(July 24) Gary Palmer of Alabama, chairman of the U.S. House Republican Policy Committee, has a targeted proposal for coronavirus-related relief that Democrats also should love. Aimed especially at helping parents cover child-care costs, it merits quick insertion into the new coronavirus-relief legislation, or passage as a stand-alone bill.

The proposal, H.R. 7149 as a stand-alone bill, is ingeniously simple. It would allow people with federal Flexible Savings Accounts to roll over their FSA savings from 2020 to 2021, or to withdraw or adjust their amounts penalty-free. That’s it. Simple, but important.

Congressman (Elect) Gary Palmer is greeted by Colonel Cliff James, Wing Commander of the 117th Air Refuelling Wing.

FSAs let employees set aside money, tax-free, for certain expenses such as healthcare and child-care. But unlike Health Savings Accounts, the money deposited into FSAs must by law be used within a single calendar year or else forfeited. The problem is that so many child-care facilities have closed due to the coronavirus that parents have not been able to use their savings for that intended expense. If they aren’t allowed to withdraw the funds or use them next year, they would be penalized, through no fault of their own, for the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak….The bill would not permanently change FSAs, but would instead apply only to monies put into them in 2020. In effect, it wouldn’t even cost the federal government any money, because it would just allow already-saved, private, tax-free money to be used for its intended purpose….

[The full column is here. And please be on the lookout for other columns in the near future on other good ideas Palmer is pushing….]


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