How to Make Tax-Free Payments to Your Employees
March 31, 2020 | BY admin
As the emotional, physical and financial chaos of the past few weeks continues, so does the stress affecting your employees. Thanks to a little-known tax provision, you can now relieve some of that anxiety by providing cash gifts to your team that are tax-free to them, and fully deductible to you.
In general, an employer cannot give a “gift” to an employee. Regardless of intent, any payment from employer to employee is taxed to the employee as compensation. However, Section 139 — added to the Code after September 11th— says that during a federally declared disaster, an employer can reimburse or pay an employee for “reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses.” These payments are tax-free to the employees, but fully deductible to the employer.
Beginning immediately, employers can assist employees in managing the COVID-19 crisis in the following ways:
Qualified Disaster Relief Payments
- An employee’s medical expenses that are not compensated for by insurance, for example, the employee’s deductible and out-of-pocket expenses
- The cost of over-the-counter medications and hand sanitizer
- Funeral costs of an employee or a member of an employee’s family
- The cost of enabling an employee to work from home throughout the pandemic, for example, the cost of a computer, cell phone, printer, supplies and increased utility costs of the employee
- The cost of an employee’s child care or tutoring for family members that cannot attend school during the pandemic
Please note: Payments that are otherwise compensated for by insurance or that are intended to replace lost income do not qualify.
Interestingly, Section 139 does not require that employees complete a certain period of service to be eligible to receive these tax-free payments, nor is the employer required to maintain any formal plan or documentation. Nevertheless, it would be wise for employers to document their intention to make payments covered by Section 139, as well as the following:
Important Payment Information to be Documented by Employer
- The amounts paid, and to whom
- The start and end dates of any Section 139 “payment program”
- A general list of the expenses that will be paid or reimbursed on behalf of the employees
- Any maximum amount per-employee or in the aggregate that the employer will pay
You put your heart and soul into your business, and your employees have become your family. We understand how important it is for you to be a backbone for them and help in whatever way you can. We encourage you to take this opportunity to support your employees in a very practical way and be there when they need you most.
Wishing everyone happy and healthy YomTov.
What the CARES Act Means for Your Business and Organization
March 30, 2020 | BY admin
SBA Offering Loans to Small Businesses Hit Hard by COVID-19
March 26, 2020 | BY admin
Every company has faced unprecedented challenges in adjusting to life following the widespread outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Small businesses face particular difficulties in that, by definition, their resources — human, capital and otherwise — are limited. If this describes your company, one place you can look to for some assistance is the Small Business Administration (SBA).
New loan, relaxed criteria
The agency has announced that it’s offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was recently signed into law.
Here’s how it works: The governor of a state or territory must first submit a request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance to the SBA. The agency’s Office of Disaster Assistance then works with the governor to approve the request. Upon completion of this process, affected small businesses within the state gain access to information on how to apply for loan assistance.
To speed the process, the SBA has relaxed its usual disaster-loan criteria. A state or territory now needs to certify that at least five small businesses have suffered substantial economic injury anywhere in the state. Previously, at least one of the companies had to be in each of the disaster-declared counties or parishes.
Along similar lines, once the submission process is completed, Economic Injury Disaster Loans will be available across the state. Under previous criteria, only businesses in counties identified as disaster areas could obtain financial assistance. Given the expected widespread and economically drastic effect of the coronavirus, most states will have likely garnered approval by the time you read this.
Amount, interest and terms
Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in financial assistance to help small businesses mitigate their revenue losses. You could use the money to pay overhead costs such as utilities and rent, keep up with accounts payable and cover payroll.
For qualifying small businesses, the interest rate is 3.75%. Some nonprofits may also be eligible for this assistance. For them, the interest rate is 2.75%. The specific loan terms will vary according to each borrower’s ability to pay. The agency does say that it “offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable.”
Mitigate and manage
Bear in mind that these loans are just one form of assistance offered by the SBA. Your small business may qualify for other loans, and there might be training programs that benefit your company. Our firm can help you assess your financial situation in light of the coronavirus crisis and formulate a strategy for mitigating and managing your risks going forward.
Tax Relief for Small Businesses
March 25, 2020 | BY admin
Businesses across the country are being affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Fortunately, Congress recently passed a law that provides at least some relief. In a separate development, the IRS has issued guidance allowing taxpayers to defer any amount of federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.
On March 18, the Senate passed the House’s coronavirus bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. President Trump signed the bill that day. It includes:
- Paid leave benefits to employees,
- Tax credits for employers and self-employed taxpayers, and
- FICA tax relief for employers.
Tax filing and payment extension
In Notice 2020-18, the IRS provides relief for taxpayers with a federal income tax payment due April 15, 2020. The due date for making federal income tax payments usually due April 15, 2020 is postponed to July 15, 2020.
Important: The IRS announced that the 2019 income tax filing deadline will be moved to July 15, 2020 from April 15, 2020, because of COVID-19.
Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Twitter, “we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.”
Previously, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS had announced that taxpayers could defer making income tax payments for 2019 and estimated income tax payments for 2020 due April 15 (up to certain amounts) until July 15, 2020. Later, the federal government stated that you also don’t have to file a return by April 15.
Of course, if you’re due a tax refund, you probably want to file as soon as possible so you can receive the refund money. And you can still get an automatic filing extension, to October 15, by filing IRS Form 4868. Contact us with any questions you have about filing your return.
Any amount can be deferred
In Notice 2020-18, the IRS stated: “There is no limitation on the amount of the payment that may be postponed.” (Previously, the IRS had announced dollar limits on the tax deferrals but then made a new announcement on March 21 that taxpayers can postpone payments “regardless of the amount owed.”)
In Notice 2020-18, the due date is postponed only for federal income tax payments for 2019 normally due on April 15, 2020 and federal estimated income tax payments (including estimated payments on self-employment income) due on April 15, 2020 for the 2020 tax year.
As of this writing, the IRS hasn’t provided a payment extension for the payment or deposit of other types of federal tax (including payroll taxes and excise taxes).
This only outlines the basics of the federal tax relief available at the time this was written. New details are coming out daily. Be aware that many states have also announced tax relief related to COVID-19. And Congress is working on more legislation that will provide additional relief, including sending checks to people under a certain income threshold and providing relief to various industries and small businesses.
We’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, contact us with any questions you have about your situation.
Current Tax & Paid Leave Regulation Changes
March 23, 2020 | BY admin
As we continue to face the global health crisis of COVID-19, Roth&Co is committed to supporting your organization in navigating these confusing times. Here is what you need to know regarding the recent tax and regulatory changes.
TAX FILING DEADLINE EXTENSION
On Friday, March 20th the IRS has announced that the deadline for filing tax returns is being moved from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.
HR 6201: FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT
HR 6201 was signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020, ensuring employees are eligible for two weeks of Paid Sick Leave and use of 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act leave for several circumstances related to COVID-19. It will be in effect until December 31, 2020.
1. Payroll Tax Credit for Employers
Under HR 6201, employers can claim a Social Security tax credit to offset the cost of providing expanded FMLA and emergency paid leave to their employees. If the credit exceeds the employer’s accumulated Social Security tax for the calendar quarter, the excess will be issued in the form of a refund from the IRS. The refundable credits would apply to all wages paid under these programs through December 31, 2020.
2. Emergency Paid Sick Leave for Employees
Covered Employers: Employers with fewer than 500 employees.
Covered Employees: All employees, except some exclusions for health care providers or emergency responders.
Covered Leave: When an employee is quarantined or isolated as ordered by a governmental agency, health care provider, or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. 2/3 pay is required for employees on leave for the purpose of caring for an individual in quarantine, or a child whose school is closed or child-care provider is no longer available due to COVID-19.
Duration of Leave: Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to sick leave equal to the hours worked on average over a typical two-week period.
Illness or quarantine: Pay is capped at $511/day and $5,110 total
Providing family care: Pay is capped at $200/day and $2,000 total
Note: Employers cannot require employees to use other leave first.
Additional Tax Credits: An employer can claim additional refundable tax credits for the employer portion of Medicare taxes and nontaxable health insurance premiums as related to COVID-19.
3. Emergency FMLA Expansion for Employees
Covered Employers: Employers with fewer than 500 employees
Covered Employees: Any employee who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days (excluding health care providers or emergency responders)
Covered Leave Purposes: To care for a child under 18 if the child’s school or the childcare provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus.
Duration: Up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave.
Compensation: After 10 days covered by Emergency Paid Sick leave, employers must pay two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours they would normally be scheduled to work, capped at $200/day and $10,000 total.
4. Reinstatement to Position after Leave
The same reinstatement provisions apply under the traditional FMLA. However, restoration to position does not apply to employers with fewer than 25 employees if the job no longer exists because of the economic downturn caused by a public health emergency. The employer is required to make reasonable efforts to return the employee to an equivalent position, and contact a displaced employee if a similar position becomes available within a year of when they would have returned to work.
5. Exemptions for Businesses with Fewer than 50 Employees
Businesses with under 50 employees are subject to exemptions from Emergency FMLA and Emergency PSL if the requirements “would jeopardize the viability of the business.”
We will continue to keep you informed as more information becomes available. As always, we are here to help implement these changes. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns.