Fall Tax Planning: Get Ahead of the Curve
If you think tax planning only happens in the spring, think again. Taxes are a year-round concern and there’s no better time than the present to plan for the future.
Consider the Following Child Care and Education Expenses
Fall means the end of summer and summer camp for many kids. Did you know there’s a tax credit for that? If your child attended a summer day camp (not summer school or an overnight camp) the cost of that camp may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit. While this is often referred to as the “day care credit,” some summer camps also qualify. Keep good records and bring them to your tax appointment in the spring.
Fall also means college, and college football, and there are tax implications for both. The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), which has been extended through December 2017, is a great way to offset the costs of higher education. To qualify for the AOTC, you must meet all three of the following criteria:
- You, your dependent or a third party pays qualified education expenses for higher education.
- An eligible student must be enrolled at an eligible educational institution.
- The eligible student is yourself, your spouse or a dependent you list on your tax return.
The AOTC can offset 100% of the first $2,000 and 25% of the second $2,000 of qualified education expenses paid. There is a phaseout for higher income taxpayers whose Modified Adjusted Gross Income (Modified AGI) is between $80,000 and $90,000 (or $160,000 and $180,000 if Married Filing Jointly). For expatriates, Modified AGI is the AGI modified by adding back foreign earned income exclusion and foreign housing exclusion/deduction taken on the return.
Pay special attention to #3 as this is a conversation to have with your children before you send them off to school. If a student claims himself as a dependent, he claims the education credit as well. However, students often qualify as dependents on their parents’ return and the parents often recognize a greater tax benefit when claiming the credit. Make sure your student knows to talk to you before asserting his independence and filing his own return.
In addition to the AOTC, higher education costs can be offset by the Lifetime Learning Credit, the Tuition and Fees Deduction and the Student Loan Interest Deduction. While education tax benefits are plentiful, they are also complicated. For more information, refer to IRS Publication 970 or give us a call.
As for football, many colleges and universities charge a booster fee for the right to purchase season tickets for football and other sports. While the cost of the tickets themselves is usually not deductible, the booster fee may be. If the fee is paid to the school or for the benefit of the school and gives you the right to purchase tickets, the cost of the booster fee may be 80% deductible as an itemized deduction on Form 1040, Schedule A.
US Workdays During Expatriate Assignment or Foreign Employment
If you work in a jurisdiction with low or no tax and your (self-)employment income is not fully excludable, required to travel to the US for business periodically while working overseas, or have a considerable amount of personal income, you shouldn’t miss the chance to review your estimated tax payments before the next quarterly payment becomes due on January 17, 2017.
Other Life Event Changes
Finally, fall is the perfect time to do some planning to mitigate your tax exposure for 2016. Has your income changed since you filed your last return? Have you relocated to a different country? Have you started school or started a business? Married or divorced? Retired? Had a baby? Purchased a house? Incurred serious medical expenses? Changed your health insurance? These and many other life experiences can affect your tax return so planning for those events now can save you money later. Waiting until January will be too late to influence your 2016 tax bill so call today and schedule an appointment with us. Enrolled agents are America’s Tax Experts®. This coming tax season, let us put your mind at ease.
American Expatriate Tax is a part of Contexo Global Mobility Solutions & Tax Consulting Ltd. registered in Hong Kong. Together, we help companies and individuals navigate through the complexities of global mobility and related tax issues. Here is where you will find a blend of expertise from Big 4 accounting firms and Fortune Global 500 companies but the attention of a boutique consulting practice. The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.