Employer contributions to the cafeteria plan are usually made pursuant to salary reduction agreements between the employer and the employee in which the employee agrees to contribute a portion of his or her salary on a pre-tax basis to pay for the qualified benefits. Salary reduction contributions are not actually or constructively received by the participant. Therefore, those contributions are not considered wages for federal income tax purposes. In addition, those sums generally are not subject to FICA and FUTA. See Sections 3121(a)(5)(G) and 3306(b)(5)(G) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The above discussion provides only the most basic rules governing a cafeteria plan. For a complete understanding of the rules, see the Proposed Regulations under Code section 125.