On May 4th, the House of Representatives passed the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA). This would repeal and replace several arrangements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Exact details are not available, but, we have found some details from the original draft legislation published on March 6 to give you an idea of the how this will function (please keep in mind that some provisions were modified with respect to existing conditions in order to obtain enough Republican votes to pass the bill).
GOP’s March Version of the AHCA
The American Health Care Act would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In general, the GOP’s plan would continue the ACA’s premium tax credit through 2019 and then replace it in 2020 with a new credit for individuals without government insurance and for those who are not offered insurance by their employer. However, most of the ACA’s insurance mandates and penalties would be repealed retroactive to 2015. Other provisions will be overturned periodically through 2019.
- Repeal of the Individual Mandate
Background: Under the ACA, individuals are generally required to have ACA- compliant health insurance or face a “shared responsibility payment” (a penalty for not being insured). For 2016, the annual penalty was $695 per uninsured individual ($347.50 per child), with a maximum penalty of $2,085 per family.
AHCA Legislation: Under the new legislation, this penalty would be repealed after 2015.
- Repeal of the Employer Mandate
Background: Under the ACA, large employers, generally those with 50 or more equivalent full-time employees, were subject to penalties that could reach thousands of dollars per employee for not offering their full-time employees affordable health insurance. These employers were also subject to some very complicated reporting requirements.
AHCA Legislation: Under the new legislation, this penalty would be repealed after 2015.
- Recapture and Repeal of the Premium Tax Credit
Background: The premium tax credit (PTC) is a health insurance subsidy for lower-income individuals, and it is based on their household income for the year. Since the household income can only be estimated at the beginning of the year, the insurance subsidy, known as the advance premium tax credit (APTC), must also be estimated at the beginning of the year. Then, when the tax return for the year is prepared, the difference between the estimated amount of the subsidy (APTC) and the actual subsidy allowed (PTC) is determined based on the actual household income for the year. If the subsidy paid was less than what the individual was entitled to, the excess is credited to the individual’s tax return. If the subsidy paid was more than what the individual was entitled to, the difference is repaid on the tax return. However, for lower-income taxpayers there is a cap on the amount that needs to repaid, and this is also based on household income.
AHCA Legislation: For tax years 2018 and 2019, the GOP legislation would require the repayment of the entire difference regardless of income. In addition, the PTC would be repealed after 2019.
- Catastrophic Insurance
Background: The current law does not allow the PTC to be used for the purchase of catastrophic health insurance.
AHCA Legislation: The new legislation would allow premium tax credits to be used for the purchase of qualified “catastrophic-only” health plans and certain qualified plans not offered through an Exchange.
- Refundable Tax Credit for Health Insurance
Beginning in 2020, as a replacement for the current ACA insurance subsidies (PTC), the AHCA legislation would create a universal refundable tax credit for the purchase of state-approved major medical health insurance and unsubsidized COBRA coverage. Generally eligible individuals are those who do not have access to government health insurance programs or an offer of insurance from any employer.
The credit is determined monthly and ranges from $2,000 a year for those under age 30 to $4,000 for those over 60. The credit is additive for a family and capped at $14,000. The credit phases out for individuals who make more than $75,000 and for couples who file jointly and make more than $150,000.
- Health Savings Accounts
Background: Individuals covered by high-deductible health plans can generally make tax-deductible contributions to a health savings account (HSA). Currently (2017), the maximum that can be contributed is $3,400 for self-only coverage and $6,750 for family coverage. Distributions from an HSA to pay qualified medical expenses are tax-free. However, nonqualified distributions are taxable and generally subject to a 20% penalty.
AHCA Legislation: Beginning in 2018, the HSA contribution limit would be increased to at least $6,550 for those with self-only coverage and to $13,100 for those with family coverage. In addition, the new legislation would do the following:
- Allow both spouses to make catch-up contributions (applies to those age55 through 64) beginning in 2018.
- Allow medical expenses to be reimbursed if they were incurred 60 days prior to the establishment of the HSA (whereas currently, expenses qualify only if they are incurred after the HSA is established).
- Lower the penalty for nonqualified distributions from the current 20% to 10% (the amount of the penalty prior to 2011).
- Medical Deduction Income Limitation
Background: As part of the ACA, the income threshold for itemizing and deducting medical expenses was increased from 7.5% to 10% of the taxpayer’s AGI.
AHCA Legislation: Under the new legislation, the threshold would be returned to 7.5% beginning in 2018 (2017 for taxpayers age 65 or older).
- Repeal of Net Investment Income Tax
Background: The ACA imposed a 3.8% surtax on net investment income for higher-income taxpayers, generally single individuals with incomes above $200,000 ($250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly).
AHCA Legislation: The new legislation would repeal this tax after 2017.
- Repeal on FSA Contribution Limits
Background: Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) generally allow employees to designate pre-tax funds that can be deposited in the employer’s FSA, which the employee can then use to pay for medical and other qualified expenses. Effective beginning in 2013, annual contributions to health FSAs (also referred to as cafeteria plans) were limited to an inflation-adjusted $2,500. For 2017, the inflation limitation is $2,550.
AHCA Legislation: The new legislation would remove the health FSA contribution limit, effective starting in 2017.
- Repeal of Increased Medicare Tax
Background: Beginning in 2013, the ACA imposed an additional Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) surtax of 0.9% on individuals with wage or self-employed income in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly).
AHCA Legislation: The new legislation would repeal this surtax beginning in 2018.
- Other Provisions
- Preexisting Conditions – Prohibits health insurers from denying coverage or charging more for preexisting conditions. However, to discourage people from waiting to buy health insurance until they are sick, the legislation as introduced would require individuals to maintain “continuous” coverage. Those who go uninsured for longer than a set period will be subject to 30% higher premiums as a penalty.
Children Under Age 26 – Allows children under age 26 to remain on their parents’ health plan until they are 26.
- Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit– Repealed after 2019
- Medical Device Tax– Repealed after 2017
- Tanning Tax– Repealed after 2018
- Over-the-Counter Medication Tax– Repealed after 2017
Questions? Contact Dagley & Co.
Real estate flipping appears to currently be on the rise. With mortgage interest rates low and home prices making a comeback, it has made it a lot easier for people to succeed. If you are unaware, house flipping is purchasing a house or property, improving it and then selling it for a presumed profit. There are many keys to success in house flipping. First, you must find a suitable fixer-upper that is priced under market for its location. Then, you must fix it up and resell it for more than it cost to buy, hold, fix up and resell.
If you are currently contemplating house flipping, you must keep in mind that to expect a decent amount of taxes deducted out of your share. These taxes play a significant role in the overall transaction, and tax treatment can be quite different depending upon whether you are a dealer, an investor or a homeowner. Dagley & Co. has come up with the following for specifics on your tax treatment:
- Dealer in Real Estate – Gains received by a non-corporate taxpayer from business operations as a real estate dealer are taxed as ordinary income (10% to 39.6%), and in addition, individual sole proprietors are subject to the self-employment tax of 15.3% of their net profit (the equivalent of the FICA taxes for a self-employed person). Higher-income sole proprietors are also subject to an additional 0.9% Medicare surtax on their earnings. Thus, a dealer will generally pay significantly more tax on the profit than an investor. On the other hand, if the flip results in a loss, the dealer would be able to deduct the entire loss in the year of sale, which would generally reduce his or her tax at the same rates.
- Investor – Gains as an investor are subject to capital gains rates (maximum of 20%) if the property is held for more than a year (long term). If held short term (less than a year, as will likely be the case for most flippers), ordinary income rates (10% to 39.6%) will apply. An investor is not subject to the self-employment tax, but could be subject to the 3.8% surtax on net investment income for higher-income taxpayers. A downside for the investor who has a loss from the transaction is that, after combining all long- and short-term capital gains and losses for the year, his or her deductible loss is limited to $3,000, with any excess capital loss being carried over to the next year. The rules get a bit more complicated if the investor rents out the property while trying to sell it, but such rules are beyond the scope of this article.
- Homeowner – If the individual occupies the property as the primary residence while it is being fixed up, he or she would be treated as an investor, with three major differences: (1) if the individual has owned and occupied the property for two years and has not used a homeowner gain exclusion in the two years prior to closing the sale, he or she can exclude gain of up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple); (2) if the transaction results in a loss, the homeowner will not be able to deduct the loss or even use it to offset gains from other sales; and (3) some fix-up costs may be deemed to be repairs rather than improvements, and repairs on one’s primary residence are neither deductible nor includible as part of the cost basis of the home.
Being a homeowner is easily identifiable, but the distinction between a dealer and an investor is not clearly defined in the tax code. A real estate dealer is a person who buys and sells real estate property with a view to the trading profits to be derived and whose operations are so extensive as to constitute a separate business. A person acquiring property strictly for investment, though disposing of investment assets at intermittent intervals, generally does not deal in real estate on a regular basis.
This issue has been debated in the tax courts frequently, and both the IRS and the courts have taken the following into consideration:
- whether the individual is already a dealer in real estate, such as a real estate sales person or broker;
- the number and frequency of sales (flips);
- whether the individual is more committed to another profession as opposed to fixing up and selling real estate; and
- how much personal time is spent making improvements to the “flips” as opposed to another profession or employment.
The distinction between a dealer and an investor is truly based on the facts and circumstances of each case. Clearly, an individual who is not already in the real estate profession and flips one house is not a dealer. But one who flips five or more houses and/or properties and has substantial profits would probably be considered a dealer. Everything in between becomes various shades of grey, and the facts and circumstances of each case must be considered.
If you have additional questions about flipping real estate, or need assistance with your specific situation, please give Dagley & Co. a call.
Image via public domain
If you are planning to gift money or property to family members, or others, there are some gift tax issues you should be aware of. Yes, the government even taxes gifts if they are large enough, so it is best to know the rules; otherwise you may end up making a gift of taxes to the IRS.
The gift tax rules provide two exclusions from gift tax, the annual exclusion and the lifetime exclusion:
Annual Exclusion – The annual exclusion is periodically inflation adjusted and is currently $14,000 per individual. Thus you can give $14,000 a year to as many individuals as you wish without any gift tax or gift tax return filing requirements.
Lifetime Exclusion – On top of the annual exclusion, there is a lifetime exclusion that is linked to the estate tax exemption, which is also inflation adjusted, and for 2016 is $5.45 Million. Thus, in addition to the $14,000 annual per donee exclusion, there is a $5.45 Million exclusion that applies to the aggregate of all gifts in excess of the $14,000 per year per donee gifts.
There are complications to utilizing the lifetime exclusion. You must file a gift tax return to claim the lifetime exclusion, and the amounts of the lifetime exclusion used as an exclusion from gift tax will be tracked on any gift tax return(s) filed and will reduce the estate tax exemption. So for example, if in 2016 you make a gift of $3,014,000 to your child, and you haven’t made gifts in the past that exceeded the annual per donee gift tax exclusion, you will pay no gift tax, but you will have reduced your remaining lifetime exclusion to $2.45 Million. If you make more large gifts in the future that use up your remaining lifetime exclusion, not only will you then be subject to gift tax on the excess gifts, but at your passing, and assuming the value of your estate is large enough to be subject to estate tax, you will have no estate tax exclusion left to offset the estate’s value, so it will all be subject to estate tax.
The estate tax rates and the lifetime exclusion have long been a political football. They date back to 2006, when the lifetime exclusion was $2 Million. Congress can change the current $5.45 Million exclusion at any time. In fact, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed reducing the exclusion to $3 Million and raising the top estate tax rate from 40% to 45%. She would also disconnect the gift and estate tax exclusions and limit the lifetime gift exclusion to $1 Million.
Special Tuition/Medical Exclusion – In addition to the current $14,000 annual exclusion, a donor may make gifts that are totally excluded from the gift tax in the following circumstances:
- Payments made directly to an educational institution for tuition. This includes college and private primary education. It does not include books or room and board.
- Payments made directly to any person or entity providing medical care for the donee.
In both cases, it is critical that the payments be made directly to the educational institution or health care provider. Reimbursement paid to the donee will not qualify. The tuition/medical exclusion is often overlooked, but these expenses can be quite significant. Parents and grandparents interested in estate reduction should strongly consider these gifts.
Gift Splitting – A husband and wife can each make annual exclusion gifts, thereby increasing the exclusion from the current $14,000 to $28,000 per year per couple. However, only one of the spouses may be in a financial position to make the gifts. Spouses may elect on the gift tax return to treat a gift made by one spouse as being made by both spouses. Gift splitting can be used for annual exclusion gifts, lifetime exclusion gifts, and gifts above the lifetime exclusions.
Example – Gift Splitting – John and Jane are married and have two children. In a year when the annual exclusion limit is $14,000, they would like to exclude $56,000 ($14,000 x 2 donors x 2 donees) in gifts. Jane received a large inheritance some years back; John has only a modest estate. Jane gives the children $28,000 each. Then the couple elects to gift split so that the $28,000 gift is treated as given one-half by Jane and one-half by John (or $14,000 each). The gifts all qualify for the annual exclusion. Even if both spouses have sufficient resources to make gifts, gift splitting is useful when the husband and wife have different estate planning goals.
For residents of community property states, if community property is given, gift splitting is not necessary. Regardless of who holds the property’s title, or who “makes” the gift, the property is owned one-half by each and is therefore given one-half by each.
Gifts of Property – Gifts of property have some of their own circumstances to consider. For instance, where gifts are made of appreciated property such as stocks or real estate, although the donor’s gift is considered at the fair market value (FMV) for purposes of valuing the gift, the beneficiary of the gift assumes the donor’s basis. As a result, the beneficiary of the gift is assuming any taxable gain the donor would have had if he or she had sold the property instead of gifting it and will have to include as income that gain when and if the gifted property is later sold.
Although the FMV of traded stocks is readily available, the same is not true of most other types of property, in which case a qualified appraisal will be needed to determine the value as of the date of the gift.
Finally, keep in mind that a beneficiary inherits property at its FMV at the date of the decedent’s death as opposed to assuming the decedent’s basis, as happens in the case of a gift.
If you are contemplating gifting money or property to an individual, it may be appropriate to consult this office in advance to minimize the impact on estate taxes and help with any gift tax filings that may be required.
Image via public domain
Many people are using rental agents or online rental services, such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway, that match property owners with prospective renters. If you are one of these people who rents, then some special tax rules may apply to you.
These special (and sometimes complex) taxation rules can make the rents that you charge tax-free. However, other situations may force your rental income and expenses to be treated as a business reported on a Schedule C, as opposed to a rental activity reported on Schedule E.
The following is a synopsis of the rules governing short-term rentals.
Rented for Fewer than 15 Days During the Year – When a property is rented for fewer than 15 days during the tax year, the rental income is not reportable, and the expenses associated with that rental are not deductible. Interest and property taxes are not prorated, and the full amounts of the qualified mortgage interest and property taxes are reported as itemized deductions (as usual) on the taxpayer’s Schedule A.
The 7-Day and 30-Day Rules – Rentals are generally passive activities. However, an activity is not treated as a rental if either of these statements applies:
A. The average customer use of the property is for 7 days or fewer – or for 30 days or fewer if the owner (or someone on the owner’s behalf) provides significant personal services.
B. The owner (or someone on the owner’s behalf) provides extraordinary personal services without regard to the property’s average period of customer use.
If the activity is not treated as a rental, then it will be treated as a trade or business, and the income and expenses, including prorated interest and taxes, will be reported on Schedule C. IRS Publication 527 states: “If you provide substantial services that are primarily for your tenant’s convenience, such as regular cleaning, changing linen, or maid service, you report your rental income and expenses on Schedule C.” Substantial services do not include the furnishing of heat and light, the cleaning of public areas, the collecting of trash, and such.
Exception to the 30-Day Rule – If the personal services provided are similar to those that generally are provided in connection with long-term rentals of high-grade commercial or residential real property (such as public area cleaning and trash collection), and if the rental also includes maid and linen services that cost less than 10% of the rental fee, then the personal services are neither significant nor extraordinary for the purposes of the 30-day rule.
Profits & Losses on Schedule C – Profit from a rental activity is not subject to self-employment tax, but a profitable rental activity that is reported as a business on Schedule C is subject to this tax. A loss from this type of activity is still treated as a passive-activity loss unless the taxpayer meets the material participation test – generally, providing 500 or more hours of personal services during the year or qualifying as a real estate professional. Losses from passive activities are deductible only up to the passive income amount, but unused losses can be carried forward to future years. A special allowance for real estate rental activities with active participation permits a loss against non passive income of up to $25,000 – phasing out when modified adjusted gross income is between $100K and $150K. However, this allowance does NOT apply when the activity is reported on Schedule C.
These rules can be complicated; please call or email Dagley & Co., CPA at (202) 417-6640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We can determine how they apply to your circumstances and what you can do to minimize tax liability and maximize tax benefits from your rentals.
Image via. public domain