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Jump-Starting a Health Savings Account With an IRA Rollover

Federal rules allow you to roll over money from an IRA to an HSA once in your life. But you may forfeit a tax break by doing so.

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QHow much money can I roll over from my IRA to a health savings account? Also, are contributions from a rollover tax-deductible?

AYou can make one rollover from an IRA to a health savings account in your lifetime, which can be a good way to jump-start your HSA if you don’t have new money to save. But you can only make a rollover if you’re eligible to make new HSA contributions that year. In 2018, you need an HSA-eligible health insurance policy with a deductible of at least $1,350 for single coverage or $2,700 for family coverage. The amount you can roll over is limited to your maximum HSA contribution for the year. That’s $3,450 for single coverage or $6,900 for family coverage in 2018, plus $1,000 if you’re 55 or older – minus any contributions you’ve already made for the year.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things You Need to Know About HSAs

You’ll be able to use the money tax-free for eligible medical expenses, rather than having to pay taxes (and a 10% penalty if you’re under age 59½) if you withdraw the money from the IRA. The rollover must be made directly from the IRA administrator to the HSA administrator for it to be tax-free; you can’t withdraw the money from the IRA yourself first.

You bring up a good point about the tax deduction. You can deduct direct contributions to an HSA, but you can’t deduct contributions that you roll over from an IRA to an HSA. So if you can afford to make your HSA contribution with other money, you’ll benefit from the extra tax break.

For more information about the rollover rules, see the “Qualified HSA funding distribution” section of IRS Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts. For more information about HSAs, see our FAQs About Health Savings Accounts.

SEE ALSO: 50 Ways to Save on Health Care

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.