125 Cafeteria Plans – Carryover vs. Grace Period

You’ve probably heard the terms “carryover” and “grace period” when it comes to the 125 Cafeteria Flexible Spending Account Plan designs, but what do they mean? While both terms relate to the funds that remain at the end of the plan year, they do different things.

CARRYOVER – funds in an FSA can be carried over from one calendar year to the next. The current amount allowed by the IRS is $500. Any amount over the carried over $500 at the end of the year is forfeited. This plan design can only be used for the medical FSA.

GRACE PERIOD – the time that funds in an FSA can be used is extended from the 12-month actual plan year to 14 months and 15 days. The grace period gives the employee an additional 2 months and 15 days to spend what is left in their FSA from the previous plan year. Any amount left at the end of the extra 2 months and 15 days will be forfeited. This plan design can be used either with the medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP).

Either plan design eases the year-end “spending rush,” gives employees more time to pay for their medical expenses, and mitigates the difficulty of predicting their future medical expenses.

Currently, many employers use the “use-it-or-lose-it” method. In this situation, if at the end of the year there are funds still available in the employee’s FSA, those will be forfeited. Many employees may choose not to participate because they cannot predict their future health care spending for that plan year and don’t want to lose their hard-earned money.

At the end of the day, BASE® is here to save employees and employers as much valuable tax savings as they can. Once the employer chooses, the decision adds an extra benefit to their benefits package. By adding one of these plan designs to their already great benefits package, more employees begin to participate, which leads to the employer saving even more valuable tax dollars.

Both options will provide the employer (and their employees) peace of mind knowing that their FSA funds will be able to go farther than before. For more information, please call BASE® at 1-888-386-9680.

Gift of the Flexible Spending Account

We all know that the holidays can be a stressful time of the year. This can be due to the financial strain of gifts, travel, holiday parties and food!  While we all love to decorate for the holidays with trees, lights and wreaths…this can all add up and cause a lot of end-of-year worry!

While the BASE® Flexible Spending Account can’t be used for holiday spending, it can allow someone to be healthier and happier.  The FSA can truly be seen as a gift during the holiday season.

Below are just a few suggestions to make for a merry December when using an FSA for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Flu Shot - The holidays often find us surrounded by family and friends, which means an increased chance of becoming sick! Individuals should enjoy the holidays and reduce chances of becoming ill by getting a flu shot!

Annual Doctor Check-Up – Winter is the perfect time of year to get an annual checkup! Visiting a doctor and setting goals for 2019 help to prepare for the upcoming year and start it off on the right track.

Glasses – There are so many things to see during the holiday season such as Christmas trees, lights and much more. New glasses would only help enhance the experience and joy of the season!

Crutches – Winter brings slippery sidewalks or tripping over toys, which might lead to a need for an unwanted gift of crutches!

Dental Treatment – Too many sweets can lead to an emergency trip to the dentist!

The FSA covers many other medical expenses to help prevent and prepare for the months to come!  With an FSA, employees save tax dollars throughout the year by setting aside money from their paycheck on a pre-tax basis. They can then use this money on qualifying out-of-pocket expenses, like the ones listed above.

Leah L., a BASE® 125 FSA Client, shares the biggest benefits the FSA provides her and her employees. “Not only do our employees save when funds are transferred from their wages on a pre-tax basis, but our company also sees valuable tax savings. Not everyone is great at saving for a rainy day, but this has helped many of our employees be able to save for medical expenses, both expected and unexpected.”

The BASE® FSA is definitely a gift that will keep on giving all year round. Contact BASE® to learn more about the savings employers and employees receive with a BASE® 125 FSA in place.