Key 2020 Coronavirus Tax Changes

Key 2020 Coronavirus Tax Changes

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.
Should You Buy or Rent a Home? The pros and cons of renting versus buying.

Should You Buy or Rent a Home? The pros and cons of renting versus buying.

For many folks, the lyrics of a 1960s rock song summarize the American dream: “Our house is a very, very, very fine house.” According to U.S. Census figures, about two-thirds of American families are homeowners.

But buying a house or condo may not be the best choice for every family in every situation. Renting offers the following advantages:

  • Greater flexibility. When renting a house, apartment, or condo, you have the option of moving at the end of the lease term. No need to contact a realtor, no hassle with buying or selling. For those who want to keep their options open, especially in terms of job location or dwelling size, renting may prove the better choice.
  • Opportunities to invest elsewhere. Instead of plowing your savings into a home, you might get a better return by contributing to mutual funds or other investments. Depending on the housing market in your city, the annual increase in your home’s value may barely outpace inflation.
  • Lower cost. Apartments are often smaller than homes, so heating and cooling expenses tend to be lower. If you don’t have a lawn, you won’t incur the cost of water to keep it green. Roof leaking? Appliances on the blink? Call the landlord. Home repair and maintenance aren’t normally your responsibilities.

Of course, as many realtors and financial analysts rightly point out, homeowners also enjoy significant advantages:

  • Greater flexibility. Ironically, homeowners enjoy certain freedoms denied to renters. If a homeowner wants to paint a wall or hang a picture, he or she doesn’t answer to a landlord. Installing a doggy door isn’t a problem. Hiring a remodel contractor to tear out a wall is perfectly acceptable. Don’t try this if you’re a renter.
  • Increasing equity. One of the greatest advantages to buying a home is the likelihood of increased equity over time. As long as your mortgage is being whittled down by monthly payments, you’re building equity—even if your property value remains stable.
  • Lower taxes. The ability to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes (if you itemize) can significantly lower your end-of-year tax bill. Renters must forgo this benefit.

Clearly, the choice to rent or buy a home depends on individual circumstances and tastes. If you’d like help with this important decision, give us a call.

COVID-19 Bill Enhances Your Unemployment Benefits.   What you need to know!

COVID-19 Bill Enhances Your Unemployment Benefits. What you need to know!

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:
    1. Each worker will receive unemployment benefits based on the state in which they work, and
    2. 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.

Additional Paid Leave for Workers Affected by COVID-19 – What you need to know!

Additional Paid Leave for Workers Affected by COVID-19 – What you need to know!

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a new program that offers COVID-19 assistance for both employees and employers.

This new law provides businesses with fewer than 500 employees the funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.

Here is a summary of the new law’s benefits for employees and employers:

  • Paid sick leave for workers. The new law provides employees of eligible employers two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 100% of the employee’s pay ($510 daily limit applies) where the employee can’t work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • Paid leave for workers. Employees can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of leave at two-thirds of the employee’s pay ($200 daily limit applies) if they need to care for someone in the following situations: The need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, to care for a child whose school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Extended leave. In some instances, an employee may receive up to an additional ten weeks of expanded paid family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s pay ($12,000 overall twelve week payment limit applies).
  • Companies will get paid back. Businesses who pay employees the mandatory sick and childcare leave according to the new law will get reimbursed through a payroll tax credit.

What it means for you

  • Employees can take the necessary time to recover from being infected with COVID-19, or to care for a loved one, without fear of losing their job or salary.
  • Employers can help their employees financially while navigating COVID-19 related shutdowns.

What you need to do now

EMPLOYEES. To take advantage of the Act’s paid leave provisions, you must provide your employer with documentation in support of your paid sick leave. There is yet no official application that needs to be completed. If you believe that your employer is required to provide paid leave but is not making paid leave available, or for other questions or concerns, you may call the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4US-WAGE or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

EMPLOYERS. While the details are being worked out on how to implement these new rules, here is what you need to do now:

  1. Keep detailed records – Be prepared to defend your request for federal assistance. Keep good records of who’s asked for paid time off because of COVID-19 related circumstances. Ask your employee to provide a doctor’s note when appropriate, along with a narrative written by the employee describing who in their family is infected or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 along with symptoms. Make sure the note is dated and relates to an approved reason for leave.
  2. Talk to your payroll provider – If you have someone doing your payroll, they are often the first ones who will know how you will receive reimbursement. This new law will take time to fully roll out. Payroll companies will eventually issue guidance on how to report paid leave provided under the Families First Act and which forms need to be completed to obtain the corresponding tax credits.
  3. Post this notice! – Employers MUST post a notice of the Families First labor requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. Click here to download and print this notice.
  4. E-mail the notice! – An employer may satisfy the posting requirement by e-mailing or direct mailing the notice to employees, or by posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. If your employees are working from home, this may be the only way to let them know the benefit exists.

Remember, there are upper limits to compensation that you may need to review and there are many other federal programs being rolled out. It will take time to implement them. Be patient, be safe and stay alert for any updates.

Treasury & IRS Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak

Treasury & IRS Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak

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.

View the notice.

Information and resources regarding COVID-19.

IRS efforts to assist taxpayers.

GA DOL Establishes Emergency Unemployment Claims Process

GA DOL Establishes Emergency Unemployment Claims Process

GA DOL Establishes Emergency Unemployment Claims Process – Employers Must Take Action

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has adopted an emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5 Partial Claims, effective March 16, 2020. The rule mandates all Georgia employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which an employee (full-time/part-time) works less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee. Download the How Employers File Partial Claims Desk-Aid found on the GDOL Alert Page and follow the step-by-step instructions.

Filing partial claims results in your employees receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically. Employees for whom you file a partial claim are NOT required to report to a Georgia Department of Labor career center, register for employment services, or look for other work.

Please continue to monitor the Georgia DOL website at gdol.ga.gov for any updates to these guidelines.