Certified Public Accountants & Financial Advisors

Newsletters

Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

2020 SOCIAL SECURITY, WITHHOLDING AND CERTAIN OTHER CHANGES


The IRS has provided guidance regarding whether taxpayers receiving loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) may deduct otherwise deductible expenses. Act Sec. 1106(i) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) did not address whether generally allowable deductions such as those under Code Secs. 162 and 163 would still be permitted if the loan was later forgiven pursuant to Act Sec. 1106(b). The IRS has found that such deductions are not permissible.


Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have worked together to release the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application. According to Treasury’s May 15 press release, the application and correlating instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of PPP loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The PPP was enacted under the CARES Act to provide eligible small businesses with loans during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Eligible individuals who are not otherwise required to file federal income tax returns for 2019 may use a new simplified return filing procedure to make sure they receive the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136).


To encourage businesses that have experienced an economic hardship due to COVID-19 to keep employees on their payroll, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) has provided several new credits for employers, including a new employee retention credit. The IRS has issued a fact sheet summarizing a few key points about the new credit.


The Treasury Department and the IRS have provided tax relief to certain individuals and businesses affected by travel disruptions arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.


The IRS and the Employee Benefits Security Administration are extending certain timeframes during the Outbreak Period for group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, and participants and beneficiaries of these plans during the COVID-19 National Emergency. The beginning of the Outbreak Period is March 1, 2020. The end date is yet to be determined.


Due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), the IRS has provided increased flexibility with respect to:

  • 2020 mid-year elections under a Code Sec. 125 cafeteria plan related to employer-sponsored health coverage, health Flexible Spending Arrangements (health FSAs), and dependent care assistance programs; and
  • grace periods to apply unused amounts in health FSAs to medical care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020, and unused amounts in dependent care assistance programs to dependent care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.

The IRS has released proposed regulations that address changes made to Code Sec. 162(f) by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97). The proposed regulations provide operational and definitional guidance on the deductibility of fines and penalties paid to governmental entities.


A partnership was denied a charitable contribution deduction because it had entered in an conservation easement that violated the perpetuity requirement of Code Sec. 170(h)(5) and its regulations. The Tax Court held that if there is a judicial extinguishment of an easement the donee receives a proportionate value of any proceeds.


The IRS has released proposed regulations clarifying that the following deductions allowed to an estate or non-grantor trust are not miscellaneous itemized deductions:


Last year’s Tax Reform created a new 20-percent deduction of qualified business income for passthrough entities, subject to certain limitations. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) created the new Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction for noncorporate taxpayers, effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the provision was enacted only temporarily through 2025. The controversial deduction has remained a buzzing topic of debate among lawmakers, tax policy experts, and stakeholders. In addition to its impermanence, the new passthrough deduction’s ambiguous statutory language has created many questions for taxpayers and practitioners.


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modifies Section 529 qualified tuition plans to allow the plans to distribute up to $10,000 in tuition expenses incurred during the tax year for designated beneficiaries enrolled at a public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school. Section 529 plans used to only be allowed for college tuition, up to full tuition amounts. That provision for college tuition remains the same.


The IRS has issued temporary regulations (T.D. 9780) that explain how a partnership can opt in to the new partnership audit regime that was enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA). As enacted, the new audit rules will apply to partnership returns filed for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the new law allows partnerships to elect to apply the new audit regime to a return filed for a partnership tax year beginning after November 2, 2015 (the date of enactment of the BBA) and before January 1, 2018. A tax year within this period is identified as an “eligible tax year.”


The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns this year and issue billions of dollars in refunds. That huge pool of refunds drives scam artists and criminals to steal taxpayer identities and claim fraudulent refunds. The IRS has many protections in place to discover false returns and refund claims, but taxpayers still need to be proactive.


An employer must withhold income taxes from compensation paid to common-law employees (but not from compensation paid to independent contractors). The amount withheld from an employee's wages is determined in part by the number of withholding exemptions and allowances the employee claims. Note that although the Tax Code and regulations distinguish between withholding exemptions and withholding allowances, the terms are interchangeable. The amount of reduction attributable to one withholding allowance is the same as that attributable to one withholding exemption. Form W-4 and most informal IRS publications refer to both as withholding allowances, probably to avoid confusion with the complete exemption from withholding for employees with no tax liability.


Estimated tax is used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding or if not enough tax is being withheld from a person's salary, pension or other income. Income not subject to withholding can include dividends, capital gains, prizes, awards, interest, self-employment income, and alimony, among other income items. Generally, individuals who do not pay at least 90 percent of their tax through withholding must estimate their income tax liability and make equal quarterly payments of the "required annual payment" liability during the year.


The tax rules surrounding the dependency exemption deduction on a federal income tax return can be complicated, with many requirements involving who qualifies for the deduction and who qualifies to take the deduction. The deduction can be a very beneficial tax break for taxpayers who qualify to claim dependent children or other qualifying dependent family members on their return. Therefore, it is important to understand the nuances of claiming dependents on your tax return, as the April 18 tax filing deadline is just around the corner.