What are child care expenses?
If you have children and pay for them to be looked after, you may be able to claim a deduction for these child care expenses when you file your tax return.
You could claim child care expenses as long as you paid them to do 1 of the following:
- Earn income through an employer
- Work for yourself and/or run a business
- Attend school under conditions outlined in the government's Educational programOpens a new website in a new window
- Carry out research or similar work that's been funded by a grant
Eligible taxpayers can claim up to $8,000 per eligible child under the age of 7 at the end of the year, and $5,000 per eligible child aged 7 to 16 at the end of the year.
More details about the totals you can claim are available on Form T778 - Child Care Expenses Deductions (2021)Opens a new website in a new window.
Can you claim child care expenses?
To be eligible, the child must live with you and be under the age of 16.
This age limit does not apply if your child has had a mental or physical impairment and was dependent on you, your spouse, or common-law partner as a result.
In most cases, the expenses must be claimed by the parent with the lower net income, although exceptions applyOpens a new website in a new window in some cases, such as if you’re separated and/or share custody.
As a rule, you can only claim expenses for services provided in Canada by a Canadian resident.
Is your child eligible?
You can only claim expenses for a child that’s considered eligible by the Government. This means your child needs to be:
- The child of you, your spouse, or common-law partner.
- A child who is financially dependentOpens a new website in a new window on you, your spouse, or common-law partner
Expenses you can claim
You can claim expenses you paid for:
- Nursery schools and daycare centers
- Individual child care providers
- School fees relating to child care services
- Day camps and sports schools (provided their primary goal is to care for children)
- Overnight sports schools or camps
If you’re a resident of Quebec, you can also claim the basic contribution paid directly to your subsidized child care service provider.
This is not a complete list of deductible expenses. For example, if you had to pay for an advertisement to find childcare, you could claim this cost. You can research the Government’s complete list of deductible child care expensesOpens a new website in a new window, or speak to your accountant when it comes time to file your tax return.
Expenses you can’t claim
The following child care expensesOpens a new website in a new window can’t be claimed on your tax return:
- Medical or hospital care
- Clothing or transportation costs
- Tuition fees for a regular or sports study program
- Fees for leisure or recreational activities, like tennis lessons or joining a hockey team
- Child care expenses that have already been reimbursed by an employer
If you’re claiming for child care services provided by an individual (as opposed to a day care center, for example), that individual can’t be:
- Another parent of the eligible child
- Your spouse or common-law partner (if you’re the parent)
- A person under the age of 18 who’s related to you