Summer Activities for Kids Could Qualify for Valuable Tax Credits

Updated: 05/06/2013 10:27 PM By: Beth McDonough

Summer is just around the corner.

For many parents, that means planning and paying for day camps. 

There's an added incentive for parents to send their kids away for a week or two; the state says too many people miss out on getting a tax break.

It's a balancing act for the Hawkes family of White Bear Lake. For 6-year-old Ashley, it's the beam. 

For her mom, Leslie, it's the budget. "It's a lot of money when you think about it, so we have to double the amount every month, it adds up."

Because Hawkes has two children, it costs twice as much. Gymnastics classes run $1,080 every year for both. Summer camp at a nature park is another $400 for each. That's nearly $1,900 a year she spends to make sure her children are entertained, educated and exercised.

A KSTP crew asked parents at Flip Gymnastics in White Bear Lake, by a show of hands, who knew they could get a tax credit for some of their kids activities. 

Not a single hand was raised. That's a problem according to the Department of Revenue. "As they're making purchases or doing things related to education that they're keeping that in mind and taking advantage of what's available to them," said Terri Steenblock. 

Two programs help reduce the tax parents pay and could provide a larger refund on their 2013 State taxes. The K-12 education tax credit gives a tax break up to a thousand dollars. 

That's for summer programs like learning a language, dance camp, tutoring and learning to play chess. But, there are income limits.

The other is the K-12 subtraction, parents could write off $2,500 but must save all of their receipts for paper/pens, notebooks, textbooks, musical instruments, computer hardware and software. There are no income limits. 

Now that Leslie Hawkes is in the know, she'll apply for the tax credits. She believes it's a win, win, her daughter gets physical exercise and she gets a financial break.

To qualify for the two tax breaks, you must buy services, camps and materials this year, plus your child has to attend K-12th grade at a public, private or home school.