Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury
Level Basic Advanced Military International

Credit for Child and Dependent Care Expenses

Five Eligibility Tests

Joint Return Test

     

Joint Return Test

Are you single?

If NO, go to the Joint Return test question

If YES, go to the Provider Identification Test

Joint Return Test

Are you filing a Joint return?

If NO, go to the Joint Return test question

If YES, go to the Provider Identification Test

Joint Return Test

Do you meet the requirements to be considered unmarried?

If NO, You CANNOT claim the child and dependent care credit

If YES, go to the Provider Identification Test

The next test is the joint return test. Generally, married couples who wish to take the credit for child and dependent care must file a joint return. However, taxpayers can be considered unmarried if they file a separate return and are:

  • Legally separated on the last day of the tax year, or
  • Living apart from their spouses for the last six months of the year and paid more than half of the cost of providing a home, which was also the main home of the qualifying person, for more than half the year
Tip

Generally, married persons who are considered unmarried will use the filing status, Head of Household.

A taxpayer whose spouse died during the tax year, and who has not remarried, will generally have to file a joint return to claim the credit.

At this point, you will have already determined the taxpayer's filing status and can rely on that to determine if they pass the joint return test.