If you are self-employed, your income is subject to a 15.3% self-employment FICA tax. Added to a 28% Federal income tax and a 5% state income tax, this could leave you paying nearly 50% of your income to the government. Fortunately, most self-employed people qualify to set up an HRA or Health Reimbursement Arrangement. An HRA can enable your business to reimburse you for health insurance and out-of-pocket medical expenses, and will save you an extra $3,000 each year.
Health Reimbursement Arrangements for the Self-Employed
An HRA is simply an agreement which enables your business to cover employeeâ€™s medical expenses, including individual health insurance premiums, as a tax-free fringe benefit. This tax benefit was established in Section 105 of the IRS tax code in 1955, when General Electric lobbied for a business reimbursement rule to give it more flexibility in creating employee benefits.
Anyone set up as an S-corp or C-corp qualifies to set up an HRA. If you are a Schedule C or Schedule F sole proprietor, an HRA is allowed if your spouse can work at least part time in the business. You will be setting up an employee benefits package that covers health insurance premiums, disability insurance premiums, long-term care premiums, and even out-of-pocket medical expenses such as dental coverage.
An HRA makes your taxes go down because when you get to write off medical expenses on your Schedule C, you avoid paying Federal income taxes, state income taxes, and the 15.3% FICA self-employment tax. Not only can the business reimburse you for the cost of health insurance premiums, but you can also set up the HRA to reimburse for dental coverage, preventive care, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, and other out-of-pocket medical expenses.
If you are self-employed but do not have an HRA, you can write off your health insurance premiums on your 1040, saving you Federal income taxes. But, you are still subject to FICA and state income taxes for these expenses. You are not able to write off any of the other expenses listed above.
Using an HRA with a Health Savings Account
Some financial advisors do not realize that you can have an HRA along with a Health Savings Account (HSA). You can of course. The only caveat is that the HRA cannot reimburse for expenses that could apply toward the deductible of the HSA, such as doctor visits or prescription drugs. But, it can cover any insurance premiums and preventive care.
The potential savings are substantial. Letâ€™s assume a business owner is in a 28% tax bracket, has an HSA plan, and is incurring the following expenses.
â€¢ Health insurance premiums – $7,000 â€¢ Preventive expenses – $1,000 â€¢ Other insurance – $2,000
The self-employed business owner can write off the $7,000 premium on Federal income taxes, saving 28% of that or $1,960. If the HSA is fully funded, an additional $1,582 will be saved off of Federal income taxes and $282.50 from state income taxes. So, in total, the business ownerâ€™s taxes will go down by $3,824.50.
Once an HRA is set up, the entire $10,000 in expenses listed above can be reimbursed by the business. So, the business owner would be saving a total of $2,800 from Federal income taxes, $500 from state income taxes, and $1,530 in self-employment taxes. The business owner will also get to take advantage of the same $1,960 in HSA tax savings, for a total tax reduction of $6,790.
Smart business owners take advantage of all the tax deductions for which they qualify. You can reimburse health insurance expenses from the beginning of the year, but out-of-pocket expenses only from the date your HRA begins.