IRS Confirms that Plan Sponsors Are Not Required to Extend FSA Claims Period

The IRS recently released an information letter dated June 29, 2020, addressing concern over unused amounts in health FSAs due to issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. As background, unused amounts in a health FSA are generally forfeited at the end of the plan year, unless the health FSA offers a grace period or carryover provision (i.e., “use it or lose it”). Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, certain services may not be available, resulting in unspent health FSA funds for some participants. As such, the information letter addresses a request for an extension of time to use the amounts in the health FSA.

The IRS explains that plan sponsors are not required to extend a health FSA’s claims period, even in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, the IRS reiterates that an employer with a health FSA plan year or grace period ending in 2020 is permitted to amend its plan to extend the claims period through the end of 2020. In addition, employers may amend their plans to provide for midyear health FSA election changes on a prospective basis, including revoking an election or increasing or decreasing an existing election. Further, an employer can also choose to amend its plan to provide for up to $550 in a carryover provision. Importantly, although these plan changes are permitted, they are not required. (See our Compliance Corner article from May 12, 2020, â€œIRS Announces New COVID-19-Related Guidance for Section 125 Cafeteria Plans and Related High Deductible Health Plans, and ICHRAs” for more information on these options for employers.) 

Although this letter does not provide novel guidance, it does confirm the actions that employers can take with regards to their FSAs.

IRS Information Letter 2020-0009 Â»