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President Trump on March 27 signed the $2 trillion bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The House approved the historically large emergency relief measure by voice vote just hours before Trump’s signature. The CARES Act cleared the Senate unanimously on March 25, by a 96-to-0 vote.


Lawmakers are continuing talks on a "phase four" economic relief package in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. To that end, the House’s "CARES 2" package is currently in the works and could see a floor vote as early as this month.


The IRS announced on March 30 that distribution of economic impact payments in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would begin in the next three weeks. On April 1, the Treasury Department clarified that Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefit recipients who are not required to file a federal tax return will not have to file a return in order to receive their economic impact payment.


The Treasury Department and IRS have provided a notice with additional relief for taxpayers, postponing until July 15, 2020, a variety of tax form filings and payment obligations that are due between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020. Associated interest, additions to tax, and penalties for late filing or late payment will be suspended until July 15, 2020. Additional time to perform certain time-sensitive actions during this period is also provided. The notice also postpones due dates with respect to certain government acts and postpones the application date to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. This notice expands upon the relief provided in Notice 2020-18, I.R.B. 2020-15, 590, and Notice 2020-20, I.R.B. 2020-16, 660.


synopsisThe Treasury Department and the IRS have released the "Get My Payment" tool to assist Americans in receiving their “economic impact payments” issued under the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The free tool went live on April 15, and is located at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.


As a result of the retroactive assignment of a 15-year recovery period to qualified improvement property (QIP) placed in service after 2017, QIP generally qualifies for bonus depreciation, and typically at a 100 percent rate. IRS guidance requires taxpayers who previously filed two or more returns using what is now an "incorrect" depreciation period (usually 39 years) to file an accounting method change on Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method, to claim bonus depreciation and/or depreciation based on the 15-year recovery period. The automatic consent procedures apply. If only one return has been filed, a taxpayer may either file Form 3115 or an amended return. No alternatives to filing Form 3115 or an amended return are provided.


The IRS has issued guidance providing administrative relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) for taxpayers with net operating losses (NOLs).


The IRS is allowing taxpayers to file by fax Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund, and Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund, for certain coronavirus relief, a senior IRS official said on April 13. On the same day, the IRS unveiled related procedures for claiming quick refunds of the credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations and net operating loss (NOL) deductions ( https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/temporary-procedures-to-fax-certain-forms-1139-and-1045-due-to-covid-19).


The IRS has released guidance on making the following elections for the business interest deduction limitation:


The IRS has set forth rules for BBA partnerships to file amended returns to immediately get benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). "BBA partnerships" are those subject to the centralized partnership audit regime established by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) ( P.L. 114-74). The procedure allows BBA partnerships the option to file an amended return instead of an Administrative Adjustment Request (AAR) under Code Sec. 6227.


The IRS has announced that the employment tax credits for paid qualified sick leave and family leave wages required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ( P.L. 116-127) will apply to wages and compensation paid for periods beginning on April 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020. Additionally, days beginning on April 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020, will be taken into account for the credits for paid qualified sick leave and family leave equivalents for certain self-employed individuals as provided by the Act.


The IRS has provided penalty relief for failure to deposit employment taxes under Code Sec. 6656 to employers entitled to the new refundable tax credits provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127), and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The relief is provided the extent that the amounts not deposited are equal to or less than the amount of refundable tax credits to which the employer is entitled under the Families First Act and the CARES Act.


The Tax Code contains many taxpayer rights and protections. However, because the Tax Code is so large and complex, many taxpayers, who do not have the advice of a tax professional, are unaware of their rights. To clarify these protections, the IRS recently announced a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, describing 10 rights taxpayers have when dealing with the agency.


Taxpayers who are self-employed must pay self-employment tax on their income from self-employment. The self-employment tax applies in lieu of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes paid by employees and employers on compensation from employment. Like FICA taxes, the self-employment tax consists of taxes collected for Social Security and for Medicare (hospital insurance or HI).


The simple concept of depreciation can get complicated very quickly when one is trying to determining the proper depreciation deduction for any particular asset. Here’s only a summary of some of what’s involved.


Nearly half-way into the year, tax legislation has been hotly debated in Congress but lawmakers have failed to move many bills. Only one bill, legislation to make permanent the research tax credit, has been approved by the House; its fate in the Senate still remains uncertain. Other bills, including legislation to extend many of the now-expired extenders before the 2015 filing season, have stalled. Tax measures could also be attached to other bills, especially as the days wind down to Congress' August recess.


Transit incentives are a popular transportation fringe benefit for many employees. Although the costs of commuting to and from work are not tax-deductible (except in certain relatively rare cases), transportation fringe benefits help to offset some of the costs, including the expenses of riding mass transit or taking a van pool to work. Under current law, the value of qualified transportation fringe benefits provided to an employee is excluded from the employee's gross income and wages for income and payroll tax purposes.


With the April 15th filing season deadline now behind us, it’s not too early to turn your attention to next year’s deadline for filing your 2014 return. That refocus requires among other things an awareness of the direct impact that many "ordinary," as well as one-time, transactions and events will have on the tax you will eventually be obligated to pay April 15, 2015. To gain this forward-looking perspective, however, taking a moment to look back … at the filing season that has just ended, is particularly worthwhile. This generally involves a two-step process: (1) a look-back at your 2013 tax return to pinpoint new opportunities as well as "lessons learned;" and (2) a look-back at what has happened in the tax world since January 1st that may indicate new challenges to be faced for the first time on your 2014 return.

A new tax applies to certain taxpayers, beginning in 2013—the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income (NII) Tax. This is a surtax that certain higher-income taxpayers may owe in addition to their income tax or alternative minimum tax. The tax applies to individuals, estates, and trusts (but not to corporations). Individuals are subject to the tax if they have NII, and their adjusted gross income exceeds a specified threshold—$250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly; $200,000 for unmarried individuals.

As virtual currencies such as Bitcoin rise in prominence and use, the IRS has for the first time described how virtual currency will be treated for tax purposes. The agency concluded in new guidance (Notice 2014–21) that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies like it are not to be treated as currency, but as property.

The applicable federal rates (AFRs) are used for a number of federal tax provisions. For example, Code Sec. 1274 uses AFRs to determine whether a debt instrument has original issue discount (OID or imputed interest). This determination requires the calculation of the present value of payments made on the debt instrument; present value is calculated using a discount rate equal to the AFR, compounded semi-annually.

Code Sec. 162 permits a business to deduct its ordinary and necessary expenses for carrying on the business. However, Code Sec. 274 restricts the deduction of entertainment expenses incurred for business by disallowing expenses of entertainment activities and entertainment facilities. Many expenses are totally disallowed; other amounts, if allowed under Code Sec. 274, are limited to 50 percent of the expense.

The current likelihood that your business will become involved in an employment tax audit or an employment-related income tax audit has increased: the IRS is aggressively attempting to reduce the "tax gap" of uncollected revenues in a time of increasing budget austerity. Employment tax noncompliance is estimated by the IRS to account for approximately $54 billion of the tax gap. Under-reporting of FICA makes up $14 billion; under-reporting of self-employment tax accounts for $39 billion; and under-reporting of unemployment tax accounts for $1 billion in lost revenue. Add to that total amount over $50 billion in estimated employment-associated income tax lost that are the result of missteps in withholding obligations, tip reporting, and proper fringe benefit classification . . . and employers are forewarned. The IRS is stepping up its auditing in these areas and has been conducting studies to maximize the best use of its agents' time to do so.

In response to the economic downturn that has affected the retirement portfolios of millions of individuals across the country, Congress has been considering a variety of alternatives to offer relief to those who face financial emergencies and need immediate access to their funds. Two of the most significant proposals that have been recommended include: (1) significant broadening of the suspension of the 10 percent penalty tax on early withdrawals from IRAs and defined contribution plans, and (2) extending the temporary suspension of the penalty tax imposed on individuals age 70 ½ or older who do not take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from certain retirement plans.