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2021 Tax Planning - Flexible Spending (FSA)

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 provides that employers may adopt certain temporary rules to assist employees enrolled in health or dependent care flexible spending accounts without jeopardizing their status as a cafeteria plan.

Generally, a cafeteria plan is a separate, written benefit plan maintained by an employer under which employees have the opportunity to select the particular benefits that they desire. Flexible spending accounts (FSA) typically operate under a cafeteria plan and may be funded through an employee’s pre-tax contribution.

Health Flexible Spending Accounts

Health FSAs are commonly used to reimburse employees for medical expenses not covered by insurance, including insurance co-payments, deductibles, amounts in excess of coverage limits, and medical expenses that may be outside the scope of coverage, such as the cost of eyeglasses.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

The funds in a Dependent Care FSAs can be used to reimburse for the qualifying costs to care for a dependent child under the age of 13, a disabled spouse, or a disabled relative who lives with the taxpayer for more than half the year.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, employers who sponsor a flexible spending account may choose to permit one or more of the following temporary changes without compromising their cafeteria plan’s status as a cafeteria plan:

  • Health FSAs and dependent care FSAs may allow any remaining balances at the end of the 2020 plan year to roll over into the 2021 plan year;

  • Health FSAs and dependent care FSAs may allow any remaining balances at the end of the 2021 plan year to roll over into the 2022 plan year;

  • Health FSAs and dependent care FSAs may extend grace periods for plan years ending in 2020 and 2021 for up to 12 months;

  • Health FSAs may allow employees who terminate participation during the 2020 or 2021 plan year to use up their unspent balances through the end of the plan year;

  • Dependent care FSAs may increase the age limit for certain eligible employees’ qualifying children from 13 to 14 for purposes of determining whether expenses may be paid or reimbursed;

  • Health FSAs and dependent care FSAs may allow participants to make prospective election changes during 2021 without regard to any change of status requirements.

Employers who choose to implement any or all of these changes may implement them immediately and retroactively. They may amend their plans in the year after the year that the change is effective.

If you would like more information on the temporary rules for health and dependent care flexible spending accounts, please call our office.


Cory Marlow, Executive Accountant

Marlow Accounting

(406) 821-3199

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