Last week the IRS published Revenue Procedure 2019-15, which announced that Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Iraq, and Nicaragua are the countries for 2018 where it was determined that war, civil unrest, or similar adverse conditions precluded the normal conduct of business for purposes of Code § 911. The effective date for Democratic Republic of the Congo was December 14, 2018, the effective date for Cuba was January 4, 2018, the effective date for Iraq was September 28, 2018, and the effective date for Nicaragua was July 6, 2018.
Code § 911(a) allows a “qualified individual” to exclude foreign earned income and housing cost amounts from gross income, typically referred to as the “foreign earned income exclusion.” Code §911(d)(1) defines the term “qualified individual” as an individual whose tax home is in a foreign country and who is:
(A) a citizen of the United States and establishes to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury that the individual has been a bona fide resident of a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period that includes an entire taxable year, or
(B) a citizen or resident of the United States who, during any period of 12 consecutive months, is present in a foreign country or countries during at least 330 full days.
Code § 911(d)(4) provides an exception to the eligibility requirements of Code § 911(d)(1) if the individual left the country during a period for which the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of State, determines that individuals were required to leave because of war, civil unrest, or similar adverse conditions that precluded the normal conduct of business.
For purposes of Code § 911, an individual who left Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Iraq, or Nicaragua on or after the specified dates during 2018 will be treated as a qualified individual with respect to the period during which that individual was present in, or was a bona fide resident of, such foreign country. However, to meet this exception, the individual must also establish that but for those conditions the individual could reasonably have been expected to meet the eligibility requirements.