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IRS Announces 2019 COLAs for Transportation Fringes, FSA Deferrals, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, and More

  • Posted
  • Nov 21, 2018
What's New

IRS Announces 2019 COLAs for Transportation Fringes, FSA Deferrals, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, and More

The IRS has released inflation-adjusted tables for 2019 reflecting any increases in the FSA deferral limit, foreign earned income exclusion, and excludable transportation fringes, among other changes [Rev. Proc. 2018-57, 11-15-18].

Qualified transportation fringes

The amounts that may be excluded from gross income for employer-provided qualified transportation fringe benefits (transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and any transit pass) and qualified parking for 2019 are both $265 per month ($260 in 2018).

Health flexible spending arrangements

For plan years beginning in 2019, the dollar limitation under IRC §125(i) on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,700 ($2,650 in 2018).

Standard deduction

The standard deduction amounts for 2019 increase to $24,400 for married couples filing jointly or surviving spouses ($24,000 in 2018), $12,200 for single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing separately ($12,000 in 2018), and $18,350 for heads of household ($18,000 in 2018).

Federal tax levies

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act altered the way the amount of wages, salary, or other income exempt from a federal tax levy is calculated. For taxable years beginning in 2019, the dollar amount used to calculate the amount determined under IRC §6334(d)(4)(B) is $4,200 (up from $4,150 in 2018).

Foreign earned income exclusion

For 2019, the maximum foreign earned income exclusion amount under IRC §911(b)(2)(D)(i) is $105,900 (up from $103,900 in 2018). The maximum amount of the foreign housing cost exclusion is $14,826 (up from $14,546 in 2018).

Medical Savings Accounts

To be eligible to make contributions to a Medical Savings Account (or to have the employer make the contributions), an employee must be covered by a high deductible health plan. For 2019, a high deductible health plan is a plan with an annual deductible of $2,350-$3,500 for individual coverage (up from $2,300-$3,450 in 2018) and $4,650-$7,000 for family coverage (up from $4,550-$6,850 in 2018).

Maximum out-of-pocket expenses can be no more than $4,650 for individual coverage (up from $4,550 in 2018) and $8,550 for family coverage (up from $8,400 in 2018).

Long-term care insurance benefits

If a long-term care insurance contract makes per diem benefit payments, the amount of the payments that is excluded from income in 2019 is capped at $370 per day (up from $360 in 2018).

Adoption assistance

For 2019, the maximum amount that can be excluded from an employee’s gross income for qualified adoption expenses under an employer’s adoption assistance program is $14,080 (up from $13,810 in 2018). The maximum amount that can be excluded in connection with the adoption of a child with special needs is $14,080 (up from $13,810 in 2018).

The amount excludable from an employee’s gross income begins to phase out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $211,160 (up from $207,140 in 2018) and is completely phased out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $251,160 (up from $247,140 in 2018).

Qualified small employer HRA

For 2019, a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA) is an arrangement which, among other requirements, makes payments and reimbursements for qualifying medical care expenses of an eligible employee that do not exceed $5,150 (up from $5,050 for 2018), or $10,450 in the case of an arrangement that also provides for payments or reimbursements for family members of the employee (up from $10,250 for 2018).

Pipeline construction industry per diem option

For 2019, an eligible employer may pay certain welders and heavy equipment mechanics up to $18 per hour for rig-related expenses that will be deemed substantiated under an accountable plan (unchanged from 2018) and up to $11 per hour for fuel (unchanged from 2018), when paid in accordance with Rev. Proc. 2002-41 (2002-23 IRB 1098).

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