The Business Side of Giving Christmas Gifts

Christmas is a time of gift giving and many family child care providers give gifts to the families of the children in their care. Gifts range from the home made (winter scarfs, photo albums showing pictures of the child from the past year) to books and pillow pets, to gift certificates.

What are the tax consequences of giving gifts to children and their parents?

Now you may think that I’m being Scrooge-like to discuss taxes when talking about gifts, but that’s what my website is about!

Gifts to the Parents

IRS rules say that you can deduct gifts as a business expense up to $25 per person per year. This means:

  • If you give $25 worth of gifts (birthday cards, Christmas presents, Mother’s Day gifts, etc.) to a child’s mother and another $25 to the child’s father you can deduct the full $50.
  • If you give gifts worth $15 to the mother and $45 to the father, you can deduct $40 ($15 plus $25).
  • If you gave a child clothing or paid for a child to attend a special education program or other such personal items, these would be considered gifts, subject to the $25 rule.

Gifts to the Child

The same $25 per person limit applies to gifts you give to the children in your care. However, the IRS Child Care Audit Guide says, “[IRS] Examiners should not confuse expenses related to activities done with the children with gifts.”

Let’s say you give a toy as a Christmas present to a child. If the toy is wrapped and the child takes it home to open it, then it’s a “gift” subject to the $25 limit. If the child opens the present at your home and the other children play with it, then this could be said to be an activity expense not subject to the $25 limit.

The difference between a gift and an activity expense may be a fine line. Certainly all the expenses associated with a Christmas party in your home for the children in your care are 100% deductible. Such expenses may include: party decorations, food, games, balloons, party favors, Christmas cookies and treats, etc.

What do you do about giving gifts to children at Christmas?

Join The Child Care Business Partnership!

Minute Menu (now KidKare!) and Tom Copeland have teamed up to offer you the chance to reduce your taxes, receive direct assistance if you are audited, and personalized business advice so you can be more successful. For $15 a year you can join The Child Care Business Partnership and start receiving direct help from Tom Copeland in using Minute Menu Kids Pro. For more information:, or email Tom at


Tom Copeland

I've been the nation's leading trainer, author, and advocate on the business of family child care since 1981. I'm a licensed attorney and have presented hundreds of business workshops for family child care providers across the country. I answer thousands of calls and emails each year to help providers, tax professionals and trainers understand complex business and tax issues. Call me at 651-280-5991. Email me at Visit me on Facebook. From 1981 to 2009 I worked at Resources for Child Caring in Minnesota (now called Think Small), where I was director of Redleaf National Institute for 15 years. I've written nine books on the business of family child care published by Redleaf Press, a division of Resources for Child Caring. I was on the board of directors of First Children's Finance, a non-profit organization providing low interest loans and consulting and technical assistance to help family child care providers suceed as a business. They operate in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. Here are some YouTube videos of me talking about my work with this organization and the business of family child care. I graduated from Macalester College (BA) in 1972 and from William Mitchell College of Law (JD) in 1980. I live in St. Paul, Minnesota with my wife Diane and two cats, Duke and Ella.