2017 Max HSA Contribution Limits and HDHP Definitions

The IRS has performed their magical inflation calculations for 2017 and updated definitions for High Deductible Health Plan as well as the maximum contribution limit is for Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s). These changes affect who is qualified to open / contribute to an HSA and how much they can contribute.

2017 HDHP Limits

One prerequisite for opening or contributing to a Health Savings Account is that you are covered by HSA eligible insurance, otherwise known as a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). The IRS sets limits as to what constitutes an HDHP to define who is HSA eligible or not. Per IRS Rev. Proc 2016-28, for 2017, the IRS has defined a High Deductible Health Plan as:

…a health plan with an annual deductible that is not less than $1,300 for self only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage, and the out of pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) do not exceed $6,550 for self-only coverage or $13,100 for family coverage.

So you need to have an annual deductible greater than $1,300 / $2,600 (self-only / family) to qualify for an HDHP, and thus, an HSA. In addition, your total out of pocket (OOP) expenses cannot exceed $6,550 / $13,100 (self-only, family) for the entire year. As you can see, the folks at the IRS have been hard at work as this represents no change in HDHP limits from 2016 to 2017. The following table compare HDHP limits for the past few years:

2014 2015 2016 2017
Self-Only Min Deductible $1,250 $1,300 $1,300 $1,300
Self-Only OOP Max $6,350 $6,450 $6,550 $6,550
Family Min Deductible $2,500 $2,600 $2,600 $2,600
Family OOP max $12,700 $12,900 $13,100 $13,100

2017 HSA Contribution Limits

The IRS also defines the maximum amounts that may be contributed to a Health Savings Account each year. That amount is updated based on inflation calculations and whatever else the IRS feels like for a given time period. Per IRS Rev. Proc 2016-28, the 2017 HSA contribution limits are:

…the annual limitation on deductions for an individual with self-only coverage under a high deductible health plan is $3,400… the annual limitation on deductions for an individual with family coverage under a high deductible health plan is $6,750.

So the cap or maximum contribution amount to your HSA is $3,400 for self-only coverage and $6,750 for family coverage. Note that this does not include the additional 55+ catch up contribution of $1,000 allowed to properly aged HSA holders. Thus, if you are over 55 on or before the end of 2017, you can contribute $4,400 for self-only coverage or $7,750 for family coverage.

As evidenced by the following chart, the IRS has made the slightest change in increasing the 2017 HSA contribution limit by $50 over 2016. You can see the history of HSA contribution limit increases for 2014, 2015, 2016, and now 2017 in the chart below:

2014 2015 2016 2017
Self-Only HSA Contribution Limit $3,300 $3,350 $3,350 $3,400
Family HSA Contribution Limit $6,550 $6,650 $6,750 $6,750
55+ Additional Contribution Limit +$1,000 +$1,000 +$1,000 +$1,000


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Qualified HSA Funding Distributions – Contribute to your HSA from your IRA

Note: if you are struggling with the Qualified HSA Funding Distribution on Form 8889, please consider using my service EasyForm8889.com. It asks simple questions and will complete Form 8889 for you faster than you can read this article.

Fund your HSA with your IRA

Besides all of the other benefits of HSA’s, the folks at the IRS have included a provision that allows you to fund your Health Savings Account from your traditional IRA or Roth IRA. This is called a Qualified HSA Funding Distribution and it allows you to contribute your yearly HSA contribution limit from your IRA. The IRS limits this activity to occur once in your lifetime but you will see that, in fact, you can make up to two qualified funding distributions in your lifetime. Additionally, there are some restrictions on how you make the transfer and that you maintain coverage after the transfer (called the Testing Period). We will give you the details and help you avoid taxes and penalties when making an HSA contribution from your IRA.

What types of IRA’s are allowed for Qualified Funding Distributions?

First of all, you have to have an individual retirement account (IRA) with some funds in it to contribute to your HSA. The IRS stipulates that your IRA be a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. They do not allow that an “ongoing” IRA be used for Qualified Funding Distributions, so this excludes ongoing SEP IRA’s (generally self employed) or SIMPLE IRA’s (cousin of the 401(k)). The IRS considers “ongoing” IRA’s to be those where an employer has made a contribution within the tax year that the HSA funding distribution would occur. Whether your plan is “ongoing” or “inactive”, and if you can contribute, is beyond the scope of this discussion but may be worth researching.

How much can I contribute to my HSA from my IRA?

The amount that you can contribute from your IRA to your HSA depends on your HSA coverage, your age, and the tax year. The quick rule is you can only contribute up to your maximum HSA contribution limit for the tax year in question. This isn’t a way to get extra money into your HSA, just a way you can fund it from an established source. So for 2017 here are some examples for the maximum contribution from your IRA to Health Savings Account:

Your insurance HSA Contribution Limit
Qualified Funding Distribution Limit (2017)
Self Only $3,400 $3,400
Self Only, 55+ $4,400 $4,400
Family $6,750 $6,750
Family, 55+ $7,750 $7,750

Note that this amount is determined using 1) the HDHP coverage you have at the beginning of the month that the Qualified HSA Funding Distribution occurs, and 2) the your age at the end of the tax year.

When can I make a Qualified HSA Funding Distribution?

The IRS has ruled that you may transfer from your IRA/Roth IRA to your HSA once during your lifetime. This isn’t once per year, this is one and done. So if you are going to contribute from your individual retirement account, make it count. Use this information to plan and don’t make the mistake of funding too little, because you won’t get another chance.

However, like all good rules, there is one exception. If you make a Qualified HSA Funding Distribution while on Self-Only coverage, you may make an additional Qualified HSA Funding Distribution during the same year if your coverage changes to Family. This allows you to “step up” your contribution amount and in theory rollover a considerably higher amount of money from your IRA. And when you add the 55+ additional catch up contribution, this can be large. If you are over 55, this amount goes from $4,400 to $7,750, a significant increase. However, the IRS is explicit that this must happen in the same year, so it would require a significant event / lack of planning to occur, but hopefully it is useful for someone.

How to actually make the HSA contribution + tax effects

The IRS requires that any qualified funding distribution be made in a trustee to trustee transfer. This means that your IRA trustee (bank) must transfer the money directly to your HSA trustee (bank), without sending you a check. This prevents the money from going “missing” or being spent on non qualified medical expenses. It also prevents any time delays where the money is out of the system. Thus, to actually make the contribution you will have to log in to (or visit) your IRA bank and setup your HSA bank as a related account. You will then need to transfer the money directly to the HSA account, not to yourself. If the option is given, categorize each transaction (both the out and in) as an HSA Qualified Funding Distribution with your bank. This will allow you to remember exactly what happened and potentially avoid IRS warning signs on un-taxed IRA distributions / excessive HSA contributions. Either way, this amount will be indicated as a qualified funding distribution when you file Form 8889 that year.

If done properly, a qualified funding distribution is not included in your income, not tax deductible, and reduces the amount you can contribute to your HSA. This makes sense since because, in order, 1) you don’t need to pay taxes on this money, 2) you already took the tax deduction so you can’t double dip, and 3) it is an HSA contribution so you are prevented from contributing excess.

All in all these are pretty reasonable requirements and provide great flexibility to move money from an IRA to your HSA. However…

The Testing Period

HSA Funding Distributions have a Testing Period that requires that you maintain coverage after making the contributions. For those of you familiar with the Last Month Rule and its Testing Period, the concept is similar. If you make a Qualified Funding Distribution to your HSA you must maintain HSA eligible insurance for just over 1 year after the distribution is made. The IRS defines the Testing Period in Publication 969 (PDF) as:

The testing period begins with the month in which the qualified HSA funding distribution is contributed and ends on the last day of the 12th month following that month.

So the Testing Period lasts for twelve months but through the end of that 12th month of the following year. As an example, if you make a qualified HSA funding distribution on April 1st of 2017, you must maintain HSA eligible coverage through April 30th, 2018. If you make more than one Qualified Funding Distribution by means of different coverage (self-only vs family), each distribution has its own Testing Period.

Failing the Testing Period

Unfortunately, the IRS levies hefty taxes and penalties if you fail the aforementioned Testing Period during the subsequent 12 calendar months. If for any reason you are no longer an eligible individual during that time, your previous Qualified Funding Distribution is:

  1. Included in income (taxed)
  2. Assessed a 10% penalty

So very stiff taxes and penalties for failing the Testing Period. Your previously tax free IRA contribution becomes taxed and, to top it off, a 10% penalty is levied. Again, per IRS Publication 969, the penalty for violating the Qualified Funding Distribution Testing Period is:

If you fail to remain an eligible individual during the testing period, other than because of death or becoming disabled, you will have to include in income the qualified HSA funding distribution. You include this amount in income in the year in which you fail to be an eligible individual. This amount is also subject to a 10% additional tax.

This is a bit onerous of a restriction and one that is not to be taken lightly, as it carries quite a significant penalty. The key metric for determining failure is failure to remain an eligible individual. This means that you:

1) You must be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) on the first day of the month
2) You have no other health coverage (see exceptions), you are not enrolled in Medicare, you cannot be claimed as a dependent

Thus, if you are thinking about changing insurance, thinking about a job change, or have a reasonable chance of losing your current health insurance, you will want to carefully consider taking the risk of making the Funding Distribution. In the following section you will see how to report this amount on HSA Form 8889 as well as how to account for taxes and penalties owed from

How to contribute to an HSA from a 401(k)

Notice that there has not been much talk about funding your HSA from your 401(k). This is because a 401(k) is an employer controlled plan and considered “ongoing” by the IRS. Thus, you cannot contribute directly to your HSA from a 401(k). But, there is an easy way to get around this, which is first converting your 401(k) into an IRA. Once that occurs, the account is out of your employer’s control and you are free to make the Qualified HSA Funding Distribution. You will want to be careful to do this by the book and avoid any taxes, but this should be easy enough to do to get funds from your 401(k) into your Health Savings Account.

Qualified HSA Funding Distributions on Form 8889

You will see the words “Qualified HSA Funding Distribution” in two places on HSA tax Form 8889. The first occurs on line 10 and records current year funding distributions made from your IRA. This is the most frequently used line and will reduce the amount you can contribute to your HSA for the year:


The second instance of “Qualified HSA Funding Distribution” occurs on Line 19. For most people, this will be $0. However, for those that previously contributed to their HSA from their IRA and failed the Testing Period, they will need to make an entry here that is equal to the entire amount of their HSA Funding Distribution. This amount will be flow through to Line 20 where it is taxed and Line 21 where it is penalized:



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How to Rollover HSA Funds

At some point you may find yourself with multiple Health Savings Accounts that you wish to combine or transfer money between. While the actual transaction is easy to accomplish, there are potential tax implications per the IRS, as this transaction ends up on Form 8889, so it is best to play by the rules and do it correctly. This article will outline those rules to rollover your HSA.

HSA Rollover Definition

The IRS defines an HSA rollover as:

A rollover is a tax free distribution (withdrawal) of assets from one HSA or Archer MSA that is reinvested in another HSA of the same account beneficiary.

Note they define a rollover as a distribution that occurs in an effort to move money between Health Savings Accounts that belong to the same owner. However, the key word is distribution which we will get to shortly. They go on to say:

Generally, you must complete the rollover within 60 days after you received the distribution.

This language confirms that you are actually receiving the money, probably in the form of a check, from the originating HSA trustee. You then have 60 days per the IRS to deposit that money in a corresponding HSA to avoid penalty. One last rule from the tax man:

An HSA can only receive one rollover contribution during a 1 year period.

The IRS puts a limit on the number of HSA rollovers that can occur during a year, which is not necessarily a calendar year. But they note that this restriction is on the receiving HSA account, not the originating account.

Direct Transfer from HSA to HSA

It is important to note that rollovers that occur directly between HSA trustees are not considered rollovers. For example, if you instruct HSA Account 1 to transfer $500 to HSA Account 2, and they transfer directly without you ever seeing it, this is not a rollover. Instead, the IRS deems this a transfer:

If you instruct the trustee of your HSA to transfer funds directly to the trustee of another of your HSAs, the transfer is not considered a rollover. There is no limit on the number of these transfers. Do not include the amount transferred in income, deduct it as a contribution, or include it as a distribution on Form 8889.

Thus, the same rules do not apply to transfers and HSA rollovers. Transfers are much more flexible and frequent. Likely, the IRS imposes tight rules on Rollovers since they “lose sight” of the money for a while, which opens the door for non qualified HSA spending. The key test is in the distribution, determined by whether you physically receive the HSA funds (check) to redeposit in another HSA.

HSA Rollover vs Transfer Comparison

This table clarifies the difference between HSA rollovers and transfers:

Rollover Transfer
Funds transferred to you, then to receiving HSA directly to receiving HSA
Time to complete 60 days None (instant)
Form 8889 impact Include in 14a and 14b Not included
Frequency Limits Once every 12 months No limit
Affects HSA Contribution Limit No No
Included in income No No
Deductible No No
Difficulty medium easy

HSA rollover rules

To summarize the rules for rolling over your HSA:

  1. Initiate the distribution from your originating HSA trustee, and they will send you a check
  2. Upon receiving the HSA funds, redeposit them with the receiving HSA trustee within 60 days
  3. You may only make one rollover during each 1 year period, beginning on the date you make the deposit.
  4. Record this as an HSA rollover on Form 8889, lines 14a and 14b.

Should I transfer or rollover my HSA?

In general, I would opt for a direct transfer of your HSA. This is done by instructing your HSA trustee to move money to another HSA trustee. The reason is it is much simpler for you to execute and takes less time. You don’t have to wait for the check, spend time depositing it in your other HSA, and then remember and figure out how to report it at tax time on HSA Form 8889. Plus, you can do as many of these transactions as you wish during the year.

How to report HSA rollover to the IRS

One disadvantage of a true HSA rollover is that you will need to report it on IRS tax Form 8889. When properly accounted, a rollover will not adversely affect you in terms of taxes, penalty, or contribution limit; it is a totally legitimate transaction. Instead, it is more of a nuisance as you have to remember to report it to satisfy the IRS and correctly file Form 8889.

On Form 8889, you will need to include the amount of your HSA rollver distribution on both:

  • Line 14a – Total distributions you received from all HSA’s
  • Line 14b – Distribution included on line 14a that you rolled over to another HSA.

Here is an example of what Form 8889 looks like for 2015 with only a $1000 HSA Rollover:


The above was prepared by EasyForm8889.com, which asks simple questions like this to complete HSA Form 8889:

EasyForm8889.com HSA Rollover questions

Transfer your HSA to a New Employer

Depending on how your employer’s HSA is setup, there may not be any work to transfer your HSA to a new employer. In one situation, you go to a new employer who offers HSA eligible insurance, but does not contribute or offer cafeteria plan (removed from your paycheck) contributions. In that case, you manage the HSA yourself, and can maintain the account at whatever financial institution you wish.

However, if your employer is making contributions or your contributions will be made through a cafeteria plan, you may need to transfer funds to your new HSA. You have the option of receiving and redepositing (Rollover) the HSA funds, or just initiating a trustee to trustee transfer for the HSA funds. Either one will work, but note the advantages above of the simpler transfer method. Generally, this will be a good idea to minimize your account fees and manage your HSA in one spot.

HSA rollover IRA to HSA

If you wish to rollover IRA (or even 401(k)) funds to your HSA, this is not considered a rollover, but instead a Qualified HSA Funding Distribution. Please see the aforementioned article for more information, as there are more restrictions and rules regarding this type of transfer.


Note: if you have an HSA, please consider using my service EasyForm8889.com to complete Form 8889. It is fast and painless, no matter how complicated your HSA situation.

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