FSA Friday with Sean - 2/16/18 - A first look at flex spending and your taxes

Happy Friday, everyone! This week, I'm stepping in for Sean while he enjoys some warm weather fun a few months ahead of spring. And, while the warmer temps of mid-April seem like they're light years away, tax season is already here. This means the media discussion of personal finance and healthcare savings is in full swing.

This week, let's take a look at a few of the many headlines populating our news feeds, and see what's trending in the ongoing personal healthcare and tax discussion.

Analysis: The tax benefits of a health savings account - Thomas Heath, The Washington Post

This time of year, mainstream media outlets offer up a lot of "overview" discussion on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). But few of them open as directly as Thomas Heath, who says, "Any time you can protect your money from the tax man, I want in."

Using real-life examples of conversations Heath had with his wife and his employer's human resources department, Heath offers a quick, succinct breakdown of each type of account, what the common misunderstandings are, and what the tax ramifications might be.

Though there are much more thorough resources to be had about your flexible spending tax options (starting right here and here), this piece does a good job whetting your appetite for deeper discussion.

Do workers saving in both 401(k)s and HSAs end up cannibalizing one account for another? - Marlene Y. Satter, BenefitsPro

With so much of today's personal finance discussion focused on putting aside retirement money, while also paying down current medical bills, this BenefitsPro article is perfectly timed. According to the author, a recent study shows that workers who put funds into both a 401(k) and a health savings account are saving more overall than those who just put money into a single account.

She goes on to dispel some common myths about whether saving to one type of account could cannibalize potential savings to the other.

Note: Viewing the entire article requires you to set up a free BenefitsPro account, but we recommend doing so, since the author does a good job breaking down trends and figures about these accounts, contribution analyses and more.

Fewer than half of parents take advantage of this money-saving tax break - Leslie Albrecht, MarketWatch

Here's a sobering thought from this MarketWatch article: Parents could save more than $2,000 a year on child care costs, but more than half leave the money on the table, according to a survey of 1,100 parents by Care.com.

Here's another one: While most parents (67%) know they could save on child-care costs with a tax break called the dependent care flexible spending account, only 44% actually use one.

In this piece, author Leslie Albrecht points out potential sources of child-care tax savings that you can get, even if you don't have a dependent care FSA. And if you do, she also explains how these account holders can still take advantage of the federal child-care tax credit. It's a worthy read for any parents seeking a break from rising daycare costs, and seemingly unforgiving tax scenarios.

Tax season can be a complicated time, but we're here to help. For the latest about your health and financial wellness, you can turn to our Learning Center, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for the info you need to #GetFlexSmart.

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