5 Real Tax Questions From Stay-At-Home Parents

A SAHM asks herself questions about filing taxes

As a stay-at-home parent, you might not be employed in the traditional sense, but you may still earn income or utilize some form of childcare. This article answers common tax-related questions from parents working in the home, with or without outside employment.

I am a stay-at-home parent. Should my spouse claim me as a dependent?

No. Even if you don’t earn income, this does not make you a dependent for tax purposes. You and your spouse should file as married. Married couples filing jointly generally have lower taxes and can claim more in deductions and credits than those who file as head of household, or even as married filing separately. What do these filing status options mean?  

Read also: What If I Don’t Have Any Taxable Income? 

I earned about $1,000 this year as a tutor. Do I have to report that income to the IRS? 

Yes. As a basic rule of thumb, if you earn more than $400 in a year, you’ll need to report it on your tax return. In today’s gig economy, many stay-at-home parents are finding ways to earn money with flexible work hours. Depending on the type of work and how much you earn while doing it, you could be considered self-employed. In that case, you may qualify for certain business tax deductions as well.  

Read also: Are You Self-Employed? Here’s How to Tell

I receive child support from a previous marriage. Should I report that as income?

No. Child support does not count as income on your tax return.

Alimony is treated differently. If you receive alimony from a divorce finalized before Dec. 31, 2018, those alimony payments should be reported as income. If your divorce was finalized after Dec. 31, 2018, those payments should not be reported as income.

Read also: Tax filing when you are co-parenting.

My child goes to daycare two days a week. Can I get a tax credit for child care expenses? 

You are only eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit if you (and your spouse, if you are filing jointly) are employed, actively looking for full-time employment, or are enrolled in school full-time. You also must have earned income to be able to claim the credit. 

If I donate clothing and toys that my children have outgrown to charity, can I get a tax deduction?

Charitable gifts are an itemized deduction. As long as your items are in good condition or better, you should be able to deduct them on your tax return. The amount you can deduct for your donations depends on what their fair market value is. Fair market value means how much someone would pay for that item the way it is today.

The information in this article is up to date through tax year 2021 (taxes filed in 2022). 

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