$2,500 health FSA limit starting in 2013

Health FSAs are benefit plans established by employers to reimburse employees for health care expenses, such as deductibles and co-payments. They are usually funded by employees through salary reduction agreements, although employers may contribute as well. Qualifying contributions to and withdrawals from FSAs are tax-exempt.

Unused FSA contributions left over at the end of a plan year have historically been forfeited to the employer under the so-called “use-it-or-lose-it rule.” However, a plan can (but is not required to) provide an optional grace period immediately following the end of each plan year, extending the period for incurring expenses for qualified benefits to the 15th day of the third month after the end of the plan year (i.e., March 15th for a calendar-year plan). Benefits or contributions not used as of the end of the grace period are forfeited.

With the passage of “Obama Care”, effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2012, in order for a health FSA to be a qualified benefit under a cafeteria plan, the maximum amount available for reimbursement of incurred medical expenses of an employee, the employee’s dependents, and any other eligible beneficiaries with respect to the employee, under the health FSA for a plan year (or other 12-month coverage period) cannot exceed $2,500. The $2,500 limit will be indexed for cost-of-living adjustments for plan years beginning after Dec. 31, 2013.

The $2,500 limit isn’t applicable to dependent care FSAs, health savings accounts, Archer medical savings accounts, or any contributions an employee makes toward health insurance premiums.

The new health FSA limit applies on an employee-by-employee basis. That is, $2,500 is the maximum amount that an employee may contribute in 2013, regardless of the number of individuals (e.g., spouse or dependents) whose medical expenses may be reimbursed under the plan. However, if two people are married, and each has the opportunity to participate in a health FSA, whether through the same employer or through different employers, each may contribute up to $2,500.

In the case of a plan providing a grace period (which may be up to two months and 15 days after the end of the plan year), unused salary reduction contributions to the health FSA that are carried over into the grace period will not count against the $2,500 limit for the subsequent plan year.

If you have any questions regarding the new health FSA limits, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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