VIDEO – Nebraska Property Incentive Tax

Prior to meeting with your CPA, please use the look-up tool to determine your amount of eligible school district tax paid for the credit and print off the worksheet.   

We ask that you look this information up, because you are in a better position to know what parcels of real estate you own. 

At the end of the video, we also touch on what to give your CPA in terms of the Stimulus Round 1 and 2.

Nebraska Income Tax Credit for School District Taxes Paid (Nebraska Property Tax Incentive Act Credit)

Nebraska School District Property Tax Look-Up Tool

County Parcel ID Search

Recorded 2.9.2021

COVID Stimulus programs recap—does your organization qualify?

With the COVID relief package passed in late December, many are still reviewing the rules to see if they qualify.  There were numerous changes retroactive to the beginning of the CARES Act (March 2020) and many new changes going forward in 2021 which has made this new bill cumbersome to navigate.  Based on the rules known today, we have provided different categories that most taxpayers are falling under, which we hope helps you navigate all the changes.

Your organization received PPP funds in the year of 2020, will my business qualify for the second round of PPP?

  • Many businesses and self-employed individuals fall in this category.  The first question you need to ask, have you experienced a 25% reduction in gross receipts during any quarter of 2020 as compared to the same quarter in 2019?  If so, then you might be eligible.  We do know the original PPP and EIDL grants are excluded from gross receipts, however, there is uncertainty as to whether the other stimulus funds should be included (Nebraska stabilization, HHS, CFAP, etc.).  For now, exclude all stimulus payments in your gross receipts so you can determine how your operations truly performed each quarter.  Note:  special rules apply if you started business in 2019.
  • If your original PPP loans have not been forgiven, you may be eligible to request a recalculation of your first round PPP and increase your eligible loan amount.  We recommend you talk with the lender that assisted you the first time to see if you are eligible for an increase based on the revised rules.

Your organization never received PPP funds in the year of 2020, can I apply?

  • For any business that had payroll and you didn’t apply for funds the first time for whatever reason, you can still apply.  You have time to apply as a “first-time” borrower if you feel the conditions warrant the needed funds for your business.  The criteria and rules for the most part follow the initial PPP funding rules (average monthly payroll multiplied by a factor of 2.5). 
  • For sole-proprietor farmers that file a Schedule F, special rules apply in computing eligible “payroll”.  Farmers can calculate their payroll by using Schedule F, line 9 gross income (capped at $100,000), divided by 12 months and multiplied by a factor of 2.5.   For a farmer with more than $100,000 of gross receipts and no employees, the max loan amount is $20,833.  If the farmer had employees, a slightly different computation is required.   If you received a lessor amount under the first round of PPP and your loan has not been forgiven, you can request the additional amount.   

Not eligible for any additional PPP, now what?

  • If you received first round PPP funding and you’ve already received loan forgiveness, there are still a few new benefits from the latest stimulus.  If you also previously received the EIDL grant, your loan forgiveness was likely reduced by the EIDL.  In a retroactive change, the EIDL no longer reduces the forgiveness amount, so lenders will be working with the SBA to ensure all borrowers receive full PPP loan forgiveness.  Watch for more communication from your lender on this.

Employee Retention Credit—credit to reduce payroll taxes:

  • Another stimulus credit that organizations need to be aware of is the Employee Retention Credit.  Under the CARES Act in March 2020, any business that received the PPP could not also use the Employee Retention Credit.   Under the new act, this has been repealed back to March 2020.  Essentially, businesses can potentially receive up to 50-70% refund of wages up to $10,000 of wages per employee by keeping their employees during the pandemic.  For 2020, analyze if your business revenues for Q2, Q3 and Q4 dropped by 50% or more as compared to the same quarters in 2019 OR if your organization was partially or fully suspended as mandated by the government.  If you meet either criteria, you may be eligible to claim the tax credit on your Form 941.  Special rules apply if you received the PPP, which guidance is forthcoming from the IRS/Treasury. 

What you can do now to prepare for round two PPP loan applications

List of items to consider:

First, figure out if you are eligible to apply:

  • Run quarterly income statements for 2019 and 2020. Companies demonstrating a 25% or more reduction in gross receipts in any quarter in 2020 as compared to the same quarter in 2019 are eligible to apply. Special rules apply to new businesses that started in 2019 or 2020.

If you are eligible to apply, then work on gathering the following items:

  • Head count numbers for 2019 and 2020. Companies with 300 or fewer employees are eligible to apply. For restaurants and other companies with an NAICS code starting with 72, the 300-employee limit is for each location.
  • 2019 and 2020 payroll reports.
  • 2019 and 2020 forms 941, 940 and State Unemployment tax returns.
  • 2019 and 2020 health benefit expenses (health insurance, group life and disability, and vision and dental).
  • 2019 and 2020 employer retirement plan contributions.
  • Watch for emails from us and your local banks regarding the new process surrounding round two of the PPP.

For Schedule C Filers

For Schedule C filers (i.e. self-employed businesses) be prepared with a balance sheet and income statement (or financial records) that can be used to generate your Schedule C – likely much earlier than you typically would have this done. Lenders required a Schedule C for prior PPP loans.

For Schedule F Filers

There is a special provision for farmers and ranchers who file a Schedule F, they can calculate their eligibility using 2.5 times their monthly 2019 gross income with a monthly maximum gross income of $100,000. Therefore, the maximum loan amount in this case would be $20,833 ($100,000 x 2.5 / 12).  Although it appears only the 2019 Schedule F will be required, we encourage you to get your 2020 farm income/expenses finalized in case there are further requirements. 

Update to original Paycheck Protection Program loan rules

An eligible recipient may have a PPP loan forgiven in an amount equal to the sum of the following costs incurred and payments made during the covered period: (1) payroll costs; (2) interest (but not principal) payments on any covered mortgage obligation (for mortgages in place before Feb. 15, 2020); (3) any payment for any covered rent obligation (for leases that began before Feb. 15, 2020); (4) covered utility payments (for utilities that were turned on before Feb. 15, 2020); (5) any covered operations expenditure, (6) any covered property damage cost, (7) any covered supplier cost, and (8) any covered worker protection expense. Please contact our office for more information about what eligible expenses include.

Covered period. Your covered period would normally have been the 24-week period beginning on the date you took out the loan (and ending no later than Dec. 31, 2020, if that was before the expiration of the 24-week period). If you received a PPP loan before June 5, 2020, you could elect a shorter 8-week covered period. If you did not elect the 8-week period and instead used the longer 24-week period, you had to maintain payroll levels for the full 24 weeks to be eligible for loan forgiveness. If you didn’t make an election, the 24-week period applies.

An eligible recipient seeking forgiveness of indebtedness on a covered loan must verify that the amount for which forgiveness is requested was used to retain employees, make interest payments on a covered mortgage obligation, make payments on a covered lease obligation or make covered utility payments.

Cancellation of indebtedness income. The reduction or cancellation of indebtedness generally results in cancellation of debt (COD) income to the debtor. However, the forgiveness of PPP debt is excluded from gross income. Your tax attributes (net operating losses, credits, capital and passive activity loss carryovers, and basis) would not generally be reduced on account of this exclusion.

Deductibility of expenses paid by PPP loans. The CARES Act was silent on whether expenses paid with the proceeds of PPP loans could be deducted. IRS took the position that these expenses were nondeductible. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted at the end of 2020, provides that expenses paid from the proceeds of PPP loans are deductible.

© 2021 Thomson Reuters/Tax & Accounting. All Rights Reserved.

CAA, 2021 changes to Paycheck Protection Program second draw

At the end of 2020, Congress passed, and President Trump signed, a new law that provides for additional relief related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This law, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA, 2021), includes a second draw of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans (PPP Second Draw Loans). It also allows businesses to deduct ordinary and necessary expenses paid from the proceeds of PPP loans.

Background. In Mar. 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted. The CARES Act authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make loans to qualified businesses under certain circumstances. The provision established the PPP, which provided up to 24 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans (Original PPP Loans) to eligible recipients. Taxpayers could apply to have the loans forgiven to the extent their proceeds were used to maintain payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic and to cover certain other expenses.

Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans. The CAA, 2021 permits certain smaller businesses who received a PPP loan and experienced a 25% reduction in gross receipts to take a PPP Second Draw Loan of up to $2 million. 

Eligible entities. In order to qualify for a PPP Second Draw Loan, a taxpayer must have taken out an Original PPP Loan. In addition, prior PPP borrowers must meet the following conditions to be eligible for the PPP Second Draw Loans:

  • Employ no more than 300 employees per physical location;
  • Have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan; and
  • Demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020 relative to the same 2019 quarter. Applications submitted on or after Jan. 1, 2021 are eligible to utilize the gross receipts from the fourth quarter of 2020.

Eligible entities include for-profit businesses, certain non-profit organizations, housing cooperatives, veterans’ organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small agricultural co-operatives.

Loan terms. Borrowers may receive a PPP Second Draw Loan of up to 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs in the one year prior to the loan or in calendar year 2019. However, borrowers in the hospitality or food services industries (NAICS code 72) may receive PPP Second Draw Loans of up to 3.5 times average monthly payroll costs. Only a single PPP Second Draw Loan is permitted to an eligible entity.

Gross receipts and simplified certification of revenue test. Taxpayers who borrow PPP Second Draw Loans of no more than $150,000 may submit a certification, on or before the date the loan forgiveness application is submitted, attesting that the eligible entity meets the applicable revenue (gross receipts) loss requirement.

Loan forgiveness. Like Original PPP loans, PPP Second Draw Loans may be forgiven for payroll costs of up to 60% (with some exceptions) and nonpayroll costs such as such as rent, mortgage interest and utilities of 40%. Forgiveness of the loans is not included in income as cancellation of indebtedness income.

Deductibility of expenses paid by PPP loans. The CARES Act was silent on whether expenses paid with the proceeds of PPP loans could be deducted. IRS took the position that these expenses were nondeductible. The CAA, 2021 provides that expenses paid both from the proceeds of loans under Original PPP loans and PPP Second Draw Loans are deductible.

Please contact our office with any further questions you might have on PPP loan forgiveness.

© 2021 Thomson Reuters/Tax & Accounting. All Rights Reserved.

2020 COVID relief bill provisions affecting individual taxpayers

Here is an overview of key provisions in the recent COVID relief legislation that affect individuals. The legislation is the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (the “Act” or COVIDTRA) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (TCDTR), both of which are part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

RECOVERY REBATE/ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENT

Direct-to-taxpayer recovery rebate. The Act provides for a refundable recovery rebate credit for 2020 that will paid in advance to eligible individuals, often automatically, early in 2021. ( Code Sec. 6428A , as added by COVIDTRA Sec. 272) These payments are in addition to the direct payments/rebates provided for in earlier Federal legislation, the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, PL 116-136, 3/27/2020), which were called Economic Impact Payments (EIP).

The amount of the rebate is $600 per eligible family member-$600 per taxpayer ($1,200 for married filing jointly), plus $600 per qualifying child. Thus, a married couple with two qualifying children will receive $2,400, unless a phase-out applies. The credit is phased out at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income starting at $150,000 of modified adjusted gross income for marrieds filing jointly and surviving spouses, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for single taxpayers.

Treasury must make the advance payments based on the information on 2019 tax returns. Eligible taxpayers who claimed their EIPs by providing information through the nonfiler portal on IRS’s website will also receive these additional payments.

Nonresident aliens, persons who qualify as another person’s dependent, and estates or trusts don’t qualify for the rebate. Taxpayers without a Social Security number are likewise ineligible, but if only one spouse on a joint return has a Social Security number, that spouse is eligible for a $600 payment. Children must also have a Social Security number to qualify for the $600-per-child payments.

Taxpayers who receive an advance payment that exceeds the amount of their eligible credit (as later calculated on the 2020 return) will not have to repay any of the payment. If the amount of the credit determined on the taxpayer’s 2020 return exceeds the amount of the advance payment, taxpayers receive the difference as a refundable tax credit.

Advance payments of the rebates are generally not subject to offset for past due federal or state debts, and they are protected from bank garnishment or levy by private creditors or debt collectors.

Pro-taxpayer changes to CARES Act Economic Impact Payment rules. As noted above, the CARES Act provided EIPs. 

The Act makes the following changes to the CARES Act EIP:

  • Provides that the $150,000 limit on adjusted gross income before the credit amount starts to phase out, which, under the CARES Act, applied to joint returns, also applies to surviving spouses. (Code Sec, 6428(c)(1), as amended by Act Sec. 273(a)) This change may allow taxpayers who qualify to use the surviving-spouse filing status to claim a larger EIP on their 2020 returns.
  • Makes the requirement to provide IRS with the taxpayer’s identification number identical to the same requirement under the new rebate, described above under “Direct-to-taxpayer recovery rebate.” ( Code Sec. 6428(g) , as amended by COVIDTRA Sec. 273(a))

DEDUCTIONS

$250 educator expense deduction applies to PPE, other COVID-related supplies. The Act provides that eligible educators (i.e., kindergarten-through-grade-12 teachers, instructors, etc.) can claim the existing $250 above-the-line educator expense deduction for personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 that were bought after March 12, 2020. IRS is directed to issue guidance to that effect by Feb. 28, 2021. (COVIDTRA Sec. 275; Code Sec. 62(a)(2)(D)(ii) )

7.5%-of-AGI “floor” on medical expense deductions is made permanent. The Act makes permanent the 7.5%-of-adjusted-gross-income threshold on medical expense deductions, which was to have increased to 10% of adjusted gross income after 2020.

The lower threshold will allow more taxpayers to take the medical expense deduction in 2021 and later years. ( Code Sec. 213(a) , as amended by Act Sec. 101)

Mortgage insurance premium deduction is extended by one year. The Act extends through 2021 the deduction for qualifying mortgage insurance premiums, which was due to expire at the end of 2020. The deduction is subject to a phase-out based on the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income. ( Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(E)(iv)(I) , as amended by Act Sec. 133)

Above-the-line charitable contribution deduction is extended through 2021; increased penalty for abuse. For 2020, individuals who don’t itemize deductions can take up to a $300 above-the-line deduction for cash contributions to “qualified charitable organizations.” The Act extends this above-the-line deduction through 2021 and increases the deduction allowed on a joint return to $600 (it remains at $300 for other taxpayers). ( Code Sec. 170(p) , as added by Act Sec. 212(a)) Taxpayers who overstate their cash contributions when claiming this deduction are subject to a 50% penalty (previously it was 20%). ( Code Sec. 6662(l) , as added by Act Sec. 212(b))

Extension through 2021 of allowance of charitable contributions up to 100% of an individual’s adjusted gross income. In response to the COVID pandemic, the limit on cash charitable contributions by an individual in 2020 was increased to 100% of the individual’s adjusted gross income. (The usual limit is 60% of adjusted gross income.) The Act extends this rule through 2021. ( Code Sec. 170(b)(1)(G) , as amended by Act Sec. 213)

EXCLUSIONS FROM INCOME

Exclusion for benefits provided to volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders made permanent. Emergency workers who are members of a “qualified volunteer emergency response organization” can exclude from gross income certain state or local government payments received and state or local tax relief provided on account of their volunteer services. This exclusion was due to expire at the end of 2020, but the Act made it permanent. ( Code Sec. 139B , as amended by Act Sec. 103)

Exclusion for discharge of qualified mortgage debt is extended, but limits on amount of excludable discharge are lowered. Usually, if a lender cancels a debt, such as a mortgage, the borrower must include the discharged amount in gross income. But under an exclusion that was due to expire at the end of 2020, a taxpayer can exclude from gross income up to $2 million ($1 million for married individuals filing separately) of discharge-of-debt income if “qualified principal residence debt” is discharged. The Act extends this exclusion through the end of 2025, but lowers the amount of debt that can be discharged tax-free to $750,000 ($375,000 for married individuals filing separately). ( Code Sec. 108(a)(1)(E) , as amended by Act Sec. 114(a))

Extension of exclusion for certain employer payments of student loans.  Qualifying educational assistance provided under an employer’s qualified educational assistance program, up to an annual maximum of $5,250, is excluded from the employee’s income. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, PL 116-136, 3/27/2020) added to the types of payments that are eligible for this exclusion, “eligible student loan repayments” made after Mar. 27, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021. These payments, which are subject to the overall $5,250 per employee limit for all educational payments, are payments of principal or interest on a qualified student loan by the employer, whether paid to the employee or a lender. The Act extends the exclusion for eligible student loan repayments through the end of 2025. ( Code Sec. 127(c)(1)(B) , amended by Act Sec. 120)

TAX CREDITS

Individuals may elect to base 2020 refundable child tax credit (CTC) and earned income credit (EIC) on 2019 earned income. If an individual’s child tax credit (CTC) exceeds the taxpayer’s tax liability, the taxpayer is eligible for a refundable credit equal to 15% percent of so much of the taxpayer’s taxable “earned income” for the tax year as exceeds $2,500. And the earned income credit (EIC) equals a percentage of the taxpayer’s “earned income.” For both of these credits, earned income means wages, salaries, tips, and other employee compensation, if includible in gross income for the tax year. But for determining the refundable CTC and the EIC for 2020, the Act allows taxpayers to elect to substitute the earned income for the preceding tax year, if that amount is greater than the taxpayer’s earned income for 2020. (Act Sec. 211(a))

Health coverage tax credit (HCTC) for health insurance costs of certain eligible individuals is extended by one year. A refundable credit (known as the health coverage tax credit or “HCTC”) is allowed for 72.5% of the cost of health insurance premiums paid by certain individuals (i.e., individuals eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance due to a qualifying job loss, and individuals between 55 and 64 years old whose defined-benefit pension plans were taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation). The HCTC was due to expire at the end of 2020, but the Act extended it through 2021. ( Code Sec. 35(b)(1)(B) , amended by Act Sec. 134)

New Markets tax credit extended. The New Markets credit provides a substantial tax credit to either individual or corporate taxpayers that invest in low-income communities. This credit was due to expire at the end of 2020, but the Act extended it through the end of 2025. Carryovers of the credit were extended, as well. ( Code Sec. 45D(f)(1)(H) , amended by Act Sec. 112(a))

Nonbusiness energy property credit extended by one year. A credit is available for purchases of “nonbusiness energy property”-i.e., qualifying energy improvements to a taxpayer’s main home. The Act extends this credit, which was due to expire at the end of 2020, through 2021. ( Code Sec. 25C(g)(2) , amended by Act Sec. 141)

Qualified fuel cell motor vehicle credit extended by one year. The credit for purchases of new qualified fuel cell motor vehicles, which was due to expire at the end of 2020, was extended by the Act through the end of 2021. ( Code Sec. 30B(k)(1) , as amended by Act Sec. 142)

2-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit extended by one year. The 10% credit for highway-capable, two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles (capped at $2,500) was extended until the end of 2021 by the Act. ( Code Sec. 30D(g)(3)(E)(ii) , amended by Act Sec. 144)

Residential energy-efficient property (REEP) credit extended by two years, bio-mass fuel property expenditures included. Individual taxpayers are allowed a personal tax credit, known as the residential energy efficient property (REEP) credit, equal to the applicable percentages of expenditures for qualified solar electric property, qualified solar water heating property, qualified fuel cell property, qualified small wind energy property, and qualified geothermal heat pump property. The REEP credit was due to expire at the end of 2021, with a phase-down of the credit operating during 2020 and 2021. The Act extends the phase-down period of the credit by two years-through the end of 2023; the REEP credit won’t apply after 2023. ( Code Sec. 25D(h) , as amended by Act Sec. 148(a))

The Act also adds qualified biomass fuel property expenditures to the list of expenditures qualifying for the credit, effective beginning in 2021. ( Code Sec. 25D(a) , as amended by Act Sec. 148(b)).

DISASTER-RELATED CHANGES IN RETIREMENT PLAN RULES

10% early withdrawal penalty does not apply to qualified disaster distributions from retirement plans.  A 10% early withdrawal penalty generally applies to, among other things, a distribution from employer retirement plan to an employee who is under the age of 59½. The Act provides that the 10% early withdrawal penalty doesn’t apply to any “qualified disaster distribution” from an eligible retirement plan. The aggregate amount of distributions received by an individual that may be treated as qualified disaster distributions for any tax year may not exceed the excess (if any) of $100,000, over the aggregate amounts treated as qualified disaster distributions received by that individual for all prior tax years. (TCDTR Sec. 302(a))

Increased limit for plan loans made because of a qualified disaster.  Generally, a loan from a retirement plan to a retirement plan participant cannot exceed $50,000. Plan loans over this amount are considered taxable distributions to the participant. The Act increases the allowable amount of a loan from a retirement plan to $100,000 if the loan is made because of a qualified disaster and meets various other requirements. (TCDTR Sec. 302(c)(3))

© 2021 Thomson Reuters/Tax & Accounting. All Rights Reserved.

Additional 2020 economic impact payments

You’ve probably heard that IRS will be making millions of ”economic impact payments” (also called ”recovery rebates”) in the near future to help people stay afloat during this time of economic uncertainty related to the COVID-19 crisis. These payments are in addition to the $1,200 payments ($2,400 for married couples) issued earlier in 2020. Here’s what you need to know about these additional payments.

Amount of payment. IRS has begun making payments of up to $600 to eligible taxpayers or up to $1,200 to married couples filing joint returns. Parents will get an additional $600 for each dependent child under age 17. Thus, a married couple with two children under 17 will get a $2,400 payment.

Who is eligible. U.S. citizens and residents are eligible for a full payment if their adjusted gross income (AGI) is under $75,000 for singles or marrieds filing separately, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly and surviving spouses. The recipient must not be the dependent of another taxpayer and must have a social security number that authorizes employment in the U.S.

Phaseout based on income. For individuals whose AGI exceeds the above thresholds, the payment amount is phased out at the rate of $5 for each $100 of income. Thus, the payment is completely phased out for single filers with AGI over $87,000 and for joint filers with no children with AGI over $174,000. For a married couple with two children, the payment will be completely phased out if their AGI exceeds $198,000.

Payments are nontaxable. The economic impact payment that you receive won’t be included in your income for tax purposes. It won’t cause you to owe tax or decrease your refund for 2020.

How to get a payment. The vast majority of people won’t have to do anything to get an economic impact payment. IRS will calculate and send the payment automatically to those who are eligible.

If you’ve filed your 2019 tax return, IRS will use the AGI and dependents from that return to calculate the payment amount. The credit won’t be allowed if the return doesn’t include a valid identification number (typically, a social security number) for each individual for whom a credit is sought. Thus, for example, a joint return must include valid identification numbers for both spouses to get the full $1200 credit. A $600 credit is allowed if only one spouse provides a valid identification number, and no credit is allowed if neither spouse does so.

IRS will deposit the payment directly into the bank account reflected on the return. IRS has developed a web-based tool called Get My Payment, www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment, for individuals to provide banking information to IRS, so that payments can be received by direct deposit rather than by check sent in the mail. The tool includes the date the payment is scheduled to be issued to the individual.

If you have not yet filed for 2019. The due date for 2019 individual income tax returns was July 15, 2020, or October 15 if an automatic extension of time was requested on Form 4868. Individuals who are required to file a return for 2019 and haven’t done so should file the return as soon as possible. Doing so will help give IRS time to process and make all resulting economic impact payments before January 15, 2021 (the deadline for processing payments).

If you aren’t required to file. If you receive social security, supplemental security income, social security disability income, railroad retirement, or veterans’ compensation and pension benefits, and you aren’t required to file a tax return, you don’t have to file to receive a payment. IRS will generate an automatic payment using information from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The payment will be made by direct deposit or paper check, in the same manner as the recipient’s regular benefits.

If you aren’t required to file a tax return and you don’t receive any of the above payments, you can register to receive an economic impact payment by providing information on IRS’s web-based Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info.

Non-filers with dependent children; $600 payment. Non-filers who have a dependent child under age 17 must register their dependents on the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool to receive the additional payment of $600 per child. Non-filers who receive the economic impact payment before registering a dependent child can still get the additional $600 payment by filing a 2020 income tax return on which the dependent is listed.

© 2021 Thomson Reuters/Tax & Accounting. All Rights Reserved.

New law’s tax provisions that affect businesses

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the CAA, 2021), signed into law on December 27, 2020, is a further legislative response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The CAA, 2021 include–along with spending and other non-tax provisions and tax provisions primarily affecting individuals–the numerous business tax provisions briefly summarized below. The provisions are found in two of the several acts included in the CAA, 2021, specifically, (1) the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (the TCDTR) and (2) the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (the COVIDTRA).

Tax provisions made permanent (without other changes). The TCDTR makes permanent without other changes (1) the railroad track maintenance credit and (2) the exclusion of the aging period in determining the mandatory interest capitalization period in producing beer, wine or distilled spirits.

Tax provisions extended (without other changes). The TCDTR extends the following tax credits without other changes: (1) the new markets tax credit, (2) the work opportunity credit, (3) the employer credit for paid family and medical leave that was provided by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017 TCJA), (4) the carbon sequestration credit, (5) the business energy credit (the ” Code Sec. 48 credit”) both as regards termination dates and phase-downs of credit amounts, (6) the credit for electricity produced from renewable resources (the ” Code Sec. 45 credit”) and the election to claim the Code Sec. 48 credit instead for certain facilities (but the phase-down of the amount of the Code Sec. 45 credit for wind facilities isn’t deferred), (7) the Indian employment credit, (8) the mine rescue team training credit, (9) the American Samoa development credit, (10) the second generation biofuel producer credit, (11) the qualified fuel cell motor vehicle credit as applied to businesses, (12) the alternative fuel refueling property credit as applied to businesses, (13) the two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit as applied to businesses, (14) the credit for production from Indian coal facilities, and (15) the energy efficient homes credit.  

Additional provisions extended by the TCDTR without other changes are the following: (1) the exclusion from employee income of certain employer payments of student loans, (2) the 3-year recovery period for certain racehorses, (3) favorable cost recovery rules for business property on Indian reservations, (4) the 7-year recovery period for motor sports entertainment complexes, (5) expensing for film, television and live theatrical productions, (6) empowerment zone tax incentives except for the increased section 179 expensing for qualifying property and the deferral of capital gain for dispositions of qualifying assets, and (7) the exclusion from being personal holding company income for certain payments or accruals of dividends, interest, rents, and royalties from a related person that is a controlled foreign corporation.

Energy provisions. The TCDTR makes changes to energy provisions in addition to making them permanent or extending them.

The TCDTR adds ”waste energy recovery property” to the types of property that qualify for the Code Sec. 48 credit (above). And the credit rate assigned is 30%. ”Waste energy recovery property” is property (1) the construction of which begins before 2024, (2) that has a capacity of no more than 50 megawatts, and (3) generates electricity solely from heat from buildings or equipment if the primary purpose of that building or equipment isn’t the generation of electricity. But it doesn’t include property eligible for the Code Sec. 48 credit for cogeneration property unless the taxpayer doesn’t take the  Code Sec. 48 credit for that property.

For wind facilities that are ”qualified offshore wind facilities,” the TCDTR relaxes the rules under which wind facilities that are eligible for the Code Sec. 45 credit can, by election (see above), be eligible instead for the Code Sec. 48 credit.

The TCDTR makes permanent the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction. Additionally, the TCDTR indexes for inflation the per-square-foot dollar caps on the full and partial versions of the deduction. And the TCDTR provides that to the extent that deductibility depends on specified recognized energy efficient standards, the referred-to standards will be standards issued within two years of construction (rather than the standards bearing now-stale dates that applied under pre- TCDTR law).

Clarifications of tax consequences of PPP loan forgiveness. The COVIDTRA clarifies that the non-taxable treatment of Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness that was provided by the 2020 CARES Act also applies to certain other forgiven obligations. Also, the COVIDTRA clarifies that taxpayers whose PPP loans or other obligations are forgiven as described above, are allowed deductions for otherwise deductible expenses paid with the proceeds and that the tax basis and other attributes of the borrower’s assets won’t be reduced as a result of the forgiveness.

Waiver of information reporting for PPP loan forgiveness. The COVIDTRA allows IRS to waive information reporting requirements for any amount excluded from income under the exclusion- from-income rule for forgiveness of PPP loans or other specified obligations. Note: IRS had already waived information returns and payee statements for loans that, before enactment of the COVIDTRA, were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under section 7(a)(36) of the Small Business Act.

Extensions and modifications of earlier payroll tax relief. The TCDTR extends the CARES Act credit, allowed against the employer portion of the Social Security (OASDI) payroll tax or of the Railroad Retirement tax, for qualified wages paid to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Under the extension, qualified wages must be paid before July 1, 2021 (instead of January 1, 2021). Additionally, beginning on January 1, 2021, the credit rate is increased from 50% to 70% of qualified wages. and qualified wages are increased from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 per quarter. Many other rules are also relaxed. And the TCDTR makes some retroactive clarifications and technical improvements to the credit as initially enacted.

The COVIDTRA extends (1) the credits provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) against the employer portion of OASDI and Railroad Retirement taxes for qualifying sick and family paid leave and (2) the equivalent FFCRA-provided credits for the self-employed against the self-employment tax. Under the extension of the employer credits, wages taken into account are those paid before April 1, 2021 (instead of January 1, 2021). Under the extension of the credits for the self employed, the days taken into account are those before April 1, 2021 (instead of January 1, 2021).

The COVIDTRA also makes retroactive clarifications of (1) the FFCRA paid leave credits that were extended as discussed above, (2) the exclusion of qualifying paid leave in calculating the employer portion of Railroad Retirement taxes and (3) and the increase in the amount of the FFRCA paid leave credits against the employer portion of Railroad Retirement taxes by the amount of the Medicare payroll taxes on qualifying paid leave. Additionally, the COVIDTRA directs IRS to extend the Presidentially ordered deferral of the employee’s share of OASDI and Railroad Retirement taxes. As first provided by IRS, the deferral was of taxes to be withheld and paid on wages and other compensation (up to $4,000 every two weeks) paid in the period from September 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 so that the taxes were instead withheld and paid ratably in the period from January 1, 2021 to April 30, 2021. Under the deferral, the period over which the deferred-from-2020 taxes are ratably withheld and paid is extended to all of 2021 (instead of the four-month period ending on April 30, 2021).  

Employee benefits and deferred compensation. The TCDTR provides that expenses for business-related food and beverages provided by a restaurant are fully deductible if they are paid or incurred in calendar years 2021 or 2022, instead of being subject to the 50% limit that generally applies to business meals. The TCDTR temporarily allows (1) carryovers and relaxed grace period rules for unused flexible spending arrangement (FSA) amounts, whether in a health FSA or a dependent care FSA, (2) the raising of the maximum eligibility age of a dependent under a dependent care FSA from 12 to 13 and (3) prospective changes in election limits set forth by a plan (subject to the applicable limits under the Code). 

With a view to layoffs in the current economic climate, the TCDTR relaxes rules that would otherwise cause a partial qualified retirement plan termination if the number of active participants decreases.

Because of market volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVIDTRA relaxes, if certain conditions are met, the funding standards that, if met, allow a defined benefit pension plan to transfer funds to a retiree health benefits account or retiree life insurance account within the plan. The CARES Act’s relaxed rules for ”coronavirus-related distributions” are retroactively amended by the COVIDTRA to additionally provide that a coronavirus-related distribution that is a during-employment withdrawal from a money purchase pension plan meets the distribution requirements of Code Sec. 401(a) .

And under a provision of narrow applicability, the TCDTR lowers to 55 years, from the usually applicable 59½ years, the age at which certain employees in the building or construction trades can, though still employed, receive pension plan payments under certain multiple employer plans without affecting the status of trusts that are part of the pension plans as qualified trusts.

Residential real estate depreciation. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the TCDTR assigns a 30-year ADS depreciation period to residential rental property even though it was placed in service before January 1, 2018 (when the 2017 TCJA first applied the more-favorable 30-year period) if the property (1) is held by a real property trade or business electing out of the limitation on business interest deductions and (2) before January 1, 2018 wasn’t subject to the ADS.

Farmers’ net operating losses. The COVIDTRA allows farmers who had in place a two-year net operating loss carryback before the CARES Act to elect to retain that two-year carryback rather than claim the five-year carryback provided in the CARES Act. It also allows farmers who before the CARES Act waived the carryback of a net operating loss, to revoke the waiver.

Low-income housing credit. The TCDTR provides a 4% per year credit floor for buildings that aren’t eligible for the 9% per-year credit floor. (Both floors are alternatives to the calculation under which the per-year credit is generally a percentage, prescribed by IRS, that is intended to result in a credit that, in the aggregate over the 10-year credit period, has a present value of 70% of the qualified basis for certain new buildings and 30% of the qualified basis for certain other buildings.)

Life insurance. The TCDTR changes the interest rate assumptions that determine whether a contract meets the cash value and premium caps for qualifying as a life insurance contract. The change is to designated floating rates from the respective 4% and 6% rates fixed by prior law.

Disaster relief. The TCDTR includes several provisions targeted at ”qualified disaster areas,” some of which affect individuals and some which affect businesses as described below. ”Qualified disaster areas” are areas for which a major disaster was Presidentially declared during the period beginning on January 1, 2020 and ending February 25, 2021. The incidence period of the disaster must begin after December 27, 2019 but not after December 27, 2020. Excluded are areas for which a major disaster was declared only because of COVID-19.

The relief includes relief for retirement funds that consists of the following: (1) waiver of the 10% early withdrawal penalty for up to $100,000 of certain withdrawals by individuals living in a qualified disaster area and that have suffered economic loss because of the disaster (qualified individuals), (2) a right to re-contribute to a plan distributions that were intended for home purchase but not used because of a qualified disaster, and (3) relaxed plan loan rules for qualified individuals. Changes to plan amendment rules facilitate the relief.

The relief also provides to employers in the harder-hit parts of a qualified disaster area an up-to-$ 2,400-per-employee employee retention credit, subject to coordination with certain other employer tax credits. Generally, tax-exempt organizations can take it as a credit against FICA taxes.

Corporations are provided with relaxed charitable deduction rules for qualified-disaster-related contributions, and individuals are provided with relaxed loss allowance rules for qualified-disaster-related casualties.

The low-income housing credit is modified to allow, subject to various limitations, increases in the state-wide credit ceilings to the extent allocations are made to harder-hit parts of qualified disaster areas.

Excise taxes. The TCDTR makes various excise tax changes for beer, wine and distilled spirits. The TCDTR also provides that the temporary increase in the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund tax won’t apply to coal sales after 2021 (instead of after 2020). And the end of the liability imposed because of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Rate is deferred until after 2025. Additionally, the alternative fuels credit against the diesel and special motor fuels tax is extended.

© 2021 Thomson Reuters/Tax & Accounting. All Rights Reserved.

Deductibility of business meals provided by restaurants in 2021 and 2022

You’ve probably heard that the recent stimulus legislation included a provision that removes the 50% limit on deducting business meals provided by restaurants in 2021 and 2022 and makes those meals fully deductible. Here are the details.

In general, the ordinary and necessary food and beverage expenses of operating your business are deductible. However, the deduction is limited to 50% of the otherwise allowable expense.

The new legislation adds an exception to the 50% limit for expenses for food or beverages provided by a restaurant. This rule applies to expenses paid or incurred in calendar years 2021 and 2022.

The use of the word “by” (rather than “in”) a restaurant makes it clear that the new rule isn’t limited to meals eaten on the restaurant’s premises. Takeout and delivery meals provided by a restaurant are also fully deductible.

It’s important to note that, other than lifting the 50% limit for restaurant meals, the legislation doesn’t change the rules for deducting business meals. All the other existing requirements continue to apply. Thus, to be deductible:

  • The food and beverages can’t be lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.
  • You or one of your employees must be present when the food or beverages are served.
  • The food or beverages must be provided to you or to a “business associate.” This is defined as a current or prospective customer, client, supplier, employee, agent, partner, or professional adviser with whom you could reasonably expect to engage or deal in your business.

If food or beverages are provided at an entertainment activity, either they must be purchased separately from the entertainment or their cost must be stated on a separate bill, invoice, or receipt. This is required because the entertainment, unlike the food and beverages, is nondeductible.

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