IRS Releases New Cost of Living Adjustments for Social Security and other Popular Benefits Programs
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration have released the cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments that apply to dollar limitations set forth in certain IRS Code Sections. The Consumer Price Index rose enough since the third quarter of last year to warrant an increase in indexed figures for 2012.
Social Security and Medicare Wage Base
Indexed Compensation Levels
The exclusion from income provided through an employer or a Section 125 cafeteria plan for adoption assistance also has a $12,650 limit for the 2012 taxable year. And remember, a participant may take the exclusion from income and the tax credit if enough expenses are incurred to support both programs separately.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
Maximum contribution levels to an HSA also increased for 2012 to $3,100 for self-only coverage and $6,250 for family coverage. The catch-up contribution allowed for those 55 and over is set at $1,000 for 2012. Remember, qualifying HDHPs and no other impermissible coverage (such as coverage under another employer’s plan or from a health care flexible spending account that is not specifically compatible with an HSA) are required in order to fund an HSA.
Archer Medical Savings Account (MSA)
Although new MSAs are not allowed, , the maximum contribution to an existing MSA that is attributable to a single-coverage plan is 65% of the deductible amount. Maximum contributions for a family-coverage plan are limited to 75% of the deductible amount. MSA contributions must be coordinated with any HSA contributions for the taxable year and cannot exceed the HSA maximums.
Dependent and/or Child Daycare Expenses
The limits for the daycare credit expenses are $3,000 of expenses covering one child and $6,000 for families with two or more children. If one of the parents is going to school full time or is incapable of self-care, the non-working spouse would be "deemed" as earning $250 per month for one qualifying child and $500 for two or more qualifying children. This "deemed" earned income is used whether a person is using the employer’s cafeteria plan or taking the daycare credit.
The current child and dependent care tax credit limits are scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2012. Without Congressional action, the limits for the daycare credit will revert to $2,400 of expenses covering one child and $4,800 for families with two or more children on January 1, 2013.
The cafeteria plan daycare contribution limit is $5,000 for a married couple filing a joint return, or for a single parent filing as "Head of Household." For a married couple filing separate returns, the limit is $2,500 each.
The daycare credit is reduced dollar for dollar by contributions to or benefits received from an employer’s cafeteria plan. An employee may participate in their employer’s cafeteria plan and take a portion of the daycare expenses through the credit if they have sufficient expenses in excess of their cafeteria plan annual election, but within the tax credit limits.
Parking and Transit Accounts
Finally, by participating in a cafeteria plan, the participant will be lowering their income for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Check out the new limits in IRS Publication 596 "Earned Income Credit" and for more information about this tax credit.
The information contained in this memo is not intended to be legal, accounting, or other professional advice. We assume no liability whatsoever in connection with its use, nor are these comments directed to specific situations.