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

Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’

Byrnes & Bloink’s Covid-19 TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for April 3, 2020

Posted by William Byrnes on April 3, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin May: Legal Risk Management; Intro to Risk Management; FATCA & CRS Risk Management; International Tax Risk Management, Data, and Analytics I  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018).

                    Prof. William Byrnes
          Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Lots of CVOID-19 legislation in the updates this week. The IRS and DOL continue to release new guidance–and update existing guidance–at an unprecedented and fast pace. For the time being, clients and advisors alike should check the actual text of the guidance before taking concrete action to make sure they are operating under the most up-to-date rules.
IRS Releases FAQ on COVID-19 Filing, Payment Extensions

The IRS FAQ clarifies that the filing and payment extensions (from April 15 to July 15) apply regardless of whether the taxpayer is actually sick or quarantined because of COVID-19. For fiscal year taxpayers with 2019 returns due April 15, the deadline is extended to July 15 regardless of whether April 15 is an original or extended filing deadline. Taxpayers facing filing or payment deadlines that are not April 15 must note that their deadlines have not generally been extended. The relief also does not apply to payroll or excise tax payments (deposit dates remain unchanged, but employers may be eligible for the new paid sick leave tax credit, see Tax Facts Q8550). Taxpayers do not have to do anything to take advantage of the extension–they simply file their returns and make required payments by the new July 15 deadline. Taxpayers who filed and schedule a payment for April 15 must, however, take action to reschedule their payment for July 15 if they wish (by contacting the credit or debit card company if the payment was scheduled directly with the card issuer). For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Counting Employees for COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave & FMLA Expansion Purposes

DOL FAQ provides that an employer is subject to the expanded paid sick leave and FMLA rules if the employer has fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees. Employees on leave and temporary employees should be included, while independent contractors are not included in the count. Each corporation is usually a single employer. When a corporation has an ownership interest in another corporation, the two are separate employers unless they are joint employers for Fair Labor Standards Act purposes. Joint employer status is based on a facts and circumstances analysis, and is generally the case when (1) one employer employs the employee, but another benefits from the work or (2) one employer employs an employee for one set of hours in a workweek, and another employer employs the same employee for a separate set of hours in the same workweek. For more information on the details provided by current DOL guidance, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Calculating Sick Pay for Part-Time and Variable Hour Workers Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

With respect to the FMLA extension, the rate of pay for part-time employees is based upon the number of hours they would normally be scheduled to work. For employees with variable schedules, pay is based upon a number equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes such leave, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type or (2) if the employee did not work over such period, the reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work. As of now, the law provides that leave may not be carried over into 2021. For more information on the law’s requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

RMDs Suspended for 2020, Penalty Waived for Coronavirus Distributions

The CARES Act suspended the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules for 2020–a suspension that applies to all 401(k), 403(b), and certain 457(b) deferred compensation plans maintained by the government, as well as IRAs. The law also contains a provision waiving the 10% early distribution penalty that applies to retirement account withdrawals. The relief generally mirrors the relief commonly granted in more localized natural disaster situations. The Act allows employees to take up to $100,000 in distributions from an employer-sponsored retirement plan (401(k), 403(b) or defined benefit plan) or an IRA without becoming subject to the penalty. Unless the participant elects otherwise, inclusion of the distribution in income is spread over three years, beginning with the tax year of distribution. The Act also provides a repayment option, where the participant has the option of repaying the distribution over the three-taxable year period beginning with the tax year of distribution. In this case, the distribution will be treated as an eligible rollover made in a trustee-to-trustee transfer within the 60-day window. For more information on expanded access to retirement funds, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

WEBINAR

Small Business Incentives Under the CARES Act:  Will it Help My Business?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Central

Learn how the CARES Act affects your business.

Texas A&M Law faculty experts share practical, fact-based information regarding how the CARES Act is affecting those of us in Texas in this free webinar.

 

  • Access to and eligibility for loans for small businesses
  • Implications for payroll tax payments and employee tax credits

Presenters:

Posted in Pensions, Reporting, Retirement Planning, Tax Policy, Wealth Management | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Byrnes & Bloink’s Covid-19 TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for March 26, 2020

Posted by William Byrnes on March 26, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin May: FATCA & CRS Risk Management; International Tax Risk Management, Data, and Analytics I  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for Summer, call or fill in the form https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/

            William H. Byrnes, J.D.
        Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Today we are seeing our first concrete responses to the COVID-19 virus in the tax field. First, the IRS has now formally extended the income tax filing deadline for tax year 2019 to July 15. Because this is an extension of the actual filing deadline (not just an extension of time to pay owed taxes) it also pushes a number of related deadlines (e.g. for qualified plan contributions) back to July. President Trump also signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which creates a paid sick leave program and related tax credits for small businesses.

 

Avoid Confusion Over IRS 90-Day Extension of the Federal Tax Payment Deadline

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS has announced that it will extend the tax payment deadline from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. Interest and penalties during this period will also be waived. The April 15 filing deadline was also extended to July 15, although in separate guidance. Individuals and pass-through business entities owing up to $1 million in federal tax are eligible for the relief, as are corporations owing up to $10 million in federal tax. Individuals who do not anticipate being able to file by July 15 should be aware of their option for requesting a six-month filing extension to October 15. The extension is available by filing Form 4868. For more information on federal tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Coronavirus Act Creates Paid Sick Leave Benefits for Small Business Employees

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees (and government employers), and makes several key changes to paid time off laws. The bill: (1) provides 80 hours’ additional paid sick leave for employees (pro-rated for part-time workers) and (2) expands FMLA protections. The additional paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day (total of $5,110) for employees who cannot go to work or telecommute because they (1) are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a diagnosis, or (2) are subject to government-mandated quarantine or a recommendation to self-quarantine. The additional paid sick leave is capped at 2/3 of the employee’s pay rate, subject to a maximum of $200 per day or $2,000 total if the employee (1) is caring for or assisting someone subject to quarantine, (2) caring for a child whose school or care provider is unavailable or (3) experiencing “substantially similar conditions” specified by HHS. For more information on the family and medical leave tax credit available for business owners, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Coronavirus Response Act: Tax Relief for Small Business Owners

The law contains a tax credit to help small business owners subject to the new paid sick leave and expanded FMLA requirements. The tax credit is computed each quarter, and allows as a credit (1) the amount of qualified paid sick leave wages paid in weeks 1-2, and (2) qualified FMLA wages paid (in the remaining 10 weeks) during the quarter. The credit is taken against the employer portion of the Social Security tax. Amounts in excess of the employer Social Security taxes due will be refunded as a credit (in the same manner as though the employer had overpaid Social Security taxes during the quarter). The Act also provides a tax credit for qualified health plan expenses that are allocable to periods when the paid sick leave or family leave wages are paid. For more information on refundable tax credits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Posted in Retirement Planning, Tax Policy | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

SBA to Provide Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 17, 2020


SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
  • Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
  • Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

See §121.201   What size standards has SBA identified by North American Industry Classification System codes?

The size standards described in this section apply to all SBA programs unless otherwise specified in this part. The size standards themselves are expressed either in the number of employees or annual receipts in millions of dollars unless otherwise specified. The number of employees or annual receipts indicates the maximum allowed for a concern and its affiliates to be considered small.  By example, a hotel that does not exceed $35 million gross revenue is a small business whereas a B&B Inn or a full-service restaurant may not exceed $8 million in revenue.

Even tax law firms can qualify for SBA loans. The office of lawyers that do not exceed $12 million in revenue is a “small” law firm. But tax preparation services? Allowed up to $22 million in revenue.

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov(link sends e-mail).

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What will be the impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts Act, Covid-19 (coronavirus), a Zombie Apocalypse, on Estimated Tax due by April 15?

Posted by William Byrnes on March 15, 2020


If a zombie apocalypse does not emanate from the illness known as Covid-19 caused by the coronavirus, then we still need to plan for our 2020 tax payments.  It is likely that taxpayers with business or investment income will be able to reduce the 2020 quarterly estimated tax payments that will be due April 15 this year, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of 2021.  Why?

2019 was a good income year for most taxpayers earning investment and business income.  But 2020 will likely be a depressed income year, maybe even a recession (for those not eaten by zombies). Thus, estimated tax payments to avoid a penalty, generally, 90% of the tax that is estimated to be due for 2020, should be much reduced from the 2019 level paid. (Contrarian investor taxpayers that shorted the market may actually need to make higher estimated taxpayers because the contrarians are likely to have a great capital gain year).

What are the changes enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that, because of the coronavirus, impact 2020’s estimated tax payments?

  • A taxpayer’s ability to reduce tax because of a net operating loss (“NOL”) in 2020 has been reduced by the TCJA. An NOL resulting in 2020 cannot be applied to taxes paid in the previous two-years of 2019 and 2018 to claw those taxes back.  Before the TCJA, the NOL “carry-back” of two-years was allowed.  NOLs may still be carried forward.  Excess NOL in 2020 may be used to reduce 2021’s income and thus tax due.

However, the TCJA even modifies how much NOL may be used to reduce 2020’s taxable income.  Starting in 2018, the TCJA modified the tax law on “excess business losses” by limiting losses from all types of business for noncorporate taxpayers. An “excess business loss” is the amount of a taxpayer’s total deductions from business income that exceeds a taxpayer’s “total gross income and capital gains from business plus $250,000 for an individual taxpayer or $500,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return.”  Said another way, the business loss in 2020 is limited to a maximum of $250,000 for an individual taxpayer. Yet, the remainder does not evaporate like a vampire stabbed with a stake in the heart.  The remainder may be carried forward to 2021.  The remainder is called a “net operating loss” or NOL.

But the TCJA has another limitation for the carry forward of an NOL.  The NOL may only be used in 2021 to reduce the taxpayer’s taxable income by 80%.  The remainder NOL in 2021, if any, that resulted from 2020’s original loss and 2021’s limitation to just 80% of taxable income may again be carried forward, to 2022, yet again subject to the 80% of taxable income limitation.  The NOL may keep rolling forward indefinitely, subject to the 80% limitation until it is all used.

  • High net wealth taxpayers that generate gross receipts greater than $26 million may be subject to the TCJA’s limitation of interest expense for 2020. The TCJA included a rule that limits the amount of interest associated with a taxpayer’s business income when the taxpayer has on average annual gross receipts of more than $26 million since 2018.  The limitation does not apply to a taxpayer whose business income is generated from providing services as an employee, and a taxpayer that generates business income from real estate may elect not to have the limitation apply.

The amount of deductible business interest expense that is above a taxpayer’s business interest income is limited to 30% of the taxpayer’s adjusted taxable income (called “ATI”).  For 2020, ATI will probably be significantly lower than in 2019 and 2018. A taxpayer calculated ATI taking the year’s taxable income then reducing it by the business interest expense as if the limitation did not apply. The remaining amount is then further reduced by any net operating loss deduction; the 20% deemed deduction for qualified business income, any depreciation, amortization, or depletion deduction, and finally, any capital loss.  The business interest expense allowable for 2020 is 30% of that remainder.  The lost business income resulting from the coronavirus in 2020 may lead the remainder to be zero, and 30% of zero is zero.  Like the NOL above, the business interest expense if not usable in 2020 does not vanish. It carries forward to 2021 and each year thereafter, applying the same limitation rules each year.

  • Many taxpayers may end 2020 in a capital loss position if the stock market does not fully recover by December.  If a taxpayer’s capital losses are more than the year’s capital gains, then $3,000 of that loss may be deducted from the taxpayer’s 2020 regular income.  Remaining capital loss above the $3,000 may be carried forward to apply against 2021 income, and so on until used up.
  • The IRS may offer taxpayers more time beyond the April 15th deadline to file and pay 2019’s tax in 2020.  The filing and payment for 2019, and estimated tax for 2020, is due on or before April 15. But the IRS has indicated that it may extend that deadline.  A taxpayer may, regardless, file a request for a six-month extension on or before April 15, 2020, that is automatically granted if filed on time. But any tax owing for 2019 will still be due April 15, 2020, after which interest begins to be charged by the IRS to the taxpayer’s tax debt.   Check the IRS website here for whether, because of the coronavirus, it has extended the payment deadline beyond April 15, 2020.  Can the IRS extend the deadline, legally? Yes. Because Congress enacted a section of the Internal Revenue Code (our tax law) “§ 7508A” which is aptly named “Authority to postpone certain deadlines by reason of Presidentially declared disaster or terroristic or military actions”.  The President declared an official national emergency (see here).
  • Taxpayers are not required to exhaust the deductible required by a high-deductible health plan (called “HDHP”) before using the HDHP to pay for COVID-19 related testing and treatment.

I have four tax policy suggestions for Congress that it can include in a taxpayer coronavirus relief bill. I welcome acronym suggestions for this proposed bill’s name, especially a creative bill name whose acronym is “Zombie” or “Eat Brains”. The four tax relief suggestions that will mitigate damage caused by Covid-19 are:

Proposal 1 (stop medical bankruptcy): In 2020 the itemized deduction for medical expenses is reduced by 7.5% of a taxpayer’s AGI.  For 2020, I propose eliminating the 7.5% reduction of medical expenses attributed to the coronavirus or any 2020 flu (or zombie bite), such as hospitalization.  Medical diagnosis should suffice. Not going to be used by many people.  But the people who do use will really need it – those that do not awake as zombies that is.

Proposal 2 (stop restaurant bankruptcy): The administration proposes the suspension of the Social Security and Medicare payroll tax to jump-start consumer spending, presumably after the removal of quarantine orders to stay indoors or at least six feet away from each other. Not very targeted.  Someone like me may just shift the payroll tax relief and use it instead to upward adjust my 403(b) retirement savings for 2020, taking advantage of my full $19,500 contribution allowance for 2020 (and because I am 50 years old or older – add another $6,000 retirement ‘catchup’ to that $19,500 for a full $25,500),  Not only have I not spent the money to help the economy rebound, I have reduced my tax due for 2020 because my retirement contributions reduce my taxable income.  I have saved tax twice!! While I quite like that idea personally, I feel empathy for all the local restaurant owners who may go bankrupt unless I go out to eat at more local restaurants once I assured that 2020 was not the year of the zombie apocalypse.

A better-targeted proposal to save our nation’s local restaurants and the local farmers that supply them is to allow taxpayers an itemized deduction up to $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a married filing jointly 2020, beyond the standard deduction, of 100% of restaurant meals expense between June 1 and October 31, at U.S. restaurants with the last three years gross annual receipts averaging less than [$5 million – whatever is reasonable so that big chains are not included, Small Business Administration uses a maximum of $8 million for full-service restaurants (NAICS 722511)- I’m OK with that].  I know – many reasons not to do this, such as Americans will become hooked on eating out at local restaurants. Wait, why is that a bad thing?  And we will need to address the tax abusers who will order one slice of pizza and 20 bottles of wine, to go. So maybe the maximum meal receipt must be set at $100 per meal receipt per adult. That should allow plenty of food for a couple, and alcohol, and leave enough for the children to still have mac & cheese. Plus it requires ten different restaurant trips. Local restauranteurs and the local farmers can hold out hope that 2020 will not require filing for bankruptcy protection.  November is Thanksgiving when people eat out anyway, at least in the restaurants that have remained open.  By the way, I am purposely leaving business out of this.  Business has a 50% business meal deduction anyway. And my policy suggestion is about Americans being social and not talking business at the dinner table (and perhaps not politics either).

Proposal 3 (stop hotel bankruptcy): And let’s not forget about locally-owned hotels with average gross receipts below $8 million (SBA uses $35 million for hotels and $8 million for B&B Inns so maybe I am way off base with just $8 million – see NAICS subsector 721 Accomodation). A $500 itemized deduction for 2020 for a U.S. hotel stay (not Air BnB homes or apartments, actually licensed hotels/BnB Inns) for an individual or couple between June 1 and October 31. Might not buy a weekend at the Ritz but the Ritz probably exceeds the small business amount of revenue a year.  Is it sound tax policy? Huey Long (I’m from Louisiana) promised a chicken in every pot and a car in every yard.  I promise a get-a-way weekend at a small(ish) hotel.

Proposal 4 (keep employees employed): A tax credit (I am not sure the right amount, let the Labor Secretary decide, something around $5,000 an employee) to employers of less than 500 employees who do not reduce the monthly payroll of the employees, or fire any employees, between June 1 and September 30. October 1 employers start thinking about Christmas hiring for the shopping season.  I can imagine some mathematically-inclined employees thinking “I am going to walk into my boss’ office and projectile vomit because the cost of losing the tax credits for firing me is too high.” OK, so firing ‘for cause including projectile Zombie vomiting on the boss ‘ will be allowed without loss of the tax credit.  Now if a business wants to expand and hire a lot of employees up to 500 that’s great.  I propose that all employees employed and start fulltime work before June 1st qualify for a reduced $4,000 tax credit (basically $1,000 a month of employment for June through September).

These four proposals are enough to keep the economy, restaurants, hotels, and employees out of recession and bankruptcy.  But I have more proposals not currently part of the current bill, but common sense dictates should be (well, maybe not).  Why have we heard nothing from the House to encourage donations of toilet paper rolls to local shelters?   And why hotels and restaurants, but not spas?  I’ll leave it to the politicians (and lobbyists) to argue about.  Meanwhile, I look forward to receiving your comments while I set up my anti-zombie chicken wire barricade around the yard.

I’ll be covering these and related issues in my weekly Tax Facts Intelligence Newsletter.

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Posted in Tax Policy, Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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