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 2019, 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 2019. 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 2019).
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 2019). 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.
Instructions for Form 2441. For more information, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
- If you are filing jointly, disregard community property
laws in determining the earned income of an individual.
- If your spouse died in 2019, see Pub. 503.