Insights & advice
Claiming child care expenses in Canada
July 2022 – 15 min read
If you pay for child careOpens in a new window, you may be able to claim a deduction when you file your tax return.
You may be able to claim for things such as day care centres, child care provided by individuals, school fees or day camps.
As well as claiming child care expenses, you can also claim government benefitsOpens in a new window that can help with the cost of raising a family.
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.
This is different to receiving a tax-free monthly payment like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)Opens in a new window and other government benefits, although these can also help with the cost of raising a family.Opens in a new window
You could claim child care expenses as long as you paid them to do 1 of the following:
Earn income through an employer
Attend school under conditions outlined in the government’s Educational programOpens a new website in a new window - Opens 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 - Opens 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 - Opens 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 - Opens 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 - Opens 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 - Opens 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
When it’s time to file your tax return, complete Form T778 - Child Care Expenses Deductions (2021)Opens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window to see how much you could claim.
Enter the allowable amount you’ve calculated on Line 21400 on your tax return.
Remember that you’ll need to have the receipts and/or proof of payment to support any expenses you claim.
If you need more help claiming expenses for child care, speaking with your advisor before it’s time to file can help.
The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.