Planning Ahead: 2017 Health Savings Account Limits

BY Chad Ryder

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released the annual contribution limitations for health savings accounts (HSAs) and the minimum deductible amounts and maximum out-of-pocket expense amounts for high-deductible health plans. These limitations are updated annually to reflect cost-of-living adjustments. Business owners should inform employees of the HSA contribution limits increase for 2017.

Employers commonly offer employees HSA contributions as part of their healthcare benefit packages. HSAs are a popular option because of its dual purpose. Employees can utilize HSAs to save for the future or pay for qualified medical expenses tax free.

Under Sec. 223 of Rev. Proc. 2016-28, individuals who participate in a health plan with a high deductible are permitted a deduction for contributions to HSAs set up to help pay their medical expenses. To be eligible to contribute to an HSA you must participate in a high deductible health plan.

The following chart summarizes the contribution and out-of-pocket limits for HSAs and high-deductible health plans for 2017. There was only one minor change between 2016 and 2017.

  2016 2017 Change
HSA contribution limit Self: $3,350

Family: $6,750

Self: $3,400

Family: $6,750

Self: $50

Family: No Change

HSA catch up contribution (age 55+) $1,000 $1,000 No Change
HDHP minimum deductible Self: $1,300

Family: $2,600

Self: $1,300

Family: $2,600

No Change
HDHP maximum out of pocket Self: $6,550

Family: $13,100

Self: $6,550

Family: $13,100

No Change

Employers should remind employees who are contributing to or using their HSA:

  • They have until April 15, 2018 to make contributions for the 2017 tax year.
  • Withdrawing from their HSA for nonqualified purposes is subject to income tax.
  • Nonqualified withdrawals are also subject to a 20% tax penalty unless an exception applies.

The professionals in our office can clarify any questions you may have on HSAs. Call on us today.

Penalty Eliminated for Employer Health Insurance Reimbursements

BY Brittany Gerth

Penalty Eliminated for Employer Health Insurance Reimbursements

Last year, the IRS began enforcing a penalty on employers who reimburse employees for the cost of health insurance premiums. The fine was up to $100 per day ($36,500 per year), per employee. On Wednesday, December 7th, legislation was passed eliminating that penalty. Employers can now reimburse employees for the cost of health insurance premiums without being penalized.

In order to qualify, small employers must set up a stand-alone health reimbursement arrangement.

Small Employers Able to Use Stand-Alone Health Reimbursement Arrangements

The legislation passed on December 7th allows employers to fund employee HRAs to pay for qualifying out-of-packet medical expenses and health insurance premiums (including plans purchased from the exchange). Reimbursements to the employee for medical expenses are tax-free only if the employee is enrolled in other health coverage that is minimum essential coverage. Employees that are covered by an HRA will not be eligible for subsidies for health insurance purchased on the exchange. The act takes effect for plan years beginning after December 31, 2016. To qualify for the funding of HRAs, the employer must have fewer than 50 full-time employees (or equivalents) and they must not sponsor a group health plan. The following are a list of additional requirements for the HRA’s:

  • The HRA’s must be funded solely by employer contributions
  • Must provide payment or reimbursement for medical care expenses or health insurance premiums. Employees must provide documentation/receipts for medical expenses or health insurance premiums paid.
  • The maximum reimbursement for health expenses through HRAs is $4,950 for single coverage and $10,000 for family coverage
  • If an employer chooses to offer HRA’s, they must be offered to all full-time employees, unless one of the following applies:
    • The employee has not yet completed 90 days of service
    • The employee is under 25 years old
    • The employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement for accident/health benefits
    • The employee is a part-time or seasonal worker
  • An employer must make the same HRA contributions for all eligible employees, however the following items may cause the amount to vary:
    • Price of the insurance policy
    • Age of the employee/eligible family members
    • Number of family members covered

The professionals in our office can answer any questions you may have about the new legislation. Call us today.



Preparing Your Business for the New 2017 Filing Deadlines

BY Brittany Gerth

This is a reminder to employers and small businesses of the new January 31 filing deadline for Form W-2.  A new federal law, aimed at making it easier for the IRS to detect and prevent refund fraud, will accelerate by a month the W-2 filing deadline for employers from February 28 to January 31.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted last December, includes a new requirement for employers. They are now required to file their copies of Form W-2, submitted to the Social Security Administration, by January 31. The new January 31 filing deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC reporting non-employee compensation such as payments to independent contractors. As it relates to Form 1099-MISC, the new filing deadline will only impact filers that report nonemployee compensation payments in box 7.

In the past, employers typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of these forms. Also, there are changes in requesting an extension to file the Form W-2. Only one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 is available, and this extension is not automatic. If an extension is needed, a Form 8809 Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns must be completed as soon as you know an extension is necessary, but by no later than January 31.

The new accelerated deadline is intended to help the IRS improve its efforts to spot errors on taxpayer filed returns. Receiving W-2s and 1099s earlier will make it easier for the IRS to verify the legitimacy of tax returns and properly issue refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. According to, the IRS it will make it easier to release tax refunds more quickly.  The January 31 deadline remains unchanged and has long applied to employers furnishing copies of these forms to their employees.

We anticipate the new deadline will increase your businesses workload. To minimize stress, we recommend the following steps:

  • Verify your employee filing status and confirm their mailing addresses before December 31, 2016.
  • Verify form W-9 information (for your 1099-Misc contractors) is completely up-to-date and accurate.
  • Collect all the necessary information to ensure your forms are “good-to-go” on or about Monday, January 2, 2017.

The professionals in our office can answer any questions you may have about the new filing deadlines and how they will impact your business, call us today.

Tips to Avoid Embezzlement

BY Bernie Hull

Why does something like this happen to good people—Trust. According to FBI profiles, an embezzler is typically an employee with 5-6 years of experience, often described as good-to-above average, highly desirable, reliable, bright, motivated, trustworthy, and an achiever with good self-control. The typical motive is the need for money caused by a specific problem.”

Potential warning signs:

  • Unusual behaviors—for example, making sure she always gets the mail, intercepts phone calls, never takes vacation—even when on vacation, etc.
  • Lack of timeliness in updating/reconciling the accounting records

Do you have to stop trusting people to avoid such a thing from happening to you? No, but you need to implement good internal controls to reduce the risks. In my opinion, an honest bookkeeper would welcome the fact that controls are put in place—if for no other reason than to avoid the risk of ever being accused of wrongdoing.

Tips to consider:

  • Hire smart—develop accurate job descriptions and MUST do reference checking. During reference checking, make sure you ask former employers, “Would you rehire this person?”
  • Evaluate your internal controls—either on your own, or with the help of your CPA. (IC questionnaire)
  • Remember that as a manager or small business owner you are ultimately responsible for the numbers—so get involved in the process
  • Receive all mail—consider having post office hold mail until you return from vacation, if office is closed in your absence.
  • Review statements from vendors. Many vendors have stopped sending statements, but they will send late notices. Make sure your business is in good standing with vendors. Long overdue invoices may be an indication that a check you thought was going to a vendor actually went in someone else’s pocket, or that an invoice had been overlooked.
  • Receive bank statements directly, unopened. Insist on cancelled checks or check copies. Review cancelled checks for reasonableness of date, payee, amount, authorized signature and endorsement on the back of the check.
  • Review the bank reconciliation every month. This step is particularly important if you have one person doing the bookkeeping, writing checks, posting entries, preparing financial statements. Look closely at any adjustments to the bank accounts. Are there any old outstanding checks/deposits listed on the bank rec.?
  • Scan the check register periodically (every 3-4 months) to verify all payees and amounts paid make sense. Multiple checks written around the same time to the same vendor could be an indication that funds are being diverted—or just an inefficient use of time to write and code multiple checks. Verify check number sequences.
  • Review all credit card statements—are all charges authorized? Look for unusual late fees and finance charges. Pay off credit card balances monthly to avoid late fees. (Financial management point—check into lining up a line of credit with your bank—before you need the money, to manage short term cash flow/seasonal issues—at a lower rate and fees than a credit card.)
  • Review all payroll tax reports—consult with your CPA to verify deadlines and make sure that all reports are filed on time. Consider asking for account transcripts from the IRS and contact WDR at least annually to verify that all taxes were paid on a timely basis and that there are no balances outstanding.
  • Review payroll registers – review frequency of paychecks and amounts paid for reasonableness. Hand out pay checks/ pay stubs.
  • Review your accounts receivable aging summary schedule on a regular basis. This is beneficial not only to determine if you have any slow paying customers. It may also disclose if any customer payments have been misapplied.
  • Evaluate controls over inventory. Establish records to properly and consistently track inventory. Do period physical inventory counts and compare to your perpetual inventory system. Are controls implemented to reduce risk of theft?
  • DON’T EVER pre-sign blank checks. Keep all blank checks in a secured location—with you controlling the key/combination. (Anyone can forge a check.)
  • Make sure employees who can handle cash are bonded. Do you have embezzlement/theft insurance in place? Is it adequate to cover a potential loss and professional fees to determine amounts taken?