Like resident taxpayers, U.S. taxpayers living abroad must complete Line 61 under “Other Taxes” and “Health care: individual responsibility” on their Form 1040 or equivalent. For 2016, the IRS will not consider a return complete and accurate if the taxpayer does not report health care coverage for the year, an exemption or a payment. However, U.S. citizens filing as non-residents in foreign countries while covered by an employee health plan, or even by a foreign country’s national health care system, have different considerations when complying with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“ACA”).
Do you live abroad? Do you own an asset or bank or investment account that had an accumulated value or total exceeding $10,000 at any time in 2015 (or any year)? If so, you are required to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports (FBAR). Thus, if an asset was valued at, or an account totaled, $10,001 for just one day, an FBAR is due and must be filed. The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) received a record high 1,163,229 FBARs in 2015. What is surprising is that FinCen data shows that FBAR filings have grown an average of 17 percent per year during the last five years. Over 90,000 taxpayers filed FBARs in 2015.
“Like moths to a flame, some people find themselves irresistibly drawn to the tax protester movement’s illusory claim that there is no legal requirement to pay federal income tax. And, like moths, these people sometimes get burned.” United States v. Sloan, 939 F.2d 499, 499-500 (7th Cir. 1991).
As long as the federal income tax has been with us, taxpayers have tried to argue that income taxes don’t legally apply to them. The reasons and bases for these arguments usually include the voluntary nature of the federal income tax system, the meaning of income, and the meaning of certain terms contained in the Interenal Revenue Code. Taxpayers hanging their hats on frivolous positions risk a variety of civil and criminal penalties for tax evasion and tax fraud . And taxpayers that adopt these frivolous positions may face more severe consequences than those who only promote them.
A capital gain occurs when you transfer or sell a piece of property for more than its acquisition cost. To be more succinct, it’s the profit realized on the sale of a non-inventory asset. Capital gains are realized from the sale of all types of property, both real and personal such as investments and other traditional non-investment types of personal property. In the United States, with certain exceptions, individuals and corporations pay income tax on the net total of all their capital gains.
It’s considered by many taxpayers to be one of the most frightening events that could happen related to their everyday business affairs. What is this frightening event? An IRS audit, of course. But is a tax audit really that scary in real life? The numbers reveal that only 1% of all taxpayers experience an audit, and of this one percent, about one in five result in a meeting with the IRS.
Presently, the IRS audits half as many taxpayers as it did five years ago. However, the amount of tax recovered per audit has increased. The IRS uses an elaborate computer selection process, auditing only those returns which will almost certainly yield some adjustment.
You’ve filed all of your tax returns, and because of your level of income you find yourself in the class of taxpayers whose return is more likely to trigger an IRS audit. So you wonder, how long does the IRS now have to audit you?
Due to disclosure requirements, the IRS makes contact with a taxpayer selected for an audit by telephone or mail only. When returns are filed, they are compared against norms for similar returns. These norms are developed from audits of a statistically valid random sample of returns, selected as part of the National Research Program conducted by the IRS to update return selection information.
Americans love to gamble. Humans love to gamble for that matter. Whether you bet on football, play poker or bet on the horses, your winnings are taxable and you must report them on your tax return. The rules apply even to casual gamblers. Gambling income includes winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse races and casinos. It also includes cash and the fair market value of prizes you receive, such as cars and trips.
What can taxpayers deduct from their mortgage payments? What portion of a payment consisting of principal, interest, taxes and insurance, if any, is deductible? To deduct the expenses of owning a home, at least those costs paid in your mortgage payment, taxpayers must first itemize deductions.
Simply put, interest paid on a mortgage is tax deductible. Points that are paid to lower the interest rate are also deductible. Taxpayers can deduct the interest paid on first and second mortgages up to $1,000,000 in mortgage debt (the limit is $500,000 if married and filing separately). Any interest paid on first or second mortgages over this amount is not tax deductible. If the loan is not a secured debt on your home, it is considered a personal loan, and the interest you pay generally isn’t deductible.