Tax series: They’re your kids – make sure you take all the credit!

It seems that the cost of raising kids just keeps on getting higher, so let’s take a look at some of the tax relief available to parents.

Over the holidays I enjoyed watching some favourite movies from the 1980s that I hadn’t seen in years. I had completely forgotten that a very young Drew Barrymore appeared in E.T.; at only 6 or 7 years old she was a real show-stealer, delivering all her lines perfectly. Another favourite we watched was Home Alone, featuring a 10 year old Macaulay Culkin as the kid who gets left home at Christmas and outsmarts two (admittedly not very bright) burglars. I wondered whether their parents sent them to acting classes and camps from a young age? It seems that the cost of raising kids just keeps on getting higher, so let’s take a look at some of the tax relief available to parents.  

In families where both parents work, the biggest cost of raising children is usually childcare. It makes sense then that the most generous type of tax relief applies to these costs. Parents can claim a deduction for childcare expenses for children under 16 if the fees were paid to allow the parent to work or attend school. The maximum amount that can be deducted depends on the age of the child; $7,000 for children who are under 7 at the end of the year and $4,000 for children who are 7 or older. The last year you can claim the deduction for a child is the year when they turn 16 (special rules apply to children with disabilities).

If your child is determined to follow in Drew or Macaulay’s “child star” footsteps then the children's arts tax credit is worth up to $75 per child for certain programs of artistic, cultural, recreational or developmental activity. Examples of programs that might qualify are an art class or an acting camp – it depends on how long the activity lasts for and what types of things are covered in the program.

Maybe your child is (like mine) more into sports than arts? If so, there is a children’s fitness tax credit of up to $75 for registration or membership expenses for a program of physical activity. Swimming, soccer, hockey or basketball are some examples of activities that could qualify, but like the children’s arts tax credit there are conditions to be met before the expenses can be claimed. For example, the program must last for at least 8 consecutive weeks (if it’s a camp, it must last for at least five consecutive days).

If you want to find out more about the childcare expense deduction and the arts and fitness tax credits, there is information on the Canada Revenue Agency website. So take a look at your receipts for 2013 to work out what you can claim for your child star! 

About the Author

Gael Melville


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