Babysitting and child care: FSA Eligibility
How is babysitting/child care covered?
Consumer spending accounts, such as FSAs, HSAs, HRAs and others are designed to cover products and services that prevent or alleviate a specific medical condition with tax-free income, so babysitting and child care would not fall into this category. However, because child care expenses are such heavy burden for some families, dependent care flexible spending accounts are another option to give families a means of paying for child care with tax-free income.
How do DCFSAs work?
A DCFSA allows parents to put aside up to $5,000 (or $2,500 for married individuals filing separately) and are offered through employers for workers to use pre-tax income to cover a wide variety of child care expenses, including care by a nanny or daycare arrangements. By definition, a DCFSA allows parents or caregivers to pay for eligible expenses for a child under the age of 13, disabled spouse, elderly parent or any other dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. In turn, this support must give the account holder or spouse (if married) the ability to work, look for work or go to school full-time (FSAFEDS).
How are babysitting and child care expenses filed in a tax return?
To receive the full tax benefits through the use of a DCFSA, account holders must report to the IRS on your tax return the name, address and social security number (or other tax payer identification number if necessary) of any babysitter who provides services during each account year. Additionally, the IRS also offers a child care tax credit that offers a 20 to 35 percent kickback on up to $3,000 (or $6,000 if you have two or more children), but this may not be the best option for lower-income families who typically fare better with a DCFSA. Before making a decision, meet with a tax professional to go over your options, or use our FSA Calculator to find out which will save you the most money over the long run.