With the tax day filing deadline looming on April 17, many Americans are looking for strategies to help save money and pay less in taxes. Benefits managers are well positioned to help them do both by educating more employees about consumer-directed benefit accounts, including flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and transit benefits.

These accounts, which allow participants to set aside money before taxes for expenses on health care, dependent care and commuting to and from work can save participants up to 40 percent on eligible expenses. They also provide an extra bonus at tax time by reducing the amount of taxable income for participants. That means a bigger refund from Uncle Sam after filing taxes as well as year-round savings for participants.

While these accounts can save participants thousands of dollars in the long-run, they're still vastly under-utilized. Historically, only 20 percent of workers who have the option to use these accounts actually do so, according to my company, WageWorks, a leading provider of tax-advantaged programs.

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