As 2014 drew to a close, more than 50 US tax provisions that had expired were extended retroactively for the entire 2014 tax year. Earlier proposals to permanently extend some expired provisions, or to extend all provisions two years, through 2015, were not adopted.
Tax incentives for individuals
Tax incentives for individuals that are extended through 2014 include:
- The deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers;
- The exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness;
- The provision providing parity between employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits;
- The treatment of mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest;
- The deduction for state and local general sales taxes;
- The special rule for contributions of capital gain real property made for conservation purposes;
- The above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses; and
- The provision allowing tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes.
Recent Developments Do Not Impact the Start of Tax Filing Season
The Internal Revenue Service announced the on-time opening of the nation's 2015 filing season and highlighted a growing array of online services, including features that help taxpayers understand how the Affordable Care Act will affect them at tax time, along with the availability of the Free File program.
Taxpayers have until Wednesday, April 15, 2015 to file their 2014 tax returns and pay any tax due. The IRS expects to receive about 150 million individual income tax returns this year. Like each of the past three years, more than four out of five returns are expected to be filed electronically.
The IRS began accepting and processing all tax returns on Tuesday, January 20.
Affordable Care Act
Starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act required individuals to carry minimum essential health insurance (unless they are exempt) or make a shared responsibility payment. Tax credits and cost-sharing also began in 2014. The 2014 return includes new questions and forms to incorporate provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The majority of taxpayers will simply need to check a box to verify they have health insurance coverage. For the minority of taxpayers who will have to do more, IRS.gov/aca features useful information and tips regarding the premium tax credit, the individual shared responsibility requirement and other tax features of the Affordable Care Act.
Affordable Care Act - US Citizens Living Abroad
US citizens living abroad are subject to the individual shared responsibility provision. However, US citizens who are not physically present in the United States for at least 330 full days within a 12-month period are treated as having minimum essential coverage for that 12-month period. In addition, US citizens who are bona-fide residents of a foreign country (or countries) for an entire taxable year are treated as having minimum essential coverage for that year. In general, these are individuals who qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion under section 911 of the Internal Revenue Code. Individuals may qualify for this rule even if they cannot use the exclusion for all of their foreign earned income because, for example, they are employees of the United States. Individuals who qualify for this rule should file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, with their federal income tax returns.
US citizens, who meet neither the physical presence nor residency requirements, will need to maintain minimum essential coverage, qualify for a coverage exemption or make a shared responsibility payment for each month of the year. For this purpose, minimum essential coverage includes a group health plan provided by an overseas employer. One exemption that may be particularly relevant to US citizens living abroad for a small part of a year is the exemption for a short coverage gap. This exemption provides that no shared responsibility payment will be due for a once-per-year gap in coverage that lasts less than three months.
The information provided is for general guidance only, and should not be utilized in lieu of obtaining professional advice.
Author: Jennifer Stein, Managing Director
Jennifer has over 20 years of experience in expat and foreign national tax preparation and consulting. She joined GTN in 2011 and serves as Managing Director for the Great Lakes region. While clients' projects may look similar on paper, she understands that every employee situation is unique. She coaches clients to understand the complexities of sending employees overseas and helps them work through the many requirements of Home and Host reporting. email@example.com | +1.312.698.9864