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Dependent Care FSA

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) allows you to be reimbursed on a pre-tax basis for child care or adult dependent care expenses for qualified dependents that are necessary to allow you or your spouse to work, look for work, or attend school full-time. However, if you did not find a job and have no earned income for the year, your dependent care costs are not eligible. For more information, refer to the following question. It can be used to reimburse you with pre-tax dollars if the expenses for dependents meet the IRS definition of dependent for income tax purposes. An adult (e.g., parent, grandparent, adult disabled child) may qualify as a dependent if the employee is providing more than half of that person’s maintenance for the year.

Maximum Amounts Electable

  • $5,000 for single individuals or married couples filing joint returns;
  • $2,500 for married couples filing separate returns,
  • the employee’s earned income (if less than $5,000/$2,500) or
  • the spouse’s earned income (if less than $5,000/$2,500).

Qualifying Dependents

A qualifying dependent for the FSAFEDS DCFSA is:

  • Your tax-dependent who is under age 13, or
  • Your tax-dependent of any age (including, but not limited to, your parents and parents-in-laws), or your spouse who is mentally or physically incapable of caring for himself or herself.

To claim dependent care expenses, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You must have incurred the expenses in order for you and your spouse to work, look for work (as long as you found a job and have earned income), attend school full-time or was physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
  • The payments for care cannot be paid to someone you can claim as your dependent on your return or to your child who is under age 19. (However, payments can be made to a provider between ages 13-19 that you do not claim on your taxes as a dependent, or who does not live in your home.)
  • Your filing status must be single, qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child, married filing jointly, or married filing separately.
  • The care must have been provided for one or more qualifying persons identified on the form you use to claim the credit.
  • You (and, if you’re married, your spouse) must maintain a home that you live in for more than half of the year with your qualifying child or dependent.

Your child must have been under age 13 when care was provided and you must be able to claim the child as an exemption on your tax return. (For an exception to this rule, see “Child of Divorced or Separated Parents” in IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.) A spouse who is mentally or physically unable to care for himself or herself also qualifies. A dependent of any age (e.g., a parent) who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care also qualifies if he or she can be claimed as an exemption on your tax return (or could have been claimed, except for the fact that he or she had $3,050 or more of gross income).

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