You have probably heard by now that the new law passed is almost 5,600 pages and covers funding the government as well as many tax provisions.
This post is meant to cover Unemployment, recovery rebates, the Payroll Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and payroll sick and family leave.
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Unemployed Workers Receive Continued Assistance
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program extends benefits to self-employed individuals, which would include independent contractors and sole proprietors who would not normally qualify for unemployment benefits. These individuals would have to self-certify that they were otherwise able to work but are unable to due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It does not include those with the ability to work remotely with pay or individuals receiving sick leave or other paid leave benefits. According to the original law, these individuals would be covered for any weeks they are unable to work because of the Pandemic between January 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020, limited to a total of 39 weeks. The weekly benefit amount is the weekly benefit amount authorized under the unemployment law of the State, where the covered individual was employed plus $600. The additional $600 is for a period of up to four months.
The new law changes this by extending the unemployment benefit period from December 31, 2020, to March 14, 2021. The $600 has been reduced to $300 for all weeks of unemployment beginning after December 26, 2020. Additionally, for those who have not exhausted their PUA benefits by March 14, 2021, PUA will continue until the 50 weeks are exhausted or until any week beginning no later than April 4, 2021.
Recovery Rebates for Taxpayers
The CARES Act contained a provision of $1,200 in recovery rebates for individuals. These are considered refundable credits against a taxpayer’s 2020 income tax. These payments are limited by the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of the taxpayer.
For single individuals with AGI under $75,000, they will receive the full $1,200. For single taxpayers with AGI greater than $75,000, the $1,200 amount is phased out by 5% of the amount AGI exceeds $75,0000 with the amount being reduced to $0 for taxpayers with AGI exceeding $99,000.
For individuals filing as Head of Household, the $1,200 amount begins its phase out at $112,500 and is reduced to $0 for taxpayers with AGI greater than $136,500. Married taxpayers filing jointly are allowed a $2,400 rebate, which begins to phase out at $150,000 of AGI and is completely eliminated for taxpayers with AGI exceeding $198,000.
Also included is an additional $500 per child for qualifying dependent children under age 17. The government will electronically deposit or issue checks based on your most recently filed income tax return. If you have filed 2019, they will use 2019; if you have not yet filed, they will use your 2018 return.
The new law changes the $1,200 payments to $600 ($1,200 for individuals filing a joint return) and $600 per qualifying dependent children under age 17. These payments will be based on your 2019 income tax filing. Individuals not required to file (those who receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement or are a Specified Veterans Beneficiary) may provide information themselves or from the Commissioner of Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board or Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Concerns.
This was an executive order passed by President Trump in August of 2020 and defers payment of the 6.2% withholding on employees that earn under $4,000 bi-weekly or the equivalent amount with respect to other pay periods. The deferral is applicable to payroll checks from September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The payments were originally to be deferred only and paid back between January 1, 2021 and April 30, 2021.
The new law allows these amounts to be paid beginning on January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021.
Regulations or Guidance Clarifying Application of Education Expense Tax Deduction
Teachers are allowed up to a $250 tax deduction “above the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) line on a tax return. An above the line deduction allows taxpayers who do not itemize their returns to benefit from the deduction and also slightly reduces AGI which is used in other areas of the return such as when computing a medical expense deduction (where expenses must exceed 7.5% of AGI before being considered a deduction).
The new law allows personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectant and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 to be counted for purposes of this deduction.
PAYROLL PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP)
Clarification of Tax Treatment of Forgiveness of Covered Loans
The CARES Act provided if certain conditions were met, proceeds received under the PPP would be forgiven. Typically, an extinguishment of debt gives rise to taxable income. Let’s take an example where a taxpayer owes a credit card company $20,000 and settles the obligation for $8,000. The $12,000 extinguished becomes taxable income and the taxpayer would receive Form 1099-C showing the $12,000. Extinguished debt is not considered taxable income if there is an exception in the Internal Revenue Code. The CARES Act contained a provision classifying forgiven PPP funds as not taxable. The IRS issued Notice 2020-32 which stated that since forgiven PPP funds were not considered to be taxable income, then any expenses paid with those funds would not be considered deductions.
This was never the intent of Congress and the new law specifically allows expenses paid with forgiven PPP funds as deductions.
SIMPLIFIED FORGIVENESS APPLICATION
Recipients of loans of not more than $150,000 shall be forgiven by submitting a one-page certification regarding compliance with the loan terms.
PAYROLL PROTECTION PROGRAM (ROUND 2)
The law introduces a second round of PPP funding referred to as Second Draw Loans.
The eligibility requirements differ from the original PPP requirements:
- Entity cannot employ more than 300 people
- Must demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts of the entity during any quarter in 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019
- There are different rules for entities that were in business for only part of 2019 or were established after 2019 but prior to February 15, 2020
The maximum loan amount is the lower of 2.5 times monthly payroll or $2,000,000. There is an exception for hotels (except casinos), motels and restaurants. These entities have a maximum of the lower of 3.5 times monthly payroll of $2,000,000.
Forgiveness is the same as round 1 of PPP. Payroll costs must be at least 60% of the total forgiven amount.
Additional Eligible Expenses
This second round of PPP will allow the same expenses as the first round (payroll costs, rent, mortgage interest and utilities) but additionally will allow the following:
- covered operations expenditure means a payment for any business software or cloud computing service that facilitates business operations, product or service delivery, the processing, payment, or tracking of payroll expenses, human resources, sales and billing functions, or accounting or tracking of supplies, inventory, records, and expenses.
- covered property damage cost means a cost related to property damage and vandalism or looting due to public disturbances that occurred during 2020 that was not covered by insurance or other compensation
- covered supplier cost means an expenditure made by an entity to a supplier of goods for the supply of goods that—
“(A) are essential to the operations of the entity at the time at which the expenditure is made; and
‘‘(B) is made pursuant to a contract, order, or purchase order—
‘‘(I) in effect at any time before the covered period with respect to the applicable covered loan; or
‘‘(ii) with respect to perishable goods, in effect before or at any time during the covered period with respect to the applicable covered loan.
Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
EIDLs were part of the CARES Act. The definition of businesses that are eligible for EIDLs is the same as entities eligible for the Paycheck protection program. These loans are intended to provide small businesses with funds to cover costs in response to the coronavirus crisis. Borrowers request up to a $10,000 emergency advance, which is paid within 3 days after the application is submitted.
These funds can be used for: paid sick leave for employees unable to work due to the direct effect of the coronavirus payroll costs during business disruptions or substantial slowdowns, increased material costs incurred because materials are unavailable from the applicant’s original source due to interrupted supply chains, rent or mortgage payments and repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses. These loans were only available through December 31, 2020. The new law extends this date to December 31, 2021.
Extension of Credits for Paid Sick and Family Leave
The Act allows a 100% credit of the qualified sick leave wages. Below is a summary of qualified sick and family leave wages from the U.S. Department of Labor’s website. The new law extends the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from December 31, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through March 31, 2021.
Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:
Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.”
For guidance on CARES Act tax matters, please contact Lee Schmidt or other members of the A. L. Schmidt CPA Tax Practice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances