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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-02)

 Washington, D.C.- Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-02) led a group of his colleagues in requesting that the Department of Treasury allow Americans to use their Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSAs) for online education and childcare services.

“While I believe science shows that schools can safely return to in-person learning, there are instances for some families where it is not possible. Currently, families with Dependent Care FSAs are unable to use their hard-earned DCFSAs for online schooling or care. After hearing from a constituent with an online schooling issue, I was proud to lead this effort to expand DCFSA eligibility. I’m grateful to them for bringing this issue to my attention and am proud to work on behalf of them and other individuals and families facing similar difficulties,” said Congressman Wenstrup.

Background:

After hearing from a constituent with a virtual education issue, Congressman Wenstrup joined his colleagues on Ways and Means, Representatives Mike Kelly and Darin LaHood, in asking the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service to provide temporary flexibility for DCFSAs for families utilizing virtual dependent care services due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

As schools have closed across the country, families have turned their homes into temporary daycares, nurseries, and preschools. Communities and schools have made localized determinations to move dependent care services online, re-open, or move to hybrid models with virtual and in-person instruction. While childcare providers have adapted to continue to provide services for working families, the regulations guiding DCFSA tax-advantaged accounts have not. Currently, DCFSA-eligible employees cannot use their childcare savings for virtual daycare or pre-school. Congressman Wenstrup has requested that the Treasury Department expand eligible expenses for DCFSAs to include virtual school and childcare services for the duration of the public health emergency.

Text of the letter:

Steven T. Mnuchin
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20220

Michael J. Desmond
Chief Counsel
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20224

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Chief Counsel Desmond:

October 19, 2020

In light of ongoing efforts to reopen safely and smartly, we are asking the Department of Treasury to provide temporary flexibility for Dependent Care Flexible Arrangements (DCFSA) for families utilizing virtual dependent care services due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

As you know, many employers offer DCFSAs to their employees and their families, allowing employees to contribute up to $5,000 pre-tax dollars per year to cover eligible services such as child or adult daycare, preschool, summer day camp, and before- or after-school programs. We thank you for your work to provide much needed certainty to Americans with DCFSAs by allowing eligible employees to make mid-year benefit changes and roll over their DCFSA dollars through December 31, 2020. As Americans begin to return to normal, further flexibility is needed.

As schools have closed across the country, families have turned their homes into temporary daycares, nurseries, and preschools. Communities and schools have made localized determinations to move dependent care services online, re-open, or move to hybrid models with virtual and in-person instruction. While childcare providers have adapted to continue to provide services for working families, the regulations guiding DCFSA tax-advantaged accounts have not. Currently, DCFSA-eligible employees cannot use their childcare savings for virtual daycare or pre-school.

We look forward to restoring our way of life and having children return to entirely in-person childcare services. We commend the unprecedented work of President Trump to harness the full capacity of the private and public sectors to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine. Until then, families need assurance that their children can access education and childcare services. Allowing families to use their own hard-earned DCFSA dollars for virtual education is one tool in the toolbox to help families during the public health emergency.

As you continue to give Americans the needed tools to restore their lives during the COVID-19 public health emergency we ask that you issue guidance to allow families to temporarily use their DCFSA dollars on virtual dependent care services for the duration of the public health emergency. We look forward to continuing to work with the Department on issues important to our constituents and thank you for your consideration.

MIL OSI USA News