By Debbie Gregory.
Every military spouse knows that finding employment is difficult, but a new bill aims to incentivize employers to hire them.
On February 27, the bill to provide a work opportunity tax credit for military spouses and to provide for flexible spending arrangements for childcare services for military families was introduced by Sen. Timothy Kaine.
The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018 would also give military families pre-tax savings accounts for child care expenses.
“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,” Kaine said in a recent press release.
The tax credit for employers would be up to $9,600, and is the same one that certain veterans get. The value of the credit depends on how many hours the veteran worked and whether the veteran has a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, among other factors.
The new bill would simply add “qualified military spouse” to the list of those for whom an employer could receive the credit. It defines “qualified military spouse” as the “spouse or domestic partner” of a member of the U.S. armed forces.
The numbers behind military spouse unemployment are staggering. According to press release, “between 12 percent and 25 percent of military spouses are unemployed,” and Blue Star Families says that military spouse unemployment costs the U.S. economy almost $1 billion a year.
The press release went on to say the bill “…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.”
The proposal would allow military families to have flexible spending accounts that they can add pre-tax money from their paychecks to pay for out-of-pocket childcare expenses.
“Again and again we hear from these spouses that the lack of childcare puts a big burden in their way in terms of finding employment. Childcare is so expensive that the childcare is going to cost more than your salary then you are not going to work, you’re not going to maintain your career, your profession during that time,” Kaine said.