Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
How an FSA works
Say you make $2,000 each month and decide to participate in your employer’s Flexible Spending Account plan. Your out-of-pocket insurance premiums, as well as eligible health and daycare expenses, are paid using tax-free dollars. This creates an additional $100 dollars extra in your pocket each month!
What is an FSA?
Sometimes referred to as a cafeteria plan, flex plan, or a Section 125 plan, a Flexible Spending Account lets you fund an account with pre-tax dollars. During the year, you have access to this account to help pay for eligible out-of-pocket medical, dependent daycare or transportation expenses.
How does it benefit me?
- You decide how much to contribute to the plan each year based on you and your family’s needs for covered expenses up to an IRS-set maximum.
- Your contributions to the plan are made automatically through payroll deduction.
- Because you use tax-free dollars to pay these expenses, you increase your spending power and realize substantial tax savings.
- You can receive reimbursement for your entire claim, up to the amount you elected to contribute for the plan year, regardless of what’s been deducted from your pay to date
- You can file a claim as often as you want. No waiting until the end of the year.
What else do I need to know?
Unless your employer’s plan has a carry-over provision, the plan is use-it-or-lose it. If you don’t spend all the money in your account by the end of the year, you will forfeit the balance. Plan wisely.
Once you have decided the amount to contribute to the plan, it is set for the rest of the plan year, unless you have a change status, like getting married, having a baby, or an employment change. Again, plan wisely.
- Proper documentation, like an Explanation of Benefits statement from your insurance company or receipt for over-the-counter medications, must accompany your claim form.