Most family child care providers keep relatively good records when tracking the hours when children are in their care.
But few providers are keeping accurate records of their work when children are not present.
Want to reduce your taxes? Keep track of the hours you work when children are not present.
I can’t emphasize this enough. For years I’ve seen providers pay too much in taxes because they didn’t do this.
I’ve written about this before: “The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do to Reduce Your Taxes.”
Now I want to tell you exactly how to record the hours you work in your home when children are not present.
For most providers, tracking the hours children are in their home is relatively easy. You can fill out your Food Program monthly claim form, enter attendance records in your Minute Menu software, or collect sign in/out sheets from parents.
Keeping records of when you are working when children are not in your home is more difficult.
You can count all hours spent on activities that you wouldn’t be doing except for the fact that you are a family child care provider. This can include many things: cleaning, activity preparation, meal preparation, talking to parents on the phone, office work, time on the Internet looking for recipes, etc., cleaning toys, reading this blog (!), and so on.
I wrote an article identifying many of these hours: “What Hours Can You Count.”
You can’t count hours if you are away from home (shopping, training, etc.), even though you may be engaged in a business activity. Only include hours when you are physically at your home and children aren’t present. Don’t count hours spent on personal activities (mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, making your own bed when children don’t sleep in it), etc.
Before you try to count hours, ask yourself this question: “If I wasn’t a family child care provider would I be doing this activity?” If the answer is “yes” then don’t count this time.
How to Keep Records of Hours Worked When Children Aren’t Present
You should keep careful records of these hours for at least two months each year. If you can do more than two months, do so.
Because tracking these hours is so important, I want to give a detailed example of exactly how to keep records showing these hours.
First you want to pick out the two months you will track these hours. Pick two months that are representative of the entire year. Maybe, one month in the summer and one month in the fall.
Then start marking on the calendar what the business activity is and the time of day you conduct it.