Where to Claim Groceries for Day Care Provider Tax Deductions

Grocery expenses for day care providers can be significant.

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The cost of feeding children is considered a business expense for day care providers. Therefore these costs can be subtracted from your taxable income. The Internal Revenue Service has some specific rules and record-keeping requirements, as well as two different methods for day care providers to account for their food costs.

Actual Expenses

You may deduct the actual cost of the food you buy to provide meals and snacks for children in your day care if you offer these as part of the services to your customers. You must keep a record of what you spend on food for your day care. If your business is home-based, you need to keep a separate record of all food you purchase for your family as well. The IRS wants to make sure you are not deducting food consumed by your family as a business expense.

Standard Meal Rate

To make the accounting process simpler, the IRS allows you to deduct a fixed amount for the meals and snacks provided to children in your care. For day care facilities in the lower 48 states, you can deduct $1.19 for each breakfast, $2.22 for each lunch and dinner, and 66 cents for each snack, as of 2012. Alaska and Hawaii have different rates. You must keep track of each child you are feeding, as well as the number of hours they were in attendance and the total number of meals and snacks provided.

Schedule C

The total of your day care grocery expenses is entered on IRS Schedule C, part 5, under "other expenses." You will need to write "groceries" under the description. Carry the totals for this and any other expenses listed in part 5 onto line 48 and subtract them from your income.


If you are reimbursed for any food by any type of government program, you will need to claim this as income if the amount exceeds what you have spent for food. You would show this on part 1 of Schedule C. If you spent more on food than you received as a reimbursement, subtract the amount of the reimbursement from what you spent on food and only enter the difference under part 5 of the Schedule C.