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

d the 15th day of the third month following the close of the plan year (e.g., March 15 for a calendar year plan).

Dependent care FSAs. Some employers also allow employees to set aside funds in dependent care FSAs. They allow employees to use pre-tax dollars to pay for dependent care. In particular cases, participating in a dependent care FSA can yield greater tax savings than foregoing participation and claiming a dependent care credit. Employees who are eligible to participate in a dependent care FSA should use the FSA to pay for child care expenses if they are also in a high tax bracket and/or have only one dependent and more than $3,000 of employment-related expenses. For these employees, the FSA almost always provides greater federal tax savings than does the credit. Additionally, participating in a dependent care FSA can save on FICA taxes.

Like health FSAs, dependent care FSAs are subject to the use-or-lose rule. So now is a good time for employees to review year-to-date expenditures and project amounts to be set aside for next year.

Adoption assistance FSAs. Under an adoption assistance FSA, adoption reimbursement accounts are established for participating employees. Typically, these accounts are funded with employee pre-tax contributions uniformly withheld from each paycheck throughout the year. The balances in these accounts are used to reimburse qualified adoption expenses incurred during the year, subject to a reimbursement maximum. Like health and dependent care FSAs, these accounts are subject to the use-or-lose rule. "Predicting the amount and timing of adoption expenses may be far more difficult than projecting medical and dependent care expenses," Massey points out. "As a result, the use-or-lose rule could pose a greater risk of loss with this type of FSA. Employees should bear this in mind when deciding the extent to which to participate in an adoption FSA."

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