Employer Tax-Free Medical Benefits Available to Children under Age 27by Lee Reams in Breaking News
As a result of changes made by the recently enacted Affordable Care Act, health coverage provided for an employee's children under 27 years of age is now generally tax-free to the employee, effective March 30, 2010. Generally, under pre-Act law, to be a qualifying child of a taxpayer for this purpose, the child must have been the taxpayer’s dependent under age 19 (or under age 24 in the case of a full-time student).
Child – Broad Definition for this Purpose
Other than age, the “child” definition has no other restriction. Thus, there is no income or marital restrictions.
These changes immediately allow employers with cafeteria plans – plans that allow employees to choose from a menu of tax-free benefit options and cash or taxable benefits – to permit employees to begin making pre-tax contributions to pay for this expanded benefit.
Employees with children who will not have reached age 27 by the end of the year are eligible for the new tax benefit from March 30, 2010, forward, if the children are already covered under the employer’s plan or are added to the employer’s plan at any time. For this purpose, a child includes a son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child or eligible foster child.
Employees may immediately make pre-tax salary reduction contributions to provide coverage for children under age 27, even if the cafeteria plan has not yet been amended to cover these individuals. Plan sponsors then have until the end of 2010 to amend their cafeteria plan language to incorporate this change.
In addition to changing the tax rules as described above, the Affordable Care Act also requires plans that provide dependent coverage of children to continue to make the coverage available for an adult child until the child turns age 26. The extended coverage must be provided no later than plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010.
Contact your employer for further information regarding the employer’s plan related to this very beneficial change. If you have other tax questions, please contact one of our professionals.
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