Yes, children are expensive. According to the most recent government statistics, it takes $235,000 to raise one child from birth to age 18. (And that doesn’t include college.)  However, our tax laws make it possible to take sizable tax deductions and credits. So, as a parent, part of your money-management strategy should be to capitalize on tax breaks that can increase your take-home income and, in turn, maintain/boost your standard of living.

Here are some of the benefits to which you are entitled as a parent:

1.  The Basic Exemption. You are generally eligible to take a deduction off your income for each dependent child in your household under age 19 (age 24 if he or she is a full-time student, or any age if disabled). The amount of the deduction for 2012, reports the IRS, is $3,800, up $100 from 2011. 

2.  The Child Tax Credit. For each child age 17 or younger, you can claim a $1,000 credit in 2012 (the same as last year), provided your income does not exceed certain amounts. Note: A tax credit is deducted from your tax, not your income, so it can lead to big savings.

3.  Child Care Credit. You may qualify for a child-care income-tax credit of up to $3,000 ($6,000 for two or more qualifying dependents) for day-care or baby-sitter services.

4.  Educational Tax Credits. Among these, families that qualify for the Hope and American Opportunity tax credits for college students can deduct up to $2,500 from their taxes in 2012.

5.  Deductions on Educational Related Interest. Interest on loans is deductible up to $2,500. There is an income limit, though, to qualify for the deductions.

6.  The Adoption Credit. If you adopt a child, you can claim an adoption tax credit, if applicable, for a child under 18. The maximum amount for 2012 is $12,650, down from $13,360 in 2011, reports the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

Note: These are just some of the tax breaks from which you can benefit as a parent. Keep in mind that eligibility is often subject to fine-print details.  So, before you act, check with your accountant (and, if appropriate, your attorney) to make sure you are eligible for any/all of the above tax breaks and to make sure you are not overlooking any.