FSA http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12189/all en-US Don't Miss Out on This Easy Way to Pay for Child Care http://www.wisebread.com/dont-miss-out-on-this-easy-way-to-pay-for-child-care <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-miss-out-on-this-easy-way-to-pay-for-child-care" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kid_playing_toys_88157727.jpg" alt="Finding easy way to pay for child care" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A lot of people are aware that they can sock money into their employer's Health Care Flexible Savings Account program to be ready for the next root canal or other medical expense. But not everyone realizes that there is another kind of FSA &mdash; the Dependent Care FSA &mdash; that can be an even better benefit to stressed families.</p> <p>Families who make the most of their employer's Dependent Care FSA can save $1,500 or more, says Jody Dietel, Chief Compliance Officer at <a href="https://www.wageworks.com/">WageWorks</a>, one of the companies that administrates FSAs. This is based on the annual $5,000 contribution limit, and her estimate that most families save 30% to 40% in taxes by participating.</p> <p>&quot;You could pay for your family's summer vacation by participating in a Dependent Care Flex Spending Account,&quot; Dietel says.</p> <p>Like Health Care FSAs, Dependent Care FSAs are offered as part of employer benefit packages. Both kinds of FSA allow workers to set aside a certain amount of their pay, free of state, federal, and Social Security taxes, to apply to qualifying expenses. For the dependent care FSA, qualifying expenses are for day care for your dependents while you work or look for work.</p> <p>Sounds good, right? And yet, Dietel says, many workers whose employers offer these plans never sign up for them. Here's why you should not let this opportunity pass you by:</p> <h2>1. Day Care Is Expensive, But Predictable</h2> <p>While you may put aside a lot of money for medical expenses and then not end up needing it, most families with young kids will easily spend the $5,000 contribution limit. In fact, sending an infant to a child care center costs between <a href="http://usa.childcareaware.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Parents-and-the-High-Cost-of-Child-Care-2015-FINAL.pdf">$10,000 and $20,000 a year</a>. And unlike a root canal, you typically know at the beginning of the year that you're going to need day care.</p> <h2>2. If Your Needs Change, You Can Change Your Contribution</h2> <p>Although <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-on-child-care-this-summer" target="_blank">child care expenses</a> are relatively predictable, things happen. You may change providers, or change the number of hours you work. Such things are qualifying events that allow you to change the amount you contribute to the FSA or stop contributing altogether, Dietel says.</p> <p>&quot;Let's say your mother comes to spend three months with you during the summer (to care for your children). You could stop your day care flexible spending contributions,&quot; she explains.</p> <h2>3. It's Not Just for Kids</h2> <p>Most people only think of these plans for child care, but they can actually be used to pay for the care of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/personalfinance/lifeevents/benefits/dependentFSAs.php">any dependent or household member</a> who can't care for themselves. For example, if your spouse becomes disabled, or you become responsible for your parents' care, you can use FSA funds to pay for that.</p> <p>&quot;More people now are taking care of elderly parents,&quot; Dietel says.</p> <h2>4. You Can Use It to Pay for Classes and Day Camps</h2> <p>Dependent care FSAs are not just for day care centers or baby sitters. You can also use it send your kid to an after-school gymnastics class or a summer day camp &mdash; as long as the primary purpose of the camp or class is to provide supervision while you work or look for a job. This provision can be a lifesaver for the summer months, when paying for activities while kids are out of school strains family budgets.</p> <p>The only caveats: You can't pay for sleep-away camp with FSA funds, and the primary purpose of the day camp should be care, not learning a skill.</p> <h2>5. Even If You Don't Spend Every Dime, You May Still Come Out Ahead</h2> <p>Some workers are scared away from FSAs by the use-it-or-lose-it aspect &mdash; if you have unspent funds left at the end of the year, you forfeit them. But you shouldn't let that fear keep you from taking advantage of this benefit. First of all, Dietel points out, even when the calendar year ends, many employers now offer grace periods in which to spend any unused funds. And even when the time has truly run out, many families are able to claim any remaining funds by looking through their records and submitting receipts that they had overlooked.</p> <p>But even if you have a few bucks you can't claim, don't despair. As Dietel puts it, if you saved $1,500 over the course of the year, leaving $25 or $50 unclaimed is not a net loss.</p> <h2>6. FSAs Are Usually a Better Deal Than the Dependent Care Tax Credit</h2> <p>When filing your taxes, you have the option to deduct some of your&nbsp;<a href="http://www.probenefits.com/participants/learn/articles/dependent-care-fsa-or-tax-credit">annual child care expenses</a>. You can't double dip &mdash; that is, you can't take a tax credit on care you paid for through your FSA. The FSA is usually the better deal, Dietel says, because it exempts you from state taxes and Social Security, not just federal taxes.</p> <p>Although you can't double dip, you may not have to choose. Dietel points out that if you have enough child care expenses to satisfy the IRS requirements for the Dependent Care Tax Credit and use up your FSA separately, you can use both, applying each to different expenses. Consult an accountant or the IRS for more details on how to do that legally.</p> <h2>7. It's Easier to Use Than You Think</h2> <p>In the past, workers had to fax or scan in and upload paper receipts to get reimbursed from FSAs. But if you haven't had one for a while, you might not know that a lot of administrators now offer more convenient options, like mobile apps that allow your care provider to sign right on your phone.</p> <p><em>Are you using an FSA to help pay for child care?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-miss-out-on-this-easy-way-to-pay-for-child-care">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-with-a-dependent-care-tax-credit-and-fsa">Save Money with a Dependent Care Tax Credit and FSA</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-mistakes-new-parents-make">4 Tax Mistakes New Parents Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-unexpected-ways-stay-at-home-parents-save-big">7 Unexpected Ways Stay-at-Home Parents Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-questions-to-ask-before-adding-to-your-family">5 Important Questions to Ask Before Adding to Your Family</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-the-kids-move-out">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as the Kids Move Out</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family caregivers child care dependents flexible spending accounts FSA tax credits Wed, 06 Jul 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1745831 at http://www.wisebread.com Start 2012 Off Right With 5 Tax-Wise To-Dos http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tax_wise_to_dos.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="157" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the new year is about to begin, make it your <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/18-year-end-financial-must-dos">resolution to start the year off right</a> from a tax perspective. This includes doing the following:</p> <p><b>1. Read Your Odometer.</b></p> <p>If you use your personal car, truck, or van for business, be sure to jot down your odometer reading on January 1. This will help you track your business mileage throughout the year, so you can claim a deduction for this driving. You&rsquo;ll also need to keep a record of all your business driving; without this record, your deduction may be disallowed.</p> <p><b>2. Decide Whether to Become an S Corporation.</b></p> <p>If your business is already incorporated, you generally have until March 15, 2012, to elect to be taxed as an S corporation. This means the owners, rather than the corporation, pay tax on the business&rsquo; profits. Electing by this date lets you be treated as an S corporation for the entire year. The election is made by filing <a target="_blank" href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2553.pdf">IRS Form 2553</a>.</p> <p>If you incorporate a business in 2012, you have two months and 15 days from the start of the corporation to make the election. For example, if you incorporate on January 7, 2012, you have until March 21, 2012, to file the election form with the IRS.</p> <p>Talk with your tax advisor about whether an S election makes sense for your company.</p> <p><b>3. Determine Contributions to Your FSA.</b></p> <p>If your company has a flexible spending arrangement (FSA), you usually have to decide how much to contribute for the new year before the year begins. For 2012, it is up to the company to set limits on how much an employee can contribute from salary to the FSA. (Starting in 2013, the tax law sets the limit at $2,500 per year.)</p> <p>If your company does not yet have an FSA, discuss with your tax advisor the feasibility of adding one now. Even if you start mid-year, you and your staff can benefit from it.</p> <p><b>4. Decide on contributions to your 401(k).</b></p> <p>If your company has a 401(k) plan, just like the FSA, you usually have to decide how much to contribute for the new year before the new year begins. The elective deferral limit for contributions from an employee&rsquo;s salary is higher in 2012 than it was in 2011 ($17,000 in 2012 versus $16,500 in 2011). Those who are at least 50 years old by the end of 2012 can add another $5,500 to the account. Contributions, however, cannot exceed wages.</p> <p>If your company does not have such a plan, you might want to start one. You can use a 401(k) plan even if you are the only one who works for the business. A solo 401(k) can enable you to maximize your annual retirement plan contributions for yourself because you can use the maximum employer contribution permitted in addition to the employee elective deferrals. These contributions are allowed whether you are an employee of your corporation or you are a self-employed person.</p> <p><b>5. Decide Whether to Use an HSA for 2012.</b></p> <p>If you do not yet have health insurance in place for your company, you might want to use a high-deductible health plan combined with a savings account called a Health Savings Account (HSA). This can be an affordable way to provide health coverage.</p> <p>You can decide whether you, your employees, or a combination will pay the health insurance premiums and/or make the HSA contributions. If you pay the premiums, you may even qualify for the smaller employer health insurance credit of up to 35 percent of these premiums!</p> <p><b>Bottom Line</b></p> <p>Hopefully 2012 will be a very good year from a revenue perspective. This is all the more reason to get your tax ducks in a row so you can minimize the portion of your profits that you&rsquo;ll have to share with Uncle Sam.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-you-want-your-401k-to-grow-stop-doing-these-6-things">If You Want Your 401K to Grow, Stop Doing These 6 Things</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-states-with-the-lowest-taxes-for-retirees">7 States With the Lowest Taxes for Retirees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center 401(k) FSA HSA small business tax deductions taxes year end taxes Mon, 26 Dec 2011 22:04:44 +0000 Barbara Weltman 835743 at http://www.wisebread.com Medical Supplies You Can Still Score With Flex Spending http://www.wisebread.com/score-free-medical-supplies-with-flex-spending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/score-free-medical-supplies-with-flex-spending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/band_aids.jpg" alt="Woman holding Spongebob Band-Aids" title="Woman holding Spongebob Band-Aids" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>After I graduated college in 2003, 12 months passed before I landed a full-time job.</p> <p>During that time, one of my wisdom teeth decided to rear its ugly head &mdash; abscess and all. After a regimen of penicillin reduced the swelling, I had to have the tooth removed, which was a problem. I didn&rsquo;t have health insurance, and that meant an appointment at the local dental school for extraction.</p> <p>Hand to God, before I was called back to the dentist&rsquo;s chair, a girl came out crying. Her mother asked what was wrong and the girl blubbered the only six words you <em>don&rsquo;t</em> want to hear before dental surgery &mdash; &ldquo;They took out the wrong tooth.&rdquo; I just about peed my pants in fear, and from that day forward, I put my search for full-time employment into hyperdrive.</p> <p>When I landed my first job with full benefits, I was ecstatic. Finally, I could fall ill whenever I wanted. More than a generous amount of sick days, my company also offered a flex spending program. But as fate would have it, I never got sick while working with that company. Because I never had to visit a doctor or purchase meds, there was a lot of money in my flex spending account at the end of the year. I&rsquo;m not sure where I thought the unused portion went, but I didn&rsquo;t anticipate that I could use it for anything besides doctor bills and the like.</p> <p>Boy was I wrong. A co-worker informed me that there&rsquo;s a long list of health-related items that I could purchase with the money in my account. All I had to do was go to Target, fill up my cart, and submit the receipt to the program for reimbursement. Of course, I was skeptical. But $300 and an apocalypse-sized bin full of survival necessities later, I was a believer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa">What You Need to Know About Your FSA</a>)</p> <p>The bad news is that flex-spending rules changed starting in 2011, making over-the-counter items more difficult to purchase with flex-spending funds. Some of the items that you can still get, however, may surprise you. All of the following items that I stockpiled are still flex-spending eligible, although some require a prescription from your doctor. The ones that need a prescription are noted as such below.</p> <h2>Bandages</h2> <p>Boxes and boxes of Band-Aids &mdash; the brand-name kind, too. Small, medium, and large. Little round ones. Bandages with Harry Potter on them. If you ever scrape your knee, I&rsquo;m your man.</p> <h2>Contact Lens Cleaning Solution</h2> <p>Because before I met my husband I hosted a lot of sleepovers. You&rsquo;d think that people who can barely see would remember their Bausch &amp; Lomb.</p> <h2>Condoms</h2> <p>Let me rephrase that&hellip;before I met my husband I hosted a lot of <em>safe</em> sleepovers.</p> <h2>Eye Drops</h2> <p>To reduce the redness caused by recreational activities. (With prescription.)</p> <h2>First-Aid Kits</h2> <p>I bought one to keep in my shoulder bag, one for my pantry, and one for the back of my car. The auto kit came with a super cool &ldquo;HELP&rdquo; sign and other I-do-not-wanna-die-in-this-vehicle supplies.</p> <h2>Motion Sickness Supplies and Medication</h2> <p>Sea-Bands and motion-sickness medications are excellent items to have on hand if you&rsquo;re an avid traveler. (With prescription for the medication.)</p> <h2>Pregnancy Test Kits</h2> <p>No way, no how would I ever need these, but they came in handy for friends.</p> <h2>Sunscreen With SPF 30 or Greater</h2> <p>This stuff is expensive, and I&rsquo;m so fair-skinned that I can get <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-and-simple-sunburn-remedies-that-really-work">sunburned</a> at midnight. You just know somebody at the beach is going to ask to borrow it, too. Now you can let them. (With prescription.)</p> <p>Believe it or not, these are just a few of the items I bought. I made sure the bill reached the limit of the available funds in the flex spending account by stocking up on pain relievers, antihistamines, chest rubs, cold and flu medications &mdash; <a href="https://www.adpcobrafsa.com/wcms15/697-healthcare-eligible-expenses">whatever was on this list</a>, really. Several of those items now require a prescription, unfortunately, but the list&nbsp; provides a full run-down of what you do and do not need a doctor's note for.</p> <p><em>[Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect current flex-spending rules.]<br /> </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-free-medical-supplies-with-flex-spending">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wait-are-you-about-to-lose-more-money-in-your-fsahsa">Wait! Are You About to Lose More Money in Your FSA/HSA?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/generic-drug-price-lists-for-six-major-pharmacies">Generic Drug Price Lists For Six Major Pharmacies - Updated</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paying-for-pregnancy-and-birth-without-health-insurance">Paying for Pregnancy and Birth Without Health Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance FSA health insurance medical supplies Fri, 08 Jul 2011 10:36:27 +0000 Mikey Rox 613765 at http://www.wisebread.com Save Money with a Dependent Care Tax Credit and FSA http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-with-a-dependent-care-tax-credit-and-fsa <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-money-with-a-dependent-care-tax-credit-and-fsa" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/child_care_xin.jpg" alt="Baby" title="Baby" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you pay for the care of a dependent, then you may be able to save several thousand dollars a year via a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA) or the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Here is a quick guide to how you can maximize your savings:</p> <h3>Eligible Expenses</h3> <p>The expenses you can claim are usually the same for dependent care FSAs and the Child and Dependent Credit: the amount you pay to someone other than your spouse for the care of a child or dependent. If you are claiming expenses for the care of a child, the child must be under 13 years old. If you are not claiming a child, then the person you are caring for must qualify as an exemption on your tax return. Basically, your dependent must be unable to take care of himself or herself and have lived with you for at least half of the tax year. The expenses incurred also must be due to the need to work. You should keep detailed receipts of who provided the care and their tax identification numbers in order to back up the claim for your expenses. (See also: <a href="http://parentingsquad.com/tips-for-choosing-and-using-a-babysitter">Tips for Choosing and Using a Babysitter</a>)</p> <h3>The Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account</h3> <p>The dependent care <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa">flexible spending account</a> is a common benefit at workplaces. It has a contribution limit of $5,000 per family, but the contribution is pre-tax, so you get to keep more of your wages. The money is taken out of your paychecks, and you can claim a reimbursement with a valid receipt from a caretaker or preschool. Because the FSA contribution is exempt from federal income tax, payroll taxes, and most state taxes, the maximum amount that families can save with a dependent care flexible spending account varies by their residence and tax brackets. For example, if you were a Californian with a 15% federal income tax, 9.55% state income tax, and a 7.65% payroll tax for a total tax burden of 32.2% and you contributed and spent the full $5,000, it works out to be a savings of about $1,610.</p> <h3>The Child and Dependent Care Credit</h3> <p>The Child and Dependent Care Credit allows a 20% to 35% credit for up to $3,000 of expenses for one dependent. The percentage of credit varies by the income of the tax filer. If your family makes over $43,000 a year, then the credit would be 20% of the expenses you incurred. If you have more than one dependent, you can claim up to $6,000 of expenses. However, you need to subtract the amount you contributed to a dependent care FSA from the amount you claim. So if you already had $5,000 in your FSA and you had more than $6,000 of eligible expenses, you can only claim $1,000 in expenses for the purpose of the tax credit. This means that the maximum credit is $600 to $1,050 if you have one dependent and $1,200 to $2,100 if you have two or more dependents. The percentage of credit varies by the income of the tax filer. Currently the 35% credit is available to families making less than $15,000 a year, and then it gradually decreases to 20% for families making more than $43,000 a year. Since the median household income of the United States is around $46,000, most families will receive a 20% credit. The full details are in <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p503.pdf">IRS Publication 503</a> (PDF).</p> <h3>How to Maximize Your Savings</h3> <p>What is the best choice for your family? Let's assume that you are in a family with the median household income of $46,000. Here are some possible scenarios:</p> <p><strong>Scenario 1: One Dependent&nbsp;<br /> </strong><br /> If you have one dependent and spend at least $5,000 a year, then contributing to the FSA is definitely more advantageous. This is because the tax credit you would receive is only $600, but the amount you save via the FSA is at least $1,132.50 due to a federal income tax savings of 15% and a payroll tax savings of 7.65%. If you have a state tax that's waived on the contribution, then you would save more.</p> <p><strong>Scenario 2: Two or More Dependents</strong></p> <p>If you have two or more dependents and spend at least $6,000, then you should still contribute $5,000 to the FSA and claim $1,000 in expenses for the tax credit. This will yield an additional savings of $200 over the first scenario.</p> <p><strong>Scenario 3: No FSA Available</strong></p> <p>If your workplace doesn't offer the FSA, then you should take the full tax credit available to you. This is a tax credit that is often overlooked.</p> <p>My conclusion is that for most families, it is best to contribute to the FSA first for your dependent care expenses. The percentage of taxes saved is usually higher than what the tax credit would give, but the tax credit does give a boost in savings to low-income families and families that spend above the FSA contribution limit. Either way, if you currently have dependent care expenses, you should definitely run the numbers and see how much you can save.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-with-a-dependent-care-tax-credit-and-fsa">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-miss-out-on-this-easy-way-to-pay-for-child-care">Don&#039;t Miss Out on This Easy Way to Pay for Child Care</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-employers-for-single-parents">The 7 Best Employers for Single Parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-your-spouse-be-a-dependent-on-your-taxes">Can Your Spouse be a Dependent on Your Taxes?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-reasons-paid-parental-leave-is-essential-for-moms-and-dads">5 Financial Reasons Paid Parental Leave Is Essential for Moms and Dads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-on-child-care-this-summer">How to Save Money on Child Care This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Financial News Taxes child care family finances FSA tax credits Tue, 01 Feb 2011 14:00:15 +0000 Xin Lu 486493 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Need to Know About Your FSA http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/497584_90680332.jpg" alt="pills" title="pills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most readers of this blog understand the basics of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and why they are an important employee benefit. If you are employed and obtain your health insurance from your employer like 62% of Americans in the work force, then you probably use an <a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/flexible-spending-accounts">FSA</a> as part of your own benefits plan. As with many provisions in healthcare, though, you may not be up-to-date on all of the finer points of an FSA. Even if you are, it never hurts to brush up on the basics.</p> <h3>FSAs Cover More Than Just Medical Expenses</h3> <p>Federal law, not your employer's HR department or benefits administrator, dictates how an FSA may be used. While most consumers associate FSAs with covering coverage premiums and medical copays and deductibles, it is useful to know that FSAs go much further than that.</p> <p>An FSA can be used to cover a variety of expenses outside of the doctor's office. Many employer-based health plans, for example do not offer dental or vision coverage. With an FSA, an employee can use his or her pre-tax income to pay for dental or vision coverage and services that may not be provided, especially by smaller employers.</p> <p>Many are surprised to find that their FSA will not only cover services provided in the setting of a medical, dental, or vision professional office, but they also cover things that can positively affect your well-being but are not exactly medical services. A few include:</p> <ul> <li>Birth control pills and other contraceptive devices</li> <li>Over-the-counter drugs and medications, although the health reform bill will limit the FSA coverage of many of these items</li> <li>Membership in a gym (if specified by a physician)</li> <li>Massage therapy (also if specified by a physician)</li> <li>Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above</li> <li>Hand sanitizer</li> </ul> <p>Under the vein of dependent care expenses, also covered by an FSA, one can pay for a variety of services for his or her dependents, such as day camp for a child under the age of 13. You can even use a flexible spending account to remove lead paint from your home if the afflicted areas are in the reach of children, in addition to other home improvements that will have a demonstrable health benefit for your family.</p> <h3>Strategies for Saving Money with FSAs</h3> <p>Ultimately, it all comes back to saving money. Saving money on healthcare expenses is the main attraction for consumers to save with an FSA and approximately 90% of all employers who provided health insurance in 2008 offered a FSA option for their employees. Money saved through FSAs is done so pre-tax, creating a major tax benefit for those who consume medical services or require dependent care.</p> <p>The broad application of FSAs create an opportunity for nearly anyone to save pre-tax money on healthcare, since an employee can save in an FSA no matter what kind of healthcare plan they elect to receive. A health savings account (HSA), on the other hand, is restricted to be used only with high deductible health plans. Many consumers interchange HSA and FSA terminology, but in reality they are quite different and the proliferation of HSA use is a fraction of what FSAs have become.</p> <p>To get the most from your FSA, it is a no-brainer to maximize your benefits by paying for your premiums and deductibles with FSA-approved funds. Nowadays, we see many employers automatically applying FSA dollars to cover insurance premiums, leaving the employee with relatively simple decisions, such as how much of the deductible or other care expenses to set aside in the FSA.</p> <p>While most people are aware of the FSA's &quot;use-it-or-use-it&quot; characteristic, it always bears repeating. Unlike a HSA, FSA's must be used by the end of each plan year. Forecast carefully to make sure you get the maximum FSA benefit but don't overshoot the target.</p> <h3>FSAs Changed Under Health Reform</h3> <p>Nearly every aspect of healthcare was impacted by the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and FSAs are no exception. With the passage of the PPACA, FSAs are now fitted with a contribution cap. Prior to this law, there was no cap on contributions from an employee. Starting January 1, 2011, FSA contributions from employees will be limited to $2,500 a year. While statistics show that very few participants ever saved that kind of money in an FSA, the cap may be relevant to families or others who are heavier consumers of healthcare services.</p> <p>Also important to note is that after January 1, 2011, most over-the-counter medicines will no longer be covered by FSAs. Why would they be targeted by health reform? The expected additional tax revenue from not being able to run these things through a pre-tax account will help pay for the bill.</p> <h3>Always Changing</h3> <p>In short, while the concept of FSAs remains relatively stable from year-to-year, the finer point of what is covered and how much you can save is continually changing. Do your homework a couple times a year and stay current on how to get the most out of this vehicle.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Heather Johnson, Director with <a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/" title="HealthHarbor.com">HealthHarbor.com</a>. Find more tips on HealthHarbor:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li><a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/saving-at-the-doctors-office" title="Saving Money at the Doctor's Office">Saving Money at the Doctor's Office</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/health-insurance-101/bad-health-plans" title="Dealing With a Bad Health Insurance Company">Dealing With a Bad Health Insurance Company</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/tools" title="Interactive Tool for Finding Discounted Generic Drugs">Interactive Tool for Finding Discounted Generic Drugs </a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heather-johnson">Heather Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wait-are-you-about-to-lose-more-money-in-your-fsahsa">Wait! Are You About to Lose More Money in Your FSA/HSA?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself">50 Ways To Squeeze Value From Your Healthcare Dollar Without Killing Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-free-medical-supplies-with-flex-spending">Medical Supplies You Can Still Score With Flex Spending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ouch-5-ways-to-make-paying-for-the-dentist-less-painful">Ouch! 5 Ways to Make Paying for the Dentist Less Painful</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance FSA healthcare healthcare reform HSA medical expenses Wed, 02 Jun 2010 13:00:03 +0000 Heather Johnson 110353 at http://www.wisebread.com