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The Right Tax Moves for Employees to Make Before Year-End
Date:11/24/2009

NEW YORK, Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- As year-end approaches, many employees are faced with an array of choices that can save taxes this year and next. To help you take advantage of these special tax-saving opportunities, William E. Massey, Senior Tax Analyst at Thomson Reuters, highlights the following key year-end planning considerations for employees:

Health flexible spending accounts (Health FSAs). Many employees take advantage of the annual opportunity to save taxes by placing funds in their employer's health FSA. These employees save taxes by using pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses that might not be deductible. The expenses are not deductible if the employee does not itemize. Even for itemizers, some medical expenses are not deductible because of the 7.5 percent adjusted gross income floor beneath medical expense deductions. And a health FSA can be used to get a tax-free reimbursement for over-the-counter medications and other items (such as contact lens solution), even though they cannot be deducted as medical expenses if purchased outside of the health FSA. Plans should have a listing of both qualifying items and any documentation that may be needed from a medical provider to get a reimbursement for a qualifying item. Employees who have set aside funds in an employer's health FSA should check the balance to ensure there is sufficient time to incur additional reimbursable expenditures to prevent loss of any unused amount under the use-or-lose feature of these plans. Reviewing year-to-date expenditures now will also help the employee calculate how much to elect to set aside for next year, taking into account any changed circumstances.

To avoid the use-or-lose rule, the employee must incur qualifying expenditures by the last day of the plan year (Dec. 31, 2009 for a calendar year plan) unless the plan allows an optional grace period. Any grace period cannot extend beyon
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