My girlfriend and I have one child and it is my understanding that only one of us can list our child as a dependent on our taxes since we are not married. She lists him as a dependent, I do not.

We pay $900 a month for daycare and we split the cost. So we both pay $450 a month for day care.

But since I don't have any dependents I cannot deduct my daycare expenses. In other words it looks like we are only deducting half of our daycare expenses.

How should we do our taxes to get max deduction for this daycare? Should my girlfriend just report the full day care amount on her taxes even though I pay half?


I am in the United States.

  • She should deduct the entire amount since she claims the dependent. You would have to look at the tax return and figure based on the percent and amount of tax saved how to settle up if you want to do that. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 21:38
  • You might want to run the numbers and see who benefits the most by listing your son as a dependent and filing as head of household.
    – mkennedy
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


The precise answer is to deduct the daycare expenses that you actually paid to the daycare provider (and keep the receipts for the claimed daycare expenses with your tax paperwork for 7 years to safely guard against tax audits).

It sounds like, in the future, you could maximize the tax benefit if she claims the child as a dependent, she pays the childcare provider, you gift to her half of the childcare cost, and she later gifts to you half of the tax benefit for having paid for daycare.

You (being unmarried) can gift up to $14,000 a year to each of as many individuals as you choose without tax consequences.

There appear to be a few types of expenses that individuals can claim on their taxes that they did not directly pay for, but childcare is not one of them.

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