Is Summer Camp Tax Deductible?

By Phill Powell

Each spring, Americans scramble around in a frenzy, searching for treasure. No, it’s not an Easter egg hunt. We’re talking about tax season, when families grab all possible tax deductions and tax credits, in hopes of scoring a tax refund or, at least, preventing a tax bill.

That’s where summer camp can really help out. Because even though summer camp tuition isn’t currently eligible for an outright tax deduction, it is possible to claim a percentage of paid tuition as a tax credit, if you meet the IRS qualifications. And that tax credit can effectively function like a deduction, and lower or eliminate your tax debt.

DMA_girl_campersSpring brings tax season, but summer means super-fun technology camp at Digital Media Academy…including special new camps for girls!

Helping Parents Get to Work
The first thing to understand about the Child and Dependent Care Expenses tax credit: It’s really for parents. It was intended to assist parents and other heads-of-household who provide care for children or other dependents.

A summer camp experience (like that delivered by Digital Media Academy tech camps) not only benefits the enrolled camper. For busy parents who would otherwise have to supervise their child, having precious daytime hours when they can do their work (or look for work, if they’re searching for employment) can be a lifesaver.

Which Summer Camp Experiences Qualify?
So, keeping in mind that this tax credit is in place to help working (or work-seeking) parents who have head-of-household responsibilities, the following regulations apply to using summer camp tuition as a tax credit:

  • Day camp only The tax credit cannot be applied to tuition to an overnight, sleepover camp. (“The cost of sending your child to an overnight camp is not considered a work-related expense,” reads the IRS rules on child care expenses.)
  • Tech camp qualifies On the other hand, the IRS regulations do not require that the provider of the summer childcare be a “plain old day camp,” where kids don’t learn anything useful or exciting. Tech camps do qualify, as the IRS regulations clearly state: “The cost of sending your child to a day camp may be a work-related expense, even if the camp specializes in a particular activity, such as computers or soccer.” (Digital Media Academy has amazing computer programming tech camps and action-packed soccer camps, and camps that offer both computers and soccer.)

  • Age The child attending the day camp must be 12 years old or younger.

  • IRS_AGI_chart_dependent_care

    You’ll find this AGI/percentage chart contained in the IRS guidelines about dependent care.

  • Income-driven The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending on your income. For example, if a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI) falls between $31,000 and $33,000, they can claim 26 percent of their expenses (up to $3,000) as a tax credit. (See the IRS guidelines for the chart that shows AGIs and the various percentages associated with them.)
  • More than one camper? Families with more than one child in camp qualify to use a percentage of their expenses up to $6,000 to figure the credit.

    Grab That Extra Credit!
    Check the IRS guidelines on child care expenses and speak with your tax consultant about how you can take advantage of these IRS-approved tax credits.

    Remember, kids have to be 12 or under to qualify, and their time in camp must directly allow the taxpayer taking the tax credit to work or look for work. But there are potentially big savings on the table here, all of which can make it hard to ignore the fact that it can make good financial sense to send your kid to one of the great DMA camp locations this summer.