The Child and Dependent Care Credit helps you recoup some of the money you spend on child or other dependent care throughout the year. This is a non-refundable tax credit, which means that you can use it to lower your overall tax bill, but you cannot get any money directly from the government. Filing for the credit is quick and relatively simple.
Make sure your dependent qualifies
Children must be under the age of 13 in order to qualify. Those over the age of 13 must be dependents who are incapable of taking care of themselves due to mental or physical restrictions.
Know which child care qualifies
Care that was provided while you and your spouse worked, looked for work or went to school full-time qualifies. If either of you was a stay-at-home parent that wasn't seeking work or going to school full-time, then you aren't allowed to take the credit. Care that was provided while you ran errands or went to the movies doesn't qualify.
Identify your care provider
You need to give the IRS the information of your care provider on the tax form. This includes name, address and tax identification number.
Calculate your credit
You receive a percentage of the amount that you spent for care, up to a certain dollar amount. The percentage is 20 to 35 percent, depending on your income. As of 2013, you can claim up to $3,000 in expenses for one dependent or up to $6,000 in expenses for two or more dependents.
File a joint return if you are married
Couples who are married filing jointly, single persons claiming head of household and widowers can claim the credit. You cannot claim the credit if you are married and filing separately unless the IRS considers you unmarried, which is true in cases of legal separation or married people who live apart for more than half the year.