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Health Savings Accounts Can Reduce Tax Bills. But Beware the Paperwork.

Category: Finance

If you took money from the account, you’ll receive Form 1099-SA, documenting the total spent in 2018. This form will help you fill out Form 8889, which calculates your H.S.A. deduction and is filed with your tax return.

If you put money into an H.S.A. last year, you’ll receive Form 5498-SA, showing the contributions. (If you add extra cash to the account now for 2018, you can expect to get an updated form by the end of May.)

H.S.A. contributions made by you or your employer through payroll deductions also show up on your W-2 wage and tax statement. If the amounts on your W-2 and 5498-SA don’t match, it’s probably because you made after-tax contributions or made a contribution between Jan. 1 and tax day for the previous tax year, according to Optum Bank.

“It is a paperwork hassle,” said Delia Fernandez, a fee-only financial planner in Los Alamitos, Calif. But the tax savings, she said, make the document shuffling worth it.

Andrew Crowell, vice chairman of D. A. Davidson & Company Wealth Management, said the tax documents should not scare anyone away from the benefits of saving with an H.S.A. The accounts can be used for short-term needs, he said, but they are particularly useful for saving for health needs in retirement.

Unlike traditional individual retirement accounts, he noted, H.S.A.s do not have required minimum distributions — a date by which savers must begin withdrawing money so it can be taxed. That means funds in H.S.A.s can grow for longer periods.

“There are numerous attractive tax elements to it,” Mr. Crowell said.

Here are some questions and answers about health savings accounts:

How much can I contribute to an H.S.A. for 2019?


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