Last-Minute Ways to Empty Your Flexible Spending Account

If you still have money in your account, consider some eligible expenses you might not have thought of.

A senior woman's hand signing a document
(Image credit: Ocskaymark)

Users of flexible spending accounts face a dilemma each year. FSAs let you spend tax-free dollars on eligible dependent-care expenses or medical and dental charges that aren’t covered by insurance. But you must use the funds by year-end or forfeit the money. Many employers allow a grace period up to March 15; others let you roll over up to $500 into the next plan year.

You can use money in your medical spending account for acupuncture, for example, or for massage to treat a medical condition, with a letter from your doc. Or you could use funds to pay health-club dues or for swim or dance lessons to treat a medical condition, with a letter. Consider nightguards (to stop teeth grinding) and sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater). Use your FSA to pay medical-records charges, or to get reimbursed for mileage to or from appointments.

For busy parents, dependent-care plans will cover kids’ rides to select daily activities, such as summer camp, from a service such as HopSkipDrive, which qualifies as a care provider. It currently operates in southern and central California, but it is expanding. And don’t forget that dependent-care plans can cover elder-care expenses, too.

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Thomas H. Blanton
Reporter, Kiplinger's Personal Finance