It’s hard to believe, but students will return to school in just a few short weeks. And just like their children, many parents think the school bells will ring too soon. That’s because there’s lots to be done before classes begin in mid-August. For example, many families must find dependable, quality child care. Working parents rely on afterschool care (and in some cases, beforeschool care) to nurture their children while they’re on the job. Affordable child care is always an issue. Fortunately, there are ways to help reduce the financial burden of this vital service. Here are two ways to reduce your taxes while paying for dependent care.

Many employers offer Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) as part of a comprehensive benefits package. Many workers think that these accounts are only for full-day child care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. But the very same FSAs can be used for any type of dependent care, including afterschool care.

There are many reasons to participate in a Dependent Care FSA. These accounts allow you to set aside part of your salary as a pre-tax deduction. What does that mean? Simply put, the money you put in your FSA won’t be included in the amount that’s calculated for federal, state, or FICA taxes.

If your employer doesn’t offer a Dependent Care FSA, you still have a way to reduce your taxes as you pay for care for your children. You may be able to claim a tax credit when you file next year. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) lets working families receive a credit of up to $3000 for one child and up to $6000 for two or more children.

Of course, there are certain stipulations that may affect your ability to claim either of these benefits. That’s why it’s always best to consult a qualified tax professional whenever you have questions about credits, deductions, or any other income tax laws. Act now to make the most of your dependent care benefits this school year.