Tax Savings From My Health Plan You Say?
If you have just completed your 3rd quarter review and discovered that Uncle Sam will be taking a bigger bite out of your profits, the cure for your ills may be found in your health plan. HSA’s or Health Savings Accounts were established by Congress in 2003 when they passed the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act. When first implemented, it came with a myriad of complicated rules and conditions.
In 2006, President Bush signed the Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act which simplified the rules for employees and employers wanting to put an end to ever rising health insurance premiums. Simply put, Health Savings Accounts are like Healthcare IRA’s. Money deposited in your HSA grows tax free, and the funds placed in the account either by you, your employer, or both, uses pre-tax dollars, money that is free from payroll and income taxes.
Unlike an IRA or 401k account, money withdrawn from your Health Savings Account must be used for a wide range of allowable medical, dental, and health related expenses. If not, you are subject to the same 10% penalty and taxes that a 401k plan has. However, money spent for allowable expenses is never subject to taxes either going in or coming out.
The amount you are able to shelter depends on whether you are an individual or have a family of 2 or more people covered by a qualified (HDHP) High Deductible Health Plan. A single person could contribute $2,850 tax free in 2007 and $2,900 in 2008. A married couple or family can contribute $5,650 and $5,800. By taking advantage of an IRS sanctioned Health Savings Account between November 2007, and January of the next year, an individual can shelter $5,750. For married couples or families, their maximum grows to $11,450 in the next 3 months.
Follow this example, John is single. He contributes $2,850 in a Health Savings Account prior to December 31, 2007. In January, John deposits another $2,900. In February, John goes for Lasik eye surgery to repair his vision back to 20-20. The cost is $5,000 which John has deducted from his health savings account. In a period of less than 4 months, John was able to deposit $5,750 tax free, spend most of it, and not pay a dime in taxes.
Charles, age 57 and Susan 55, are married, kids are grown, and Charles is covered under a qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) offered by his employer. His employer is contributing $100 a month for single and $150 for all other employees who applied for the lower cost health plan. Charles plans to contribute the maximum allowed. Because Charles and his wife are over 55, the law allows for “catch-up” contributions of $800 each in 2007 and $900 each in 2008. Their catch–up contributions add up to an extra $3,400 or $4,850 between 2007 and 2008.
All that you need is coverage under a qualified High Deductible Health Plan, which by law can be a policy with deductibles as low as $1,100 for individuals and $2,200 for two or more people. Open your Health Savings Account at a bank or other financial institution, and its lights out for the tax man. Pleasant Dreams.