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Monthly Archives / August 2020

  • Aug 19 / 2020
What's New

IRS Announces 2021 Health Savings Account Contribution Limits, Still Time To Make 2019 And 2020 HSA Contributions


The Internal Revenue Service announced new, higher contribution limits for health savings accounts for 2021 today. You’ll be allowed to contribute $3,600 for individual coverage for 2021, up from $3,550 for 2020, or $7,200 for family coverage, up from $7,100 for 2020.

In the meantime, you can still top off health savings account contributions for 2019 through the Covid-19-related extended tax day deadline of July 15, 2020. And it’s as good a time as ever to check that your contributions for the 2020 calendar year are on track.

While more and more Americans are opening up these triple-tax-advantaged accounts, few are fully embracing the potential tax savings they offer. Some accounts go unfunded. And only 6% of accountholders choose to invest the money they contribute, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

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Is it really worth the hassle of keeping track of a savings and investing account dedicated to healthcare? Absolutely. With an HSA, you save whether you use the money in the account for current out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, or invest it with the intention of using it to help cover your healthcare costs in retirement.

You can even used an HSA to save on a typical trip to the CVS. Thanks to a tax relief provision tucked in the last Covid-19 stimulus package, you can use money you stash in an HSA or FSA (more on those later) for over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Flonase as well as menstrual products like tampons and pads. That reverses Obamacare restrictions on OTC meds requiring a doctor’s prescription for them to be eligible for reimbursement. Lively, an upstart HSA and FSA provider, has an updated list of eligible expenses here.

As of January 2020, there were 29.4 million HSAs, holding $71.7 billion in assets, according to the 2019 Year-End Devenir HSA Research Report. Contributions and asset growth has been accelerating. As of year-end 2019, investment account holders had a $16,012 total balance on average, Devenir found.

Most HSAs are offered as an employee benefit. But Lively and Fidelity Investments also offer fee-free individual HSAs for self-employed folks, independent contractors and gig workers.

Here are the details on how HSAs work. You put money in on a taxfree basis (usually through salary deferrals), it builds up tax free (you can invest it), and it comes out taxfree to cover out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

You can contribute to an HSA if you’re in a qualifying high-deductible health plan. (For 2021, that means a plan with a minimum annual deductible of $1,400 for individual coverage or $2,800 for family coverage.) If you’ll be 55 or older by December 31, you can sock away an additional $1,000 for that year. (That catch-up amount isn’t subject to inflation adjustments.) If you’re married, have family coverage and your spouse will be 55 by the end of the year, he or she can also put away the $1,000 catch-up—but only into his or her own HSA, which can be set up specifically to accept these contributions. Here’s a link to the IRS Revenue Procedure 2020-32with the official numbers.

At a minimum, you should put enough money in your HSA to cover your annual health plan deductible. If you lowballed your annual contribution, you can top it off up until the tax year filing deadline. Say you get a big unexpected doctor’s bill. You can put money into your HSA, take it right out, and the government just paid maybe 25% of the bill. The higher your tax bracket, the bigger your savings.

A savvy strategy for high-income earners is to invest the money in your HSA for the long haul. Once you’re 65, you can take out taxfree distributions to cover Medicare premiums. If you withdraw money at that point for non-medical uses, you pay the same tax as you would on withdrawals from a pretax 401(k). But you can also take money out tax-free to reimburse yourself for prior years’ out-of-pocket medical expenses if you have the old receipts.

Note HSAs are a different beast than healthcare FSAs (sometimes confusingly called health spending accounts). FSAs have lower contribution limits and are riskier because you have to spend the money down in one year or you forfeit it (some FSAs have a $500 carryover provision). By contrast, the money you put in an HSA is yours to keep forever: you can spend it when you want. If you have an HSA-eligible health plan, you can’t also put away money in a regular FSA but you can put money in a limited FSA for dental and vision care expenses only.

See also, IRS Covid-19 Fix For Workplace Health And Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts: Mid-Year Changes Now Allowed.

  • Aug 18 / 2020
What's New

IRS Releases Revised Form 941 for COVID-19-Related Tax Relief

The IRS released a revised Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, and its instructions to be used beginning with the second quarter of 2020 (due July 31, 2020). The form has been updated to accommodate reporting of COVID-19-related employment tax credits and other relief.

The revised Form 941 includes lines to report the:

  • Credit for qualified sick leave and expanded family and medical leave wages
  • Employee retention credit
  • Deferrals of the employer share of social security tax during the quarter
  • Credits received from filing Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19, for the quarter

The revised instructions include a new Worksheet 1, which will be used to figure the credit for qualified sick and family leave wages. The credit will then be reported on Lines 11c and 13d of the Form 941.

  • Aug 13 / 2020
What's New

3 Deceptively Easy Mistakes to Make if You Deferred Your Deposits of Social Security Taxes

The IRS released Form 941 instructions and instructions to Schedule B for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2020 in late June. Several issues have now arisen with the deferral of the employer’s 6.2% share of Social Security taxes.

Designating Deferrals

Although employers can’t defer a deposit of Social Security taxes they’ve already made, employers may be able to claw back some of the deferral from taxes already deposited by designating those funds as employees’ withheld income and FICA taxes and the employer’s portion of Medicare taxes.

Why:The Form 941 instructions state that regardless of how deposits are identified for EFTPS purposes, employers can consider prior deposits during a quarter as first being deposited for employment taxes other than the employer’s share of Social Security taxes.

The IRS used strikingly similar language to define “federal employment taxes” in its FAQs on claiming pandemic-related tax credits. There, the IRS defined the phrase as including employees’ withheld income and FICA taxes and your portion of Medicare taxes.

Makeup Deposits

Employers must repay half the deferral by Dec. 31, 2021, and the other half by Dec. 31, 2022. According to the IRS, payments made before Dec. 31, 2021, are first applied against payments due on Dec. 31, 2021, and then applied against the payment due on Dec. 31, 2022.

Upshot:If the deferral is more than the deposit, the makeup deposit may not be split evenly; the lion’s share may need to be paid by Dec. 31, 2022.

Flip side: If the deferral is less than the deposit, nothing would be due Dec. 31, 2021, and everything would be due Dec. 31, 2022.

Corporate Deductions

If employers choose to defer their deposits of Social Security taxes, corporate deductions for those taxes are also deferred.
This is courtesy of the Payroll Legal Alert found in the APA website


  • Aug 13 / 2020
What's New

President Signs Memorandums Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations, Extending Student Loan Relief

On August 8, 2020, President Trump signed memorandums directing the Secretary of the Treasury “to defer the withholding, deposit, and payment” of the employee share of social security tax on wages paid between September 1 and December 31, 2020; and directing the Secretary of Education to extend student loan relief until December 31, 2020.

Payroll Tax Deferral

The Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster directs the Secretary of the Treasury “to defer the withholding, deposit, and payment” of the employee share of social security tax on wages paid between September 1 and December 31, 2020.

The deferral is applicable to employees who are paid wages for a biweekly pay period that are generally “less than $4,000, calculated on a pre-tax basis, or the equivalent amount with respect to other pay periods.” This limits the deferral to employees earning under $104,000 per year.

This is a deferral of the tax liability, not a waiver. The memorandum directs the Secretary of the Treasury to use his authority pursuant to IRC §7508A, which allows the Secretary to postpone certain tax deadlines for up to one year during a federally declared disaster. The memorandum also directs the Secretary to “explore avenues, including legislation, to eliminate the obligation to pay the “deferred taxes.”

Student Loan Relief Extended

The Memorandum on Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic directs the Secretary of Education “to continue the temporary cessation of payments and the waiver of all interest on student loans held by the Department of Education until December 31, 2020.”

Courtesy of the APA

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