Now that tax season has started, you may want to be aware and take advantage of these savings account that will help you save more, benefit more, and generally lower your tax bill.
There are actually several plans and accounts that will help you stretch your money this year but the three presented here are saving accounts ideal if you are an employed individual. These are benefits that will cost you little or none at all. Your employer generally sponsors these accounts and reading further will help you gain a better understanding of what they offer and what they require from you.
First, the Health Savings Account or HSA. The HSA is available to employees who have high-deductible medical plans. Both your employer and you as the employee make the contribution. A dollar limit is also applied to both you and your employer’s contributions.
The advantage of the HSA over other savings account is it does not operate under the policy where you have to use it or else you will lose its benefit, like other savings accounts. It can actually be carried over each year that you don’t take advantage of it and it will continue to grow as a tax-deferred benefit. Another advantage is you can also invest the amount under your HAS account and you can get earnings that are tax exclusive. The only requirement is you use the money to cover your medical expenses under its regulations.
When filing, you have to attach Form 8889 indicating the list of payments and expenses you had within the year. Your payments will be considered as deductions on your tax bill. The pre-tax payments that you had as your payroll deductions or those made your employer will appear in box 12 on the W-2 form.
Your HSA provider should also give you Form 1099-SA which contains all the withdrawals you had for one year. If there are nonqualified medical expenses, those will not be covered and you will have to pay tax for those amounts. There is also a 20% penalty if your age is 65 or below. It is important to always keep medical expense receipts as proof of your expenditures related to this account.
Another savings account to lower your tax bill is the Flexible Savings Accounts. Similar to the Health Savings Account, it also allows you to set aside certain amounts from your earnings as pre-tax deductions.
Some of the differences between the two are as follows:
FSAs come in two types: the dependent care and the healthcare. In contrast to the HAS, you will lose your FSA if you don’t use it. If at the end of a year you still have money left, those will not be carried over and you will lose those amounts. Although contributions can still be made by both employee and employer, and the dollar limit applies to both contributions, only the employer can give a carryover of a certain amount up to $500. The employer can also avail of a grace period of up to two months and a half to use the leftover funds. But employers are not obligated to offer these options. Also, when they choose to have the employees enjoy these alternatives, they can only choose one between carrying over or grace period.
The good thing about FSA is that it does not require any reporting documents to attach to your tax return. You can also get money from your FSA if you need to pay medical expenses within its qualifications even if you have not yet submitted the funds.
This last savings account aimed at helping you cut down your tax bill is actually a retirement savings plan. A 401(k) contribution is tax-deferred; meaning, you don’t have to pay taxes on your 401(k) funds until you use the money during your retirement years. The contributions you make through payroll deductions will all be pre-tax values. Box 12 of your Form W-2 will show you these contributions. There are situations when employers choose to make matching contributions for their employees up to a certain amount.
Another good thing about the 401(k) retirement savings account is its Saver’s Credit. You can find out if you are qualified for this particular credit which depends on your adjusted gross income.
This retirement savings plan should be used when you reach more than 59 years old and a half. If you withdraw it before that time, you get a 10% penalty. Aside from that, there might be some income tax value related to your withdrawal.
Availing of these three savings account will not only provide greater benefits for your health, retirement, and general savings, it will also help minimize the amount you owe the IRS and you will have spare cash to spend on other important things in life.