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12821: 2441 - Dependent Care Credit for When a Spouse is a Student or Disabled


1040 Individual Data Entry

The Dependent Care Credit in a joint return requires both spouses have earned income. How do I enter earned income on screen 2441 for a spouse who is a student or disabled?
 

For a spouse who qualifies for the credit but is a full time student or disabled, IRS rules attribute a certain amount of earned income to the spouse for purposes of the credit. To enter these amounts, use the taxpayer and spouse adjustment fields at the bottom of Screen 2441, labeled 4, 5, 18, 19 Earned Income for 2441 purposes ONLY. For 2018, the IRS provides this example:

If You or Your Spouse Was a Student or Disabled
Your spouse's earned income.
Your spouse was a full-time student if he or she was enrolled as a full-time student at a school for some part of each of 5 calendar months during 2018. The months need not be consecutive. A school doesn't include an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or a school offering courses only through the Internet. Your spouse was disabled if he or she wasn't physically or mentally capable of self-care. Figure your spouse's earned income on a monthly basis.
For each month or part of a month your spouse was a student or was disabled, he or she is considered to have worked and earned income. His or her earned income for each month is considered to be at least $250 ($500 if more than one qualifying person was cared for in 2018). Enter that amount on line 5. If your spouse also worked during that month, use the higher of $250 (or $500) or his or her actual earned income for that month.
For any month that your spouse wasn't a student or disabled, use your spouse's actual earned income if he or she worked during the month.
 
Your earned income.
These rules for a spouse who was a student or disabled also apply to you if you were a student or disabled. For each month or part of a month you were a student or disabled, your earned income is considered to be at least $250 ($500 if more than one qualifying person was cared for in 2018). Enter that amount on line 4. If you also worked during that month, enter the higher of $250 (or $500) or your actual earned income for that month.
 
Both spouses were students or disabled.
If, in the same month, both you and your spouse were either students or disabled, only one of you can be treated as having earned income in that month under these rules.
 
Special Situations
  • If you are filing jointly, disregard community property laws.
  • If your spouse died in 2018, see Pub. 503. 
Instructions for Form 2441. For more information, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

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