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HRA

A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) must be funded solely by an employer. The contribution cannot be paid through a voluntary salary reduction agreement on the part of an employee. Employees are reimbursed tax free for qualified medical expenses up to a maximum dollar amount for a coverage period. An HRA may be offered with other health plans, including FSAs.

There are several benefits from having an HRA. Contributions made by your employer can be excluded from your gross income. Reimbursements may be tax free if you pay qualified medical expenses (IRS Qualified Expenses). Any unused amounts in the HRA can be carried forward for reimbursements in later years.

Qualifying for an HRA

Self-employed persons are not eligible for an HRA.

HRAs are employer-established benefit plans. These may be offered in conjunction with other employer-provided health benefits. Employers have complete flexibility to offer various combinations of benefits in designing their plan. You do not have to be covered under any other health care plan to participate.

Contributions to an HRA

HRAs are funded solely through employer contributions and may not be funded through employee salary deferrals under a cafeteria plan. These contributions are not included in the employee’s income. You do not pay federal income taxes or employment taxes on amounts your employer contributes to the HRA.

There is no limit on the amount of money your employer can contribute to the accounts. Additionally, the maximum reimbursement amount credited under the HRA in the future may be increased or decreased by amounts not previously used.

Distributions From an HRA

Generally, distributions from an HRA must be paid to reimburse you for qualified medical expenses you have incurred. The expense must have been incurred on or after the date you are enrolled in the HRA.

Debit cards, credit cards, and stored value cards given to you by your employer can be used to reimburse participants in an HRA. If the use of these cards meets certain substantiation methods, you may not have to provide additional information to the HRA.

If any distribution is, or can be, made for other than the reimbursement of qualified medical expenses, any distribution (including reimbursement of qualified medical expenses) made in the current tax year is included in gross income. For example, if an unused reimbursement is payable to you in cash at the end of the year, or upon termination of your employment, any distribution from the HRA is included in your income. This also applies if any unused amount upon your death is payable in cash to your beneficiary or estate, or if the HRA provides an option for you to transfer any unused reimbursement at the end of the year to a retirement plan.

Balance in an HRA

Amounts that remain at the end of the year can generally be carried over to the next year. Your employer is not permitted to refund any part of the balance to you. These amounts may never be used for anything but reimbursements for qualified medical expenses.

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