Relief from the Affordable Care Act Penalty for Not Being Insured

Article Highlights:

  • Tax Reform
  • Penalty for Not Being Insured
  • Premium Tax Credit
  • Employer Penalty
  • Coverage Exemptions
  • Hardship Exemptions

Thanks to the tax reform, beginning in 2019, the penalty for not having adequate health insurance, which the government refers to as the “individual shared responsibility payment,” will no longer apply.

The elimination of this penalty as of 2019 does not impact the health care subsidy for low-income families, which is known as the premium tax credit and which is available for policies acquired through a government insurance marketplace. This elimination also does not affect the penalties assessed on employers that do not offer affordable insurance to employees and that have 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees.

However, the penalty still applies for individual taxpayers who did not have minimum essential health coverage for 2018 and is the greater of the sum of the family’s flat dollar amounts or 2.5% of the amount by which the household’s income exceeds the income-tax-filing threshold.

For 2018, the flat dollar amounts are $695 per year ($57.92 per month) for each adult and half that amount ($347.50; $28.96 per month) for each child under the age of 18; the maximum family penalty using this method is $2,085 per year ($173.75 per month).

As an example, say that a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) has a household income that exceeds the income-tax-filing threshold by $100,000. This family would have a maximum penalty equal to the greater of the flat dollar amount ($695 + $695 + $347.50 + $347.50 = $2,085) or 2.5% of the income amount (2.5% × $100,000 = $2,500). Thus, the maximum penalty would be $2,500. However, the penalties are applied separately per month, and they do not apply in a given month if certain exceptions are met.

There are a number of exceptions to the penalty, as listed below. For details related to qualifying for any of these exceptions, please give this office a call. Some of the penalty exceptions apply to the entire year, and some only apply to a specific month in the year. If penalty relief applies to a specific month, it also applies to the months just preceding and following that month. The table below lists the various exceptions and the code number the government assigned to that exception.

COVERAGE EXCEPTIONS
CODE NUMBER
Income below the tax-filing threshold.
No code
Coverage considered unaffordable.
A
Short coverage gap (less than 3 months).
B
Certain U.S. citizens or resident aliens living abroad.
C
Member of a health care ministry.
D
Member of an Indian tribe.
E
Incarcerated.
F
Aggregate self-only coverage unaffordable.
G
Resident of a state that did not expand Medicaid.
G
Member of tax household born or adopted during the year.
H
Member of tax household died during the year.
H
Member of certain religious sects.
ECN*
Ineligible for Medicaid based on a state decision not to expand Medicaid.
ECN*
Coverage considered unaffordable based on projected income.
ECN*
Certain Medicaid programs that are not minimum essential coverage.
ECN*
* Certain hardship exemptions.
G – See list below

* ECN standards for “exception certification number,” which must be applied for and provided through the government marketplace.

In addition to the general exceptions included in the table above, hardship exemptions are also available. The most common of these exemptions are:

  • Being homeless.
  • Evicted or facing eviction because of foreclosure.
  • Received a shut-off notice from a utility company.
  • Experienced domestic violence.
  • Death of a family member.
  • Fire, flood or other disaster that caused substantial damage.
  • Filed for bankruptcy.
  • Medical expenses could not cannot be paid, resulting in substantial debt.
  • Increased necessary expenses to care for an ill, disabled or aging family member.
  • Claiming a child who was denied Medicaid or CHIP coverage.
  • Ineligible for coverage because state didn’t expand Medicaid.
  • Financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, causing an unexpected increase in essential expenses, which prevented obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan.
  • The expense of purchasing a qualified health plan would have caused the taxpayer to experience serious deprivation of food, shelter, clothing or other necessities.

To claim a hardship exemption, an individual must obtain an ECN through the normal application process, or for 2018, they may self-certify the hardship. However, an individual who is self-certifying is cautioned to retain documentation that demonstrates qualification for the hardship exemption, in case it is later challenged by the IRS.

A person is eligible for a hardship exemption for at least the month before, the month(s) during and the month after the specific event or circumstance that created the hardship.

This may all seem complicated; however, this office can assist you with avoiding the lack-of-health-insurance penalty. Please call with any questions you might have.

Phil Liberatore featured on Politics and Profits

Politics & Profits with Rick Amato 

Watch this short video clip as Phil Liberatore explains the reasons why Americans are receiving smaller refunds or no refunds this tax filing year.

According to IRS data for the second week of this year’s filing season, the average federal tax refund amount was down 8.7%, to $1,949, compared with the same window last year. The total number of refunds issued dropped by more than 15%.

Taxpayers who e-file and request direct deposit should see their refund hit their bank account within 21 days of submitting their return. Many have said they aren’t happy with the size of their refund this year, and some even owe money to the IRS.

PAP 021519_03 from EANTV on Vimeo.

Tax Benefits of Home Ownership

As part of the recent tax reform, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the deduction for home mortgage interest and property taxes has undergone substantial alterations. These changes will impact most homeowners who itemize their deductions each year.

Mortgage Interest – Prior to the tax reform, a taxpayer could deduct the interest he or she paid on up to $1 million of acquisition debt and $100,000 of equity debt secured by the taxpayer’s primary home and/or designated second home. This interest was claimed as an itemized deduction on Schedule A of the homeowner’s tax return. This tax deduction was often cited as one of the reasons to purchase a home, rather than renting a place to live.

Qualified home acquisition debt is debt incurred to purchase, construct, or substantially improve a taxpayer’s primary home or second home and is secured by the home.

Home equity debt is debt that is not acquisition debt and that is secured by the taxpayer’s primary home or second home, but only the interest paid on up to $100,000 of equity debt had been deductible as home mortgage interest. In the past, homeowners have used home equity as a piggy bank to purchase a new car, finance a vacation, or pay off credit card debt or other personal loans – all situations in which the interest on a consumer loan obtained for these purposes wouldn’t have been deductible.

The old law continues to apply to home acquisition debt by grandfathering the home acquisition debt incurred before December 16, 2017, to the limits that applied prior to the changes made by the tax reform. As explained later in this article, equity debt interest didn’t survive the tax reform’s legal changes.

New Acquisition Debt Limits: Under the new law, for home acquisition loans obtained after December 15, 2017, the acquisition debt limit has been reduced to $750,000. Thus, if a taxpayer is buying a home for the first time, the deductible amount of the acquisition debt interest will now be limited to the interest paid on up to $750,000 of the debt. If the home acquisition debt exceeds the $750,000 limit, then a prorated amount of the interest will still be deductible. If a taxpayer already has a home with grandfathered acquisition debt and wishes to finance a substantial improvement on the home or acquire a second home, the total of the prior acquisition debt and the new debt, for which the interest would be deductible, would be limited to $750,000 less the grandfathered acquisition debt existing at the time of the new loan.

This may be a tough pill to swallow for many future homebuyers, since the cost of housing is on the rise, while Congress has seen fit to reduce the cap on acquisition debt, on which interest is deductible.

Equity Debt: Under the new law, equity debt interest is no longer deductible after 2017, and this even applies to interest on existing equity debt, essentially pulling the rug out from underneath taxpayers who had previously taken equity out of their homes for other purposes and who were benefiting from the itemized deduction. Note: Equity debt used to purchase, construct or substantially improve one’s home or second home is not treated as equity debt for tax purposes, it is instead treated as acquisition debt (See acquisition debt limits above).

Tracing Equity Debt Interest: Because home mortgage interest rates are generally lower than business or investment loan rates and easier to qualify for, many taxpayers have used the equity in their home to start businesses, acquire rental property, or make investments, or for other uses for which the interest would be deductible. With the demise of the Schedule A home equity debt interest deduction, taxpayers can now trace interest on equity debt to other deductible uses. However, if the debt cannot be traced to a deductible purpose, unfortunately, the equity interest will no longer be deductible.

Refinancing: Under prior law, a taxpayer could refinance existing acquisition debt, and the allowable interest would be deductible for the full term of the new loan. Under tax reform, the allowable interest will only be deductible for the remaining term of the debt that was refinanced. For example, under the old rules, if you refinanced a 30-year term loan after 15 years into a new 25-year loan, the interest would have been deductible for the entire 25-year term of the new loan. However, under tax reform, the interest on the refinanced loan would only be deductible for 15 years – the remaining term of the refinanced debt.

Property Taxes – Prior to the tax reform, homeowners could deduct all of the state and local taxes they paid as an itemized deduction on their federal return. These taxes were primarily real property taxes and state income tax (taxpayers had and still have the option to replace state income tax with sales tax). Beginning in 2018 and through 2025, the deduction for taxes is still allowed but will be limited to a total of $10,000. Thus, if the total property tax and state income tax exceeds $10,000, homeowners may not get the benefit of deducting the full amount of the property taxes they paid. In addition, this requires an analysis when the return is being prepared of whether to claim sales tax instead of state income tax, since when state income tax is deducted, if there’s a state tax refund, it may be taxable on the federal return for the year when the refund is received.

Determining when and how much home mortgage interest was deductible was frequently complicated under the prior tax law, and the new rules have added a whole new level of complexity, including issues related to property taxes. Please call this office if you have questions about your particular home loan interest, refinancing, equity debt interest tracing circumstances, and tax deductions.

Filing a 1099-MISC May Now Apply to Landlords.

Are You Collecting the Needed W-9s?

Article Highlights:

  • $600 Threshold
  • Exceptions
  • Form W-9
  • Impact of Tax Reform
  • 1099-MISC Filing

If you use independent contractors to perform services for your business or your rental that is a trade or business, for each individual whom you pay $600 or more for the year, you are required to issue the service provider and the IRS a Form 1099-MISC after the end of the year, to avoid losing the deduction for their labor and expenses. (This requirement generally does not apply to payments made to a corporation. However, the exception does not extend to payments made for attorney fees and for certain payments for medical or health care services.)

It is not uncommon to have a repairman out early in the year, pay him less than $600, then use his services again later and have the total for the year exceed the $600 limit. As a result, you might overlook getting the information needed to file the 1099s for the year. Therefore, it is good practice to always have individuals who are not incorporated complete and sign the IRS Form W-9 the first time you use their services. Having a properly completed and signed Form W-9 for all independent contractors and service providers will eliminate any oversights and protect you against IRS penalties and conflicts.

The government provides IRS Form W-9, “Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification,” as a means for you to obtain the data required from your vendors in order to file the 1099s. It also provides you with verification that you complied with the law, should the individual provide you with incorrect information. We highly recommend that you have a potential vendor or independent contractor complete a Form W-9 prior to engaging in business with him or her.

Many small business owners and landlords overlook this requirement during the year, and when the end of the year arrives and it is time to issue 1099-MISCs to service providers, they realize they have not collected the required documentation. Often, it is difficult to acquire the contractor’s, handyperson’s, gardener’s, etc., information after the fact, especially from individuals with no intention of reporting and paying taxes on the income.

This has become even more important in light of the tax reform’s 20% pass-through deduction (Sec. 199A deduction), since the regulations for this new tax code section caution landlords that to be treated as a trade or business, and therefore to be generally eligible for the 199A deduction, they should consider reporting payments to independent contractor service providers on IRS Form 1099-MISC, which wasn’t generally required for rental activities in the past and still isn’t required when the rental is classified as an investment rather than as a trade or business. This caution was included in IRS regulations issued after the close of 2018, which caught everyone by surprise and left most rental property owners to deal with obtaining W-9s after the fact from service providers and issuing the 1099-MISCs after the due date of January 31, 2019. Each late-filed 1099-MISC is subject to a penalty of $100 if not filed by August 1, 2019.

1099-MISC forms must be filed electronically or on special optically scannable forms. If you need assistance with filing 1099-MISCs or have questions related to this issue, please give this office a call. Also, make sure you have all of your independent contractors or service providers complete a Form W-9 for 2019.

March 2018 Online Advisor

We have just posted the MARCH 2018 issue of the ONLINE ADVISOR newsletter on our website. Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of these articles, click on the link at the end of this email.

ALERT: EXPIRED HOME AND EDUCATION TAX BREAKS REVIVED
Congress passed a federal budget bill in early February that temporarily revived several expired tax breaks for the 2017 tax year. Find out what’s included.

NEW TAX LEGISLATION REQUIRES PLANNING
With every simplification in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), there are many more tax issues that still require planning to realize extra tax benefits. Here are seven of them.

TAX CHECKLIST FOR BUSINESS STARTUPS
Complying with regulations and tax requirements can be tricky when it comes to startups. You can make it a little easier with this checklist of things you’ll need to consider.

Just click here to read the full articles.

The 2018 NEW YEAR TAX PLANNING LETTER has been published.

Dear Client,

We have just posted the 2018 NEW YEAR TAX PLANNING LETTER on our website. Here are headlines from the Letter. To read any of these articles, click on this link:
http://www.planningtips.com/Planning_Tips.asp?Co_ID=42935&Tip_ID=4422

ARE YOU READY FOR THE 2018 TAX ACT CHANGES?
Major tax law changes are capturing the headlines lately, and with good reason. Early proposals from the House and Senate varied widely but were reconciled in December 2017. Soon after, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law. There’s only one thing left for you to do now: start preparing for 2018 and beyond.

WHAT’S NEW IN 2018
Here’s a quick review of some of the tax changes you’ll see from 2017 to 2018 as a result of inflation adjustments and tax law changes.

WANT TO KEEP MORE OF YOUR MONEY?
Effective financial planning is all about knowing how your income will be taxed, and understanding what moves will help you keep as much money as possible.

Just click on the link below to read the full articles.
http://www.planningtips.com/Planning_Tips.asp?Co_ID=42935&Tip_ID=4422

THE TAX REFORM BILL PASSED CONGRESS – What should I do?

Phil L. Liberatore CPA, A Professional Corporation is working hard to keep you informed and up to date on current tax and accounting news potentially affecting you, your families and your business.

THE TAX REFORM BILL PASSED CONGRESS

– What should I do?
Congress has put a bow on the biggest tax cut bill since 1986.It is estimated that 80% of tax payers will see some form of a reduction in their tax bill.

The legislation will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Tax filings for the 2017 year will largely resemble your 2016 tax return.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Take a close look at your state income taxes that could be due for 2017. If you own your home and itemize your tax deductions, consider winter property tax bill by December 31, 2017.  If you typically owe state income taxes, consider making an estimated tax payment by the end of December. The state and local income tax deductions will be limited to $10,000 in 2018.

To get an idea of what you paid for these taxes in 2016, refer to your 2016 taxes SCHEDULE A of form 1040, lines 5-8.

EXAMPLE: If your total state and local tax deduction for 2016 was 12,000, you will only be able to take up to $10,000 in deductions for 2018.

  1. Maximize your charitable organization donations. If you and your family have gotten in the habit of giving charitably, consider making your donation by December 31, 2017. This may also include ‘in-kind’ donations such as cars, etc.
  1. Consider paying down your home equity loans.They will no longer be deductible in 2018.
  1. Consider making a mortgage payment before December 31, 2017. This will increase your mortgage interest deduction for 2017.
  1. Prepare all of your 2017 miscellaneous tax deductions. They are being phased out in 2018. This includes unreimbursed work-related expenses, home office expenses, and tax preparation expenses. Have them ready for your tax return.
  1. Pay your medical bills. If you itemize, and have significant medical expenses, consider paying your medical bills. The threshold for medical expenses has actually been lowered for 2017 – 2018 to 7.5%.

FOR INDIVIDUALS:

1. Lowers (many) individual rates: The bill preserves seven tax brackets, but changes the rates that apply to: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.
Today’s rates are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6%.

Here’s how income tax brackets will align according to the new rates:
– 10% (income up to $9,525 for individuals; up to $19,050 for married couples filing jointly)
– 12% (over $9,525 to $38,700; over $19,050 to $77,400 for couples)
– 22% (over $38,700 to $82,500; over $77,400 to $165,000 for couples)
– 24% (over $82,500 to $157,500; over $165,000 to $315,000 for couples)
– 32% (over $157,500 to $200,000; over $315,000 to $400,000 for couples)
– 35% (over $200,000 to $500,000; over $400,000 to $600,000 for couples)
– 37% (over $500,000; over $600,000 for couples)

The effect: It’s expected that the Treasury Department will come out with withholding tables in January, taxpayers might see the effect in their paychecks in February 2018.

2. Capital gains tax rates remain largely unchanged:The system for taxing capital gains and qualified dividends did not change under the act but the brackets will be adjusted.

3. Nearly doubles the standard deduction: For single filers, the bill increases it to $12,000 from $6,350 currently; for married couples filing jointly it increases to $24,000 from $12,700.

The effect: The percentage of filers who choose to itemize would drop sharply, since the only reason to do so is if your deductions exceed your standard deduction.

4. Eliminates personal exemptions: Today you’re allowed to claim a $4,050 personal exemption for yourself, your spouse and each of your dependents. Doing so lowers your taxable income and thus your tax burden. The tax bill eliminates that option.

The effect: For families with three or more kids, that could mute if not negate any tax relief they might get as a result of other provisions in the bill.

5. Expands child tax credit: The credit is doubled to $2,000 for children under 17. It also would be made available to high earners because the bill would raise the income threshold under which filers may claim the full credit to $200,000 for single parents, up from $75,000 today; and to $400,000 for married couples, up from $110,000 today.

The effect: More Families will be able to get refundable child tax credits.

6. Eliminates mandate to buy health insurance:There would no longer be a penalty for not buying health insurance.

7. Changes to Itemized Deductions:

  1. Caps the state and local tax deduction: the final bill limits the state and local tax deduction for anyone who itemizes at $10,000. *For 2017 the deduction is unlimited for your state and local property taxes plus income or sales taxes.

The effect: If you own your home and itemize your tax deductions, you may be effected by this change, follow our recommendation on paying both real estate installments and any other state taxes you may be subject to in 2017. To get an idea of what you paid for these taxes in 2016, see your 2016 taxes SCHEDULE A of form 1040, lines 5-8.

EXAMPLE: if your total state and local tax deduction for 2017 will be 12,000, you will only be able to take $10,000 in deductions for 2018.

  1. Lowers cap on mortgage interest deduction: If you take out a new mortgage on a first or second home you would only be allowed to deduct the interest on debt up to $750,000, down from $1 million today. The bill would no longer allow a deduction for the interest on home equity loans, currently that’s allowed on loans up to $100,000.

The effect: Homeowners who already have a mortgage would be unaffected by the change. New mortgages taken after December 15 2018 will be fall under the limitation.

  1. No Major changes to the charitable donation deduction: The charitable donation deduction will remain in place with some adjustments upwards on limits for cash gifts. The charitable mileage rate will remain 14 cents per mile.

The effect: Currently, if you itemize your deductions, you can deduct certain donations to qualified charitable organizations.

  1. Miscellaneous itemized deductions: All miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor under current law are repealed.

The effect: Taxpayers who normally claim significant miscellaneous expenses (e.g. unreimbursed work-related expenses, home office expenses, and tax preparation expenses) will not be able to claim them anymore.

  1. Medical expenses: The act reduced the threshold for deduction of medical expenses to 7.5% of adjusted gross income for 2017 and 2018.

The medical expense deduction will remain in place with a lower floor of 7.5% for tax years 2017 and 2018. That means it is retroactive to 2017.

8. Curbs who’s hit by AMT: The AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) is a secondary tax put in place in the 1960s to prevent the wealthy from artificially reducing their tax bill through the use of tax preference items. It is reduced by raising the income exemption levels to $70,300 for singles, up from $54,300 today; and to $109,400, up from $84,500, for married couples.

9. 529 College savings plans are expanded: Under the passed bill, up to $10,000 of 529 savings plans can be used per student for public, private and religious elementary and secondary schools, as well as home school students.

10. No changes to the college and tuition credits:  The American Opportunity Credit (AOC) and Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) remain unchanged under the passed bill.

11. No change to the exclusion of gain from sale of your home: There are no changes to the current law, you can still exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married taxpayers) in capital gains from the sale of your home so long as you have owned and resided in the house for at least two of the last five years.

12. Exempts almost everybody from the estate tax: The tax bill essentially eliminates estate tax for all but the smallest number of people by doubling the amount of money exempt from the estate tax – currently set at $5.49 million for individuals, and $10.98 million for married couples. This measure will likely affect owners of businesses and farms who pass on those assets to their children.

FOR BUSINESSES:

  1. Corporate Tax Relief: Under the passed bill, the corporate tax rate would be lowered to 21% (presently 35%) beginning in January 1 2018. This will effect Corporations which do not pass through their income pay tax on profits at the corporate level.
  1. Pass-Through Entities: Businesses use structures like limited liability companies (LLCs) or S corporations to pass income through to the owners without paying tax at the company level. Under the passed bill, owners of pass-through companies (e.g. S corporations, partnerships, and LLCs) and sole proprietors will be taxed at their individual tax rates less a 20% deduction (to bring the rate lower) for business-related income (subject to certain wage limits and exceptions). Phase-ins begin at $157,500 for individual taxpayers and $315,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns as I will strategize to ensure that you maximize your tax savings.

Sincerely,

Phil Liberatore

DECEMBER 2017 ONLINE ADVISOR

We have just posted the DECEMBER 2017 issue of the ONLINE ADVISOR newsletter on our website. Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of these articles, click on the link at the end of this email.

GET READY TO SAVE MORE IN 2018
Good news! You can save more for retirement using tax-advantaged accounts, thanks to the IRS contribution rate boost. Here’s what you need to know to start saving more.

BUSINESS YEAR-END TAX MOVES
It’s not too late to get your business in the best possible position for the 2017 filing season. Consider these possible deductions and other year-end tax moves.

DON’T DIG YOURSELF INTO HOLIDAY DEBT
It’s easier than you think to overspend during the holiday season. This year, try staying on budget with these helpful, money-saving tips.

Just click on the link below to read the full articles.

http://www.planningtips.com/Planning_Tips.asp?Co_ID=42935&Tip_ID=6850

Update on Equifax Cyber-Security Data Breach

This is bigger than we orginally thought.

Not only was banking information and account numbers stolen, this time the hackers got a lot more than that… watch this short video clip that Phil recorded to find out more:

Also, if you haven’t yet checked to see if you were impacted, click here to find out.

We want to make sure you are completely in-the-know and protected. Feel free to give us a call if you’ve got any other questions concerning this, or the new IRS scams that Phil mentions in the video.

We are here to serve and look out for you, your family and your business.

Thank you for being the best part of Philip L. Liberatore, CPA.

Proposed, Sweeping Tax Reform Announced

On April 26th, 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s Director of National Economic Council, rolled out the President’s proposal on tax.

Phil Liberatore is optimistic to see a significant number of these proposed changes, considering this is the largest, potential overhaul of the US Tax Code in over 30 years, post Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

“In our view, the most monumental, proposed changes in the tax code are reducing the current seven tax brackets down to three brackets, with reduced brackets of 10%, 25% and 35%,” says Liberatore. “Also proposed is a reduction of the corporate tax rate, down to 15% from 35 %, as well as a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and Estate Tax.”

According to Phil, the overall goals of this sweeping tax reform are to accomplish the following:
1. Simplification of the tax code
2. Lower tax rates to provide tax relief for American Families (especially the middle class)
3. Lower business taxes to increase business activity in the US
4. Grow the national economy and stimulate job growth

“The proposal has a long way to go before becoming law,” says Liberatore, “but this is a first step along the path to reforming the tax system.”
Liberatore and his team at Liberatore CPA will be closely monitoring the direction of this far-reaching, proposed legislation and will provide updates as they become available.

 

Phil Liberatore, CPA Shares Latest Financial Trends on Politics & Profits

You won’t want to miss hearing Phil Liberatore, CPA live on Politics & Profits. Phil shares key insights that can positively impact your business and financial future! Below is a sample of what you will discover:

1. How to Win at Retirement – Beating the Odds to Retire Your Way
2. Main Street Fairness Act – Creating Federal Tax Parity between Small Businesses and Wall Street
3. How Could Potential Tax Reform Impact You