 or more).


9. Okay, I’ve read this all — any last points I should know?

Last but not least, always, always, always, keep receipts and records of the time your child attended the camps. When it comes time to file your taxes, you’ll need to provide the address, plus a federal tax identification number, for the summer camp facilities.

When it’s time to claim your credit, you or your accountant will need to attach the federal Form 2441

Enough tax talk — ready to book summer camp? From day camp drop-ins to week-long camps, discover hundreds of in-person and virtual activities for all ages.

Discover and book summer camps on Sawyer

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