Tax Tips for the Self Employed NR Indians in the US

Tax Tips for the Self Employed NR Indians in the US

Tax Tips for the Self Employed NR Indians in the US

If you are an NRI in the US and have just started your entrepreneurship, then you should be aware of the different tax implications related to self-employment. Some of these tax implications can even help reduce your tax liabilities.

Let us now have a look at the different facets associated with the tax rules for the self-employed NRIs.

Offices at home

When you are working comfortably from your home, it can help maximize your tax write-offs. In case, you are using a specific home office for your work or your business then that be claimed while filing the tax returns.

Those expenses which you can deduct as a part of your deduction for the home office can also include a part of expenses related to the home i.e. the mortgage interest, rent, taxes on real estate, utilities, insurance, etc. Moreover, you would also be eligible for the deduction of the total expenses that have been incurred in the repairs and the painting that is required for your home office.

Hiring part-time employees

If you have grown-up kids and they are on holiday, the best idea to keep them engaged is by hiring them for doing some of your office work. If you are hiring your kids for cleaning the office, running your deliveries, data entry, answering phones, etc. then you would be able to claim a tax deduction. You can claim that wages are deducted under Schedule C. However, this deduction can only be done until the compensation to be obtained is reasonable for the activity performed.

In case, your kids are below the age of 18 years the wages paid to them would be exempted from Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes. Moreover, if your kids are below the age of 21 years they would not owe the Federal Unemployment taxes. Even by these part-time hires, the tax liability of your family would be reduced as your children would not owe any income taxes on this income obtained.

Planning for retirement

By opting for a retirement plan, you would be lowering your taxable income. If you are a self-employed NRI the best retirement plan for you is the SEP (Simplified Employee Pension Plan). You have the option to put in up to less than around 25% of your earnings done from self-employment or put in up to $57,000 for the tax year/$58000 for the tax year 2021. You can compare this with the limit of $6000 which has been put on the contributions made to the IRA for the tax year 2020.


If you would have been an employee who is traveling regularly to work then the expenses related to driving to your office and back could not have been claimed under tax deductions. Since you are self-employed then any work-related travel such as traveling to meet any client, going for work to some other location, etc. can be claimed as a tax deduction. In the year 2020, work-related travel done for a mile can be used to claim 57.5 cents along with the parking cost and any other tolls that have been paid. So, you must track your mileage coverage for work so that it can be used to claim deductions.

Business Travel

When you are a self-employed NRI and are traveling to another city in the US for work it is possible to claim a tax deduction for 100% of the costs incurred in the travel. Moreover, during the travel period, it can also be feasible for you to claim the expense incurred in your hotel stay and 50% of the expenses incurred in your meal. However, this is only possible for those days for which the travel has been work-related.

Moreover, under the provisions of the CARES Act, 100% of the expenses incurred in business meals can be claimed as tax deductions rather than 50%. This would be feasible starting in the year 2021 and would continue throughout the tax year 2022.


Hence, these tax guidelines would be helpful for you to lower your tax liability if you are an NRI and self-employed in the US.


Everything you need to know about tax relief implemented for the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019

Everything you need to know about tax relief implemented for the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019

Everything you need to know about tax relief

implemented for the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019

The dreadful coronavirus disease has taken a toll on the global economy. Businesses are suffering from losses and employees are losing their jobs. In such a situation, tax compliance is an additional factor of stress on the common people and business entities as well. In such difficult times, the US Government has taken an initiative and introduced certain changes to federal tax laws. 

Extension in federal tax deadlines

 The US Department of Treasury and the IRS issued Notice 2020-17on 18th March 2020. According to the guidelines of this notice, there has been an extension in the deadline for payment of federal income tax or federal tax return. Any taxpayer having a federal income tax payment or federal income tax return due on 15th April 2020 can file the returns by 15th July 2020. This extension of 90 days has been provided by the IRS without charging any penalties or interest for late filing. This tax relief is applicable for all taxpayers who include individual, trust, estate, partnership association, corporation, etc. 

The affected taxpayers do not need to file the forms Form 4868 or Form 7004. Also, there is no limitation on the amount of payment that might be postponed. This relief on taxes is applicable for the Federal Income tax and Federal tax return of 2019 and for the estimated federal income tax payment of 2020 which were due on 15th April 2020. However, no extension has been announced for the filing of any other type of federal income tax or federal tax return.

Extension in State tax deadlines 

The majority of the States have agreed to the tax changes implemented by the Federal Government and have responded accordingly. However, there are some states which have responded differently to these tax changes implemented by the Federal Government. Taxpayers can obtain all information related to the changes in State tax laws from their state tax agencies.

Contributions to IRA

With the changes in the deadlines for tax payment and filing of tax returns for the federal tax, the deadline for making contributions to IRA has also been extended. The deadline for making contributions to the IRA has been also extended to 15th July 2020. This extension of 90 days for making contributions to the IRA has been provided by the IRS without charging any penalties or interest.

Taxpayers can contribute a maximum amount of $6000 towards their IRA and if the taxpayer is above the age of 50 years then there can be an additional contribution of $1000.This is an excellent opportunity for the taxpayers to save more for their retirement if they have not done so. 

Contributions to HSA

Along with the extension made in filing federal tax payments and federal tax returns up to 15th July 2020, the deadline for making contributions to HSA has also been changed to 15th July 2020.

In case if the taxpayer is having a high –deductible health insurance plan with an HSA then he can add up to $3500 if he has self-only coverage. This amount can be increased to $7000 in case of family health plans. In the case of the taxpayer being above the age of 55, a contribution of an additional $1000 can be made into the account.   

The stimulus package and

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Stimulus package will help the taxpayers in obtaining stimulus checks. These stimulus checks would of amount $1200 for the individual taxpayers, $2400 for those who are filing tax returns jointly and $500 for each qualifying child. These payments related to the stimulus package would be done by using the tax information of the taxpayers based on their recent tax filings. The amount which would be paid would be reconciled on the next year’s tax return based on the taxpayer’s situation in 2020.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act helps in providing relief to the individual taxpayers as well as self-employed individuals and small businesses. The eligible employees who have been impacted by the coronavirus would receive emergency sick leave and paid sick leave.

Under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), if an employee needs to be quarantined, took care of a family member who was quarantined or took care of minor children whose schools/child care centers are closed due to COVID-19 can avail 12 weeks of job-protected leave. Also, if an employee is himself seeking medical supervision or is being quarantined then he would be eligible to receive two weeks paid sick leave and two-thirds pay for the care of the family member/child. 

Furthermore, self-employed taxpayers and small business owners can obtain tax credits for providing paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave to the employees. Self-employed taxpayers can obtain a tax credit which is equivalent to the qualified sick leave amount whereas they can obtain a refundable tax credit equivalent to 100% of a qualified family leave amount. Small business owners are eligible to obtain refundable tax credits equivalent to 100% of both the qualified paid sick leave and qualified family leave wages.


 Hence, with the implementation of these tax relief strategies by the US Government the stress of the taxpayers would be reduced up to some extent until things return to square one.




What to do if you haven’t filed your taxes in the US?

What to do if you haven’t filed your taxes in the US?

What to do if you haven’t filed your taxes in the US?

There can be an array of reasons for taxpayers not to file their taxes in the US. For starters, an individual might not have filed their taxes because they cannot pay their taxes. Or the more common reason is that individuals get consumed with life and work and cannot get things aligned to be able to file their taxes on time.

Irrespective of what your reason maybe, it is essential that you file your taxes at the earliest. Simply because non-filing of taxes is a serious issue for the IRS. There are three straightforward outcomes when it comes to filing your taxes. Firstly, you do not owe any taxes to the government. Secondly, the government owes you tax refunds and thirdly, you owe taxes to the government.

While the first and second scenarios are still easy to live by, the third one can take a hefty toll on you. In the event that you owe taxes to the government, you are liable to pay fines and penalties on the top of the taxes that you are liable to pay. And things can get ugly, quite fast.

File your Tax Returns

For individuals who have not yet filed their taxes, they must start immediately. The first question that will come to your mind is, for how many years should I file my taxes. As per the IRS guidelines, you must file your taxes for at least 6 years to establish a good understanding with the IRS.

If there are any changes to the same, the IRS management will have to approve of the same. Depending on the situation, the IRS management can ask you for tax returns exceeding 6 years as well. Here are some of the common reasons for the same.

  • If there are relatively larger tax bills on your past filings. The absence of any withholdings for large wages, property taxes or Form 1099-Misc is red flags for the same.
  • The IRS would most probably do additional scrutiny if any businesses are involved since the possibility of non-compliance is higher.

Tips For Filing your Taxes

Citizens who have not filed their taxes and wish to do so, here are some tips that will help you get through.

  • It is essential to get a confirmation whether the IRS needs 6 years of taxes or beyond. You can either call the IRS to find out the same or reach out to a tax consultant for the same.
  • One more reason to file your taxes at the earliest is that the IRS will not pay older tax refunds. As per the IRS guidelines, it will pay refunds up to a maximum of 3 years from the date of filing. Thus, you might lose any refunds even if they are valid.
  • There is a good possibility that you might have to pay hefty fines on your taxes. The failure to pay and failure to file penalties can accrue up to 47.5% of your liable taxes.
  • The IRS usually starts a process called the substitute for return, if the due date exceeds three years. When you file your taxes, the IRS will compare your returns with the SFR (substitute for return). And this can be time consuming, sometimes these cases might take up to four months.
  • In the event you cannot pay your liable taxes, it is recommended that you reach out to the IRS and ask for an agreement. Depending on your needs, there are several typesof agreements that you can opt for.

Irrespective of your reasons, if you haven’t filed your returns, you must initiate the same at the earliest to minimize its impacts.


Step by Step process to pay off your Income Tax Bill

Step by Step process to pay off your Income Tax Bill

Step by Step process to pay off your Income Tax Bill

Discovering that you owe a lot more taxes to the IRS than you can afford can be a very concerning situation. To find out that you do not have any tax refunds is bad enough and if you must pay additional taxes to the IRS, it is pretty much the worst nightmare.However, such a predicament is not the end of the road or the world. You can pay off your income tax bill by following a few simple steps, without taking a lot of stress.

  • Your Tax Liability

Knowing the amount of taxes that you are liable to pay to the IRS is the very first step. Before you submit your tax returns during the tax season, it is essential that you go through your returns more than once. A little bit of scrutiny here can save you from a lot of pain. It is quite common to forget a deduction or accidentally add the same item twice.

Forgetting a checkbox or a question can at times turn out to be expensive in this matter. Thus, cross-check your return thoroughly before clicking on the submit button. You can compare your current return with that of the previous year to see if there are any major changes. This holds good if there hasn’t been a dramatic change in your tax situation.

And if the IRS sends you a letter for tax dues, do not jump to any conclusions immediately. There is a probability that it might be wrong. If you feel so, you can ask them for clarification.

  • Minimize any penalties or interest

Penalties and interest can worsen the already grim situation. If you have a large tax bill to pay off, interest or penalties can bloat this number. Fortunately, you can minimize them using any of the following methods.

  • Underpayment Exception

There might be a situation where you underpaid your taxes this year but had paid your taxes accurately the previous year. If the taxes of the previous year were considerably lower and you paid your current taxes by the due date, you don’t have to pay penalty on your underpayment of taxes.

  • Pay ASAP

Should you owe any taxes to the government and you do not see a way out, paying it off at the earliest is your best bet. Even if you do not pay the entire amount, pay off as much as you can.

  • Abatement of Penalties

The IRS is known to reduce or even remove the penalties on a taxpayer if they write a letter to the IRS and make them aware of the situation. Do not forget to ask for an abatement in your letter to the IRS.

  • Installment Agreement Request

If there is no other way for you to pay the taxes, you can file Form 9465, which is Installment Agreement Request. You are essentially setting up an installment of your tax liabilities. And filing the form online will prevent you from paying the payment user fee. The installment is applicable if:

  1. The taxes you owe are less than $10,000.
  2. A taxpayer can prove that they are unable to pay the dues.
  3. A taxpayer can pay the taxes within 3 years.
  • Compromise

You can negotiate with the IRS for Offer In Compromise (OIC). In this method, you must offer as much as your net worth is. An OIC resembles bankruptcy in a lot of ways and must only be considered if there is absolutely no other way.

The above steps will help you pay off your income tax bill to the IRS. It is important not to panic and look for a solution if you owe taxes to the IRS.