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Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

Benefit overview

The Defense Department offers a dependent care flexible spending account to help families pay for dependent care expenses. This benefit is available to active component service members and members of the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) on Title 10 orders, as well as DOD civilians.

What is a DCFSA?

A dependent care flexible spending account is a pretax account that you fund from your paycheck. The funds can be used to pay for eligible dependent care services, such as preschool, summer day camp, before- or after-school programs, and child or adult day care. Service members may contribute up to $5,000 per household per year to their DCFSA ($2,500 if married filing separate tax returns).

How this benefit helps

A DCFSA can benefit families in a number of ways:

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Tax Savings

When you sign up for a dependent care flexible spending account, you elect to have a portion of your salary deducted before taxes are taken out. This means the money you contribute is not subject to federal income tax, state income tax (in most states) or Social Security and Medicare taxes. This also lowers your taxable income. For example, if your annual salary is $50,000 and you contribute $5,000 to a DCFSA, you will only be taxed on $45,000. This can lower the amount of income tax you owe.

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Greater affordability for child and dependent care

Dependent care services, such as day care, preschool or after-school care, can be significant. By using a DCFSA, you can allocate pretax dollars toward these expenses, effectively reducing out-of-pocket costs. This can make quality care more affordable and help families manage their budgets.

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Dependent care flexible spending account contributions are deducted automatically from a service member’s paycheck before taxes, making it a convenient way to set aside funds for dependent care expenses. Families can plan and budget for these expenses by contributing a specific amount to the DCFSA each pay period.

How to access this benefit

You can enroll online for a dependent care flexible spending account during the annual Federal Benefits Open Season, mid-November through mid-December, or when experiencing a qualifying life event.

Connect with a DOD personal financial professional or MilTax consultant for a free consultation on how the DCFSA benefit can affect your family’s financial and tax situation.

Visit FSAFEDS for more information or to enroll in a DCFSA.

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