Are Summer Camps a Write-off?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

ChildrenIt’s come to that time of year again, Summer! For a kid, the greatest time of the year with no school and a chance to hang with friends. For a parent, a slow agonizing death. Okay, maybe not that, but it can be a pain for parents as the kids are always ‘bored’. So, many parents send their kids off to camp for at least a period of time during the summer. For many parents this can be a big expense, however, there is some relief from the government in the form of a tax deduction.

Summer camps fall under the Child Care Expenses Deduction, on form T778. This includes day camps and day sports schools where the primary goal of the camp is to care for children (an institution offering a sports study program is not a sports school); or boarding schools, overnight sports schools, or camps where lodging is involved.

The rules for claiming summer camps are the same as for child care expenses.

You must be the person supporting the child under 16, and can be your common-law spouse’s child. Disabled dependent children can be any age as long as they are dependent on you, your spouse, or partner. And, your eligibility will be based on yours and your spouse’s net income for the tax year. It’s always the lower income spouse who claims child care expenses, except when the lower income spouse attended school part-time or full-time; had a mental or physical infirmity confining them to bed, a wheelchair or hospital for at least two weeks (certified by a physician); was in prison or similar institution; or, there was a breakdown in the relationship for a period of at least 90 days in the tax year, but you reconciled before March 1st of the following year.

You cannot claim fees paid for leisure or recreational activities, such as tennis lessons or the annual registration fees paid for Scouts. Some expenses may not qualify for the child care expenses deduction. However, they may qualify for the children’s arts amount or the children’s fitness tax credit if they meet the rules for claiming the children’s arts amount or the children’s fitness tax credit.

You cannot claim expenses for which you or another person received, or is entitled to receive, a reimbursement of the child care expenses or any other form of assistance not included in income. This includes, for example, the hiring credit for small business received under the Employment Insurance Act. If your employer paid the child care expenses on your behalf, you can claim the part of the expenses included in your income for the year.

The organization that received the payments must give you a receipt showing information about the services provided. The receipt can be in your name or that of your spouse or common-law partner.

The maximum you can claim for expenses that relate to a stay in a boarding school (other than education costs) or an overnight camp (including an overnight sport school) is $200 per week for a child included on line 1 in Part B, $275 per week for a child included on line 2, and $125 per week for a child included on line 3. Line 1, 2, and 3 relate to how your children are listed on the T778 Part B, which determines the amount you can claim in total for child care expenses. As of 2015 that’s $8,000 for a child born 2009 or later; $11,000 for a child born 2015 or earlier for whom the disability amount can be claimed; or $5,000 for a child born 1999 to 2008 (and born in 1998 or earlier, with a mental or physical impairment, for whom the disability amount cannot be claimed).

Summer camps are a great way to give your kids a summer experience they’ll never forget, and give you a tax deduction too. Besides, wouldn’t it be great to be kid free for a couple of weeks.

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