7 Tax Breaks for Parents You Don’t Want to Miss

Kids are expensive. No doubt.

In an effort to help you recoup some of the costs, here are some tax write-offs you may be able to claim on this year’s returns.

1. Are You Breastfeeding? 

You’ve always known that your breasts were valuable and now the US government agrees.

The IRS recently softened its stance saying that even though breast-feeding isn’t “medically necessary,” (meaning, it doesn’t require a prescription) it can be considered deductible.

Of course, it’s not cut and dry. We’re talking about the IRS here, people.

Here’s how it works: you may know that health-related deductions typically fall into a category that doesn’t help you out unless you have medical deductions that add up to more than 10% of your annual income. That’s a high benchmark for most but don’t count it out just yet! Remember, in the year that you deliver a baby, your medical expenses are probably higher than most years, so you could qualify.

AND, if you don’t, Chris Williams, Managing Partner of Green Valley Taxes, Inc. says, “If you work and you have to pump milk because you’re not with the baby, I think you could take that deduction in a different part of the Schedule A which is subject to the 2% floor of the AGI” (adjusted gross income, or your total salary).

What he’s saying is that because the IRS has announced that it will now consider breast-feeding as a health deduction, the logic would follow that if you are breast-feeding to allow you to work, it’s now acceptable to claim it as a work expense. So, you can also assume that any costs associated with breast pumps would also be included (although the IRS doesn’t exactly elaborate on this).

If you’re thinking, “Man, I wish I knew about this when he/she was a baby!” you can always go back and file an amended return for the past three years.

2. Do You Do Laundry? 

If you or your spouse wears a uniform to work, it is tax deductible.

A “uniform” is defined as a set of clothing that you wouldn’t wear outside of work. Think: firefighter, police officer, or even someone who wears medical scrubs.

These are all considered uniforms, so not only is the cost of these items deductible, but so is the upkeep or laundering of these items. If you get them dry cleaned, hemmed, or pressed, save the receipts. And, if you do the laundry at home, add up the water, electricity, and detergent that it took to keep that uniform clean throughout the year.

What exactly qualifies as a uniform? Again, the IRS isn’t really big on details, but Williams says, for example, he would consider the dress clothes a doctor wears underneath his or her white coat to be a uniform, if the doctor changes clothes before they leave work.

Williams says, “Because it’s a medical situation and there are real concerns for germs, the types of clothing you’re wearing underneath is considered a uniform because you’re concerned about cross-contamination.”

Sadly, if you work at a fashion PR agency and feel like you need to wear Jimmy Choo shoes to impress – no luck.

3. Do You Buy Food? 

Not every trip to the grocery store is deductible, but the food you buy that is considered “medically necessary,” is.

For example, if you are breastfeeding and having trouble keeping up your supply, whatever the doctor recommends to help increase your supply would be considered medically necessary. Or, if your child’s doctor recommends certain foods be added to their diet for health reasons, those would be considered deductible, too!

And, no, the wine you need to maintain your sanity does not count.

4. Do You Donate Your Junk?

Who doesn’t love cleaning out the toy room and getting rid of all the junk? Instead of handing it to a neighbor or throwing it away, donate it to a charity. “You’d be surprised how much that adds up by the end of the year,” says Williams.

It’s one of the few deductions that is not dependent on how much money you make.

Williams recommends that you also take a picture of the pile you’re donating, not just get a receipt from the organization. But, “don’t let a lack of receipt completely blow you out of the water with a deduction. You only need a receipt if you’re challenged and audited.” Williams goes on, “If you made the donation, you’re entitled to the deduction. Claim it.”

5. Do You Coach a Team?

Photo by NeONBrand on Unsplash

If you’re the one who got talked into coaching the little league team, you’re in luck! You can’t deduct your time, but you can deduct all the expenses that go into it. If you need to buy any balls, helmets, or bats for the team, those are all tax-deductible. All of the miles you travel to practices and games are also deductible. And, if you’re the team mom, the snacks you buy are tax deductible.

You can’t just form a baseball team with the neighbors and write it off though; it has to be with a qualified organization.

6. Do You Pay for Childcare?

Most families probably know that if both parents are working, or looking for work, they can claim their childcare expenses. Daycare or on-the-books nanny care probably comes to mind but did you know this also extends to after-school activities, summer camps, and preschools?

This isn’t a tax deduction, it’s a tax credit, which means money back in your pocket. You’re allowed to claim up to $3,000 for one child and up to $6,000 for two or more children.

7. Are You a Single Parent?

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

If you’re a single mom or dad, you will get a big tax bump because you’re not considered “single” any more, but you’re now the “head of the household.” And, that will bring you into a totally different tax calculation.

Hopefully, this helps take away some of the pain come tax time.

Do you have any other parenting tax deductions to add?  Please share!

Please note: I can barely balance my checkbook, much less be considered a tax expert. Please consult your own tax professionals to verify the accuracy of these statements, especially if you are reading this in early 2018 and filing your 2017 taxes.

Julie Forbes