JUNE 2020
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

ACCOUNTING

TAX PLANNING DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK – PART II

By SANJAY GUPTA

We hope that you are keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe from COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the Coronavirus). Along with those paramount health concerns, you may be wondering about some of the recent tax changes meant to help everyone coping with the Coronavirus fallout. On March 27, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides relief to taxpayers affected by COVID-19. The CARES Act is the third round of federal government aid related to COVID-19. The following is a summary and analysis of the tax provisions of the CARES Act (and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), effective as of April 1) to assist you in determining how they may affect or benefit you.

PART A - TAX PROVISIONS BENEFITTING INDIVIDUALS

2020 Recovery Rebates for Individuals

To help individuals stay afloat during this time of economic uncertainty, the government has begun sending up-to-$1,200 payments to eligible taxpayers and $2,400 for married couples filing joints returns. An additional $500 additional payment will be sent to taxpayers for each qualifying child dependent under age 17 (using the qualification rules under the Child Tax Credit).

Rebates are gradually phased out, at a rate of 5 percent of the individual's adjusted gross income over $75,000 (singles or marrieds filing separately), $112,500 (head of household), and $150,000 (joint). The rebates are not available to nonresident aliens, to estates and trusts, or to individuals who themselves could be claimed as dependents. Children who are (or can be) claimed as dependents by their parents aren’t eligible individuals, even if they have enough income to have to file a return. It makes no difference if the parent chooses not to claim the child as a dependent, because the dependency deduction is still “allowable” to the parent. An individual who wasn’t an eligible individual for 2019 may become one for 2020, e.g., where the individual was a dependent for 2019 but not for 2020. IRS won’t send an advance rebate to such individual, because advance rebates are generally based on information on the 2019 return. However, the individual will be able to claim the credit when filing the 2020 return.

The rebates are being paid out in the form of checks or direct deposits. Most individuals won't have to take any action to receive a rebate, but some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment. Social Security recipients will automatically receive the stimulus payment without having to file a simple tax return. People who typically don't file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive the payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

Advance rebate reduces credit allowed for 2020. The amount of credit that is allowable for 2020 must be reduced (but not below zero) by the aggregate advance made or allowed to the taxpayer during 2020. If the taxpayer received an advance during 2020 was less than the credit to which the taxpayer is entitles for 2020, the taxpayer will be able to claim the balance of the credit when filing the 2020 return. If, on the other hand, the advance rebate received was greater than the credit to which the taxpayer is entitled, the taxpayer won’t have to back the excess. That is because the 2020 credit can’t be reduced below zero.

IRS will compute the rebate based on a taxpayer's tax year 2019 return (or tax year 2018, if no 2019 return has yet been filed). If no 2018 return has been filed, IRS will use information for 2019 provided in Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, or Form RRB-1099, Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement.

IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. To speed receipt of payment, taxpayers are advised to include direct deposit banking information on the return

Procedures for Eligible Nonfilers to Receive Economic Impact Payments:  The IRS has announced two procedures for eligible individuals who are not otherwise required to file federal income tax returns for 2019 to receive economic impact payments under the CARES Act. Under the first procedure, eligible individuals may file a 2019 Form 1040 (or Form 1040-SR, on paper or electronically, using a simplified filing method. The IRS encourages these individuals to use the "Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here" tool, available at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments , to receive their economic impact payment quicker than if they file a paper return. A second procedure accommodates zero AGI electronic filers who use tax return preparation software or otherwise need to provide more detail in filing state or local tax returns than that allowed by the simplified procedure. Under both procedures, returns should be filed as soon as possible, but no later than 10/15/20. Rev. Proc. 2020-28.

Rebates are payable whether or not tax is owed. Thus, individuals who had little or no income, such as those who filed returns simply to claim the refundable earned income credit or child tax credit, qualify for a rebate. According to IRS, economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

Special Rules for use of Retirement Funds for Coronavirus-Related Distribution

Waiver of 10% early distribution penalty. The additional 10% tax on early distributions from IRAs and defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans) is waived for distributions made between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020 by a person who (or whose family) is infected with the Coronavirus or who is economically harmed by the Coronavirus (a qualified individual). Penalty-free distributions are limited to $100,000, and may, subject to guidelines, be re-contributed to the plan or IRA. Income arising from the distributions is spread out over three years unless the employee elects to turn down the spread out. Employers may amend defined contribution plans to provide for these distributions. Additionally, defined contribution plans are permitted additional flexibility in the amount and repayment terms of loans to employees who are qualified individuals.

Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distribution Rules for Certain Retirement Plans and Accounts

Required minimum distributions that otherwise would have to be made in 2020 from defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans) and IRAs are waived. This includes distributions that would have been required by April 1, 2020, due to the account owner's having turned age 70 1/2 in 2019.

Charitable deduction liberalizations

The CARES Act makes four significant liberalizations to the rules governing charitable deductions:

(1) Individuals will be able to claim a $300 above-the-line deduction for cash contributions made, generally, to public charities in 2020. This rule effectively allows a limited charitable deduction to taxpayers claiming the standard deduction.

(2) The limitation on charitable deductions for individuals that is generally 60% of modified adjusted gross income (the contribution base) doesn't apply to cash contributions made, generally, to public charities in 2020 (qualifying contributions). Instead, an individual's qualifying contributions, reduced by other contributions, can be as much as 100% of the contribution base. No connection between the contributions and COVID-19 activities is required.

(3) Similarly, the limitation on charitable deductions for corporations that is generally 10% of (modified) taxable income doesn't apply to qualifying contributions made in 2020. Instead, a corporation's qualifying contributions, reduced by other contributions, can be as much as 25% of (modified) taxable income. No connection between the contributions and COVID-19 activities is required.

(4) For contributions of food inventory made in 2020, the deduction limitation increases from 15% to 25% of taxable income for C corporations and, for other taxpayers, from 15% to 25% of the net aggregate income from all businesses from which the contributions were made.

Exclusion for employer payments of student loans

An employee currently may exclude $5,250 from income for benefits from an employer-sponsored educational assistance program. The CARES Act expands the definition of expenses qualifying for the exclusion to include employer payments of student loan debt made before January 1, 2021.

Break for remote care services provided by high deductible health plans

For plan years beginning before 2021, the CARES Act allows high deductible health plans to pay for expenses for tele-health and other remote services without regard to the deductible amount for the plan.

Break for nonprescription medical products

For amounts paid after December 31, 2019, the CARES Act allows amounts paid from Health Savings Accounts and Archer Medical Savings Accounts to be treated as paid for medical care even if they aren't paid under a prescription. And, amounts paid for menstrual care products are treated as amounts paid for medical care. For reimbursements after December 31, 2019, the same rules apply to Flexible Spending Arrangements and Health Reimbursement Arrangements.

PART B - TAX PROVISIONS BENEFITTING BUSINESS

Employee retention credit for employers

Eligible employers can qualify for a refundable credit against, generally, the employer's 6.2% portion of the Social Security (OASDI) payroll tax (or against the Railroad Retirement tax) for 50% of certain wages (below) paid to employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

The credit is available to employers carrying on business during 2020, including non-profits (but not government entities), whose operations for a calendar quarter have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. The credit is also available to employers who have experienced a more than 50% reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis relative to the corresponding 2019 quarter, with the eligible quarters continuing until the quarter after there is a quarter in which receipts are greater than 80% of the receipts for the corresponding 2019 quarter.

For employers with more than 100 employees in 2019, the eligible wages are wages of employees who aren't providing services because of the business suspension or reduction in gross receipts described above.

For employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees in 2019, all employee wages are eligible, even if employees haven't been prevented from providing services. The credit is provided for wages and compensation, including health benefits, and is provided for the first $10,000 in eligible wages and compensation paid by the employer to an employee. Thus, the credit is a maximum $5,000 per employee.

Wages don't include (1) wages taken into account for purposes of the payroll credits provided by the earlier Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for required paid sick leave or required paid family leave, (2) wages taken into account for the employer income tax credit for paid family and medical leave (under Code Sec. 45S ) or (3) wages in a period in which an employer is allowed for an employee a work opportunity credit (under Code Sec. 51 ). An employer can elect to not have the credit apply on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

The IRS has authority to advance payments to eligible employers and to waive penalties for employers who do not deposit applicable payroll taxes in reasonable anticipation of receiving the credit. The credit is not available to employers receiving Small Business Interruption Loans. The credit is provided for wages paid after March 12, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Delayed payment of employer payroll taxes.

Taxpayers (including self-employeds) will be able to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022. Taxes that can be deferred include the 6.2% employer portion of the Social Security (OASDI) payroll tax and the employer and employee representative portion of Railroad Retirement taxes (that are attributable to the employer 6.2% Social Security (OASDI) rate). The relief isn't available if the taxpayer has had debt forgiveness under the CARES Act for certain loans under the Small Business Act as modified by the CARES Act (see below). For self-employeds, the deferral applies to 50% of the Self-Employment Contributions Act tax liability (including any related estimated tax liability).

Net operating loss (NOL) liberalizations

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the 2017 Tax Law) limited NOLs arising after 2017 to 80% of taxable income and eliminated the ability to carry NOLs back to prior tax years. For NOLs arising in tax years beginning before 2021, the CARES Act allows taxpayers to carryback 100% of NOLs to the prior five tax years, effectively delaying for carrybacks the 80% taxable income limitation and carryback prohibition until 2021.

Act also temporarily liberalizes the treatment of NOL carryforwards.

For tax years beginning before 2021, taxpayers can take an NOL deduction equal to 100% of taxable income (rather than the present 80% limit). For tax years beginning after 2021, taxpayers will be eligible for: (1) a 100% deduction of NOLs arising in tax years before 2018, and (2) a deduction limited to 80% of taxable income for NOLs arising in tax years after 2017.

The provision also includes special rules for REITs, life insurance companies, and the Code Sec. 965 transition tax. There are also technical corrections to the 2017 Tax Law effective dates for NOL changes.

Deferral of noncorporate taxpayer loss limits

The CARES Act retroactively turns off the excess active business loss limitation rule of the 2017 Tax Law in Code Sec. 461(l) by deferring its effective date to tax years beginning after December 31, 2020 (rather than December 31, 2017). (Under the rule, active net business losses in excess of $250,000 ($500,000 for joint filers) are disallowed by the 2017 Tax Law and were treated as NOL carryforwards in the following tax year.)

The CARES Act clarifies, in a technical amendment that is retroactive, that an excess loss is treated as part of any net operating loss for the year, but isn't automatically carried forward to the next year. Another technical amendment clarifies that excess business losses do not include any deduction under Code Sec. 172 (NOL deduction) or Code Sec. 199A (qualified business income deduction).

Still another technical amendment clarifies that business deductions and income don't include any deductions, gross income or gain attributable to performing services as an employee. And because capital losses of non-corporations cannot offset ordinary income under the NOL rules, capital loss deductions are not taken into account in computing the Code Sec. 461(l) loss and the amount of capital gain taken into account cannot exceed the lesser of capital gain net income from a trade or business or capital gain net income.

Acceleration of corporate AMT liability credit

The 2017 Tax Law repealed the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) and allowed corporations to claim outstanding AMT credits subject to certain limits for tax years before 2021, at which time any remaining AMT credit could be claimed as fully-refundable. The CARES Act allows corporations to claim 100% of AMT credits in 2019 as fully-refundable and further provides an election to accelerate the refund to 2018.

Relaxation of business interest deduction limit

The 2017 Tax Law generally limited the amount of business interest allowed as a deduction to 30% of adjusted taxable income (ATI). The CARES Act generally allows businesses, unless they elect otherwise, to increase the interest limitation to 50% of ATI for 2019 and 2020, and to elect to use 2019 ATI in calculating their 2020 limitation. For partnerships, the 30% of ATI limit remains in place for 2019 but is 50% for 2020. However, unless a partner elects otherwise, 50% of any business interest allocated to a partner in 2019 is deductible in 2020 and not subject to the 50% (formerly 30%) ATI limitation. The remaining 50% of excess business interest from 2019 allocated to the partner is subject to the ATI limitations. Partnerships, like other businesses, may elect to use 2019 partnership ATI in calculating their 2020 limitation.

Technical correction to restore faster write-offs for interior building improvements

The CARES Act makes a technical correction to the 2017 Tax Law that retroactively treats (1) a wide variety of interior, non-load-bearing building improvements (qualified improvement property (QIP)) as eligible for bonus deprecation (and hence a 100% write-off) or for treatment as 15-year MACRS property or (2) if required to be treated as alternative depreciation system property, as eligible for a write-off over 20 years. The correction of the error in the 2017 Tax Law restores the eligibility of QIP for bonus depreciation, and in giving QIP 15-year MACRS status, restores 15-year MACRS write-offs for many leasehold, restaurant and retail improvements.

Accelerated payment of credits for required paid sick leave and family leave

The CARES Act authorizes IRS broadly to allow employers an accelerated benefit of the paid sick leave and paid family leave credits allowed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by, for example, not requiring deposits of payroll taxes in the amount of credits earned.

Pension funding delay

The CARES Act gives single employer pension plan companies more time to meet their funding obligations by delaying the due date for any contribution otherwise due during 2020 until January 1, 2021. At that time, contributions due earlier will be due with interest. Also, a plan can treat its status for benefit restrictions as of December 31, 2019 as applying throughout 2020.

Certain SBA loan debt forgiveness isn't taxable

Amounts of Small Business Administration Section 7(a) (36) guaranteed loans that are forgiven under the CARES Act aren't taxable as discharge of indebtedness income if the forgiven amounts are used for one of several permitted purposes. The loans have to be made during the period beginning on February 15, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2020.

Qualified Disaster Assistance Payments (QDAP) under Internal Revenue Code Section 139

Federally declared disaster allows employers to make QDAP tax-free to employees and fully deductible by employer. It’s not subject to payroll taxes or withholding and not considered compensation. The payment is to reimburse or pay the employee for “reasonable and necessary personal family, living or funeral expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19. Employee cannot be compensated for such expenses or losses by insurance and his cannot be intended to replace lost income.

PART C - IRS PROVIDES EXTENSION FOR TAX FILINGS AND PAYMENTS

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2020-23, which amplified Notice 2020-18 and Notice 2020-20 and modified Rev. Proc. 2014-42 with respect to calendar year 2020, and provided additional relief, postponing certain time-sensitive actions. Generally, Notice 2020-23 provides that any person who has a federal tax return or other form filing obligation specified in the Notice that is due to be performed (originally or pursuant to a valid extension) on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, is an “affected person” and such filing obligation is automatically extended – with no additional action required by the affected person – to July 15, 2020.

Although the extensions to July 15, 2020, are automatic, affected taxpayers who need even more time to file a return may choose to file the appropriate extension form by July 15, 2020, to obtain an extension to file their return (but not to make a payment), but the extension date may not go beyond the original statutory or regulatory extension date

IRS information site. Ongoing information on the IRS and tax legislation response to COVID-19 can be found at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Sanjay Gupta, CPA, FCA, who has 30 years of experience in accounting and taxes, is based in Plantation. He can be reached at sanjayg@sanjayguptacpa.com or visit www.sanjayguptacpa.com



BUSINESS BUZZ

Transformational Leadership: What does it mean?

By Dr. Karyn Anjali
Mathura-Arthur

True transformation in leadership begins when people overcome fears and self-limiting beliefs to get out of their comfort zone and play to their strengths.

What does this mean? Well, it means that transformation can be tough to accomplish, and it definitely requires getting out of your safe zone and venturing into the unknown for many. Transformational leadership is all about taking chances, and realizing that to move forward and improve as leaders, we need to constantly push ourselves to try new ideas and break the boundaries of what we think we can accomplish.

With the right attitude, the way you transform your approach to leadership could lead to so much success and unprecedented prosperity. Transformational leadership is actually a well-established theory that first mentioned in 1973, in the sociological study conducted by the author J.V. Downton.

“Transformational leaders stimulate and inspire their followers to achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their followers’ own leadership capacity. These leaders help followers to grow and develop by responding to followers’ individual needs by empowering them and aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization,” according to Barnard Bass (2006).

How can a transformative leader guide change? It happens through inspiring the team, as well as offering practical solutions and strategies on how to implement change and make it happen. Industry insiders have identified four main elements that constitute the pillars of true transformational leadership. The first is individualized consideration (you need to understand each individual that works within the team.) Then, there is intellectual stimulation, as well as inspirational motivation and lastly, idealized influence.

Inspirational motivation is perhaps the most important factor where the leader must serve as a role model for the rest of the team, leading by setting an example. Intellectual stimulation follows with a leader taking this motivation momentum and using it to influence others to do the same and thus match the intellectual readiness of the leader, thinking for themselves, but also following the needs of a greater purpose. Individual considerations are also important, as getting to know people within the team can be a fantastic way to create a stronger personal and professional bond, leading to more productive outcomes and better results.

The prime assumption is that people will willingly follow a leader who inspires them with energy and enthusiasm to get things done. To conclude, these are some of the basic notions of transformational leadership, but it doesn’t end here. In fact, this is only the beginning. By its own definition, transformational leadership is always changing, and it can be whatever you need it to be. Leaders can evolve, embrace new ideas, inspire others, and pursue change as a way to stay relevant and successful.

Always remember that the saying “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Dr. Karyn Mathura-Arthur is an agile implementation leader with experience in Operational Excellence, Continuous Process Improvement, Business Transformation, Process Engineering and Organizational Change Management across multiple industries (banking, insurance, healthcare, telecom, government, retail, etc.). For comments and suggestions, email editor@khaasbaat.com

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