In the full draft revision (January 7, 2019) of Publication 535, the IRS removed the language that had previously included real estate agents and insurance agents as specified service trades or businesses from the full publication.
In a previous version of the document the IRS, issued on December 19, 2018, the IRS had provided the following definition of a brokerage business:
Brokerage services, including arranging transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission or fee such as stock brokers, real estate agents and brokers, insurance agents and brokers, (emphasis added) and intellectual property brokers;
The January 7, 2019 version has now reverted to language that duplicates that in the proposed regulations issued in August. The same paragraph now reads:
Brokerage services, including services in which a person arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller with respect to securities for a commission or fee including services provided by stock brokers and other similar professionals, but not real estate agents and brokers, or insurance agents and brokers; (emphasis added)
We may never know what prompted the change in position in the December 19 version, or the reversion to the proposed regulation language in this version. However, at least for now, real estate agents and brokers and insurance agents and brokers with taxable income above the threshold amount can relax a bit.