According to the Notice, whether wages of controlling owners of a business and their spouses qualify for the employee retention credit depends on whether they have certain relatives.
Tax tips and developments relating to S corporations
Most significantly for individuals who are small business owners and investors, the extension doesn't apply to the first estimated tax payment for 2021
The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021 enacted on December 27, 2020 included some great tax breaks. Some of them are retroactive and will result in delays when preparing 2020 income tax returns, especially when a business had a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan during 2020.
For example, the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) applies to employees retained by employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to qualify to claim the credit, an employer must have carried on a trade or business during calendar year 2020 and EITHER
- the operation of the employer’s trade or business was fully or partially suspended during a calendar quarter in 2020 under orders from an appropriate governmental authority limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings (for commercial, social, religious, or other purposes) due to COVID-19 (note: reducing inside dining of a restaurant to 25% of capacity qualifies as a partial suspension), OR
- The employer’s calendar quarter is within a period during which the employer is experiencing a significant decline in gross receipts. The period of significant decline in gross receipts (a) begins with the first calendar quarter beginning after December 31, 2019 for which the employer’s gross receipts are less than 50% of gross receipts for the same calendar quarter in the prior year; and (b) ends with the first subsequent calendar quarter for which the employers gross receipts are greater than 80% of gross receipts for the same calendar quarter in the prior year.
In the CARES Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, any business that had a PPP loan was ineligible for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).
The CAA changed that rule and allows PPP loan borrowers to claim the ERC, retroactively effective March 13, 2020. Instead, any wages that qualified for PPP loan forgiveness aren’t eligible as payroll costs for computing the ERC.
The IRS is directed to issue regulations for how a taxpayer elects to exclude wages when computing the ERC, so the wages may be used to qualify for a PPP loan exclusion. That guidance hasn’t been issued as a I write this alert.
The CAA also modifies how health plan expenses are added to employee wages for computing the ERC, making more employers eligible to include them.
For 2020, the ERC is 50% of up to $10,000 wages for each employee, or a maximum of $5,000 per employee.
The credit is refundable and is claimed on Form 941, the quarterly Federal payroll tax return. The first payroll tax return on which it could be claimed was for the second quarter, 2020.
The ERC is subtracted from the tax deduction for wages on the federal income tax return. For example, if the employer only had one employee with $10,000 of wages, the deduction for wages would be $10,000 – $5,000 = $5,000.
Some banks haven’t issued procedures for applying for cancelling a PPP loan yet.
In order to have the information to prepare an employer’s or owner’s income tax return the following things will be required.
- The bank that processed the PPP loan will have to issue the procedures to apply for loan cancellation.
- The employer will have to determine which wages will be used to qualify for PPP loan cancellation.
- The IRS will have to issue guidance on how to elect to exclude wages when computing the ERC and possibly issue guidance allowing the entire credit for 2020 to be claimed on the fourth quarter federal payroll tax return.
- The employer will have to submit amended 2020 Federal payroll tax returns (Form 941X) to claim the credit, and elect for wages used to qualify for PPP loan exclusion to not be used for computing the ERC.
- The employer will have to apply for PPP loan cancellation.
- The employer and/or the employer’s owners should then have this part of the information needed to prepare 2020 federal income tax returns.
For employers that file California income tax returns, there is also an issue about which expenses to reduce for cancellation of a PPP loan. Legislation has been introduced to conform to the federal rule allowing the deduction of those expenses, but whether it will pass is uncertain.
Many businesses have been suffering during the pandemic and are anxious to file net operating loss carryback claims. Tax return preparers might decide to file preliminary income tax returns and net operating loss carryback claims and correct them later. This will probably result in additional expense and inconvenience for their clients, and potential fee collection problems. There might not be much choice under the circumstances.
I’ve intentionally left many details out of this explanation for brevity, including which payroll expenses qualify for the credit for employers with more than 100 full-time employees. Employers will probably need professional help preparing amended payroll tax returns to claim additional Employee Retention Credits.
If your business received a Paycheck Protection Plan loan during 2020 that you expect to be cancelled, discuss this issue with your tax consultant.
the IRS clarifies that when a taxpayer satisfies all of the requirements (having qualified expenses during 2020) and expects to apply for forgiveness of the related PPP loan, those expenses aren't tax-deductible for 2020, even when the application for forgiveness isn't made until 2021.
The SBA has issued new forms and updated its Paycheck Protection Program loan “final rules” for the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, enacted on June 5, 2020.
One of the forms is a new one, simplified Form 3805EZ.
Here are URLs for the final rules and forms.
Under the Act, the “covered period” was extended from the eight-week period beginning on the date of the origination of a covered loan to 24 weeks. Borrowers that received PPP loans before June 5, 2020 may elect to use the original eight-week period.
The forgiveness requirement to use at least 75% of loan proceeds for payroll costs was reduced to 60%.
The forms reflect that a pro-rated forgiveness can apply if there is a reduction of the employee count by the end of the covered period.
The maximum payroll costs, including salary, wages and tips, eligible for the forgiveness for an employee is $46,154 with the 24-week covered period and $15,385 with the eight-week covered period.
The owner compensation replacement is calculated based on 2019 net profit. The amounts are 2.5/12 of 2019 net profit, up to $20,833, for a 24-week covered period and 8/52 of 2019 net profit, up to $15,385, for an eight-week covered period. Amounts for which a credit is claimed for qualified sick leave equivalent amount and qualified family leave equivalent amount aren’t eligible for forgiveness.
Remember up to 25% of loan proceeds used to pay otherwise tax deductible interest on mortgage obligations or personal property incurred before February 15, 2020, otherwise tax deductible rent payments on lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020 and otherwise tax deductible utility payments under service agreements dated before February 15, 2020 is eligible for forgiveness under the eight-week covered period scenario. Up to 40% of loan proceeds used to pay the same expenses is eligible for forgiveness under the 24-week covered period scenario.
Many more borrowers should be able to qualify for exclusion of their PPP loans under the new rules.
The California legislature has passed budget legislation, AB 85, and sent it to Governor Newsom, who is expected to approve it.
Notably, there were no provisions conforming California tax law to the CARES Act relief measures adopted by the federal government earlier this year.
Net operating loss deductions won’t be allowed on California income (including corporate franchise) tax returns for 2020-2022 tax years for businesses with business income, or modified adjusted gross income of $1 million or more. The term for which net operating losses that could have been deducted in those years is extended by one year for losses incurred in taxable years years beginning on or after January 1, 2021 and before January 1, 2022, by two years for losses incurred in taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2020 and before January 1, 2021, and by three years for losses incurred in taxable years beginning before January 1, 2020.
The $800 “privilege tax” for corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies “doing business” in California is waived for new companies organized (registered with the California Secretary of State) on or after January 1, 20121 and before January 1, 2024.
Business credits will be limited to $5 million for the 2020 – 2022 tax years. The carryover period for the credits is extended to compensate for the years the limitation applies.
The exemption for sales tax for baby diapers and for menstrual hygiene products, which was scheduled to expire on January 1, 2022 is extended to June 30, 2023.
New sales tax collection and reporting rules will apply for auto dealers, other than new car dealers, effective January 1, 2021. The details are beyond the scope of this summary. See your tax advisor for details.
The maximum monthly penalty for not having mandated health insurance for a responsible person with an applicable household size of five or more individuals is capped at the penalty for five individuals.
The IRS has issued guidance relating to the tax deductibility of expenses paid with a Paycheck Protection Loan that is forgiven. (Notice 2020-32. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-20-32.pdf)
According to the CARES Act, the forgiveness of indebtedness is not taxable income. (CARES Act Section 1106(i).)
The CARES Act doesn’t specify whether the expenses are tax deductible.
A Paycheck Protection Loan is eligible for forgiveness when the proceeds are used for the following expenses during the 8-week “covered period” beginning on the the loan’s origination date (CARES Act Section 1106(b)):
- Payroll costs
- A payment of interest on a covered mortgage obligation
- A payment on a covered rent obligation
- A covered utility payment
The IRS reminds taxpayers that, according to Internal Revenue Code Section 265(a)(1), no deduction is allowed for any item that is allocable to tax-exempt income.
To receive tax-exempt income from the federal government and to be allowed a tax deduction paid using the income would be a double benefit.
Taxpayers and their tax return preparers should note that these items won’t be tax-deductible on their 2020 income tax returns.
The Joint Committee on Taxation has issued a description of the tax provisions in the CARES Act.
Here is a URL to download the report. https://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=5256
Congress enacted and President Trump signed legislation requiring employers to make employee leave payments as a coronavirus relief measure on March 18, 2020. The title of the legislation is the Families First Coronavirus Reponse Act (P.L. 116-127) (the Family First Act, FFA or the Act.) Employers are reimbursed for these payments through tax credits that they can apply against their payroll tax liabilities.
Here is a URL to the text of the Act. https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ127/PLAW-116publ127.pdf
The Department of Labor recently published questions and answers that provide important information about which employees are covered and the amounts that employers are required to pay those employees. Here is a URL to the questions and answers. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
The Department of Labor has also issued a poster that employers are required to use to notify employees of their rights. Here is a URL to the poster. https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Federal.pdf
According to the Department of Labor Questions and Answers, the FFA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020 and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
The IRS has published FAQs about the payroll tax credits for required employee leave under the FFA. Here is a URL to the FAQs. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-tax-credits-for-required-paid-leave-provided-by-small-and-midsize-businesses-faqs
The employee leave requirements of the FFA do not apply to private sector employers that have 500 or more employees.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees and compliance with the requirements would threaten the viability of the business as a going concern may qualify for a small business exemption. These businesses should document the reason the business viability is threatened. There currently isn’t a form or application procedure for the exemption.
According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, employees who take paid leave under the Act are required to provide the employer with documentation supporting the reason for leave. The employer should keep copies of federal and local quarantine orders. The employee should give a statement with the employee’s name, qualifying reason for requesting leave, a statement that the employee is unable to work, including telework, for that reason, and the date(s) for which leave is requested. If leave is requested under a doctor’s orders, a letter from the doctor should be kept by the employer.
If expanded family leave is requested because a child’s school is closed, documentation should be kept for that event.
According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, you are unable to work if your employer has work for you and one of the reasons listed below for the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act prevents you from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at your normal worksite or by teleworking.
According the Department of Labor guidance, if an employer closed its worksite before April 1, 2020, the employee isn’t entitled to paid sick leave because there isn’t any work for the employee to do. This is true whether the employer closes the worksite for lack of business or because it’s required to close because of a Federal, state or local directive. In this case, the employee should apply for state unemployment insurance benefits.
If an employer closes its worksite after April 1, 2020 but before the employee goes on leave, the employee isn’t entitled to paid leave under the Act and should apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
If an employer closes its worksite after April 1, 2020 when an employee is on paid sick leave under the Act, the employee is no longer eligible for paid leave under the Act and should apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
If an employer remains open and furloughs an employee after April 1, 2020 because there isn’t work for the employee, the employee isn’t eligible for paid leave under the Act and should apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
If an employer remains open and reduces an employee’s scheduled work hours because of a reduced workload, the employee isn’t entitled to paid leave under the Act, even if the reduced hours are a result of the coronavirus shutdown. The reason is the employee isn’t prevented from working those hours because of a coronavirus-related reason.
An employee may take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave intermittently while teleworking.
Unless you are teleworking, paid sick leave for qualifying reasons related to coronavirus must be taken in full-day increments.
Unless you are teleworking, once you begin taking paid sick leave for one or more of the qualifying reasons, you must continue to take paid sick leave each day until you either (1) use the full amount of paid sick leave or (2) no longer have a qualifying reason for taking paid sick leave. This requirement is imposed to avoid having other employees be exposed to the coronavirus.
The rules are different when a parent is taking sick leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed. In that case, the employer and employee can agree for the employee to take paid sick leave intermittently, such as taking leave on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and working on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Employees may not receive unemployment benefits when they are receiving paid sick leave.
According to Department of Labor guidance, employers aren’t allowed to require employees to supplement or adjust the pay mandated under the Act with paid leave under the employer’s paid leave policy. The employee must choose one or the other.
Wages paid for employee leave under the FFA are taxable wages for employees, but aren’t subject to the employer shares of Social Security tax (6.2%).
There are two sections of the FFA relating to employee leave: The Emergency Family And Medical Leave Act and The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
The Emergency Family And Medical Leave Expansion Act
The Emergency Family And Medical Leave Act relates to employees who are unable to work or telework due to a need to take leave to care for a son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of the son or daughter is unavailable due to a public health emergency (the coronavirus shutdown declared by a Federal, state or local authority.)
In order to be eligible, the employee must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days by the employer from whom leave is being requested.
The first 10 days for which an employee takes leave may be unpaid leave. An employee may elect to substitute accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave for unpaid leave. According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, the employee may be entitled to paid leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act for the initial 10 days, which is a higher rate of pay. (See below.)
After the first 10 days, the employer is required to pay the employee not less than two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, based on the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work. The maximum required paid leave is $200 per day, or $10,000 total for the ten-week period.
According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, the employee initially uses up to 10 days under the Emergency Medical Leave Act, and then may use up to ten weeks expanded leave after that under the Emergency Family And Medical Leave Expansion Act.
If the employee has an irregular schedule, the employer should determine an average of hours worked per week and average rate of pay per hour over a six-month period ending on the date the employee starts taking leave. If the employee worked less the six months, the employer may estimate the hours expected the employee to be scheduled to work. According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, if the employee hasn’t been employed for at least six months, use the number of hours that the employer and the employee agreed the employee would work when the employee was hired. If there wasn’t such an agreement, calculate the appropriate number of hours of leave based on the average hours per day the employee was scheduled to work over the entire term of his or her employment.
According to Department of Labor guidance, overtime hours are included when computing the hours the employee would normally work in a week when computing expanded leave. Pay does not include a premium for overtime hours.
Employers with less than 25 employees are not required to pay leave provided:
- The employee takes leave to care for the employee’s child.
- The position held by the employee does not exist due to economic conditions or other operating conditions of the employer (a) that affect employment; and (b) are caused by a public health emergency during the period of leave.
- The employer makes reasonable efforts to restore the employee to a similar position, with equivalent pay and benefits.
- If the employer is unable to restore the employee to a similar position, the employer makes a reasonable effort to contact the employee during the 1-year period beginning on the earlier of (a) the date on which the qualifying need from a public health emergency concludes, or (b) the date 12 weeks after the date on which the employee’s leave commences.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
An employer is required to provide to each employee employed by the employer paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work (or telework) and takes leave because:
- The employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine order relating to the coronavirus.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns relating to the coronavirus.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order described at item 1 or has been advised as described at item 2.
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter of the employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of the son or daughter is unavailable due to coronavirus precautions.
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
An employer of an employee who is a health care provider or an emergency responder may elect to exclude the employee from eligibility from paid sick leave under this Act.
An employee that meets requirements 1, 2, or 3 above is entitled to paid sick time at the employee’s regular rate of pay for up to 80 hours for a full time employee or, for a part-time employee, the average number of hours the employee works during a two-week period. According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, the amount received will be based on the greater of (a) the employee’s regular rate of pay, (2) the federal minimum wage, or (3) the applicable state or local minimum wage, up to a maximum of $511 per day, or $5,110 for the entire sick leave period.
(According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, once the employee takes 80 hours, the employee won’t qualify for additional sick leave under the Act for 2020. Only sick leave received for the period on or after April 1, 2020 counts.)
According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, commissions, tips, and piece rates must be included in the employee’s regular rate of pay.
An employee that meets requirements 4, 5, or 6 above is entitled to compensation based on 2/3 of the amounts for requirements 1, 2, or 3 to a maximum of $200 per day, or $2,000 for the two-week period.
The sick time under the Act isn’t eligible for carryover to a subsequent year.
Paid sick time under the Act ceases beginning with employee’s next workshift following the termination of the need described at items 1 – 6 above.
An employer may not require that an employee search for or find a replacement employee as a condition to receive sick pay under the Act.
If the employee is eligible for accrued sick pay from the employer, the employee uses sick pay under the Act first.
Employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining, or in any other way discriminating against an employee who takes leave in accordance with the Act and files a complaint relating to the Act.
Tax Credits For Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave
Certain employers are eligible for a tax credit against the employer share of social security tax (6.2%.) The credit is 100% of qualified sick leave wages paid by the employer for the calendar quarter.
The maximum sick leave wages for an individual is $200 per day, or $511 per day in the case of sick leave wages paid under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
In addition to the sick leave wages, the credit is increased for the employer’s qualified health plan expenses that are properly allocable to the qualified sick leave wages for which the credit is allowed. The IRS is to define a procedure to prorate the qualified health plan expenses on the basis of period of coverage to to time periods of leave that the wages relate to.
The maximum days for an individual for a calendar quarter is 10 minus the total days taken in preceding calendar quarters during 2020.
The credit is limited to the total employer portion of social security taxes and medicare taxes for the quarter, but any excess credit over that limit is treated as a refundable overpayment.
Qualified sick leave wages for the credit means compensation required to be paid under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
Any credit allowed increases taxable income and no credit is allowed for wages when another tax credit is based on them.
An employer may elect out of claiming the credit.
The credit is not available for employees of Federal, state, or local governments.
Tax credit for sick leave of self-employed individuals
Self-employed individuals may claim a credit for the qualified sick leave equivalent amount for the individual against the individual’s self-employment tax.
An eligible self-employed individual is covered if he or she would be entitled to receive benefits under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act if the individual was an employee of an employer (other than himself or herself.)
The “qualified sick leave equivalent amount” is an amount equal to the number of days during the taxable year (up to the applicable number of days) that the individual is unable to perform services in any trade or business referred to in IRC Section 1402 for a reason that individual would be entitled to receive sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act multiplied by the lesser of (a) $200 ($511 for any day of sick time for reasons 1, 2, or 3 above) or (b) 67% (100% for any day of paid sick time for reasons 1, 2, or 3 above) of the average daily self-employment income of the individual for the taxable year.
The average daily self-employment income is the net earnings from self-employment of the individual for the taxable year divided by 260.
The applicable number of days is the excess of 10 days over the number of days taken into account in all preceding taxable years.
Any credit in excess of the self-employment tax is treated as a refundable payment.
The taxpayer is required to document the reason why he or she is entitled to the credit.
If the individual also receives wages from an employer that are required to be paid under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, the qualified sick leave equivalent amount is reduced by any paid leave amount received.
Payroll credit for Required Paid Family Leave
An employer may claim a tax credit to apply against the employer portion of social security taxes (6.2%) for each calendar quarter an amount equal to 100% of the qualified family leave wages paid by the employer with respect to the calendar quarter.
The qualified family leave wages for an individual are up to $200 per day, to a maximum of $10,000 for a calendar year.
Any credit in excess of the employment taxes is treated as a refundable overpayment.
In addition, qualified health plan expenses attributable to the wages are added to the credit, under rules similar to those described for Paid Sick and Paid Family Leave, above.
This credit also increases taxable income and any expenses for which another tax credit is allowed are disallowed for computing this credit.
Credit for Family Leave for Self-Employed Individuals
Self-employed individuals who would have been eligible for leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act if they were employees may claim a tax credit against their self-employment tax for amounts equivalent to Family Leave.
The individual may claim up to 50 days times the lesser of (a) 67% of the average daily self-employment income, or (2) $200.
The self-employed person is required to be able to document being entitled to the credit.
If the self-employed person receives leave compensation as an employee for another employer, the eligible self-employment income is reduced for any leave payments received.
The credit is refundable.
If any benefit is allowed for the income under another Code section, the credit is disallowed for that amount.
Expediting getting payroll tax credits
The employer can expedite getting the cash benefit of payroll tax credits under the FFA or the CARES Act by either
- Retaining these employment taxes instead of depositing them: (a) Federal income tax withheld for all employees; (b) The employee’s share of social security and medicare taxes (for employees who received paid leave benefits); and (c) the employer’s share of social security and medicare taxes for all employees or
- Employers may file Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due To COVID-19. The IRS says it will try to issue refunds within two weeks for this form. It can be filed several times during a quarter.
Here is a URL for Form 7200 with instructions. https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-7200
Congress passed and President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) on March 27, 2020.
Here is a URL to see the text of the Act. https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hr748/BILLS-116hr748enr.pdf
Here is a URL to the Franchise Tax Board’s FAQs relating to COVID-19 issues. https://www.ftb.ca.gov/about-ftb/newsroom/covid-19/help-with-covid-19.html
Here are some highlights of tax provisions of the Act.
Advance tax rebates
The provision that has received the most publicity is advance tax rebates of $1,200 for single persons and $2,400 for married couples who file joint income tax returns. In addition to these amounts, $500 will be included in the advance tax rebate for each dependent child claimed by the taxpayer(s) who qualifies for the child tax credit under Internal Revenue Code Section 24.
The rebates will be mailed or electronically deposited as soon as possible by the IRS to provide relief to Americans who are suffering from the shutdown of our society to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Not everyone will qualify. The rebates are reduced to not below zero by 5% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income above $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns, $112,500 for heads of households, and $75,000 for other taxpayers.
Nonresident aliens, anyone who is claimed as a dependent, estates and trusts don’t qualify for the rebate.
The IRS will make a preliminary determination based on the last income tax return filed for 2018 or 2019, or for seniors who do not file an income tax return, their social security record.
Since the IRS doesn’t have spouse and dependent information for social security recipients who don’t file a tax return, they might want to file income tax returns for 2018 or 2019 if it increase their rebate.
When the taxpayer prepares his or her 2020 federal individual income tax return, the rebate will be recomputed based on the current year facts. Any additional rebate will be allowed as a credit on the income tax return. The taxpayer gets to keep any excess of the amount received over the computed amount.
The rebate reduces the federal income tax and any amount already received by the taxpayer and is treated as an refund received in amount. The rebate isn’t taxable income. The rebate can be more than the tax before the rebate and is refundable.
Waived early withdrawal penalty for certain retirement plan distributions
Taxpayers who receive a distribution from a qualified retirement plan or an IRA before they reach age 59 1/2 are normally subject to a 10% federal early distribution penalty.
The penalty will be waived for up to $100,000 of distributions during 2020 to an individual (1) who is diagnosed with coronavirus, (2) whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with coronavirus, or (3) who experiences financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off or having work hours reduced due to the coronavirus crisis, being unable to work due to lack of child care due to the virus, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to the virus, or other factors as determined by the IRS.
Unless the taxpayer elects out, the income from a coronavirus-related distribution will be spread ratably over a 3-taxable year period, beginning with with the distribution year (2020.)
Although these distributions won’t be eligible under the usual rules for rollovers or trustee-to-trustee transfers, corona virus-related distributions from a qualified plan or an IRA may be repaid to the qualified plan or an IRA within 3 years beginning the day after the date the distribution was received. The amount repaid will be treated as a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer within 60 days of the distribution.
Since these distributions aren’t considered to be rollovers, you can have as many distributions as you want during 2020 treated as trustee-to-trustee transfers or have them taxed over three years, provided they qualify as coronavirus-related.
Roth conversions can also be taxed over three years under the rule, provided the distribution was coronavirus related, such as if the account owner was diagnosed with a mild case of the virus.
It appears claiming the recharacterization of the distribution for any repayments will be reported on the 2020 income tax return, and the return will be amended if the distribution isn’t restored in time.
Distributions from inherited IRAs with a nonspouse beneficiary don’t qualify for rollover treatment. (IRC § 402(c)(4), (9), § 408(d)(3)(C).) (Once a distribution is received by a nonspouse beneficiary from an inherited IRA, it can’t be redeposited.)
The waiver of penalty and extended rollover provisions apply to distributions on or after January 1 and before December 31, 2020. (Evidently, distributions ON December 31, 2020 won’t qualify.)
Required minimum distributions aren’t required for 2020
The required minimum distributions that apply to defined contribution qualified retirement plans (401(k)s and profit sharing plans) and IRAs after a participant reaches age 72 (age 70 1/2 before the SECURE Act was enacted) is waived for 2020.
If an employee reached age 70 1/2 during 2019, so the employee has a required beginning date on April 1, 2020, the penalty is also waived for that payment.
For years after 2020, the required minimum distributions will be computed by the regular procedure (beginning balance divided by life expectancy) without regard to the 2020 required minimum distribution and the required beginning date will be unchanged for other income tax determination purposes.
Charitable contributions limits for individuals increased
Individuals who don’t itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns will be able to deduct on their 2020 federal income tax returns up to $300 of charitable contributions that would otherwise qualify, except for donations to a donor advised fund or a private foundation.
The limitation for itemized deductions of cash charitable contributions to public charities by individuals, normally 60% of adjusted gross income, is eliminated for 2020.
Charitable contributions limit for corporations increased
The limit for charitable contributions for C corporations is increased for charitable contributions paid in cash during calendar year 2020 to public charities from 10% of modified taxable income to 25% of modified taxable income.
Charitable contributions limit for food inventory
For noncorporate taxpayers, the limit for charitable contributions of food inventory is increased from 15% to 25% of the taxpayer’s aggregate net income for 2020 from all trades or businesses from which such contributions were made.
For C corporations, the limit for charitable contributions of food inventory is increased from 15% to 25% of modified taxable income.
Exclusion for employer payments on student loans
Effective for payments made after March 28, 2020 and before January 1, 2021, payments by an employer, whether paid to the employee or to a lender, of principal or interest on any qualified education loan incurred by the employee for education of the employee are excluded from the employee’s taxable income. The employee won’t be eligible to claim an interest deduction for the excluded amount.
Payroll tax credit for certain employers
Employers who have their business operations fully or partially suspended during a calendar quarter due to orders from a government authority due to the coronavirus during the period beginning with the first calendar quarter beginning after December 31, 2019 for which gross receipts are less than 50% of gross receipts for the same calendar quarter in the prior year and ending with the calendar quarter for which gross receipts are greater than 80% of the gross receipts for the prior year and all tax-exempt organization during 2020 are eligible for an employee retention tax credit of 50% of qualified wages of up to $10,000 for each employee for all calendar quarters.
Note that employers who receive a small business interruption loan aren’t eligible for this credit. (The loan may be eligible for forgiveness, and that would be double-dipping.) If the employer claims the credit and receives a loan in a subsequent quarter, the credit will be recaptured.
The credit is effective for wages paid after March 12, 2020 and before January 1, 2021.
The credit is limited to the 6.2% employer share of social security taxes for all employees during the calendar quarter, but any credit in excess of that amount is treated as an overpayment and is refundable to the employer. (Note that medicare taxes and federal unemployment taxes aren’t eligible to be offset by the credit.)
The credit is reduced for credits allowed for employment of qualified veterans, research expenditures of qualified small businesses, and payroll tax credits for paid sick and paid family and medical leave provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
For employers having an average of more than 100 full-time employees during 2019, qualified wages means wages paid with respect to which an employee is not providing services due to a government-ordered suspension or a period of significant decline in gross receipts, but not in excess of the amount the employee would have been paid for working an equivalent duration during the 30 days immediately preceding the period.
For employers with an average of 100 or fewer full-time employees in 2019, qualified wages means wages paid with respect to an employee during any period of a government-ordered suspension or during a quarter that is within a period of significant decline in gross receipts.
Qualified wages don’t include any amounts taken in account for payroll tax credits provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Qualified wages includes the employer’s qualified health plan expenses properly allocable to the wages that are excluded from the gross income of employees.
Wages of employees for which a work opportunity credit is claimed aren’t eligible for the credit.
Governmental employers aren’t eligible for the credit.
Here is a URL for IRS FAQs on the Employee Retention Credit. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/faqs-employee-retention-credit-under-the-cares-act
Deferred payment of employer payroll taxes
Deposits of the employer portion of payroll taxes due from March 28, 2020 through December 31, 2020 are deferred and payable 50% on December 31, 2021 and the balance on December 31, 2022.
Payments for one half of self-employment tax (the “employer” portion) for 2020 are also deferred and payable 50% on December 31, 2021 and the balance on December 31, 2022.
Employers that have a loan forgiven under Section 1106 of the CARES Act for a loan under Section 7(a)(36) of the Small Business Act aren’t eligible for deferring payment of employer payroll taxes.
Net operating loss deduction and carrybacks
The 80% of taxable income limitation for deducting net operating losses has retroactively been suspended for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2021. For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020, the 80% of taxable income limitation for deducting net operating losses will be restored.
For losses arising in a taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2021, net operating losses may be carried back 5 taxable years. Previously, net operating loss carrybacks weren’t allowed for these years.
Taxpayers may elect to waive the carryback. There is also a special election available to exclude carrybacks to one or more years that have income exclusion of offshore income under Internal Revenue Code Section 965.
Taxpayers may revoke a previous election to waive a net operating loss carryback by July 25, 2020.
Note many taxpayers should consider filing amended returns to claim net operating loss carrybacks from 2017, 2018. and 2019.
Excess business loss limitations suspended
The limitations on deductions for business losses in excess of business income have been suspended for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2021.
Since these losses will now be allowed, taxpayers who are entitled to them should file amended income tax returns to claim them.
Tax credit for prior year minimum tax liability of C corporations
The alternative minimum tax was repealed for C corporations by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Unused minimum tax credits were scheduled to be refundable with an annual 50% limitation for taxable years beginning in 2018, 2019, and 2020 until a 100% limitation would be applied for taxable years beginning in 2021.
Under the CARES Act, taxpayers may elect to claim a refundable credit for 100% of the balance for taxable years beginning in 2018 or 2019.
The election to claim the 100% limit for 2018 can be made using an application of tentative refund form (Form 1139.) The form should be filed by December 31, 2020. The IRS should issue the refund within 90 days after receiving the form.
Increased limit on deduction for business interest
Certain taxpayers that have more than $25 million of business income or are “tax shelters” are subject to a limitation for deducting business interest expenses.
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the limit is the sum of (1) business interest income of the taxpayer for the tax year; (2) 30% of the taxpayer’s adjusted taxable income for the year; and (3) floor plan financing interest of the taxpayer for tax year.
Under the CARES Act, the limitation of item (2) is increased to 50% for taxable years beginning in 2019 and 2020.
Technical correction for Qualified Improvement Property
Qualified improvement property is an improvement to an interior portion of a building that is nonresidential real property provided the improvement is placed in service after the date the building was first placed in service. Improvements relating to the enlargement of a building, an elevator or escalator, or the internal structural framework of the building aren’t qualified improvement property.
This is the expanded definition of qualified improvement property adopted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
A drafting error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made the property subject to a 39 year depreciable life and not eligible for 100% bonus depreciation.
The CARES Act includes a technical correction defining qualified improvement property as 15 year property, qualifying for bonus depreciation. This correction is retroactive to the date of enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was December 20, 2017.
Even with this technical correction, some taxpayers won’t qualify for bonus depreciation for this property. Taxpayers that are otherwise subject to the limitation for business interest deductions under Internal Revenue Code Section 163(j) (generally they have average annual gross receipts for the three prior years of $26 million for tax years beginning in 2020) and make elections to be excluded from the limitations, notably electing real property trade or businesses, electing farming businesses, and certain infrastructure trades or businesses, must used the alternative depreciation system instead of the modified accelerated depreciation system. For these businesses, depreciable real estate has a useful life of 39 years, so they don’t qualify for bonus depreciation on qualified improvement property.
Taxpayers with commercial buildings that had qualified improvement property placed in service after 2017 should amend their 2017, 2018 and 2019 income tax returns to claim bonus depreciation for the year the property was placed in service.
Government loan guarantees for small businesses
In addition to the tax provisions discussed above and many other matters, the legislation includes a “Paycheck Protection Program.” The Federal government will 100% guarantee SBA administered loans to businesses with not more than 500 employees. Sole proprietors, independent contractors and other self-employed individuals are eligible for loans. The covered loan period begins February 15, 2020 and ends on June 30, 2020.
There is an issue about whether self-employment compensation for partners in partnerships and members of LLC taxed as partnerships can be included in wages for Paycheck Protection Program loans. They aren’t specifically listed.
Act Section 1102(a)(1)(viii)(I)(bb) includes income of a sole proprietor or independent contractor that is a wage, commission,income, net earnings from self-employment, or similar compensation and that is an amount that is not more than $100,000 in 1 year, as prorated for the covered person…”
The SBA “Interim Final Rules” II. 3. f. says payroll costs include “… for an independent contractor or sole proprietor, wage, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment or similar compensation.”
Based on these definitions, it seems that it was intended that compensation of self-employed persons, including LLC members, should be covered by the Paycheck Protection Program. In a recent CalCPA webinar, CPAs from Armanino suggested that guaranteed payments in lieu of wages should be included in payroll for the loan application. Since the definition in the Act is “self-employment income”, it seems to me that all self employment income should be included. Guaranteed payments in lieu of wages should be increased or decreased for the partner’s or member’s share of self-employment income or losses from the partnership or LLC.
When you include this item in wages, you should probably explain what you are doing and why.
This legislation was drafted in a hurry, and whoever wrote it wasn’t thinking about partnerships and LLCs.
The maximum loan amount is $10 million through December 31, 2020. The loan amount is based on payroll costs incurred by the business.
Uses of the loan include payroll support, such as employee salaries (subject to a $100,000 limitation for an employee’s wages), paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums and mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments.
Only compensation of persons whose principal place of residence is in the United States are covered.
Federal employment taxes imposed or withheld between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020, including the employee’s and employer’s share of FICA and Railroad Retirement Act taxes and income taxes required to be withheld from employees, are excluded.
Qualified sick and family leave wages for which a credit allowed under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-126) are also excluded. (No double dipping!)
Eligibility is based on whether a business was operational on February 15, 2020 and had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes, or a paid independent contractor.
The Act waives borrower and lender fees for particpating in the Paycheck Protection Program, and waives collateral and personal guarantee requirements under the program.
The maximum interest rate for these loans is four percent.
No loan payments will be required for at least six months and not more than a year, and requires the SBA to issue guidance about the deferment process by April 27, 2020.
Although the stated maturity of the loans is 10 years, the principal amount of the loan is forgiven up to the amount of (1) payroll costs; (2) payments of interest on a covered mortgage obligation; (3) payments on any covered rent obligation; and (4) covered utility payments. No more than 25% of the forgiven amount can be for non-payroll costs.
The debt cancellation is tax free. (Act § 1106(i).)
Caution! I have heard that some businesses, such as registered investment advisors, may be subject to restrictions on having debt. Check with your compliance officer or attorney before going ahead with an application for an SBA loan.
Here is a URL for the application form for a Paycheck Protection Program loan. https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Application-3-30-2020-v3.pdf?j=268557&sfmc_sub=124882304&l=3151_HTML&u=8813281&mid=7306387&jb=592&utm_medium=email&SubscriberID=124882304&utm_source=NewsUp_A20Mar225&Site=aicpa&LinkID=8813281&utm_campaign=Newsupdate&cid=email:NewsUp_A20Mar225:Newsupdate:Share+the+application:aicpa&SendID=268557&utm_content=Special
Here is a URL for a borrower’s guide for Paycheck Protection Program loan. https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP%20Borrower%20Information%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf?j=268557&sfmc_sub=124882304&l=3151_HTML&u=8813282&mid=7306387&jb=592&utm_medium=email&SubscriberID=124882304&utm_source=NewsUp_A20Mar225&Site=aicpa&LinkID=8813282&utm_campaign=Newsupdate&cid=email:NewsUp_A20Mar225:Newsupdate:accompanying+borrower+guide:aicpa&SendID=268557&utm_content=Special
Here is a URL for the Small Business Administration’s interim final rule for Paycheck Protection Program loans. https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/PPP–IFRN%20FINAL_0.pdf
Disaster loss election available
Since President Trump invoked the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act when he declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a national emergency, disaster losses are eligible to be carried back one year under Internal Revenue Code Section 165(i) . Taxpayers should consider which tax year the losses they incur relating to the COVID-19 crisis will have the best tax benefit.
The Act includes a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020 to provide payments to people who traditionally aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, including self-employed persons, independent contractors and those with a limited work history, who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
Unemployment compensation benefits are increased an additional $600 per week to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
Unemployment benefits are extended an additional 13 weeks through December 31, 2020 when state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
Railroad unemployment benefits are also increased like other unemployment benefits explained above, and the 7-day waiting period for railroad unemployment insurance benefits is temporarily eliminated through December 31, 2020.
For details about how these changes affect your situation, consult with your tax advisor or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.