William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

TaxFacts Intelligence: When does COVID-19 Qualifies as a Employee’s Protected Disability?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 25, 2022


The Texas A&M graduate program for tax, wealth, and risk management is accepting applications from financial professionals with at least five years of industry experience for the summer. Even though our graduate program has grown to over 750 enrollment, the enrollment for a course section is between 20 and the maximum of 30 so that each student receives meaningful feedback throughout the course from the full-time academic faculty and renowned professional case study leaders, and each other via teamwork and peer review. Learn more about how we educate and position the industry’s leaders: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education

Prof. William H. Byrnes         Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

The April 18th tax filing deadline has passed and it’s already time to plan for this tax year of 2022. You’ll want to make sure you are prepared with the most up-to-date tax knowledge as you. We want you to have access to the 2022 Tax Facts books and the weekly intelligence newsletter – the reference solution that helps answer critical tax questions with the latest tax developments. Save 15% off any 2022 Tax Facts print or eBook by using Code TFN15 now through the end of the month.

In tax news, we have a mixed bag of updates for both individual and small business clients this week.  The IRS released proposed regulations offering clarity on what clients who are interested in the MEP option can expect in situations where the “one bad apple” rule might have applied pre-SECURE Act.  The EEOC has clarified whether and when COVID-19 itself can qualify as a disability for ADA purposes. Business clients should also be advised of the return to the Trump-era test for determining independent contractor status.

EEOC Offers Clarity on When COVID-19 Qualifies as a Disability The EEOC has recently introduced clarifying guidance on when COVID-19 will qualify as a disability for federal anti-discrimination law purposes. In some cases, COVID-19 will qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)–often, based on side effects associated with the virus, rather than the infection itself.  If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, experiences symptoms and recovers from those symptoms in a few weeks, the employee would not be considered disabled for ADA purposes (so would not be entitled to reasonable accommodation).  The EEOC also reminds employers that employees aren’t automatically entitled to reasonable accommodation even if they do experience symptoms of “Long COVID” or other COVID-related health issues.  The employee is only entitled to accommodation if the disability requires the accommodation and it is not an undue hardship for the employer.  For more information on the tax credit that is available for employee medical leave, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Court Reinstates Trump-Era Independent Contractor Test.  The Trump-era rule was designed to make it easier for employers to classify workers as independent contractors, rather than traditional employees, by focusing on whether workers are economically dependent upon an employer—or in business for themselves.  The Trump-era test prioritizes two key factors, including (1) the worker’s degree of control over the work performed, and (2) the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss.  Under the Biden administration, the DOL stated that prioritizing these factors for determining employment status under the FLSA undermined the longstanding balancing approach of the economic realities test and court decisions requiring a review of the totality of the circumstances related to the employment relationship.  The Trump DOL rule would result in many workers’ losing FLSA protections, including minimum wage and overtime benefits.  Several business groups filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the Biden administration’s acts.  The court vacated the Biden administration’s acts and reinstated the Trump-era rule, determining that the DOL’s delay of the effective date for the Trump-era rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act by providing only a 19-day period for notice and comments (rather than the 30-day minimum).  The court also found that the DOL limited the content of the responses to whether the effective date should be delayed (so unduly limited the scope of the comments received, making the decision to rescind the Trump-era rule “arbitrary and capricious”).  The court determined that the Trump rule became effective March 8, 2021.  For more information, visit Tax Facts Online.  Read More

IRS Clarifies Exception to the “One Bad Apple” Rule for MEPs. The IRS proposed a new rule implementing the SECURE Act exception to the one bad apple rule—also known as the unified plan rule.  Under the proposed rule, the MEP must describe the procedures the plan will follow if one participant fails to satisfy the qualification rules.  Those procedures must outline the notices that will be sent and when those notices will be sent. The MEP must also disclose the actions that it will take if the non-qualifying participant fails to take action or initiate a spinoff to separate the MEP within 60 days after the date the final notice is sent. The proposed rules provide that the plan may be required to provide up to three notices to a participating employer that does not respond to the initial notice.  The final notice must be provided to the DOL and all impacted participants.  The non-qualifying employer has two options upon receipt of a notice: (1) take remedial action or (2) initiate a spinoff within 60 days of the final notice.  If the employer does neither, the MEP administrator must stop accepting contributions from the non-compliant employer and participants.  The MEP must also provide notice to the impacted participants and give them an election with respect to the treatment of their accounts.  Participants could elect to remain in the plan or transfer their funds to another retirement plan.  The IRS notes that it intends to publish guidance that contains model language for MEP plan administrators.  For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More 

Look in your Tax Facts Online app for our continuing analysis of 2022 legislative and regulatory updates, weekly intelligence, and the impact on planning for a client’s wealth preservation and growth.

Wealth & Risk Management Degree for Industry Professionals – learn about the graduate degree here: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education

Texas A&M, operating budget of $9.6 billion (FY2022) and capital budget of $1.9 billion, is #1 for U.S. public universities, one of only 60 accredited U.S. universities of the American Association of Universities (R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity) and one of only 17 U.S. universities that hold the triple U.S. federal grant of Land, Sea, and Space! The law school, ranked in the 1st tier, has the #1 bar passage in Texas, and #1 for employment in Texas (and top 10 in U.S.)

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