Category Archives: Form 8889

2017 Form 8889 – Instructions and Examples

If you made contributions to or distributions from your HSA in 2017, you will need to file the federal tax form 8889. This form is specific to HSA’s and records all activity with your HSA for the year. It flows to Form 1040 to adjust your income: your contributions reduce your taxable income, whereas any penalties adds back to income, increasing tax.

Form 8889 is not as straightforward as it could be, so I created a service called that completes your form for you. I have also created the following video to walk through how to file Form 8889. Little has changed since the 2016 form used in this video. Check it out, otherwise, the transcription of the information is below.

Watch on Youtube: How to File HSA Tax Form 8889

In the following article we will cover:

Changes to 2017 Form 8889 tax form

The 2017 HSA tax form presents little difference to prior year tax forms. Throughout the form you will see the tax year incremented to 2017, so make sure you are working on the correct version. This can be confirmed in the upper right of the form. Contribution limits have increased in 2017, so these amounts are reflected throughout the form (specifically Line 3).

There were also some changes to HDHP definitions in 2017 so read on if those apply to you.

Changes to 2017 Form 8889 instructions

The 2017 Form 8889 instructions have been released by the IRS and can be found here. They are substantially the same as prior years save for year and contribution limit updates.

2017 HSA Contribution Limits

For self-only coverage, the maximum contribution limit increased by $50 to $3,400 in 2017. There were no changes to the family coverage amount which is $6,750, as well as the 55+ catch up contribution amount of $1,000. The IRS defines the maximum amounts that may be contributed to a Health Savings Account each year. Per IRS Publication 969:

The amount you or any other person can contribute to your HSA depends on the type of HDHP coverage you have, your age, the date you became an eligible individual, and the date you cease to be an eligible individual…for 2017, if you have self-only HDHP coverage, you can contribute up to $3,400. If you have family HDHP coverage you can contribute up to $6,750.

Here are HSA contribution limits for prior years:

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

The maximum contribution amount for your HSA in 2017 is $3,400 for self-only coverage and $6,750 for family. 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.

2017 HDHP Definitions

To qualify as an HDHP, your health plan cannot exceed an out-of-pocket maximum limit established by the IRS. There were no changes to these amounts from 2016 to 2017. For self-only plans, the minimum deductible remains $1,300 and the out of pocket maximum is $6,550. For Family plans, the minimum deductible is $2,600 while the out of pocket maximum is $13,100. Plans with a deductible below that specified are not HSA eligible, nor are plans with an out-of-pocket max greater than those listed. The HDHP definitions for recent years are summarized below:

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

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2017 HSA Form 8889 example

Let’s walk through an example of the 2017 Form 8889 to show how it works.

Let’s assume I am a married 40 year old who had family HSA eligible coverage from January – June of 2017 (6 months). On July 1st, I changed to a non-HSA eligible plan. My spouse does not have their own Health Savings Account. I contributed $1,800 to my HSA and my employer contributed $800. I distributed $800 from the HSA during the year, all of which I spent on qualified medical expenses.

Part I – Contributions and Deduction

Form 8889 starts off pretty simply on Line 1 by asking the type of insurance you had (mostly) during the year. For this example, it is family. Line 2 then goes on to ask how much you contributed to your HSA during the year. In our case this was $1,800, which does not include employer contributions. Line 3 can be quite complicated, but in essence you need to list your contribution limit for the year. If you had self-only or family coverage all year, the amounts are provided for you. Otherwise, you need to prorate your coverage by month. In this case, we had family coverage for 6 months, so our contribution limit is $3,375 for 2017. Line 4 asks about Archer MSA’s (does not apply here) and Line 5 is a simple subtraction.

[Note: all 2017 tax forms were generated in minutes using]

2017 HSA Form 8889 part 1 example

We continue with Line 6, which for self-only filers equals Line 5. For family coverage where both spouses have their own Health Savings Account, each of you needs to file your own Form 8889. Then on Line 6, you allocate the share of the contribution limit that belongs to that HSA. In this case, only the insured has an HSA, so this line equals Line 5. For some situations, Line 7 adds the $1,000 catch up contribution, but our example assumes the HSA holder is 40 years old so this does not apply. Line 8 is simple subtraction, and the $800 employer contribution comes into play on Line 9. If you contributed to your HSA from an IRA you would indicate that on Line 10, and Line 11 is simple addition. Line 12 is subtraction, and Line 13 does a comparison to calculate what your 2017 HSA deduction is, which makes its way to Form 1040. In our case, it is the $1,800 we contributed to the HSA.

Part II – Distributions

The second part of the 2017 Form 8889 deals with distributions, or amounts that came out of your HSA. We assume that we distributed $800 from the HSA, so that amount is shown on Line 14a. Line 14b lists rollover amounts and excess contributions that were removed, and Line 14c subtracts them out. The filer tracked his qualified medical expenses and receipts using this year, so he can easily prove all $800 in distributions were used for medical expenses. He places that amount in Line 15. A subtraction occurs on Line 16 to determine any amounts not spent on qualified medical expenses; luckily that is $0 for us. If you had an amount on Line 16, Line 17a gives you the chance to exclude this from taxation based on a few exceptions. Otherwise, that Line 16 amount is taxed 20% on Line 17b, which gets recorded on Form 1040.

2017 HSA Form 8889 Part 2 example

Part III – Penalties and Taxes

For most people, Part III will look a lot below: all zeroes. This is good, but it is possible that you have accrued some taxes and penalties. If in the prior tax year, you 1) used the Last Month Rule and proceeded to 2) fail its Testing Period, a difficult calculation awaits you on Line 18. You are going to have to go back, figure out how much you contributed in the prior year, redetermine what you could have contributed without the Last Month Rule, and place the difference here. On a similar note, if you made a qualified funding distribution from your IRA but failed its Testing Period in 2017, you will have to enter the amount that failed in Line 19. Once that is done, Line 20 adds Line 18 and Line 19 and adds it back to income (where it is taxed) on Form 1040. Finally, for good measure, Line 21 assesses a 10% penalty against the amount on Line 20, which also makes its way to Form 1040.
2017 HSA Form 8889 part 3 example

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Do I Have Self-Only or Family Coverage for my HSA?


The contribution limit for your Health Savings Account is based on the type of insurance you have, in addition to your age and the tax year. For most people, determining if their insurance coverage is “self-only” or “family” is pretty straightforward: if their insurance plan only covers them, they have “self-only” coverage. On the other hand, if their insurance covers both them and a spouse, child, or dependent, they have “family” coverage. This determination is important for determining both your contribution limit and filling out line 1 on Form 8889.


Line 1 of 2017’s Form 8889 marked as “Self-only” provided by

However, there are some situations where this coverage determination is not so simple. For example:

  1. Both my spouse and I have individual insurance plans
  2. I had both self-only and family HSA coverage at the same time
  3. I had self-only and family coverage at different times during the year
  4. I had self only coverage for 6 months and family coverage for 6 months

In this article we will review the methodology for determining if your HSA insurance is self-only or family and address each of the scenarios listed above.

Rules to determine your HSA coverage

There are a few rules to follow to determine your HSA coverage type for the year. When I say coverage type, I mean the “general” coverage you had for the year. Note that this selection is driving the answer to Line 1 on Form 8889 and not necessarily determining your contribution limit (more later). The following rules are listed in order of precedence, with the most important ones first:

  1. If you had family coverage on December 1st, check the “family” box on Form 8889. This is because, regardless of the number of months covered, you will be eligible for the Last Month Rule at the higher family contribution limit.
  2. If you had both self-only and family coverage during the year, choose the one that was in effect longest.
  3. In a given month, if you had both self-only and family HSA coverage, that month counts as “family” coverage. This makes sense because the family coverage has a higher contribution limit. This may apply to you if you are calculating your coverage by month.

Special cases for determining HDHP coverage

We can apply the above rules to the coverage questions posed earlier to help you determine what type of coverage you should mark on Line 1:

1) Both my spouse and I have individual insurance plans

Even if both you and your spouse have separate self-only plans, you cannot “combine” them to be qualified for family coverage. Instead, you both need to open your own HSA and contribute the self-only amount to that respective HSA. You will need to file a separate Form 8889 for each HSA.

2) I had both self-only and family HSA coverage at the same time

Per the Form 8889 instructions, if you are covered by two HSA plans at once, and one of them is family coverage, you are considered family coverage. This may happen if you are transitioning from one plan to another.

3) I had self-only and family coverage at different times during the year

If you had different coverage during the year, your Form 8889 line 1 will be whichever was in effect the longest. So if you had family coverage from January – April, then self-only coverage from May – November, you would be considered “self-only” for the year. Although notice in this scenario that your contribution limit will actually be higher than the self-only contribution limit, on account of your 4 months at the higher family coverage rate.

4) I had self only coverage for 6 months and family coverage for 6 months

This is really a toss up, but I would mark “Family” since that has the higher contribution limit. Won’t affect your contribution limit calculation but to me it looks cleaner to have “Family” on Line 1 followed by a higher-than-self-only contribution limit further down the page.

Note: if you need help with Line 1 or any Line in Form 8889, please consider using my service to complete Form 8889. It asks simple questions in a straightforward way and will generate your HSA tax forms in 10 minutes. It is fast and painless, no matter how complicated your HSA situation. - complete HSA Form 8889 in 10 minutes!

How to Handle Excess Contributions on HSA Tax Form 8889


Excess Contributions occur when you contribute more to your HSA than you were allowed. This compares your contribution limit for the year (which can vary on many factors) and the actual amount of money that came into your HSA, including such things as Employer Contributions, Qualified Funding Distributions, and Prior Year Contributions. That being said, if you find yourself in a situation facing Excess Contributions, you may find it a challenge come tax time when you are faced with Form 8889. Fear not, as this article will guide you through how to avoid taxes and penalties and get this IRS required tax form filed.

Include the Excess Amount in Contributions

Part I of Form 8889 is appropriately called “Contributions”. It details amounts contributed to your HSA, your contribution limit, and calculates the deductible amount that flows over to Form 1040. It will feel strange, but you want to include all amounts contributed to your HSA, even if they are in excess. Doing so accurately reflects the account activity, so that when your HSA custodian provides Form 5498-SA to the IRS, the amount contributed will match your Form 8889. Remember, there is no taxes and penalty for having excess contributions in your HSA, if you remove them (and any earnings) before your tax filing deadline. The point is it is OK to show excess contributions in the contribution section of Form 8889, the key is that you have to proactively take care of them.

Example: Excess Contributions on Form 8889 Part I – Contributions

In this example we contributed $4,850 (contribution, employer contribution, and funding distribution) to our HSA. However, our contribution limit was only $3350, leading to an excess contribution of $1,500. The key is that we have included all contributions that caused the excess contributions and lived to tell the tale.

An example of 2016 Form 8889 prepared by


Notice the warning at the bottom that states:

“Caution: If line 2 is more than line 13, you may have to pay an additional tax (see instructions).

Our Line 2 ($4,350) is indeed greater than Line 13 ($2,850), so we are at risk of paying excess tax. However, per the instructions, if we remove the excess contribution and any earnings on it before the tax deadline, we owe no taxes or penalty:


To rectify this scenario, we would need to log into our Health Savings Account and request a distribution that specifically states it is a removal of an excess contribution for 2016 (see next section). You must specify this so that they don’t code it as a regular distribution for qualified medical expenses. In the above example this would be for $1,500 coming back out of the HSA. We will account for that removal in the next section.

Include the Excess Amount in Distributions

Part II of Form 8889 is called “Distributions” and details money that came out of your HSA. Similar to the logic stated in Part I, we need to be transparent about the excess contribution to avoid the ire of the IRS (and taxes and penalty). We will do this by 1) counting the removed excess contribution as a distribution and 2) calling it out as a distribution due to excess contribution. Again, you need to remove excess contributions (and any earnings) from your HSA before the tax filing deadline, and doing so creates a distribution from your HSA.

To actually remove the excess contribution, you need to go to the website of your HSA custodian and create a distribution for the excess contribution. When you do this (important), there should be a box stating “I am removing an excess contribution from my HSA”. This differentiates the distribution from one being used for qualified medical expenses, and informs your HSA custodian how to code the distribution on Form 1099-SA. If you correct the excess contribution before tax year end, this distribution will be reported on that year’s Form 1099-SA. If you do this in the following year (say, Jan-April 15th, before tax day), your HSA custodian may or may not send you a 1099-SA for the distribution before tax day. If they don’t, you need to keep that distribution of excess contributions in mind for filing taxes.

Example: Excess Contributions on Form 8889 Part II – Distributions

Reporting this activity on Form 8889 is relatively easy, as there is a mechanism in Line 14 that handles excess contributions for us. Back to our example of a $1,500 excess contribution that was removed, our Form 8889 ends up looking like this:

An example of 2016 Form 8889 prepared by


Line 14 has 3 parts that we use to detail our distributions. We include the excess contributions removed in this total amount, and call out the amounts that were removed due to excess in 14b. The breakdown of line 14 is below:

  • Line 14a – The total amount of distributions for the year, including those for excess contributions and their earnings
  • Line 14b – Distributions that were for excess contributions and their earnings
  • Line 14c – A calculation of distributions that should have been spent on qualified medical expenses

As you can see, excess contributions avoid taxes here because they are excluded from Line 14c. If any amounts in 14c are not spent on qualified medical expenses, they are taxed and penalized. We stated that $300 that we normally distributed was spent on qualified medical expenses, by tracking our receipts in a tool like The takeaway from the above logic is that the IRS does not expect you to spend excess contributions on QME, and does not tax or penalize you on these distributions if they are handled properly.


Note: if you want step by step instructions for your Excess Contributions on Form 8899, or just want to get it right the first time, please consider using my service to complete Form 8889. It is fast and painless, no matter how complicated your HSA situation may be. - complete HSA Form 8889 in 10 minutes!