Putting pretax money in a health-careflexible spending account can be a great idea — until you have to forfeit what you don't spend.
As Dec. 31 approaches, workers with these accounts — where you can sock away pre-tax earnings to use for qualified medical expenses — should make sure they know exactly what happens to any remaining funds when the calendar flips to 2018.
The general rule is such funds are "use it or lose it." However, companies can offer either a grace period of up to 2½ months for employees to use the money or allow up to $500 be carried over to the next year. They cannot offer both.
(Even if you have a hard deadline of Dec. 31 for spending, you often have until March 15 of the following year to submit claims. So you don't have to press the doctor to bill you by New Year's Eve.)