If your company offers a dependent care flexible spending account (also known as an FSA), you can put aside pretax dollars from each paycheck for child and dependent care expenses, up to a maximum $5,000 for 2018. Generally, you’ll have to decide during open enrollment how much to set aside for the year, Weston said, and it can be a missed opportunity.
“If you have a 10-year-old, you’re not necessarily thinking about camp right now,” she said.
There’s fine print on what constitutes an eligible expense, of course. Among other requirements, the child in question must be under age 13, and both parents must be working (or be students or disabled), said Nicky Brown, vice president of compliance services at benefits administrator WageWorks. Only certain types of care are eligible; on the camp front, only day camps qualify, not overnight ones.
When you’re estimating how much to set aside in your FSA for summer care, factor in deposits and other advance payments you’ll make this year for next year’s camp, said Brown. You can get reimbursed for those payments when your child attends camp.
“One of the rules is that expenses have to have been incurred to be reimbursable,” she said. “It’s not about when you make the payment.”