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November 13, 2006
Dept. of Labor Releases More Guidance on HSAs

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has released guidance addressing many of the questions it has most frequently received on health savings accounts (HSAs) since the agency issued earlier guidance.

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In Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2006-02, the EBSA provides guidance to field investigators on recurring questions about the guidance in FAB 2004-1 and evolving practices regarding HSAs.

In April 2004, the department issued FAB 2004-1 addressing the coverage of HSAs under ERISA. That guidance explained that HSAs generally will not constitute "employee benefit plans" covered by Title I of ERISA where there is limited involvement by the employer.

The most recent FAB addresses whether particular conduct by employers in connection with an HSA arrangement exceeds the conditions in FAB 2004-1, such as paying fees in association with establishing an HSA. The FAB also addresses the applicability of the prohibited transaction provisions of section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code to HSAs that meet the conditions of FAB 2004-1 and are not covered by Title I of ERISA.

The FAB is part of the department's ongoing compliance assistance program to help employers, plan officials, service providers, and others comply with ERISA.

The guidance is in question and answer format.

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