The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, enacted Dec. 18, 2015, extends a long list of expired tax provisions into the future. Unlike past extension legislation, Congress extended many provisions permanently. In more traditional fashion, some of the others were extended for five years, and many for two years. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the total cost of the tax provisions in the bill will be $622 billion over 10 years. Without Congress extending these various provisions, millions of Americans were in danger of losing these beneficial tax breaks by 2017.
Here are some provisions for individual taxpayers that were extended by Congress for two years:
Taxpayers earn self-employment income which is net income “from any trade or business carried on by such individual” under I.R.C. §1402. The meaning of “trade or business” is the same as it is under I.R.C. §162. The Supreme Court has “defined a trade or business as an activity engaged in for income or profit and performed with continuity and regularity. Commissioner v. Groetzinger, 480 U.S. 23, 35 (1987).”
There is an exclusion from inclusion of income from the sale of property in self-employment income under IRC §1402(a)(3)(C) which provides:
(3) there shall be excluded any gain or loss—
A Cafeteria Plan, sometimes called a “Flexible Spending Account” or FSA, is available to taxpayers under §125 of the Internal Revenue Code. It derives its name from the earliest plans of this form that allowed employees to choose between different types of benefits, similar to the ability of a customer to choose among available items in a cafeteria. Qualified cafeteria plans are excluded from gross income. To qualify, a cafeteria plan must allow employees to choose from two or more benefits consisting of cash or qualified benefit plans.
Here’s a primer for United States taxpayers residing abroad:
U.S. citizens must file a tax return. Any U.S. citizen who earns income of any kind is obligated to file a U.S. tax return every year, no matter where he or she resides in the world. Many Americans, living abroad and in the U.S., find it unfair that the United States is the only country that requires citizens to file tax returns whether or not they are earning income on U.S. shores. This is a leading reason why some Americans are renouncing their U.S. citizenship.
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.