How Do I Figure Day Care Meals for Taxes?


If you operate a day care, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct the cost of meals you provide the children. You can claim the standard meal deduction or use the actual cost method. The standard meal deduction is a flat rate determined by the IRS annually.

Standard Meal Deduction

  • The standard meal deduction is an alternative to keeping track of the exact amount you spend per child on meals. For the standard meal deduction, you keep track of only the number and type of meals served. In all states except Hawaii and Alaska, the rates as of publication were $1.28 for each breakfast, $2.40 for each lunch or dinner and 71 cents for each snack, up to three snacks per day for each child. In Alaska, the rates were set at $2.04 for breakfast, $3.89 for lunch or dinner and $1.16 for snacks. In Hawaii, the rates were $1.49 for breakfast, $2.81 for lunch or dinner and 83 cents for snacks.

Actual Cost Method

  • If you want to use the actual cost method, maintain grocery receipts for your records. Add up the amounts spent on groceries to prepare the day care meals and snacks for the entire year to determine the actual cost. You might keep a weekly or monthly log to simplify the process. Although you can deduct labor and equipment expenses, those should be kept separately and don't apply to the meal deduction.

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