Enroll by Dec 15 to Save on Your 2013 Taxes

Posted by DStayman on 9th November 2012

money_billsThe Flex Spending Account (FSA) can help you pay for out-of-pocket medical and dependent care expenses by using pre-tax dollars, which saves money on your taxes.

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The FSA has two benefits, the Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) and the Dependent Care Benefit Account (DCBA). The deadline to enroll is December 15, 2012.

Even if you enrolled last year you must enroll again this year for 2013. Enrolling in either benefit is voluntary. Savings will vary depending on your annual income, the number of dependents you claim on your taxes, and the amount of money you contribute through payroll deductions to your HCFSA and/or DCBA.

Health Care Flexible Spending Account

You may contribute any amount up to $2,500[1] annually in pre-tax dollars to pay for out-of-pocket medical, dental or vision costs not reimbursed by health insurance. The $2,500 limit is per enrollee, so married couples may each enroll for any amount up to $2,500.

Some examples of allowable costs are prescription drug copayments, dental charges, orthodontia fees and implants, deductibles, laser eye surgery, and contact lenses.

Federal law limits reimbursement for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Although OTC drugs may be purchased without a prescription, they require a doctor’s prescription to be eligible for reimbursement under the HCFSA.  As a result, the debit card cannot be used to purchase most over-the-counter drugs. Other OTC products including hearing aid batteries, band-aids and contact lens solution may be purchased without a prescription. OTC claims submitted for reimbursement must include a receipt with the name of the medication or supply, store name, purchase date and price.

Dependent Care Benefit Account

If you pay a caregiver to care for your child, elderly parent, or disabled spouse in order to work, you can set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax salary through payroll deduction to help pay for these expenses. Examples of expenses eligible for DCBA reimbursement include child care expenses (through age 12), summer day camp, before/after school programs and adult day care.

Estimating the Amount to Have Withheld

You should estimate your annual out-of-pocket costs for health care or for dependent care and then decide how much money to have withheld from your paycheck for your 2013 FSA.  Keep in mind there is a 2 ½ month grace period from January 1, 2014 –March 15, 2014 in which you can use your leftover 2013 funds. However, if you do not use your funds by March 15, 2014, you will lose them.

Filing a Claim

Once enrolled you can fill out an electronic claim form online, mail or fax claims, then receive reimbursement by check or direct deposit. If you use the debit card, you may be asked to submit a copy of a receipt to verify that a card transaction was for a qualified expense. You can choose reimbursement by check or direct deposit into your bank account. The Take Care plan website http://www.takecareplans.com/cbp/home.asp gives you 24 hour access to your plan expense and reimbursement information.

More information is available at http://newsroom.infinisource.com/post/2012/05/30/IRS-Provides-Guidance-on-$2500-FSA-Limit.aspx.

PEF requested Blue Shield and Catamaran (previously InformedRx, the pharmacy benefits manager) send all staff letters with their out-of-pocket expenses for the past year, to assist with calculating out-of-pocket expenses for 2013. The deadline to enroll in the FSA is December 15, 2012. If you have questions about the Flexible Spending Account contact Deborah Stayman at x286 or dstayman@pef.org.


[1] This is a higher total than allowed in previous years. Federal law will not permit exceptions above $2,500.

Categories: Health Benefits
11Nov