Caring for a disabled child requires extra time, effort and expense. Most medical expenses for disabled children are deductible, including the cost of a special diet. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't restrict the dependency exemption for older disabled children, so parents can get a tax write-off for an extended period. Parents can also get a dollar-for-dollar credit on childcare costs they incur.
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If your child is disabled, you may be able to claim her as a dependent on your tax return for her whole life. Normally, the dependency deduction is subject to age limitations. However, the IRS makes an exception for children who are permanently and totally disabled. Permanently and totally disabled means the individual has a mental of physical condition that prevents her from engaging in any substantial gainful employment or activity. A doctor must determine the condition can be expected to last at least a year, or that it can lead to death. The current dependency exemption as of the 2015 tax year is $3,950.
Any medical expenses you incur on behalf of yourself or your dependent are tax deductible if the total exceeds 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. However, the IRS provides a very broad and generous definition of medical expenses, so almost any expense you incur to prevent, diagnose, treat, or mitigate a condition is acceptable. The cost of equipment, doctor visits, medications and transportation all are deductible. Even the cost of special schooling for disabled children and attending a disability-related conference qualify.
Cost of Special Diets
The IRS recently expanded the definition of medical expenses to include the cost of providing a special diet. If your disabled child requires special foods, like a gluten-free diet or a casein-free diet, you may include the cost of the food products, travel and postage as a medical expense. However, to claim these expenses as a medical deduction you must include with your tax return a letter from a doctor stating that your child requires a special diet.
Child and Dependent Care Credit
The Child and Dependent Care Credit offers parents a dollar-for-dollar credit on certain childcare expenses. The maximum credit is $3,000 for a single child and $6,000 for two or more children. The credit reimburses you for payments you made to other individuals or organizations, such as a day care, after-school program, day camp, child care facility or a caregiver, related to the care of your child. In order to claim this credit, you must provide the name, address, and employer identification number of all individuals or organizations that you paid.