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Parents and tax

​​If you have children, there are various tax credits and deductions you can claim on your tax return.​​​​​​​​​

3 main tax credits

1. Children’s fitness amount

You can claim this tax credit if your children are registered in ongoing physical activities or classes. Beginning in the 2015 tax year, this tax credit is refundable. You can claim up to a maximum of $1,000 of eligible fees per child, which at 15%, creates a refund of $150 per child. Learn more about the children’s fitness amount.

2. Children’s Arts Tax Credit

You can claim this non-refundable tax credit if your children are registered in art, music or cultural activities or classes. You can claim up to $500 per child each year. The maximum credit for the Children's Arts Tax Credit is $75 for each child.

Learn more about the Children’s Arts Tax Credit from the Canada Revenue Agency.

3. Family Tax Cut

In 2014, there was a new non-refundable tax credit called the Family Tax Cut. The purpose of the tax credit was to make the tax burden fairer for families. Under Canada’s tax system, federal personal income tax rates increase with the level of taxable income of the individual. So a couple in which one individual has a higher taxable income than the other often pays more federal income tax than a couple where both individuals have equal taxable income.

This non-refundable tax credit of up to $2,000 is for eligible couples who live with children under 18 (at the end of the year). In order to be eligible, you must:

  • not be separated for more than 90 days including December 31, 2015,
  • both be residents of Canada on December 31, 2015, and
  • both file a tax return for the year this credit is claimed.

You will not be eligible if during the year, you:

  • were in prison for at least 90 days
  • became bankrupt, or
  • elected to split eligible pension income.

The Family Tax Cut is based on the net reduction of federal tax that would result if up to $50,000 of one person’s taxable income was transferred to their spouse or common-law partner, to take advantage of the spouse’s lower tax bracket. (Note that no income is actually being transferred from one taxpayer to another and it won’t impact your provincial taxes. This “income splitting” is notional only.)

To claim it, complete Schedule 1-A, Family Tax Cut.

2 child benefits

1. Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)

If you have children under age 18, you may qualify for this tax-free monthly payment. The amount of benefits is based on the net family income of the parents. To apply for the CCTB, complete Form RC66 Canada Child Benefits Application.

2. Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)

If you have children under age 6, you're currently eligible to receive $160 per month. Parents may also receive a payment of $60 per month for eligible children ages six through 17.

The UCCB is taxable in the hands of the lower-income spouse or common-law partner. If you're a single parent, you can have the UCCB taxed in the hands of your dependent children. This means $288 in tax relief for single parents with 1 child under age 6.

You don't pay tax on money you receive from the Child Tax Benefit. But you do pay tax on money you receive from the Universal Child Care Benefit. Parents who are separated and share custody of a child can choose to split each of these benefits.

Deductions for child care expenses

You can deduct the costs of having someone look after your children under age 16 (at some time during the year) while you work or go to school. You must have “earned income" to claim deductions for child care expenses.

What you can claim

  • Amounts paid to a daycare centre
  • Amounts paid to a caregiver must be a Canadian resident and have a social insurance number, but cannot be the child's father or mother, or a person under age 18 who is related to you 
  • The portion of school fees that relate to child care services
  • The cost of day camps and boarding schools.

How much you can claim

You can claim the lower of:

  • 2/3 of your earned income, and
  • the actual amount you paid for child care.

The maximum you can claim per child each year is:

  • $8,000 for children under age 7
  • $5,000 for other eligible children
  • $11,000 for children who qualify for the disability tax credit.

How to claim

The spouse or common-law partner with the lower income must claim the deduction. File Form T778, Child Care Expenses Deduction. Don't include your receipts but keep them as proof of your claim. 

Adoption Expense Tax Credit

You can claim an amount for adoption expenses related to adopting a child under the age of 18. The maximum claim for each child is $15,255 in 2015, for tax savings of $2,288. The amount will be indexed to inflation after 2014.

For adoptions that are finalized in 2013 or later, the adoption tax credit has been enhanced to help offset costs incurred before parents are matched with a child.

Learn more about claiming adoption expenses.

Saving for your child's education in an RESP

Contributions to your child's RESP are not tax deductible, but you won't be taxed on any income earned while the funds remain in the plan. If you save for a child age 17 and under, the federal government and some provincial governments will also put money into the RESP as a grant or bond. Accumulated earnings and government grants are taxable income to the student in the year they are paid out. Contributions can be withdrawn tax free.

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