2017 green light alert! Congress has approved the 21st Century Cures Act, a provision allowing small employers to reimburse their employees for medical expenses under a health reimbursement arrangement (without being liable for the draconian, $100 per day penalty for violating the Affordable Care Act’s rules).
Background: Stand-alone HRAs do not meet two key requirements of the ACA, as they:
- Limit the dollar amount of the insured person’s annual benefits and
- Fail to provide certain preventive-care services without requiring cost-sharing.
As a result, under the IRS’ interpretation of the ACA, employers are subject to a $100 per day (maximum $36,500 per year) excise tax penalty per employee.
New Law: Effective January 1, 2017, under the 21st Century Cures Act, qualified small employers that have an average of fewer than 50 full-time employees (including full-time-equivalent employees) and that maintain a qualified small-employer HRA will be exempt from the penalty. Under this act, a qualified small employer is one that:
- Employs an average of fewer than 50 full-time employees (including full-time-equivalent employees) and does not offer a group health plan to its employees. The number of full-time-equivalent employees is determined by adding up all the hours that part-time employees worked in a given month and dividing by 120.
- Provides the HRA on the same terms to all eligible employees. Eligible employees all those except:
- Those who have not completed 90 days of service,
- Those who have not attained the age of 25,
- Part-time workers (generally those working an average of less than 30 hours per week),
- Seasonal workers (generally those employed for 6 months or fewer during the year),
- Those covered by a collective bargaining unit, and
- Certain nonresident aliens.
- Entirely funds the HRA (i.e., no salary-reduction contribution is made to the HRA).
- Only reimburses the employees after being provided with proof of their medical expenses.
- Limits reimbursements to $4,950 ($10,000 where the plan includes family members) per year. Amounts are subject to inflation adjustments for years after 2016.
Any medical-expense reimbursements that an employee receives from a qualifying HRA are excluded from that employee’s income.
If you have questions regarding this new topic effective January 1, 2017, please give Dagley & Co. a call at 202-417-6640.
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Are you a sole proprietor with no full-time employees other than yourself and/or your spouse? Also, are you are seeking to maximize your retirement plan contributions? If so, a Solo 401(k) may be right for you. The key benefits of a Solo 401(k) plan are as follows:
- Manage your own account directly without any brokers, banks, or trust companies as middlemen.
- Generally contribute larger amounts, approximately equal to the 401(k) and profit-sharing amounts combined.
- Legally avoid the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) that would apply to certain self-directed IRA transactions.
- Make Roth contributions to the 401(k) element (not the profit-sharing part) of the plan, regardless of the AGI limitations that apply to regular Roth contributions.
- Transfer existing retirement funds into the Solo 401(k).
- Direct your investments with absolutely no restrictions on investment choices (including real estate, private companies, foreign assets, precious metals, etc.).
Solo 401(k) Contributions – The maximum annual contribution to a Solo 401(k) for 2016 is $53,000 but not exceeding 100% of compensation. The Solo 401(k) contribution consists of two parts: (1) a profit-sharing contribution of up to 20% of net self-employment income for unincorporated businesses or 25% of W-2 income for incorporated businesses and (2) a salary-deferral contribution (same as the 401(k)) of as much as 100% of the first $18,000 ($24,000 if age 50 or over) of the remaining compensation after the profit-sharing contribution, as a tax-deductible contribution.
Given sufficient income, a self-employed individual and spouse (assuming the spouse is employed in the same business) may contribute, for 2016, up to $106,000 combined. Because of the way the contribution is calculated, a larger contribution can usually be made into a Solo 401(k) than to a Keogh or SEP IRA at the same income level.
Discretionary Funding –The funding of the Solo 401(k) plan is completely discretionary and flexible every year. Funding can be increased, decreased, or skipped entirely, if necessary.
Where Deducted – If your business is organized as a Subchapter S or C corporation, or LLC electing to be taxed as a corporation, then you are an employee of the business, so the salary-deferral contribution reduces your personal W-2 earnings and the profit-sharing contribution is deducted as a business expense.
For a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or an LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship, the owner’s salary-deferral and profit-sharing contributions are deductible only from personal income (i.e., on page 1 of Form 1040, as an adjustment to gross income), and not as an expense of the business.
Deadlines – The deadline for establishing a Solo 401(k) is December 31st for an individual or the fiscal year end for corporations. For unincorporated businesses, the deadline for making the contributions is the regular April income tax filing due date plus extensions. For incorporated businesses, the deadline is 15 days after the close of the fiscal year.
Roth Option – The 401(k) portion of the contribution can be designated as a non-deductible qualified Roth contribution, provided the plan document permits Roth contributions.
If you think a Solo 401(k) might be right for you, please call Dagley & Co. at (202) 417-6640 for further details. We will help you to determine if your particular circumstances permit you have, and whether you will benefit from a Solo 401(k).
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