Q. I’m interested in the dependent care credit. Can we qualify if my wife goes back to school for her master's degree? P.P.R., Briar Cliff Manor, N.Y.
A. Potentially, yes. A couple is eligible to claim the credit if one spouse works full time and the other is a full-time student at an educational institution for at least five calendar months during the year. This meets the tax law requirement for both spouses to be “gainfully employed.” But the law also assumes that the earned income for each month your spouse is in school is only $250 if you’re paying to care for one qualifying child; $500 for two or more qualifying children.
Tip: For married couples, qualifying expenses are limited to the earned income of the lower-earning spouse.