Columbia University offers several tax savings accounts, including the Healthcare and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)s and the Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP) account. Using these tax savings accounts could save you hundreds of dollars on eligible healthcare, dependent care, transit and/or parking expenses.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Flexible Spending Accounts allow you to contribute pre-tax money to reimburse yourself for eligible healthcare and dependent day care expenses. You must enroll within 31 days of hire or a Qualified Life Status Change and you must also re-enroll each year during Benefits Open Enrollment to take advantage of FSAs.
You can enroll in the Healthcare FSA, Dependent Care FSA and the T/PRP even if you do not enroll in Columbia University medical coverage Columbia University offers two types of FSAs that are administered by UHC:
- Healthcare FSA for eligible healthcare expenses, including medical, prescription drug or dental copays and deductibles, as well as vision or hearing services. For a list of eligible expenses, please visit www.myuhc.com or IRS Publication 502.
- Dependent Care FSA for eligible child or adult day care expenses for your dependents, such as licensed day care centers and nursery schools, beforeschool or after-school programs and home attendants. Note: for dependents’ health-related expenses, use the Healthcare FSA.
How FSAs Work
If your medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income and you itemize deductions, you may be better off deducting your expenses from your income tax rather than using either the Healthcare FSA or the HSA. You may want to consult with a tax adviser or financial professional to determine which works best for you.
Also, you may use the Dependent Care FSA, the federal tax credit or a combination of both for your eligible dependent care expenses. Your choice will depend on your family income and the number of dependents you have in eligible day care programs. Generally, if your family’s adjusted gross income exceeds $40,000, you may save more in taxes using the Dependent Care FSA. You can also go to the IRS website or consult your tax adviser or financial professional.
Health Care Spending Card
Convenient Automatic Reimbursement
Eligibility Regarding Same-Sex Domestic Partners
You are covered under a Columbia-provided medical plan:
1. Go to myuhc.com and click on “Register Now.” Your health plan ID card includes information you will need to register, or you can register using your Social Security Number and date of birth.
2. Click on “View Account Balances,” then select “Flexible Spending Account(s).”
Don’t Have a Health Plan with UHC?
You do not need to be a member of a Columbia health plan to participate in an FSA. To manage your FSA expenses, you can register using your Social Security Number and date of birth. Under group/account number, enter “902784.”
The current IRS limit for the Healthcare FSA is $2,600.* You can elect between $120 and $2,600* in this account to cover out-of-pocket eligible healthcare expenses for yourself, your spouse and your children, even if you do not elect to cover them under Columbia University benefits plans.
If you are hired after the beginning of the year, you can elect to contribute the maximum contribution limit ($2,600*) provided you have not contributed during the year to an FSA with Columbia University. If you are married, your spouse may also contribute $2,600* to an FSA sponsored by his/her employer. The full annual election amount is available for claim reimbursement as of your account’s effective date. You may elect a Healthcare FSA even if you are enrolled in Medicare.
Note: To be eligible to participate in the Healthcare FSA, children must be your dependents for income tax purposes.
* IRS limits are subject to change.
Dependent Care FSA
The Dependent Care FSA helps you pay the cost of dependent day care services for an adult or child because you work or attend school. If you are married, your spouse must also work or go to school while you are at work in order to qualify for this coverage. You can contribute up to $5,000* to a Dependent Care FSA. If you are married, the IRS has several guidelines that might affect how much you can deposit:
- If your spouse also has a Dependent Care FSA at work and you file a joint tax return – your combined deposits cannot exceed $5,000.
- If you are married and file separate income taxes – the most you can contribute is $2,500.
You can be reimbursed for the cost of services provided for:
- Dependent children under the age of 13. If your child will turn 13 during the year, you can submit claims only for expenses incurred up to the child’s birthday. You may be eligible to un-enroll from the Dependent Care FSA once your child reaches age 13 as part of a “Change in Dependent Care Cost.”
- Other dependents, including a parent, spouse or spouse’s child who is physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself.
Your reimbursement for dependent care cannot exceed the balance in your account at the time of your claim. If the money in your account is insufficient to pay your claim, the balance will be paid later as your pre-tax payroll contributions accumulate in your account. When you incur an eligible dependent care expense, you can use your Health Care Spending Card to pay for the expense at participating locations. The card will only accept expenses up to the balance in your account at the time of use.
* IRS limits are subject to change.