As an NRI in the US, can you claim a Tax Deduction for your Health Insurance?

As an NRI in the US, can you claim a Tax Deduction for your Health Insurance?

As an NRI in the US, can you claim a Tax Deduction for your Health Insurance?

In today’s times, health insurance has become a basic necessity of life. With the spread of dreadful diseases across the world and the cost of medical facilities soaring high, health insurance is a must for every individual. By a health insurance policy, the insurance provider would meet the medical expenses that are incurred during any type of treatment undergone by the health insurance policyholder. For availing this, the policyholder will have to pay the health insurance premium regularly.  

NRIs who are living in the US and are working sought to purchase health insurance to avoid any financial emergencies at the times of medical emergencies. 

NRIs enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan

  1. When an NRI in the US has taken a health insurance plan which is sponsored by his employer then the premiums which are paid for the health insurance plan are already tax-free. However, if the premiums for the health insurance plan are made by a payroll deduction plan and the premium payment is done by pre-tax dollars then a tax deduction cannot be availed.
  2. Payroll deduction plans are those in which the employers of the NRIs withhold money from their paychecks for the benefits. These plans can include those for Medical insurance, life insurance premium, and retirement savings, other taxes, etc.

 

 

Tax deductions for unreimbursed expenses of NRIs

  1. In the case of NRIs purchasing their health insurance on their own by using after-tax dollars, some tax deductions can be done on the health insurance premiums.
  2. In the year 2019, NRIs would be allowed to deduct any qualified unreimbursed health care expenses that they have paid for themselves, their spouses, or dependents if the expenses exceeded 10% of their AGI (Adjusted Gross Income). 
  3. However, in the year 2017 and 2018 if the healthcare expenses were more than 7.5% of the AGI of the NRI then it would qualify for a tax deduction.
  4.  Apart from the health insurance premium, other expenses which can be included in this category by the NRIs are any expenses which are out-of-the-pocket such as expenses involved in surgeries, doctor’s visit, mental health care, vision care, etc.
  5. If an NRI is interested in making deductions for the medical expenses it is advisable to itemize the deductions. The NRI must ensure that his total itemized deductions would exceed the standard deduction amount. 

Tax deductions for self-employed NRIs

  1. For self-employed NRIs living in the US, the entire health insurance premium can be claimed as a tax deduction. This deduction claimed by self-employed NRIs can be said to be a write-off to their personal income tax and will not be deducted when the NRIs are filing on the behalf of any of their businesses. For instance, a sole proprietor must enter the deduction amount in Form 1040 and not in the Schedule C Form.
  2. But, if an NRI is self-employed and also has another job at the same time then he can preclude from this tax deduction.
  3. If a self-employed NRI receives health insurance coverage through his spouse’s health insurance plan which is employer-sponsored, then he can also preclude himself from the tax deduction that can be availed by self-employed NRIs.
  4. Self-employed NRIs are not eligible to claim more deduction than the amount of income they are making through their work.
  5. Self-employed NRIs can choose any one of their businesses as the sponsor for their health insurance plan. It is not permissible for self-employed NRIs to add up their income generated by different companies to claim the maximum deduction. So, it would be wiser if a self-employed NRI would choose his most profit earning business as the sponsor for his health insurance plan.

Reducing of tax bills by NRIs

If an NRI does not qualify to make tax deductions for his health insurance either because of the cost threshold or due to the choice of taking the standard deduction, then he can choose another alternative method for reducing his tax bills.

By electing an HDHP i.e. high-deductible health plan, NRIs can avail the benefits of paying less premium for health insurance plans than normal plans. Through this, NRIs would be able to open a Health Savings Account (HSA). The money which is put into the HSA can be utilized for paying off the health care expenses which are out-of-pocket. The contributions made by an NRI towards the HSA are tax-deductible and when these are used for eligible expenses the withdrawals also become free. In some cases, the health insurance premium can be paid off by using the funds in the HSA. 

However, HDHP can offer tax benefits to the NRIs but they are only advisable for the younger masses that do not need health care cover except some health emergency. It is not advisable for those masses that already have pre-existing health issues or are expecting health expenses shortly. 

 Hence, tax deduction by NRIs for health insurance can be made by thinking wisely and by taking into account the major criterion such as the type of employment and type of health care expenses incurred by the NRIs.

References

  1. https://www.investopedia.com/are-health-insurance-premiums-tax-deductible-4773286
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/health-insurance-premium-4773146
  3. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/payroll-deduction-plan.asp 

 

COVID-19 Stimulus Payment and Tax Relief for the Self-Employed

COVID-19 Stimulus Payment and Tax Relief for the Self-Employed

COVID-19 Stimulus Payment and Tax Relief for the Self-Employed

Self-employed individuals are those who earn a livelihood by working for themselves. They do not work as an employee for someone else and not as an owner/shareholder of any corporation. Self-employed persons can work for themselves in different trades and occupations such as photography, music, hairstyling, tutors, childcare workers, etc. Professionals like Gig workers, independent contractors, freelancers, and owners of small businesses can be said to be self-employed.

A very important part of the American workforce comprises of self-employed individuals. With the outbreak of the COVID-19, there are a large number of self-employed individuals who are facing economic disruptions. Many of them have either lost their income or are struggling hard to make income.

Let us talk about the various changes made in the tax laws by the Federal Government for reducing the stress of these self-employed individuals during the COVID-19.

 

a.Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on 18th March 2020. This Act included certain refundable tax credits which would be beneficial for the self-employed individuals.

1.Qualified Sick Leave

In case a self-employed individual is taking a sick leave from his job due to his health or for taking care of a family member showing up symptoms of being affected by COVID-19. In case of a self-employed individual is willing to claim sick leave credit, the below-mentioned guidelines would be helpful.

  1. If the individual is himself being quarantined due to exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he can claim up to ten days of sick pay at his average rate of income whose maximum value is $511 per day.
  2. If the self-employed individual has to take a leave for taking care of a family member exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, he can claim up to 10 days of sick pay at two-thirds of his average rate of income whose maximum value can be $200 per day.

2.Qualified Family Leave

A self-employed individual can claim a refundable tax credit associated with family leave. This family leave can be because of not being able to send your kid to school or daycare as they are closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. In this case, the self-employed individual would be able to claim up to 50 days of income at the rate of two-thirds of his earning. The maximum value of the average rate of earning in a day can be $200.

These refundable credits offered by FFCRA will be applicable when a self-employed individual is filing his tax returns for 2020 in 2021. The IRS has suggested considering these credits while planning for federal estimated tax payments. The self-employed tax would get reduced by the qualifying credit and hence the funds can be used up now at the times of emergency. Self-employed individuals can maintain records related to virus testing, medical care or school closure for making the claims.

b.Extension in tax deadlines

To alleviate the financial disruption caused by COVID-19, the Federal Government has extended the deadlines for filing tax returns and even tax payments to 15th July 2020. 

For the self-employed taxpayers, the deadline for payment of the first quarter estimated tax has been extended to 15th July 2020. However, the deadline for the payment of second, third and fourth remains unchanged i.e. 15th June 2020, 15th October 2020 and 15th January 2021 respectively.

Even though there has been an extension in the deadline for filing tax returns and tax payment, the IRS advises people to file the tax refund soon as the refund can be obtained on time and be utilized in these times of emergency.

c.Stimulus payment under the CARES Act

The Federal Government would be sending the taxpayers stimulus payments based on their AGI and tax filing status of the year 2019. The Government would consider the tax returns filed for the year 2019 to determine how much a self-employed individual should obtain as Stimulus payment. In case, a self-employed individual has not filed for the year 2019 his tax returns for 2018 would be taken into consideration.

  • If a self-employed individual is filing his tax returns as a single individual and his AGI is below $75,000 then he would receive a Stimulus payment of $1200.
  • In case of filing tax returns jointly as a married couple with AGI less than $150,000, the Stimulus payment received would be $2400.
  • If there is a dependent below the age of 17 years and has been claimed on tax returns, then an additional Stimulus payment of $500 would be obtained.

Hence, with the impacts of COVID-19 affecting the financial lives of the Americans especially the self-employed individuals, it is quite sure that the relief measures initiated by the US Government would bring the stress level of the Americans under control.

References

https://www.taxslayer.com/blog/covid-19-stimulus-payment-tax-credits-self-employed-gig-workers/

https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/families-first-coronavirus-response-act-guide

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/self-employed-person.asp

 

What are the tax relief initiatives taken by the IRS for self-employed taxpayers during COVID-19?

What are the tax relief initiatives taken by the IRS for self-employed taxpayers during COVID-19?

What are the tax relief initiatives taken by the IRS

for self-employed taxpayers during COVID-19?

The US Government has recently made changes into the tax filing timelines as an effort to provide some relief to the taxpayers who are already suffering due to the outbreak of pandemic COVID-19. These changes were jointly announced by the US treasury and the IRS and are applicable for individual taxpayers, businesses and even self-employed taxpayers.

The US Government has extended the income tax filing deadline to 15th July 2020. The IRS would be processing the refund process for all the taxpayers within the normal time frame which is around 21 days for those filing the tax returns by electronic medium or by direct deposit.

Tax-filing extensions for self-employed taxpayers

Tax-filing extensions for self-employed taxpayers

The tax filing timeline has been extended for 90 days without the payment of any penalty and this change is also applicable on the estimated tax payment for the year 2020 which was also due on 15th April 2020.

For self-employed taxpayers, if there is a filing of the quarterly estimated tax then first-quarter filing must be due by 15th April 2020 previously. The timeline for the filing of the first quarter estimated tax has now been extended to 15th July 2020. However, for the other quarters, the filing dates remain unchanged such as the tax filing deadlines remain 15th June 2020, 15th September 2020 and 15th January 2021 for the second, third and fourth quarters. 

The Families First Coronavirus Act

On 18th March 2020, the US President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Act which is the initial coronavirus relief bill. This Act provides several benefits to self-employed taxpayers and small-business owners.

1.Comparable tax credits for self-employed individuals

 

 

a.If a self-employed individual is affected by the coronavirus, then by this Act he is eligible to claim a refundable credit against the bill of his federal income tax including the self-employment tax hit. In case the credit is more than the bill amount then the Government will issue a payment for the excess to the taxpayer.

b.This refundable credit will equal to the sum of 100% of the self-employed individual’s sick leave equivalent and 67% of the sick leave equivalent amount needed for taking care of a family member who is sick or for taking care of the individual’s child due to the closing of the child’s school or child care center.

c.The sick leave equivalent amount would equal to lesser among the below-mentioned

  • average daily self-employment income of the individual or  
  • $511 each day for up to 10 days for self –care due to the COVID-19  or $200 each day up to 10 days for the care of a sick family member or child after the latter’s school has been closed due to COVID-19.

d.Moreover, self-employed individuals can claim a family-leave credit due to COVID-19 up to 50 days. The amount of this credit would be equal to the number of the qualified family day leaves multiplied with the lesser amongst $200 or the individual’s average daily self-employment income. The maximum total family-leave credit permissible is $10,000 which is equal to 50 days multiplied with $200 per day.

e.These credits which can be availed by the self-employed individuals are allowed only for the days during a particular period which is specified by the Treasury up to 31st December 2020. The beginning date is most likely to be within 15 days of the date this Act became a law i.e. 18th March 2020.

f.The self-employed individuals must maintain proper documentation needed to claim these credits.       

2.Small Business  Owners Tax Credits

  1. A small business owner is eligible to collect a tax credit which is equal to 100% of the qualified emergency sick-leave and family-leave payments made by him under the Families first coronavirus Act.
  2. This credit would only cover those leave payments which are made during the period specified by the Secretary of the Treasury up to 31st December 2020. 
  3. This credit can also be increased for providing cover to a portion of the small business owner’s qualified health-plan expenses which can be allocated for emergency sick-leaves and family-leave wages.
  4. However, this credit would not be available for those employers who are already receiving the pre-existing credit for paid family leave and medical leave under IRS Code Section 45S.

 

Conclusion

Hence, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 the self-employed individuals and small business owners have also suffered from certain economic and financial disruptions. The attempt of the US Government to bring certain relief to these taxpayers by changing tax laws and by passing the Family First Coronavirus Act is sure to be successful.

References

https://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/self-employed/what-the-coronavirus-relief-means-for-self-employed-taxpayers-46585/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-the-family-first-coronavirus-relief-bill-means-for-small-business-owners-and-self-employed-people-2020-03-21