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ehrin

Flex Spending Account

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Here's something interesting...my girlfriend works at a company (Benefit Strategies) this company manages other companies (such as mine) flex spending accounts. Well get this, my friend told me that she had two claims come across from a client of hers for gluten-free foods and her company covered them at 100%!!! Does anyone participate in a Flex Spending account? Using my pre-tax dollars, for gluten-free foods, would be a huge savings! I've never used one and am wondering how practical it would be. The only risk, that I can see, would be setting too much money aside and not using it up. But that would just mean a big shopping spree at the end of the calendar year - I think?

I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts.

Thanks!

Ehrin

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I have one available but haven't set it up yet (I know, I know). I have a friend who's a CPA and I asked her about claiming the food on our taxes - I'd heard a rumor about that. She looked into it and said that essentially I could if it's over so much percentage of my income but she can't imagine a bigger red flag to the IRS.

I did however run into a woman in the freezer section of gluten-free foods, she was writing down all the prices and serving portion sizes. I asked her about it and she said that she does set money aside in her flex spending for it, and yes - does a huge shopping trip at the end of the year. She did admit it was a pain keeping track of what the cost difference was, but she obviously thought it was worth it.

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That is an interesting development.

Does she know if this is individual to each company's plan?

I will call my carrier, see what's up and post soon.

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Guest MyKidsMom

I am a tax accountant working on my CPA license and here is my opinion for what it is worth...

per the IRS Code you are entitled to write off the difference in cost between "regular" food and food required for a special diet. You would write this off under your medical expenses, so it is only helpful if you itemize AND your medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your AGI (W-2's and other taxable income).

Yes, it may cause a red flag on your taxes, but the percentage of personal tax returns audited is small AND if you keep your reciepts and documentation you will have nothing to worry about. It is legal, just a lot of record keeping. I am trying to just order from one company and then I will have all the items/differences in cost on hand to simplify things.

Flex spend accounts are great and recommended for our lifestyles! You will have to contact your individual insurance company to see if they will cover any expense as mine will not.

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We got a flexible spending account this year just because we spend so dang much money on my doctor's visits and tests! -- Not to mention the $160 / month co-pay for my meds :o . . . . Lynne

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Yes, it may cause a red flag on your taxes, but the percentage of personal tax returns audited is small AND if you keep your reciepts and documentation you will have nothing to worry about. It is legal, just a lot of record keeping. I am trying to just order from one company and then I will have all the items/differences in cost on hand to simplify things.

This is exactly right-- i am a tax lawyer-to-be :D and it is true that u are unlikely to be audited...if you are audited, however, this will raise some questions and you do need to be able to document everything. Lesson: always keep receipts for several years - u never know when u will need to document an expense and it is much easier if u have ur original receipts. You could also keep a record book, which is a nice clean way to keep the information neat and handy. (and put the receipts in a folder or envelope)

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Thank you all for you input! I absolutely hate documenting anything, so I'm not sure if this would be a good path for me to follow. Does anyone have a concrete number of how much $$$ they saved using a flex account? I guess the bottom line would determine whether or not it's worth it to me. Currently I don't buy that many gluten-free food products, just rice crackers. Luckily I am not a bread/pasta/cookie person.

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Since most of us will not exceed the 7.5% of income to claim our medical expenses, the flexable spending acctount is the way to go. You have to get a letter from the Dr that gluten-free food is medically necessary. Then you can put in a claim for the "extra" you spend on the gluten-free food. Plus the money in the Flex acct in not taxable, so it is a double savings.

gluten-free bread for example, runs me $7 a loaf. I can buy a loaf of WW bread in the supermarket for aprox $2, so I get $5 back from my card for every loaf of bread I buy!!! Over a years time it really will add up.

I am very lucky as my company just this year starting "giving" us a flexable spending acct with whatever left over money is from our benefit selections. Since we take my husbands health ins and decline mine, they "give me almost $3,000 a year on a tax free debit card" to be used for nonremibursed med expenses, deds, co-pays etc. These come right off the card. The food expenses need to be sent in paper form and it is alot of work, but well worth it!

Especially if you buy gluten-free for your whole family, it is a savings you cant beat!!

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