Add 'Tax Break' on Summer Camp Checklist

Source: Tall Ship Summer Sailing Camp

School’s out and the camp buses are lining up. Parents are looking over camp to-do lists at flashlight, batteries, stamps, envelopes, scuba tanks, tennis rackets. Check, check check. The list goes on. Scuba tanks?

It should all add up to a lot of tax breaks, since Americans spend $2,500 on average to send their kids to four weeks of camp, and far more than that for increasingly specialized kid kingdoms that offer deep dives into everything from fashion design to weight loss.

Disney lists on its ‘most unusual’ camps such specialties as spying, dinosaur study and paint ball. But even with camps that are focused on health and learning there is no certainty the experience will qualify parents for a tax break on that payment.

The best hope for tax help is to usechild-care tax credits to pay for camp. But if you do, keep in mind that sleep-away camps and kids over 13 will probably be disallowed. Some health-related camps might qualify if a doctor recommends it. says, "You can claim only up to $3,000 for the care of one person and $6,000 for two or more. Then this amount is further reduced based on your overall income (more on this later).

And if you paid someone to watch over your two (or more) kids, you cancombine all your care costs to reach the $6,000 limit.

Bankrate offers detailed information onhow to claim the credit or pursue deductible claims. Apart from day camps, it lists other possible ways to use the dependent care credit.

Nursery school and kindergarten costs. In these cases, if the costs of school are separate from child-care expenses, only the child-care portion qualifies.

Household help as long as the services are necessary for the well-being and protection of the qualifying individual.

The same credit covers private home nurses and licensed dependent-care centers, Bankrate says.

Camps that offer spying and rocketry might not generate immediate tax breaks. But save that summer camp checklist. It might come in handy next year at tax time.