The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Issues Health Savings Account (HSA) Distribution and Contribution Guidance – Notice 2008-51 & Notice 2008-52

June 5th, 2008

On June 4, 2008, the IRS released Notices 2008-51 and 2008-52, which provide guidance for HSAs.  Generally, Notice 2008-51 applies to the treatment of qualified HSA funding distributions and Notice 2008-52 applies to contributions to HSAs.  Each Notice is discussed in further detail below.

Notice 2008-51

Notice 2008-51 provides guidance on a qualified HSA funding distribution from an IRA or Roth IRA to a HSA, effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2006.  The notice states that the qualified HSA funding distribution is a one-time transfer from an individual’s IRA or Roth IRA to that individual’s HSA.  Generally, it is excluded from gross income and not subject to the 10% additional tax for early distributions.  The IRA distribution is counted against the maximum annual HSA contribution for the taxable year of the distribution and is subject to the §408(d)(9)(D) testing period rules.  Distributions from both traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs are allowed, however, distributions from “ongoing” SEP or SIMPLE IRAs do not qualify.

The qualified HSA funding distribution must be less than or equal to the maximum annual HSA contribution, based on the individual’s age as of the end of the taxable year and the type of high deductible health plan (HDHP) coverage at the time of distribution.  Only one IRA distribution for contribution to a HSA is permitted during an individual’s lifetime, with one exception.  If the IRA distribution occurs when the individual has self-only HDHP coverage and later in the same taxable year the individual has family HDHP coverage, a second qualified distribution is allowed in that taxable year.  The normal HSA contribution rules do not apply to qualified funding distributions.  A qualified HSA funding distribution relates to the taxable year in which it is actually made, and it must be a direct transfer from an IRA to a HSA. 

The amount of the qualified HSA funding distribution is excluded from gross income and the 10% penalty tax does not apply provided the individual remains eligible during the entire testing period.  The testing period starts with the month the contribution is made to the HSA and ends on the last day of the 12th month following the start month.  If an individual ceases to be eligible, the qualified distribution is included in gross income in the taxable year in which the individual first fails to be eligible, and the 10% additional tax applies unless the failure is due to death or disability. 

If a distribution from a HSA is not used for qualified medical expenses, that amount is included in income and subject to the 10% additional tax, regardless of whether the contribution includes the qualified HSA funding distribution.

Notice 2008-52

Notice 2008-52 provides guidance on the annual contribution limit to HSAs, effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2006.  This notice provides that an individual who is an eligible individual on the first day of the last month of the taxable year (December 1 for calendar year) as having been an eligible individual for the entire year and therefore may make a full contribution for the year.  However, a testing period does apply to this full contribution rule.

The testing period starts with the month the contribution is made to the HSA and ends on the last day of the 12th month following the start month.  If an individual ceases to be an eligible individual during the testing period, a portion of the contributions will be included in gross income and subject to the additional 10% tax.  This includable amount is the amount of the contributions attributable to months preceding the month in which the individual was not an eligible individual (which could have not have been made but for the provision).  It is includible for the taxable year of the first day of the testing period that the individual was not eligible.  However, an exception applies if the individual ceases to be eligible due to death or disability.

Those that wish to take advantage of these new rules, should ensure they have a thorough understanding of the requirements.  Both IRS Notices contain examples which illustrate the rules provided in the notices.  For additional information on how this new HSA guidance could impact your plans, please contact our office.

21 Responses to “The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Issues Health Savings Account (HSA) Distribution and Contribution Guidance – Notice 2008-51 & Notice 2008-52”

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    Good information. Owner of http://www.tourofghana.com. Wondering if I can set up HSA accout for myself.

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