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New credits fund employers for Coronavirus-related paid leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides tax credits to reimburse employers for the costs of providing paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave to employees unable to work because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). These credits are refundable. That means if the amount of the credit exceeds the amount of tax owed, the remainder is refunded to the business or organization.

The law is intended to allow employers to keep employees on their payrolls, while at the same time making sure employees aren’t forced to choose between their paychecks and public health measures needed to combat COVID-19.

These credits are available to eligible employers beginning April 1, 2020, for qualifying leave they provide between April 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020.

Covered employers
Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees within the United States or any U.S. territory or possession and that have to meet employer paid leave requirements. The Questions and Answers and regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor have more information about the 500-employee threshold and the paid leave requirements.

The law allows equivalent credits for self-employed individuals in similar circumstances. For details, see specific provisions related to self-employed individuals in the COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs

Paid sick leave requirement and credit
Employees of eligible employers who are unable to work or telework because they’re quarantined or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. This pay is at their regular rate of pay or, if higher, the applicable minimum wage, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total.

Employees can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at 2/3 of their regular pay or, if higher, the applicable minimum wage, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total. Employees can receive this benefit if they need to care for:

• an individual subject to quarantine,
• a child whose school or place of care is closed, or
• a child whose child-care provider is unavailable,

due to COVID-19 or because they’re experiencing similar conditions as specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

An employee is eligible for paid sick leave, regardless of length of employment.

The eligible employer is entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to the required paid sick leave wages. Eligible employers can also get an additional credit for the employer’s share of Medicare tax imposed on the qualfied sick leave wages and the cost of maintaining health insurance coverage for the employee during the sick leave period. The employer is not subject to the employer portion of Social Security tax on those wages.

Paid family and medical leave requirement and credit
In addition to the paid sick leave credit, an employee who is unable to work or telework because of a need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or whose child-care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19, is entitled to paid family and medical leave equal to 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay, up to $200 per day and $10,000 in total. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted toward the paid family leave credit.

An employee qualifies for paid family and medical leave if they’ve been on an employer’s payroll for 30 calendar days or more.

The eligible employer is entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to the required paid family leave wages. Eligible employers can also get an additional credit for the employer’s share of Medicare tax imposed on those wages and its cost of maintaining health insurance coverage for the employee during the family leave period. The eligible employer isn’t subject to the employer portion of Social Security tax on those wages.

Example. An employee’s child-care provider is unavailable indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving the employee unable to work or telework because of the need to care for their child. For up to the first 80 hours of any period of leave to care for their child, the employee is entitled to qualified sick leave wages, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total. After that, the employee is entitled to qualified family leave wages for up to 10 weeks of additional leave needed, up to $200 per day and $10,000 in total.

How to claim the credits
Eligible employers report their total qualified leave wages and the related credits for each quarter on their federal employment tax return, usually Form 941, Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return. They can receive the benefit of the credits by reducing their federal employment tax deposits for that quarter by the amount of the qualified leave wages, allocable qualified health plan expenses, and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the wages. They’ll account for the reduction in deposits due to the leave credits on the Form 941 they file at the end of the quarter. The IRS recently posted Frequently Asked Questions about the ability both to reduce deposits for the credits and to defer the deposit of all of the employer’s portion of Social Security tax due before January 1, 2021 under a separate provision in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

If employers don’t have enough federal employment taxes to cover the amount of the credits, after they have deferred deposits of employer Social Security taxes under the CARES Act as discussed in the Frequently Asked Questions, they may request an advance payment of the credits from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19. They may fax their completed forms to 855-248-0552.

Examples: An eligible employer is entitled to a credit of $5,000 for paying qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages (and allocable health plan expenses) and is otherwise required to deposit $8,000 in federal employment taxes withheld from all of its employees for wage payments made during the same quarter as the $5,000 in qualified leave wages. The employer may keep up to $5,000 of the $8,000 of taxes it was going to deposit, and it will not owe a penalty for keeping the $5,000. The eligible employer will claim the credit and reflect the reduced liability for the $5,000 when it files Form 941.

An eligible employer is entitled to a credit of $10,000 for paying qualified leave wages (and allocable qualified health plan expenses) and is otherwise required to deposit $8,000 in federal employment taxes withheld from all of its employees on wage payments made during the same quarter. The employer can keep the entire $8,000 of taxes that it was otherwise required to deposit without penalties as a portion of the credits it is otherwise entitled to claim on Form 941. The employer may file a request for an advance credit for the remaining $2,000 by completing Form 7200.

Keep records to substantiate claims
Eligible employers claiming the credits must keep records and documentation supporting each employee’s leave. The COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs has more information about the documents needed to support the employee’s leave and the employer’s credit.

An employer should keep all employment tax records for at least four years.

The Questions and Answers issued by the U.S. Department of Labor have more information about the leave requirements.

More information:
Coronavirus Tax Relief
IR-2020-57, Treasury, IRS and Labor announce plan to implement coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses to swiftly recover the cost of providing coronavirus-related leave.

 

IRS People First Initiative provides relief to taxpayers

Due to COVID-19, the IRS is providing relief on a variety of issues as part of the People First Initiative. The IRS is modifying certain activities through the filing and payment deadline, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Here’s what people need to know about relief related to IRS exams or audits

Field, office and correspondence audits – Generally, the IRS won’t start new field, office and correspondence audits. The agency will continue to work refund claims, where possible, without in-person contact.
However, the IRS may start new audits if needed to preserve the statute of limitations.

• In-person meetings – In-person meetings for current field and office audits are on hold. However, examiners will continue their work remotely, where possible. Taxpayers should respond to any requests for information during this period, if possible.

• Unique situations – Corporations and businesses may want to begin a previously scheduled audit while people and records are available. When it’s in the best interest of both parties and appropriate people are available, the IRS may move forward with an audit. COVID-19 developments could slow activities.

• General requests for information – Taxpayers should reply to all IRS correspondence, if requested.

Earned income tax credit and wage verification reviews – Taxpayers have until July 15, 2020, to respond to the IRS and verify that they qualify for the earned income tax credit or to verify their income. These taxpayers should submit all requested information. If they can’t contact the agency and explain why the information is not available, the IRS won’t deny these credits for a failure to provide information until July 15, 2020.

Independent Office of Appeals – Appeals employees will continue to work their cases. They aren’t currently holding in-person meetings, but conferences may be held by phone or video. Taxpayers should respond to any requests for information form the Independent Office of Appeals.

Statute of limitations – The IRS will continue to protect all statutes of limitations. If statute expirations might be jeopardized during this period, taxpayers are encouraged to cooperate in extending these statutes. Otherwise, the IRS will issue Statutory Notices of Deficiency and pursue similar actions to protect the interests of the government.

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IRS People First Initiative provides relief to taxpayers facing COVID-19 issues

Due to COVID-19, the IRS’ People First Initiative provides relief to taxpayers on a variety of issues from easing payment guidelines to delaying compliance actions. This relief is effective through the filing and payment deadline, Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

• Existing Installment Agreements – Under an existing Installment Agreement, payments due between April 1 and July 15, 2020 are delayed. Those currently unable to meet the terms of an Installment Payment Agreement or Direct Deposit Installment Agreement may cancel payments during this period with no default. By law, interest will continue to accumulate on any unpaid balances.

• New Installment Agreements – People who can’t pay all their federal taxes can establish a monthly payment agreement.

• Pending Offer in Compromise applications – Taxpayers have until July 15, 2020, to provide additional information for a pending OIC. The agency generally won’t close any pending OIC request before July 15 without the taxpayer’s consent.

• OIC payments – Taxpayers can delay all payments on accepted OICs until July 15, 2020. Interest may accrue, and missed payments are due when the suspension period ends. Taxpayers can call the number on their acceptance letter to address their needs.

• Delinquent return filings – The IRS will not default an OIC for taxpayers who are delinquent in filing their tax return for 2018. However, they should file any delinquent 2018 return and their 2019 return by July 15, 2020.

• Non-filers – More than 1 million households who haven’t filed tax returns in the last three years are owed refunds. The deadline to get refunds on 2016 tax returns is July 15, 2020. Those who owe taxes on delinquent returns may visit IRS.gov for payment options. The longer the debt is owed, the more penalties and interest accrue.

• Field collection activities – IRS stopped field revenue officer enforcement actions, such as liens and levies. Revenue officers will continue to pursue high-income non-filers and perform other similar activities where necessary.

• Automated liens and levies – IRS delayed issuing new automated and systemic liens and levies. Taxpayers experiencing a hardship due to a levy should reach out to their assigned IRS contact or fax their information to (855) 796-4524.

• Certifications to the State Department – IRS has delayed new certifications of taxpayers who are considered seriously delinquent. This affects a person’s ability to receive a new or renewed passport. Existing certifications will remain in place unless their tax situation changes.

• Private debt collection – IRS will not forward new delinquent accounts to private collection agencies during this period.

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What people really want to know about Economic Impact Payments

IRS.gov has answers to many questions people may have about their Economic Impact Payment. Here are answers to some of the top questions people are asking about these payments.

Is this payment considered taxable income?
No, the payment is not income and taxpayers will not owe tax on it. The payment will not reduce a taxpayer’s refund or increase the amount they owe when they file their 2020 tax return next year. A payment also will not affect income for purposes of determining eligibility for federal government assistance or benefit programs.

Can people who receive a Form SSA-1099 or RRB-1099 use Get My Payment to check their payment status?
Yes, they will be able to use Get My Payment to check the status of their payment after verifying their identity by answering the required security questions.

If someone’s bank account information has changed since they filed their last tax return, can they update it using Get My Payment?
To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change direct deposit bank account information already on file with the IRS.

If the IRS issues a direct deposit based on the account information that the taxpayer provided on their tax return and the bank information is now invalid or the account has been closed, the bank will reject the deposit. The agency will then mail payment as soon as possible to the address they have on file. Get My Payment will be updated to reflect the date a payment will be mailed. It will take up to 14 days to receive the payment, standard mailing time.

Where can people get more information?
Taxpayers who are required to file a tax return, can go to IRS Free File to file electronically. If they aren’t required to file, they should go to the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool and submit their information to receive an Economic Impact Payment.

For the complete lists of FAQs, visit the Economic Impact Payment and the Get My Payment tool pages on IRS.gov. The IRS updates these FAQs regularly

The IRS encourages people to share this information with family and friends.

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Taxpayers act now to receive Economic Impact Payments by direct deposit

People must use Get My Payment by noon Wednesday, May 13, for a chance to get their Economic Impact Payment by direct deposit.

After noon Wednesday, the IRS will begin preparing to mail millions of additional payments to those who haven’t received one yet. Taxpayers can expect to receive these payments beginning in late May. People who use Get My Payment before the deadline can still take advantage of the direct deposit option. Get My Payment is available in English and Spanish.

How Get My Payment works
The Get My Payment tool provides eligible taxpayers with an estimated deposit date for their Economic Impact Payment. The information is updated once a day, usually overnight. There is no need to check more often. Taxpayers who didn’t choose direct deposit on their last tax return can use this tool to enter bank account information to receive their payment by direct deposit.

Non-Filers tool is still available
For people not required to file a federal tax return, the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, available in English and Spanish, helps them submit basic information to have an Economic Impact Payment sent to their bank account. This tool is a free and easy option for those who don’t receive:

• Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI)
• Railroad Retirement benefits
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• VA Compensation and Pension (C&P)

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will receive the payments automatically. Automatic payments are also being sent to those receiving Social Security retirement, disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Veterans Affairs benefits or Supplemental Security Income soon.

The IRS encourages people to share this information with family and friends.

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Local IRS Offices

York
2670 Industrial Hwy, York, PA 17402
Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
(Closed for lunch 12:30pm - 1:30pm)
(717) 757-4977

Harrisburg
228 Walnut St, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
(Closed for lunch 12:30pm - 1:00pm) (717) 777-9650

Lancaster
1720 Hempstead Rd, Lancaster, PA 17601
Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
(Closed for lunch 12:30pm - 1:00pm)
(717) 291-1994










NATP

National Association of Tax Professionals