WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today reminded eligible employees that now is the time to begin planning to take full advantage of their employer's health flexible spending arrangement (FSA) during 2016.

FSAs provide employees a way to use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by other health plans. Because eligible employees need to decide how much to contribute through payroll deductions before the plan year begins, many employers this fall are offering their employees the option to participate during the 2016 plan year.

Interested employees wishing to contribute during the new year must make this choice again for 2016, even if they contributed in 2015. Self-employed individuals are not eligible.

An employee who chooses to participate can contribute up to $2,550 during the 2016 plan year. Amounts contributed are not subject to federal income tax, Social Security tax or Medicare tax. If the plan allows, the employer may also contribute to an employee's FSA.

Throughout the year, employees can then use funds to pay qualified medical expenses not covered by their health plan, including co-pays, deductibles and a variety of medical products and services ranging from dental and vision care to eyeglasses and hearing aids. Interested employees should check with their employer for details on eligible expenses and claim procedures.

Under the use or lose provision, participating employees often must incur eligible expenses by the end of the plan year, or forfeit any unspent amounts. But under a special rule, employers may, if they choose, offer participating employees more time through either the carryover option or the grace period option.

Under the carryover option, an employee can carry over up to $500 of unused funds to the following plan year—for example, an employee with $500 of unspent funds at the end of 2016 would still have those funds available to use in 2017. Under the grace period option, an employee has until 2½ months after the end of the plan year to incur eligible expenses—for example, March 15, 2017, for a plan year ending on Dec. 31, 2016. Employers can offer either option, but not both, or none at all.

Employers are not required to offer FSAs. Accordingly, interested employees should check with their employer to see if they offer an FSA. More information about FSAs can be found in Publication 969 , available on IRS.gov.

September 2017
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Upcoming Tax Dates

September 5 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Labor Day) Details

September 10 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of August.

September 11 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during August, report them to your employer Details

September 14 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of August.

September 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your 2017 estimated tax if you are not paying your income tax for the year through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES. This is the third installment Details

September 15 — S Corporations
File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due. This due date applies only if you timely requested an automatic 6-month extension Details

September 15 — Partnerships
File a 2016 calendar year return (Form 1065). This due date applies only if you were given an additional 5-month extension Details

September 15 — Corporations
Deposit the third installment of estimated income tax for 2016 Details

September 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in August.

September 15 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in August.

September 27 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of August.

September 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of September.

September 29 — Regular method taxes (special September deposit rule)
Deposit the tax for the period beginning September 16 and ending September 26.

September 29 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method (special September deposit rule).
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the period beginning September 1 and ending September 11.

September 30 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during August.

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