How to Calculate Your Space Percent


This is Part III of a four-part series on The Time-Space Percentage. Part I is The Time-Space Percentage Quiz. Part II is How to Calculate Your Time Percent. Part IV is How to Claim the Exclusive Use Rule.

“Must I count the space in my basement and garage?”

“Can I count my downstairs room if licensing rules prohibit me having day care children downstairs?”

“Can I my own child’s bedroom if he takes a nap in it everyday but day care children do not enter the room?”

What are these family child care providers asking about?

The Time-Space Percentage (T/S%) is the single most important number for a child care provider to accurately calculate because it will make the biggest difference in reducing your taxes.

Your T/S% represents the proportion of your home that is used for business purposes. You will use it to determine how much of the thousands of dollars of your house-related expenses you can deduct.

To calculate your T/S% you must first calculate your Time Percent and then your Space Percent.

The Space Percent

Your Space Percent is calculated by dividing the number of square feet in your home used on a regular basis for your business by the total number of square feet in your home.

Look at each room in your home and ask, “Am I using this room on a regular basis for my business?” If the answer is yes, count all the square feet in the room; if no, don’t count any of the square feet. Your living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, entryway, playroom, and pantry are probably all regularly used in your business. A bedroom used by children for naps 30 minutes each day is considered regular use. Using a room 2-3 times a week is probably regular use.

You must count your basement and garage as part of the total square feet of your home.

If your state licensing rules prohibit you from bringing children into your basement you may still be able to count the basement space as regular use if it contains a furnace area, laundry room, or storage area for household items used in your business (tools, household supplies, etc.). Children don’t have to be in a room for the room to be considered as regular use.

If you use your garage to store a car used for your business, tools, bikes, garbage can, recycling, garden supplies, etc. you could consider your garage as regular use.

Rooms that would not be considered as regular use would be a bedroom never used by the day care children, a personal bathroom never used by the children, or a gun room.

Most providers count all the rooms in their home as regular use and therefore their Space Percent would be 100%. Don’t be afraid to claim a 100% Space Percent!

After calculating your Space Percent multiply it by your Time Percent to get your T/S%. Most providers who work full-time, year round will probably have a T/S% of between 30-45%. You must recalculate your T/S% each year.

Enter your Space Percent on Part I of IRS Form 8829 Expenses for Business Use of Your Home.

I have answered a lot of questions about the T/S% at the child care forum.

What questions do you have? Contact me on my Facebook page or email me at

Tom Copeland –

Image credit:

6a0133f3fc5805970b01bb08151dd5970d-320wiFor a comprehensive discussion of the T/S% see my book Family Child Care Record-Keeping Guide.




Copyright 2011, Tom Copeland,


Categories: Record Keeping & Taxes, Time-Space Percentage

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3 replies

  1. Can you use time space deduction for a preschool program based out of your home?

  2. Yes. From the IRS point of view, a preschool program is the same as a family child care provider. You can claim the same expenses, including house expenses, as a family child care provider.

  3. I have a detached garage that is used for my van (used for daycare fieldtrips), toys, strollers, and gardening equipment just to name a few daycare related items. Am I able to count the detached garage as part of my home time/space percentage?

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