Wellness Spending Account
A WSA can be used to enhance or maintain your health, wellness, and learning and development by reimbursing costs associated with wellness, learning, development and technology expenses. You use your excess Flex Credit dollars to pay for covered expenses out of your WSA. That means $1 from the WSA buys you $1 of eligible expenses but all benefit amounts paid are taxable to you. The WSA can only be used to pay for expenses incurred by you, the employee; expenses for dependents are not eligible. Unused credits will be carried forward for one benefit year after the benefit year in which the flex credits were allocated.
This account is funded with pre-tax dollars, but the benefits are taxable. For the 2021 tax year, a T4A slip is sent to each employee directly from Alberta Blue Cross for amounts reimbursed from the account during the tax year. For claims paid in 2022, the university will take over the WSA tax reporting from Alberta Blue Cross. WSA claims reimbursed by Alberta Blue Cross with a paid date on or after January 1, 2022 will be reported to the university payroll department. The value of WSA claims paid in 2022 will be included as a taxable benefit on the year-end tax slip. Beginning in 2023, the university will move to monthly reporting of WSA claims and appropriate tax deductions will be applied to your pay as claims are reported. As a taxable benefit WSA claims are subject to CPP, EI and income tax in the period that it is reported. The taxed amount will have a direct impact on your net pay.
Some examples of eligible WSA expenses include:
- health support – smoking cessation program, nutritional counseling
- fitness and sports activity – fitness membership including UCalgary Active Living membership (Employee and Family memberships must be held in the employee’s name), sports league membership, physical activity instruction fees
- fitness and sports equipment – specific types of exercise equipment for at home use to promote physical activity and fitness such as a treadmill or elliptical; clothing is excluded
- professional development – membership fees or dues, courses and seminars by accredited institutions, all learning and development programs and services provided by University of Calgary
- professional development travel – transportation to courses and parking
- computer products – software, hardware, internet services—excludes gaming equipment and games
- mobile digital communication – cell phone/accessories/fees—excludes gaming equipment and games
- family care – home care, elder care
- work from home products
Wellness Spending Account FAQs
About Your Account
The taxable WSA adds significant value to your benefit plan and provides many opportunities to enhance or maintain your personal health & wellness, learning and development.
Your WSA provides reimbursement for many important benefits such as:
- Costs associated with physical activities, stress management, smoking cessation, health risk assessments, and nutritional counselling
- Educational reimbursement for a course, class, conference, seminar at an accredited institution
- Fees associated with professional memberships or maintaining a designation
- New computer hardware/software
- 'Work from Home' product category includes items to enhance employee wellness while working from home including office supplies, a desk chair, desk, web cameras, shredders, ergonomic equipment and devices.
No. Receipts must be in the name of the employee. The account is designed to reimburse employees for expenses only. Family fitness memberships held in the employee's name are the only exception to this provision.
About Your Eligibility
You may cover expenses for yourself only. The account is designed to provide a benefit to the University of Calgary employee. The only exception to this provision is a family fitness membership which is an eligible expense if it is held in the employee's name.
Credits are granted on a “use it or lose it” basis. If your employment status changes, unspent credits may be lost. If you experience a qualified Life Event your credits may be adjusted and any unspent credits will be forfeited and replaced with a new pro-rated amount based on your new status.
If you terminate your employment or transfer to a staff group or appointment within the University of Calgary that does not have a WSA, you lose your credits upon termination or transfer.
All claims with a date of service prior to the date of termination or transfer can be submitted for payment within the next three months. After three months, claims will not be processed.
During your leave you may access your existing credits and make claims; however, you will not receive additional credits until you return to work. Credits will then be pro-rated depending on the date you return to work.
About Your Allocations
Yes, WSA claims are a taxable benefit that must be reported on your income tax return. Historically Alberta Blue Cross sends a T4A slip after the end of the calendar year for any credits you have used over the course of the year. This will change beginning in the 2022 tax year.
2021 tax year - at the beginning of 2022, Alberta Blue Cross will issue a T4A to individuals making Wellness Spending Account (WSA) claims in 2021.
2022 tax year - for the 2022 tax year the university will take over the WSA tax reporting from Alberta Blue Cross. WSA claims reimbursed by Alberta Blue Cross with a paid date on or after January 1, 2022 will be reported to the university payroll department. The value of WSA claims paid between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022 will be included as a taxable benefit on the year-end tax slip.
2023 tax year - beginning in 2023, we will move to monthly reporting of WSA claims and appropriate tax deductions will be applied to your pay as claims are reported. As a taxable benefit WSA claims are subject to CPP, EI and income tax in the period that it is reported. The taxed amount will have a direct impact on your net pay. A reminder of this will be sent out during the annual Flexible Spending Account allocation period.
This change applies only to WSA claims and not Health Spending Account, Extended Health Care or Dental claims. The claims reimbursement process will not change and your claims will continue to be paid by Alberta Blue Cross.
For Management and Professional Staff, you will make your allocations once every two years during the Flex Re-enrolment. You will receive instructions for this in November/December for an effective date of January 1 of every odd year.
The total amount of your annual credit is deposited in advance at the beginning of the benefit year on January 1.
You can carry your unused credits forward for one year after the year in which you make your allocations. Unused credits are then forfeited.
No. Spending Accounts are governed, in part, by Canada Revenue Agency regulations. In order to comply with those regulations, the University is not permitted to make changes to credits that have defaulted or to accept changes to allocations.
About Your Claims
Credits are granted on a “use it or lose it” basis. If your employment status changes, unspent credits may be lost. If you experience a qualified life event your credits may be adjusted and any unspent credits will be forfeited and replaced with a new pro-rated amount based on your new status.
You are required to submit your receipts dated up to the end of the plan year (i.e. December 31st) for any expenses within 3 months of the end of the benefit year (i.e. by March 31st). We strongly recommend sending in receipts immediately after you incur the expense.
It is important to be aware that you can only carry over credits for one year, after that the unused credits are forfeited. Therefore, expenses should be submitted immediately to avoid forfeiture of credits. You can only claim for expenses in the benefit year that they are incurred. You cannot carry forward expenses and claim them in the following benefit year.
No. Only claims incurred after your WSA effective date may be submitted for reimbursement.
No. You must be the recipient of reimbursement from your WSA.
Photocopies of receipts are not acceptable; only original receipts will be considered eligible for reimbursement. Receipts must also indicate the employee's name.
Health Spending Account payments are processed daily. To receive a payment, you must have credits available in your account and the expenses submitted must be eligible for payment through the HSA.
If there is claim activity on your account, you will receive reimbursement by cheque or direct deposit to your bank account. Alberta Blue Cross makes payments via direct deposit on a daily basis and processes cheque payments twice per month. You may select your preferred payment method by contacting Alberta Blue Cross You may also view claim statements online on your Alberta Blue Cross secure member account.
If you have recently submitted a claim, a monthly statement will provide you with the account balance. You can also check online at the Alberta Blue Cross Secure Online Services or call Alberta Blue Cross customer service at any time to check the balance of your account. Call 403.234.9666 from Calgary and area, or 1.800.661.6995 toll-free from anywhere in Alberta.
Original receipts must be kept for a period of 12 months as Alberta Blue Cross may audit online claims.