Good news may be coming for military spouses and families, thanks to a new bill in the Senate. The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act businesses and employers a tax credit for hiring spouses of service members. It would also open up access to flexible spending accounts to service members, allowing them to save pre-tax dollars for childcare.
This bill would add military spouses to the list of eligible employees that business can hire with the incentive of a tax credit, including veterans, people with disabilities and ex-felons.
Under the current Work Opportunity Tax Credit, employers can receive a tax credit of $9,600 for hiring veterans or other eligible hires.
The bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress by Senators Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, John Boozman, R-Arkansas, and Jon Tester, D-Montana. It was introduced in late February is will go to the Finance Committee for debate before being presented to the House or Senate as a whole.
“The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act encourages businesses to step up and play a bigger role in hiring military spouses who already sacrifice so much,” said Sen. Kaine. “And it further addresses a real obstacle to professional success for many military families: access to quality, affordable child care. Addressing these issues will help military spouses advance in their careers despite frequent moves.”
According to a press release from the Senators, “(s)omewhere between 12% and 25% of military spouses are unemployed.” That is shockingly higher that the national average unemployment rate, which currently stands at 4.1% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Military spouses are vital to our all-volunteer force,” said Sen. Boozman in a press release. “They make sacrifices, like taking on family duties during long deployments and supporting frequent moves, and they do it mostly without recognition. As a result, they face a unique set of challenges that make career advancement more difficult.”
Boozman added, “This is a thoughtful approach to help ease the burden on our military families by improving employment opportunities for spouses.”
If the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act is passed and signed into law, the tax credit incentive for hiring military spouses could significantly reduce the percent of unemployed military spouses and help financially stabilize military families. The flexible spending accounts would also help reimburse military families for out-of-pocket childcare costs.