Coronavirus uncertainty abounds. Thankfully, by monitoring tax changes on your behalf, we can work together to navigate the right path for you and your family. Here is a round-up of tax-related laws and information to help with tax planning for 2020.
- Early distribution penalty waived The 10% early distribution penalty on up to $100,000 of retirement withdrawals for coronavirus-related reasons is waived during 2020. New tax rules allow tax liabilities on these distributions to be paid over a three-year period. So if you need the funds, you won’t see your tax bill skyrocket in one year. Even better, you can return these distributions back into your retirement account over a three-year period and not be subject to the annual contribution limits. Action: This could be a great way to handle emergency payments until you receive a stimulus check, unemployment payments, or a pending small business loan.
- Required minimum distributions (RMDs) waived for 2020 Required minimum distributions (RMDs) in the year 2020 for various retirement plans is suspended. The corresponding 50% penalty associated with not taking an RMD is also suspended in 2020.Action: Taking out distributions when the market takes a tumble can hurt retirement income for many years. This change allows you to wait to let the value in your retirement account rebound before you withdraw funds.
- IRS installment agreement suspension The IRS is suspending payments of all amounts due from April 1 through July 15, 2020. If you do not pay your IRS installment payment during this time your installment agreement will not be in default. Interest will continue to accrue on these installment agreements. Action: Being on the bad side of the IRS is never fun. If you currently have an IRS installment agreement, look to take advantage of this delay.
- Offers-in-compromise The IRS will allow you until July 15, 2020 to provide additional requested information for any pending offers-in-compromise (OIC) and will not close out the OIC during this time without your consent. The IRS is also suspending any payments due under an OIC until July 15, 2020.
- Enforcement activities suspended? Not so fast…The filing and enforcement of liens and levies will generally be suspended. However, IRS Revenue Officers will continue to pursue high income non-filers and initiate other actions when warranted.
- No new audits The IRS will not initiate new audits during this time, but will act to protect the statute of limitations.
The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides individuals and businesses significant financial relief from the financial strain caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
Here is a snapshot of the unemployment benefits section of the bill and how it affects individuals and businesses.
- WHO QUALIFIES TO RECEIVE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS? In addition to full-time workers who are laid off or furloughed, the Act provides individuals who are not already eligible for state and federal unemployment programs, including self-employed individuals and part-time workers, a set amount of unemployment compensation.
- HOW MUCH WILL I RECEIVE? There are two different components to the new law’s unemployment benefits:
- Each worker will receive unemployment benefits based on the state in which they work, and
- In addition to their state unemployment benefits, each worker will receive an additional $600 per week from the federal government.
- HOW WILL BENEFITS FOR SELF-EMPLOYED WORKERS BE CALCULATED? Benefits for self-employed workers are be calculated based on previous income and are also eligible for up to an additional $600 per week. Part-time workers are also eligible.
- HOW LONG WILL THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT PAYMENTS LAST? The CARES Act provides eligible workers with an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. Most states already provide 26 weeks of benefits, bringing the total number of weeks that someone is eligible for benefits to 39.
- HOW LONG WILL THE FEDERAL PAYMENTS OF $600 LAST? The federal payment of $600 per week will continue through July 31, 2020.
- HOW DO I APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS? You must apply for unemployment benefits through your state unemployment office. Most state applications can now be filled out online. Workers who normally don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed individuals, need to monitor their state’s unemployment office website to find out when they can apply, as many states need to update their computer systems to reflect every type of worker who is eligible to collect unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.
What to do NOW!
If you have lost your job, you must file for unemployment with your state as soon as possible. State offices and websites are being slammed, so the sooner you get in the queue the better for you and your loved ones.
Washington – Following President Donald J. Trump’s
emergency declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act, the U.S. Treasury
Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today issued guidance allowing
all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of
federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15,
2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. The guidance
also allows corporate taxpayers a similar deferment of up to $10 million of
federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15,
2020, without penalties or interest. This guidance does not change
the April 15 filing deadline.
“Americans should file
their tax returns by April 15 because many will receive a refund. Those
filing will be able to take advantage of their refunds sooner,” said Treasury
Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “This deferment allows those who owe a
payment to the IRS to defer the payment until July 15 without interest or
penalties. Treasury and IRS are ensuring that hardworking Americans and
businesses have additional liquidity for the next several months.”
Today’s guidance will
result in about $300 billion of additional liquidity in the economy in the near
term. Treasury and IRS will issue additional guidance as needed and
continue working with Congress, on a bipartisan basis, on legislation to
provide further relief to the American people.
and resources regarding COVID-19.
to assist taxpayers.
Every year is an election year when it comes to making decisions on your annual income tax return. Here are four common examples that can create tax savings opportunities if you elect the correct option.
- Tax filing status. Typically, filing a joint tax return instead of filing separately is beneficial to a married couple, but not always! For instance, if one spouse has a high amount of medical expenses and the other doesn’t, your total medical deduction may be greater filing separately due to the 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) threshold before you can deduct these expenses.
- Higher education expenses. Thanks to new legislation, many parents of college students again face a decision: Whether to take one of the two credits for higher education expenses or the tuition and fees deduction. The tuition and fees deduction, once expired, is now extended through 2020. To complicate matters, the credits and the deduction are all phased out based on different modified adjusted gross income (AGI) levels. Before you elect which tax benefit makes the most sense, you will need to evaluate all options.
- Investment interest. Investment interest expenses can be deducted up to the amount of net investment income for the year. This income does not usually include capital gains, because of favorable tax treatment of this type of gain. However, you can elect to include capital gains to help you deduct your interest expense. You can even cherry-pick which capital gains to use for this deduction. If you take this election you forego the favorable tax rate for long-term gains.
- Installment sales. If you sell real estate or other assets in installments over two or more years, the tax liability is spread over the years that payments are received. Thus, you may be able to postpone the tax due. This technique can reduce the total tax paid depending on your effective tax rate each year. However, you can also elect out of installment sale treatment by paying the entire tax in the year of the sale. You may wish to take this election if your income is lower in the year of the sale.
Thankfully there is help navigating these key tax elections. Simply call with any questions.
If you have employees, you know how important health insurance is for your benefits package. It also takes a big bite out of your budget. Selecting the right insurance for your company is extremely important for employee retention and maintaining your bottom line. Here are tips to help you find the best health insurance for your business:
- Know the size of the network. A popular way to lower insurance costs is opting for a smaller network of health care providers. Known as narrow provider networks, coverage is limited to a much smaller group of clinics and hospitals than traditional plans. But while the cost savings are nice, employee satisfaction is likely to decline as some of them will have to change doctors to stay in network. When researching insurance options, be sure to compare the network size to industry averages.
- Watch for coverage limits. Lifetime and annual dollar limits for essential health benefits were banned in 2014, but limits still appear in other ways. Dental services, for example, are exempt from the dollar limits and often have annual and lifetime coverage limits. Another way insurance providers hedge their risk is by limiting the number of a certain type of visits, like for chiropractic care or physical therapy.
- Don’t forget prescription coverage. Many health insurance programs don’t include full coverage for prescription drugs, so you may need to add supplemental insurance. Pay special attention to the coverage differences between brand name and generic drugs. Also review any deductibles and other limits. Another type of coverage available is a prescription discount program. Discount plans simply charge you a subscription cost that allows you to use a contracted discount.
- Understand what isn’t covered. When trying to sell you on their plan, insurance providers do a good job showing you what they cover. What can be harder to figure out is what they don’t cover. Some of the types of services that may not be covered are vision care, nursing home care, cosmetic surgery, alternative therapies like massage therapy or acupuncture, and weight-loss procedures.
- Be prepared to provide employee data. The process of obtaining a quote for health insurance can be an overwhelming task. Health insurance companies will want, at a minimum, a list of employees with some pertinent details like age, sex, coverage details (self, spouse and other dependents), and home zip code. They will want the forms filled out by all employees, even those that are opting out of insurance coverage. If you are working with a benefits broker, they can help you prepare what will be needed in advance to speed up the process.
Shopping for health insurance for your business is complicated. Taking the appropriate time to understand each coverage option and the associated costs will benefit both your business and your employees’ wellbeing.
The Internal Revenue Service today just announced the 2020 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, vans, pickups or panel trucks will be:
- 57.5 cents per mile driven for business use, down one half of a cent from the rate for 2019,
- 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down three cents from the rate for 2019, and
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.
The business mileage rate decreased one half of a cent for business travel driven and three cents for medical and certain moving expense from the rates for 2019. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.
Note that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers cannot claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses. Taxpayers also cannot claim a deduction for moving expenses, except members of the Armed Forces on active duty moving under orders to a permanent change of station. For more details, see Rev. Proc. 2019-46.
The standard mileage rate for business use is based and set on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. Also, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than five vehicles used simultaneously. These plus other limitations are described in section 4.05 of Rev. Proc. 2019-46.
Notice 2020-05, posted on IRS.gov, has the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan. To add to that, for employer-provided vehicles, the Notice provides the maximum fair market value of automobiles first made available to employees for personal use in calendar year 2020 for which employers may use the fleet-average valuation rule in § 1.61-21(d)(5)(v) or the vehicle cents-per-mile valuation rule in § 1.61-21(e).