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  Category: Articles » Finance » Taxes » Article
 

Learn the tax benefits of a Flexible-benefits Plan




By Jakob Jelling

Flexible-benefits Plan (FBP) is an employee benefits plan which helps the employees' to save considerable amount of taxes by paying certain expenses from their pre-tax income. Some of the eligible expenses from pre-tax income are medical, vision, dental, elder care, and dependent care. All state employees who get a regular paycheck are entitled to participate in the flexible-benefits plan.

Flexible-benefits Plan mainly boasts three components:

- Health Flexible Spending Account (HFSA)
- Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA)
- Health insurance premium deduction

Flexible-benefits Plan's reimbursements are made occasionally, mostly once in a week. You will receive statements which helps you to keep updated on your account. Quick information about your account can be accessed with the help of customer service line or email.

Due to the program's tax exempt features, the federal government strictly regulates the Flexible-benefits Plan. FBPs are regulated by sections 125 and 129 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRS). Hence it is advisable to review the IRS rules before you enroll. If you wish to enroll in the FBP, then it is better from your part to discuss how the program may benefit you with your financial planner or tax advisor.

How does a Flexible-benefits Plan work?

On enrolling in a flexible-benefits plan you first have to decide how much amount you need to earmark for your Dependent Care Reimbursement Account and/or Health Flexible Spending Account. After you have fixed a particular amount for your account, your employer will deduct the amount every month from your salary for the flexible-benefits plan. The deducted amount will be immediately credited to your accounts you have already specified.

Reimbursement

Whenever you had met with an eligible expense, you can submit a claim for reimbursement. While submitting a claim, make sure that you have provided all necessary documents supporting your claim. Reimbursements are generally made weekly.

- Health Flexible Spending Account (HFSA)

While submitting a claim for reimbursement, first submit all your health care claims according to your health care plan. If there is any amount which is not covered according to your health care plan, you can claim those amounts for reimbursement with your Health Flexible Spending Account. While submitting a claim, make sure that you have provided a copy of an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) or your receipt together with your Flexible-benefits Plan Reimbursement Request.

- Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA)

You can submit a claim for your dependent care expenses by providing a copy of your receipt to a complete Flexible-Benefits Plan Reimbursement Request. You can also provide a complete Reimbursement Request signed by your dependent care provider.

Monitoring your account

It is advisable to keep a close eye on your account every time you make a claim or when ever you get a Flexible-Benefits Plan reimbursement check. Generally you will also obtain an Explanation of Benefits which displays your up-to-date details of deposits, the claims you had submitted, the claims you were paid, and the remaining amount you have in your account.

Besides this, you will be provided with an Account Status Report, in most cases three months before the end of your Flexible-Benefits Plan year. The report displays your total accounts and reminds you to submit any outstanding claims. This helps you to avoid any forfeiture.

Unused funds

According to the IRS regulations, you need to forfeit any unspent funds in your Flexible-Benefits Plan at the end of each plan year. Hence you must be very careful to plan your contributions and to make sure you have submitted request for all eligible reimbursements. Also make sure that you have submitted your request with all documentary proof. Keep in mind that it is always better to underestimate your eligible expenses than to overestimate them and risk forfeiture.
 
 
About the Author
Jakob Jelling is the founder of http://www.cashbazar.com. Visit his website for the latest on personal finance, debt elimination, budgeting, credit cards and real estate.

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