If you put pre-tax money in accounts to pay medical or dependent care expenses, here are some changes you should be aware of for 2022.
More time to use flexible spending accounts: If you are worried about losing funds you’ve set aside in a pretax flexible spending account for health or dependent care — perhaps because you put off medical appointments or your kids have been home during the pandemic — relax.
Legislation enacted in response to COVID-19 tweaked rules for FSAs. Instead of losing those funds at the end of the year, employers can modify their plans to allow workers to carry over unused funds through 2022.
Normally, your employer may let you roll over up to $550 of unused funds in a health care FSA for an additional 2 ½ months (that is, until March 15 of the following year), and you can’t roll over any dependent care FSA funds.
But for 2021, employers may provide a 12-month grace period (to Dec. 31, 2022) for both types of flex accounts. That’s particularly significant for dependent care spending accounts because Congress allowed those FSA holders to sock away up to $10,500 of pretax wages in 2021, up from the standard limit of $5,000.
If your employer doesn’t provide a grace period, keep in mind that depleting unused funds in a health care spending account is easier than using up a dependent care FSA. You can pay for home COVID-19 testing kits, hand sanitizer and masks. You can also use FSA funds to buy over-the-counter drugs, such as pain relievers, cough suppressants and antihistamines.