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I had a qualifying event which resulted in a new High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with new HSA active as of 2021-01-01. I've been making contributions pre-tax through my employer every paycheck. Can I contribute for the 2020 tax year, even though the account has only existed in 2021, if it's before the tax-filing deadline? This site seems to say yes:

You can make a contribution to a new HSA for a given tax year if you open the account prior to April 15, the following calendar year. However, HSA funds may not be used to cover qualified medical expenses incurred prior to the account opening.

But, I'd like confirmation from an official source and I haven't been able to find something from the IRS that says so one way or another -- I realize I can't claim expenses from before the account was open, I'm only concerned about making contributions.

Clarification: High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) coverage and HSA account were active as of 2021-01-01. I had neither before 2021.

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    what exact date did you become eligible to have an HSA? That would be the start date of your high deductible plan. – mhoran_psprep Apr 6 at 13:40
  • Were you enrolled in an HDHP during calendar 2020? Even if it was a different one than the one in which you’re currently enrolled? You are ONLY able to make a tax preferred contribution in to an HSA if you were enrolled in an HDHP during the same calendar year (tax filing deadline has no bearing on your eligibility) – quid Apr 6 at 16:53
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    I was only enrolled during 2021, not calendar year 2020 at all. I think that answers the question then. Clarification added to the post. Thank you! – user108251 Apr 6 at 21:22
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You can only make an HSA contribution for 2020 if you had an HDHP for all or part of 2020. If you had an HDHP for only part of 2020, your HSA contribution limit for 2020 will be proportionally reduced (unless you are using the last-month rule where you had an HDHP since 12/1/2020 and will maintain an HDHP until 12/31/2021, in which case you can contribute the full amount for 2020).

From your question, it is not clear whether you had an HDHP during 2020.

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Because you did not become an HSA eligible individual until 2021, you cannot make any HSA contributions for 2020.

If you had been HSA-eligible in 2020 and had simply waited to open your HSA until 2021, then yes, you could have made prior year contributions.

But if you try to determine your 2020 contribution limit, you will see that your prorated limit calculates to $0, and that you are not eligible to use the last month rule.

The way to interpret what you read on the site you quoted is this: Now that you have become eligible to contribute to an HSA in 2021, you could have theoretically waited until April 2022 to open your HSA and still have the opportunity to make a 2021 contribution.

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