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Requirements for the recognition of childcare costs for tax purposes

Deductions for childcare costs may generally be claimed in your tax return. It is however questionable how spouses who live in permanent separation from each other as well as unmarried couples can take into account the payments that have been made as special expenses.

In a case in this regard, which was heard by the tax court in Thuringia, the father of an under-age daughter had paid a portion of the childcare costs; however, the local tax office had then refused the deduction that had been claimed (court notice of 1.1.2022, case reference: 3 K 210/21). The daughter lived exclusively with her mother – who was living in permanent separation from the father – and was thus not a member of the claimant’s household in 2020. The claimant was not paying any spousal maintenance. During the assessment period, the daughter frequented both a kindergarten as well as a day care centre while the child’s mother paid the fees. Even though the father reimbursed the mother every month for half the amount of the fees, nevertheless, he was denied the ability to take into account as special expenses the payments that he had actually made. 

The tax court viewed the claim as being unfounded. Household membership, which is a condition for the deduction as a special expense, requires not only living together with the child in a given place, but also meeting other criteria. In the case of parents who are unmarried or are living in permanent separation from each other, the parent who is authorised to claim the deduction is the one who has borne the costs and where the child is a member of their household. In the case in question, the child was not a member of the claimant’s household. 

Please note: In the view of the court, this statutory provision is constitutional and household membership is an appropriate point of reference.

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