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Save On Summer Camps For Your Kids
Durham, NC - Deva Holliman, 10, packs a lot into summer.
Last year, she threw pots at Sarah's House of Clay, created a colorful mask at the North Carolina Museum of Art, practiced archery at Camp Riverlea and learned wilderness survival skills along the Eno River.
"She loves all the summer camps she gets to go to," said her mother, Nancy Holliman, director of programs for HASTAC and the Digital Media and Learning Competition at the John Hope Franklin Institute for Humanities. "She's got the life."
Because Holliman and her husband work, summer camps are a necessary part of Deva's life when school is not in session. Holliman cuts the cost by paying for camps with money she shelters from taxes through Duke's Dependent Care Reimbursement Account. For every $1,000 used from the account, the family saves about $150.
"We see the benefit each April when we do our taxes," Holliman said.
Duke has offered the Dependent Care Reimbursement Account benefit since 1989. The account can be used to pay for daycare, before- and after-school programs, summer day camps (but not overnight camps) and other childcare expenses for children under age 13, if the care provided is necessary to allow an employee to work. To participate, employees must enroll in the program during the annual Open Enrollment period held each fall.
Holliman is one of nearly 1,500 employees currently enrolled in a Dependent Care Reimbursement Account. Like others, she enrolled during Open Enrollment last year, choosing the amount to set aside for childcare expenses in 2012. The total amount is deducted in equal amounts from her paycheck each month.
This year, employees participating in the program are on track to save more than $2 million in taxes because Duke deducts the money from paychecks before calculating federal, state and Social Security taxes, said Saundra Daniels, plan manager for benefits at Duke.
"It's an excellent way to save a bit of money on an expense that many families know they will incur every year," Daniels said.
Employees can contribute up to $5,000 per year in a dependent care reimbursement account. The annual contribution is deducted in equal amounts each month from their paycheck. Families can request reimbursement from the account each time they incur a childcare expense but must have sufficient funds in the account to cover the claim. Any money left unclaimed at the end of the year is forfeited, in accordance with IRS regulations.
Holliman has already paid for three camps for this summer. She'll take the reimbursement forms to the camps to be filled out when she drops her daughter off on the first day, then fax or mail them in to reclaim her money.
"It's a pretty easy system to navigate," she said. "And when it will save me a couple hundred dollars, I have no problem remembering to do it."
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