EBIA Weekly Newsletter

IRS Releases 2015 Publication 503 and Form 2441 for Child and Dependent Care Expenses

   February 18, 2016

IRS Publication 503 (Child and Dependent Care Expenses) (for 2015 Tax Returns); IRS Form 2441 (Child and Dependent Care Expenses) and Instructions (2015)

Publication 503

Form 2441


The IRS has released the latest versions of Publication 503 and Form 2441 (and its accompanying instructions) for the 2015 tax year. Publication 503 explains the requirements that taxpayers must meet to claim the dependent care tax credit (DCTC) under Code § 21 for child and dependent care expenses. Taxpayers file Form 2441 with Form 1040 to determine the amount of their available DCTC, and dependent care assistance program (DCAP) participants must file the form with Form 1040 to support the income exclusion for their DCAP reimbursements. The 2015 versions of these items are substantially similar to their 2014 counterparts.

EBIA Comment: Publication 503 is written primarily to help taxpayers determine whether expenses qualify for the DCTC. While similar requirements apply for expenses to be reimbursable under a DCAP, there are some differences—so caution is advised when consulting the publication for this purpose. (For example, the DCTC and DCAPs have different rules about the maximum amount and timing of expenses that can be taken into account.) The expenses that can be used to calculate the DCTC for a tax year are limited to $3,000 for one qualifying individual and $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals. However, these limits are reduced by the amount of any DCAP reimbursements for the year. Employees who receive $5,000 of reimbursements for 2015 (the maximum DCAP exclusion for most taxpayers) can still take a partial DCTC based on up to $1,000 of their 2015 dependent care expenses that exceed $5,000, if they have two or more qualifying individuals and meet other DCTC requirements. For more information, see EBIA’s Cafeteria Plans manual at Sections XXIII.C (“DCAP Participation vs. Claiming the Dependent Care Tax Credit”), XXIV (“What Expenses Can Be Reimbursed Under a DCAP?”), and XXV.H (“Form 2441—Employees Must File It With Their Form 1040”).

Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.