Your kid’s last day of school is fast approaching, and you need to think about your next step quickly. Babysitters, nannies and daycare are all options, but they’re far less stimulating than an invigorating summer camp experience.

Campers arriving

As you begin researching options in your area, however, you may start to wonder, is summer camp a tax deduction? Maybe you’ve heard that other forms of dependent care qualify, but you’re not sure if day camps also count.

The short answer is yes—you can receive tax relief for your kid’s summer camp experience. However, it’s not technically considered a deduction. Let’s explore more below.

Understanding the Basics of Summer Camp Tax Deductions

Before diving into camp tax deduction criteria, it’s crucial to clarify something. The answer to your burning question—is summer camp tax deductible?—is technically no.

Then what is this all about?

Parents and caregivers can receive tax relief for sending their children to summer camp, but it’s considered a tax credit rather than a deduction. However, many people use the terms interchangeably which is where some of the confusion lies.

Technically speaking, you need the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to receive a tax break for your kid’s camp.

Eligibility Criteria: Who Can Deduct Summer Camp Expenses?

If your eyes start to glaze over when someone talks taxes, it’s probably because of the complex guidelines. Fortunately, we’re here to help break these criteria down as easily as possible.

For your kid’s summer camp to qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, you’ll need to meet these requirements:

  • The camp has to be dependent care for your child while you work, look for a job or are a full-time student.

  • You (and your spouse if filing jointly) must earn income during the filing year.

  • Your child must be below the age of 13 or a dependent incapable of caring for themself.

  • You must be the custodial parent.

  • Married couples must file joint taxes.

  • You or your spouse cannot be a stay-at-home parent.

If you meet all of these criteria, you may qualify for tax relief depending on the camp you and your child choose.

Which Camps Qualify?

If you want your child’s camp to count as dependent care, it must meet the criteria stipulated by the IRS. Many qualify, including specialty options like:

  • Sports

  • Science

  • Technology

  • Music

  • Engineering

  • Arts

  • Math

Whichever of these camps you choose must also be a daytime event. Overnight camps or educational sessions such as tutoring or summer school do not qualify for the Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Navigating Tax Regulations for Camp Galileo Campers

So, let’s say your kid goes to a fantastic camp, you work the summer away, and before you know it, tax season is here. How do you receive your credit?

Start by grabbing all your documents and receipts, plus your federal tax return for the past year (or complete it if you haven’t yet). You must also fill out and attach Form 2441 to file for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Be prepared to provide information about the summer camp you used, including:

  • The camp or business name
  • The camp’s address
  • The taxpayer identification number (TIN)—such as a social security or employer identification number—for the provider

Almost all summer camps will provide these unless tax-exempt—then, they won’t need a TIN. The organization should willingly give you this information, but if not, you can request it using Form W-10.

Maximizing Savings: Tips and Strategies

Claiming the tax relief can lead to different outcomes depending on your income and the number of children you have attending summer camp.

The IRS allows you to receive a credit of up to 35% of:

  • One dependent – $3,000 in qualified expenses for a $1,050 maximum credit
  • Two or more dependents – $6,000 in qualified expenses for a $2,100 maximum credit

However, the percentage for these amounts drops to 20% if you (or your spouse if married) make more than $43,000 in adjusted gross income.

It’s also worth noting that camp expenses refer to attendance fees. Supplies your child uses to participate during camp do not count toward the tax credit.

What’s the Difference Between the Child and Dependent Care and the Child Tax Credits?

The IRS and government offer multiple tax relief programs for working parents, including the Child Tax Credit. While the names sound similar, they’re different programs—making it crucial for you to know which ones you qualify for and how.

The main difference is that the Child Tax Credit applies to any dependents under 17 and helps parents with all costs associated with raising kids, such as:

  • Utilities/rent
  • Food
  • Clothes

Caregivers can receive tax relief on these expenses, making it easier to raise their children. On the other hand, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit focuses specifically on childcare services.

What About a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?

Some employers offer dependent care FSAs as part of their benefits. If you have one, you may have up to $5,000 taken out of your wages and set aside in a special account to use for childcare expenses.

The good news? You can use an FSA and qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The main stipulation is that you cannot claim the same expenses on both. So, if you pay for most of your kid’s summer camp with an FSA, you can’t then claim those expenses with the tax credit.

However, you can claim any remaining out-of-pocket expenses related to attendance fees on the credit. For example, if the camp tuition is $6,000 and you have $5,000 in your FSA, the $1,000 you would pay out of pocket can qualify for tax relief.

Explore Affordable Summer Camp Adventures With Camp Galileo

Boy in woodworking class

As the months grow warmer and school draws to a close, feel relief knowing you can send your child to an invigorating summer camp and receive a tax break.

At Camp Galileo, we encourage kids to explore and play through our K-8th grade camps. We also offer CIT programs for young adults from 8th to 10th grade. Choose an option that matches their needs and interests—whether they want to build, adventure outdoors or make new friends—and feel satisfied knowing they’re in quality dependent care this summer.

Enroll your child at an innovative Camp Galileo session (that qualifies for the tax credit) today!

Camp Galileo combines learn, play and friendship for an unforgettable summer experience. Discover more!

Sources: 

TurboTax. The Ins and Outs of the Child and Dependent Care Credit. https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/family/the-ins-and-outs-of-the-child-and-dependent-care-tax-credit/L2H7rzUWc

Kiplinger. Does Summer Camp Qualify for a Childcare Tax Credit? https://www.kiplinger.com/taxes/does-summer-camp-qualify-for-a-childcare-tax-credit

IRS. Topic No. 602, Child and Dependent Care Credit. https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc602

TurboTax. Deducting Summer Camps and Daycare with the Child and Dependent Care Credit. https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/family/deducting-summer-camps-and-daycare-with-the-child-and-dependent-care-credit/L8aAzvmjB

U.S. News & World Report. Is Summer Camp Tax Deductible? https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/taxes/articles/is-summer-camp-tax-deductible

Investopedia. 6 Ways to Make Summer Camp Tax Deductible. https://www.investopedia.com/taxes/6-ways-make-summer-camp-tax-deductible/

First Five Years Fund. Understanding the Difference Between the Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit ⁠— and Why We Need Both. https://www.ffyf.org/resources/2023/12/understanding-the-difference-between-the-child-tax-credit-and-the-child-care-tax-credit/

Nasdaq. Is Summer Camp Tax Deductible in 2023? https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/is-summer-camp-tax-deductible-in-2023

SmartAsset. Dependent Care FSA vs. Dependent Care Tax Credit. https://smartasset.com/taxes/dependent-care-fsa-vs-dependent-care-tax-credit