Business Planning

FSA Deadline approaching

If your company uses an FSA (or Flexible Spending Account), your deadline to claim reimbursements for 2011 is quickly approaching.  FSAs allow employees to use pretax dollars to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses and buy qualifying medical supplies.   The catch is that any funds not claimed by an employee by a predetermined deadline (typically March 31 through May 31, depending on the employer’s plan documents) are forfeited. FSAs should not be confused by HSAs, which are very popular.  With FSAs, your employer administers the plan, holding your FSA withholding in one of its accounts.  FSAs are used when insurance deductibles are low.  HSAs, on the other hand, are administered by third parties and allow you to have your money in a special HSA account that is portable between employers.  Funds in HSAs are not forfeited at the end of a year and can “roll over” to future years.  HSAs are only allowed when plans are “high deductible plans”, meaning that deductibles are at least $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for families. FSA users typically have until March 15 of the following year to make purchases using the previous year’s FSA dollars. For example, if you had withheld $1,000 in 2011 to cover FSA approved expenses, you could claim reimbursement of those funds for purchases/expenses made through March 15, 2012.  If you have not fully recovered your FSA dollars from 2011, then you may want to purchase qualifying medical supplies, such as eyeglasses, bandages, contact-lens solution and certain types of sunblock.  Ask your employer for a list of what your FSA covers and see IRS publications 502 and 969 for more details.

Payroll Tax Cut Extended!

Congress gave all wage earners a short-lived 2012 reprieve by temporarily extending the 2% payroll tax cut though February of 2012.

The payroll tax, often referred to as FICA on your paycheck, has historically been 6.2%. This is the tax that funds the Social Security Administration. For 2011, as an economic stimulus measure, Congress temporarily reduced the rate to 4.2%. They also provided self-employed individuals with a corresponding two percentage point reduction by lowering the Social Security portion of the SE tax from 12.4% to 10.4%.

Congress had previously extended this 2% tax cut and now has decided to continue this reduction in payroll tax through the end of 2012.

Mediation Services

I am pleased to announce that I am now certified by the Florida Supreme Court to mediate cases in the circuit court.  For many years, I have “mediated” informally disputes among families, in particular in a probate administration.  In doing so, I became aware of my ability to help others understand their positions, both the good and the bad, so that they could make a decision to resolve their disputes.

With this certification, I can now pursue a formal mediation practice.  I plan to offer mediation services in the areas that give me the most joy as an attorney: estate administration and business law.  More will follow, as we work to update our site to include this new service.