Deduct childcare costs in the tax return

You can claim childcare costs in the tax return primarily as special expenses or as part of a tax reduction for household-related services. Read here what you should know about childcare costs from a tax perspective.

Deduct childcare costs: what can I claim??

Childcare costs are usually deducted as special expenses. Only the costs actually incurred for childcare services are recognized here. You must be able to present an invoice and proof of payment (transfer, not in cash, request from the tax office), the child must belong to your household and have not yet reached the age of 14 (exception: disabled children).

Typical childcare costs that you can specify and deduct in the tax return are:

  • Fees for crèches, daycare centers and kindergartens
  • Childminder, babysitter, homework support, core time care, boarding fees
  • Benefits in kind for caring persons (travel expenses, entrance fees, accommodation and meals, etc.)

If you employ a person in your household as part of an au pair relationship, for reasons of simplification it can be assumed that half of the expenses are for household chores and half for childcare. This means that you can deduct half of the childcare costs.

Costs for lessons to impart special skills or abilities (e.g. music school, computer course, tutoring, school fees), for sporting and other leisure activities (e.g. holiday camps) and benefits in kind for the child (e.g. travel costs to the care facility, meals and accommodation, entrance fees) cannot be deducted. A procedure is currently (again) pending with the BFH (Az. VIII R 16/17) regarding the deductibility of the costs for a children’s holiday camp.

The care allowance paid by the federal government is not counted towards the care costs, so it does not lead to a reduction in deductible expenses.

Practical tip: Be for one Core time or afternoon care at school Parental contributions are levied and do not only include homework or general care, should you have the amount of the bill broken down by the school. This is the only way to deduct at least part of the childcare costs.

How much can I deduct childcare costs and claim as special expenses in the tax return?

As special expenses, you can deduct two thirds of the childcare costs and claim them for tax purposes, up to a maximum of EUR 4,000 per child and year. The parents live together with the Child, but are not assessed together for income tax, each parent can deduct his expenses up to half the maximum amount (EUR 2,000). A different division of the maximum amount is only possible upon joint application by the parents.

A third of childcare costs are generally not deductible because the tax office is responsible for all childcare costs a private Co-organized. For this privately arranged third and for Childcare costs that exceed the maximum amount for special expenses (EUR 4,000) cannot be claimed for tax relief for household-related services.

In the case of parents who do not live together, the deduction is made from the parent with whom the child lives if this parent pays. If the parent, whose household the child does not belong to, pays, the costs are generally not deductible from any parent. If the child lives in separate households with both parents, the maximum amount is divided as for parents living together who are not assessed together.

Tip: You can also find further information on tax benefits relating to the topic of children in our design guidelines for the child facility. When completing your tax return, we will support you with the information in our child support facility.

Practical tip: If you hire relatives to look after children, it is best to conclude a written contract in which you agree on all points (care time and place, scope of benefits, amount of wages) as with strangers. If the care is provided as part of an employment relationship (mini-job or regular employment subject to social insurance), you must fulfill your obligations as an employer.

Is used in connection with otherwise free care, e.g. B. If relatives (grandparents) grant a reimbursement of travel expenses, this must be taken into account if an invoice is made and the payment is made without cash.

If a special deduction in the tax return is not possible and childcare was provided in your household, you may be able to get a tax reduction by crediting the cost of household services.

Selling practical examples of childcare costs

Example 1: The single, working mother of a 10-year-old child employs a domestic help. The monthly wage is 400 EUR. Housekeeping is 70% housework and 30% child supervision while the mother is away. As a special edition, the mother can only deduct part of the total costs, namely childcare costs; the tax office only accepts the expenses for the supervision of the child: 12 months at 400 EUR = 4,800 EUR, of which 30% = 1,440 EUR, of which 2/3 = 960 EUR (max. 4,000 EUR).

Example 2: The unmarried, working parents live in an apartment with their son. The childcare costs of EUR 500 per month are paid by the father in the amount of EUR 400 and by the mother in the amount of EUR 100.

The father can deduct 2/3 = EUR 3,200 from the EUR 4,800 paid by him, up to a maximum of EUR 2,000 (half the maximum amount). The mother can also deduct 2/3 = EUR 800 from her paid share of EUR 1,200 (maximum amount EUR 2,000). A different distribution (e.g. deduction of 4/5 costs for the father) is possible and sensible upon joint application by both parents.


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Christina Cherry
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