Americans are well known for stuffing their children’s days with extracurricular activities, whether it’s piano lessons at the local rec center, SAT prep classes at a learning center, or one on one time with a math tutor.
Is hiring a tutor something you’ve considered for your child? Do they need academic support? What are the advantages of hiring a private in-home tutor for trigonometry or math?
How do you make sure you take advantage of any tax deductions available for the money you spend on home tutoring?
Superprof explains everything you need to know about hiring a private tutor to ensure your child’s academic success.
When do you need to hire a tutor for your child?
Summer vacation has come and gone, but it seems like your child’s head isn’t really back in the classroom. Are they struggling with their homework assignments? Or do you want to get them ready to ace the PSATs or ACT and prepare for college applications?
Academic support, when provided well, is always money well spent - it’s an investment in your child’s future to supplement what they learn in school!
Without even talking about students in danger of flunking out, students will simply struggle with different subjects and assignments from time to time. Hiring a private tutor to help at home or signing them up for private one on one tutoring lessons can help the student work on their weak points, overcome challenges, and catch up at school. An academic tutor can also help them deepen their knowledge ahead of standardized tests with individualized learning plans.
Sometimes, finding academic support for your child can be as simple as signing them up for a homework help program. At one of these programs, students can improve their study skills, work through study guides, receive supplemental instruction, and find the key to academic success!
Depending on the students, academic support could also take the form of mentoring or coaching to help students increase their confidence and develop their work ethic. This can make all the difference, and help make a child’s potential shine academically!
Helping a student refocus on their goals for college and after can be useful as they continue their academic career.
Graduating from high school and applying for colleges is often a common time to hire a private tutor or sign your child up for test prep. It’s especially useful if your child is taking courses like AP Chemistry or AP Calculus, or if they’re applying to an ivy league school. Working on practice exams and providing test prep for the SAT, ACT and AP exams are common services provided by learning centers and private tutors.
Finally, if your child wants to become fluent in a foreign language, hiring a private teacher is often the solution. French and Spanish classes in schools can be hit or miss, and in a class of 20 or 30 students, your child might not be getting all the time they need to practice their expression in the language, as well as refine their understanding of grammar and spelling. Especially if they are taking AP French or Spanish, some practice speaking before the exam with a private tutor can be a game changer. Tutors can help work on conversation, and especially on pronunciation.
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Take your pick from a range of options for academic support
So you’ve decided - this academic year you’re signing your child up for an hour of private tutoring every Wednesday, or maybe homework help a few times a week.
Now it’s just to choose the method. Unfortunately, trying to narrow down the range of choices for academic support available can often be a challenge. Do you need online tutoring? A private tutor? An early learning center? A summer intensive course for catch up? Free tutoring from a local organization?
You might find a tutor through a private learning center, an after-school program, or a private independent teacher. You can pay the tutor directly, or pay through a third party.
But if you’re hoping to claim a tax deduction for your child’s tutoring costs, you need to choose carefully. Unless your child has a medically diagnosed learning disability and you can get a recommendation from a doctor to employ a tutor (as treatment for said mental or physical condition), you’ll need to access tutoring services through an accredited childcare provider in order to claim the deduction.
So if you want to claim a tax deduction for your child’s tutoring and after-school activities, you might need to do a bit of extra research. Finding a tutor who also doubles as after school or childcare will be necessary, and just because they’re offering both doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quality of their teaching background or methods. However, you will be able to claim a tax deduction for their time.
Pay less taxes thanks to your child’s tutor
You’ve chosen to hire a tutor to help your son or daughter improve their grades.
It’s an excellent decision. With regular guidance and studying, your child can quickly improve their grades and catch up where they’re fallen behind.
And of course, you should know about the fiscal advantage for taxpayers when you hire someone to help take care of and educate your child.
This can take the form of a tax deduction when you file your federal income tax with the IRS each April.
How do you deduct up to 35% of childcare costs? What do you need to do to get it deducted? We’ll explain everything you need to do in order to qualify for a tax break and make sure you can claim a tax credit for your child’s tuition costs and reduce your tax bill.
Private tutoring: knowing the rules in order to claim a tax deduction on your federal income taxes
Ok, so first off the bad news - the IRS does not offer any tax deductions on your tax return for paying for a tutor, per se.
However, you don’t need to see your dreams of your child getting a perfect 1600 on the SATs go up in smoke - you can still fit in some test prep if you’re savvy.
Essentially, what you can claim tax deductions for with the IRS are child care. You can claim a tax deduction up to 20 to 35% (depending on gross income) of the first $3000 for one child, or $6000 for two in a fiscal year. The dependent child must be under 13, and you can’t be a stay at home parent. However, if you are unemployed and looking for work, or in full-time education, you can still claim a tax credit on your federal income tax for after-school care for dependents.
So how does this fit with tuition costs? Well, if you can find a qualified child care provider or after school programme who also happens to offer tuition services, you can still claim a tax credit with the IRS when you file your income taxes.
Preschool tuition also counts, but nothing after will. However daycare, babysitters, summer camps (day not sleepover) and after-school programmes can all count for a tax credit for child care of a dependent and it should be relatively simple to find a qualified college student or professional tutor to count as your ‘babysitter’ when you’re filing your annual income tax return with the IRS.
Of course, we should add, always check with a tax professional for any tax questions and anything a bit borderline in your taxes. We can’t provide formal tax advice on this blog - just tax tips to make paying for tuition easier!
The fiscal advantages of hiring a professional tutor
If you have staff at home, you can also claim their wages as part of your child care deduction on your federal tax return. If your cook, cleaner, (or of course, a highly educated nanny who spends time helping the children with homework), is looking after your child while you’re at work, they count towards a child care deduction and you can claim a tax credit.
According to IRS government regulations, employing either an individual or an organization to provide your child with after-school care opens certain possibilities up to you in terms of your tax returns at the end of the tax year.
Whether you’ve hired a babysitter, a Ph.D., enrolled your children in the local Boys and Girls Club, or have your cook keeping an eye on them, it’s all the same to the tax man.
If you’re divorced, the custodial parent is the one who can claim, even if the child is a dependent of both of you according to the divorce agreement. If you’re married but filing separately it might be best to consult tax professionals before you send your tax return to the IRS.
And of course, remember that you can’t claim tax credits on your income taxes for tutoring per se. But you can claim for child care from someone who just happens to provide, and be qualified to offer, tutoring services and homework help.
You can claim a tax deduction on your federal tax return if:
- You’re working, looking for work, or in full-time employment;
- Your child is 13 years or younger and counts as a dependent
- You enrolled them in child care in order to be able to work.
Again, you can’t claim for a tutor per se, but for after school care or a babysitter who happens to offer tutoring too… The credit you receive will depend on the fact that they're offering child care services.
The tax credit is a great way to make sure your child is well prepared for high school and whatever algebra and calculus will throw at them. Once they’ve mastered the basics and learned good study habits, it will all flow from there.
Whatever subject you’re looking for a tutor - Spanish tutor, Geometry tutor, or English tutor - you can easily find your Superprof online and get the first hour free.
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