Tag: Transit & Parking Benefits

NEWS: Transit Benefits Extended Across San Francisco Bay Area

Since 2009, the city of San Francisco has required businesses with locations within the city to provide an option for commuter benefits to their employees. One of the options available is a Transit Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

Effective September 2014, a new law will require employers with 50 or more employees located in the greater Bay Area to provide commuter benefits to their employees. The Bay Area is defined as including all of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, as well as the western portion of Solano County (including Fairfield and points west) and the southern portion of Sonoma County (including Windsor and points south).

To meet this new requirement, the Transit Flexible Spending Account is again an option for employers. In addition, the Transit FSA may be not only the most cost effective – but also the easiest to manage – option. Learn more about Sterling’s Transit & Parking Benefits services or contact us today.

You can find more information on the San Francisco Commuter Benefits Ordinance Overview here and more information on the new law here.

UPDATE 4/2/2014: Employers are now required to register for the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program and can do so here.

New: Transit Maximum Contribution Limit Increased

If you take advantage of the Transit & Parking benefits as part of your Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), you will see some changes in 2013.

As part of the congressional “fiscal cliff” resolution, which was approved this week and signed by President Obama on Wednesday, the transit maximum pretax contribution has been increased from $125 per month to $240 per month.

The maximum parking contribution remains at $240 per month and the maximum bicycle contribution remains at $20 per month.

About Transit & Parking Benefits

Employees are allowed to set aside pre-tax compensation in two categories – transit and parking. In the transit category, qualified commuter expenses generally include expenses for the use of mass transportation – train, subway, bus, transportation in a commuter highway vehicle, transit passes, and qualified bicycle reimbursement.

Transit and parking benefits are governed by IRS Code Section 132. The transit and parking benefit does not include a “use it or lose it” penalty, as is the case with Healthcare FSAs and Dependent Care FSAs. Federal income tax and FICA taxes are not imposed on amounts set aside. Depending on state law, employees may also avoid state and local income taxes.

Employers also get tax benefits because they pay no payroll taxes on the income set aside by the employee and receive an equivalent deduction from business income.

Before the start of the plan year, individual employees elect to set aside a certain amount of pre-tax salary to cover qualified costs incurred in commuting to work. The employee designates an amount for mass transit expenses and a separate amount for parking expenses. Separate reimbursement accounts are maintained for each category and funds cannot be commingled or transferred between accounts.

As the employee incurs expenses during the year, a request form may be submitted to the employer for reimbursement. If the employee does not use the full amount before the end of the plan year, the left over amount is carried forward to the next plan year.

Sterling Updates: Important Changes for 2012

We’re pleased to announce new services at Sterling Health Services Administration, as well as share reminders about important industry changes in 2012.

New Sterling Services:

  • Login Once for Access to HSA, HRA and FSA Accounts – We’ve made it easier for you to access account information online. If you have multiple accounts with Sterling, such as an HSA and HRA, or HSA and FSA, just one login at www.sterlinghsa.com now provides access to account information and transaction tools for HSAs, HRAs and FSAs. You may remember that each product required a separate login until now. At this time, COBRA account access still requires a separate login to our WebCOBRA portal. Product web guides with more details can be downloaded by clicking the buttons below.
  • Fast Account Balances Via Phone – You can get your HSA,HRA and FSA account balances anytime just by calling 800-617-4729, pressing 1 at the prompt, and entering your Sterling account number. The response to this new service has been very positive, making it easy for you to access information on funds available anytime from anywhere.

Industry Updates:

  • HSA contribution limits for 2012 increased to $3,100 for individuals and $6,250 for families, regardless of the health plan deductible. Accountholders over 55 can make a $1,000 annual catch up contribution as well.
  • For Transit and Parking FSAs, the 2012 benefit amounts are $240 per month for parking (a $10 monthly increase) and $125 per month for transit (down from $230).

If you are a Sterling Accountholder or Subscriber, download your web portal guides below:

FSA Employee Guide
HRA Employee Guide
HSA Employee Guide

If you are a Sterling Employer Client, download your web portal guides below:

FSA Employer Guide
HRA Employer Guide
HSA Employer Guide

Questions? Contact Sterling customer service by calling 800-617-4729 or emailing customer.service@sterlinghsa.com. Now through February 2012, we have extended customer service hours and are available to help you from 6 am to 8 pm PT.

For Our Producer Partners: Early Bird FSA Offer – Respond by November 15, 2011

Your clients interested in adding Flexible Benefit Plans (FSAs) or switching administrators in January 2012 can take advantage of 25% off our initial set-up fees just by getting the completed FSA application and enrollment materials to Sterling Health Services Administration before November 15, 2011. Add COBRA administered by Sterling and we’ll take another 10% off the COBRA annual fee for our Standard services in the first year (annual COBRA renewal fees will not be discounted).

Sterling Health Services Administration offers Healthcare FSAs, Dependent Care FSAs, and Transit and Parking Benefits, as well as Premium Only Plans and Limited Purpose or Post Deductible FSAs to coordinate Healthcare FSAs with other plans. Our pricing is simple and there are no monthly minimums.

Our standard and optional COBRA services include installation and set-up, qualifying event, ongoing administration, and open enrollment support all for one simple price, making it easy to plan and budget.

Sterling is known for expert administration, knowledgeable sales and service staff, and a hands-on approach to help your clients. We’d be happy to provide client references.

Please contact your Sterling HSA sales representative today so we can help your clients save money tomorrow by taking advantage of this offer before November 15, 2011.

Contact us now.