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You’re running out of time to use these tax-advantaged funds


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You have just some weeks to faucet the cash you have been saving for medical wants — or danger shedding it.

Health-care versatile spending accounts, which your employer might provide, enable you to retailer pretax {dollars} in a particular account. In 2020 and 2021, you possibly can contribute up to $2,750.

These funds are free of tax and you’ll take tax-free distributions, supplied the cash is for certified medical bills, together with dental care, acupuncture and prescription eyeglasses.

Of course, nothing good lasts endlessly.

While you possibly can faucet the cash as early as Jan. 1, you typically have till the tip of the yr to use the funds or else you forfeit your remaining steadiness.

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The IRS provides employers the choice of permitting staff to roll over some of the cash into the next yr  — up to $550 for 2020 — or offering them up to 2½ months after the plan yr ends to spend leftover funds.

Companies aren’t required to provide you with both selection.

To make issues slightly extra fascinating in gentle of Covid-19, there are additionally a number of particular guidelines the IRS added this yr for FSA holders who have not been spending down their accounts as shortly as they’d like.

More time to spend down

This aid additionally applies to cash tied up in dependent care FSAs — accounts the place it can save you up to $5,000 per yr to offset the fee of care for teenagers below age 13.

The IRS additionally allowed employers to give staff the possibility to modify or make elections into each varieties of FSAs mid-year. That means these staff may tweak their contribution quantities.

Now, for the catch: This is non-obligatory for employers.

“If the plan decides to allow it, you can spend the money down through the end of the year,” mentioned Zollars.

“Even if the IRS gives relief, the employer may not decide to adopt it,” he mentioned. “They don’t have to.”

Pandemic uncertainty into 2021

Here’s one other hiccup: The May steerage from the IRS applies to 2019 balances being carried over and utilized in 2020. But there is not any phrase on whether or not the taxman will enable plans the choice to carry ahead 2020 FSA balances into subsequent yr.

“As we get to the end of December, that’s when the IRS will be expected to address again that there are people stuck with money in 2020 and they couldn’t cut the contributions off early enough,” mentioned Zollars.

The stakes are even greater for dependent care FSAs, as one other Covid-19 wave towards the tip of the yr may depart mother and father with huge balances that go unused.

“It’s clear that if things got bad, and we went through shutdowns, you might have unspent childcare funds,” mentioned Zollars.

“Maybe your kid is going to childcare now, but come January the hospitals fill up, things lock down and you can’t spend the money,” he mentioned.

A guidepost for open enrollment



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