Employee Retention Credit | US Tax Lawyers & Attorneys

On March 31, 2020, the IRS launched the Employee Retention Credit. This new tax credit is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. Let’s discuss the Employee Retention Credit in more detail.

Employee Retention Credit: Eligibility Criteria

Two categories of employers are not eligible to apply for the Employee Retention Credit: (a) state and local governments and their instrumentalities; and (b) small businesses who take certain small business loans.

The rest of the employers (including tax-exempt organizations) regardless of size can apply as long as they fall within one of the following two categories.

The first category includes all businesses which were fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter. It appears that this category applies to the state “shelter-in-place” orders.

The second category includes businesses with gross receipts below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

Employee Retention Credit: Credit Calculation

The amount of the credit is 50% of qualifying wages paid up to $10,000 in total. Wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021, are eligible for the credit. The definition of wages includes not only cash payments, but also a portion of the cost of employer-provided health care insurance.

Employee Retention Credit: Qualified Wages

Qualifying wages are based on the average number of employees in 2019. There is an important difference, however, in the calculation of qualified wages based on the size of an employer.

With respect to employers with less than 100 employees: the credit is based on wages paid to all employees, regardless if they worked or not. If the employees worked full time and were paid for full time work, the employer still receives the credit.

With respect to employers with more than 100 employees: if the employer had more than 100 employees on average in 2019, then the credit is allowed only for wages paid to employees who did not work during the calendar quarter.

Employee Retention Credit: Application Process

Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages by the amount of the credit.

Eligible employers will report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly employment tax returns or Form 941 beginning with the second quarter of 2020. If the employer’s employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19. Eligible employers can also request an advance of the Employee Retention Credit by submitting Form 7200.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to follow closely the tax developments concerning the COVID-19 tax relief.

Retirement Savings Contributions Credit 2013

You may be eligible for a tax credit if you make eligible contributions (other than rollover contributions) to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or to an individual retirement arrangement.

Eligible Plans

The eligible plans for the retirement savings contribution credit include: traditional and Roth IRAs, 401(k), 403(b), governmental 457, SEP, SIMPLE, 501(c)(18)(D) and contributions to a qualified retirement plan as defined in section 4974(c) (including federal Thrift Savings Plan).

Additional Requirements and Limitations

Other important eligibility requirements and limitations include:

1. Income Limitations

You cannot exceed the following income limits in order to be able to take the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (these are 2013 numbers):

• Single, married filing separately, or qualifying widow(er), with income up to $29,500

• Head of Household with income up to $44,250

• Married Filing Jointly, with income up to $59,000

2. Age Limitation

To be eligible for the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit you must have been born before January 2, 1996.

3. Full-Time Students Not Eligible

You cannot have been a full-time student during the calendar year if you wish to claim the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (there are some specific definitions regarding the “student” status).

4. Cannot Be a Dependent on Another Person’s Tax Return

If you were claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2013 tax return, you cannot take the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit.

5. Distributions are Deducted From Contributions

When figuring the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, you generally must subtract the amount of distributions you have received from your retirement plans from the contributions you have made. This rule applies to distributions received in the two years before the year the credit is claimed, the year the credit is claimed, and the period after the end of the credit year but before the due date – including extensions – for filing the return for the credit year.

Credit amount

If you make eligible contributions to a qualified IRA, 401(k) and certain other retirement plans, you may be able to take a credit of up to $1,000 or up to $2,000 if filing jointly. The credit is a percentage of the qualifying contribution amount, with the highest rate for taxpayers with the least income.

Also note that the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit is a benefit in addition to other tax benefits which may result from the retirement contributions. For example, most workers at these income levels may deduct all or part of their contributions to a traditional IRA.

2013 4th Quarter Underpayment and Overpayment Interest Rates

The underpayment and overpayment interest rates will remain the same for the calendar quarter beginning October 1, 2013. The rates will be:

three (3) percent for overpayments [two (2) percent in the case of a corporation];
three (3) percent for underpayments;
five (5) percent for large corporate underpayments; and
one-half (0.5) percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, the rate of interest is determined on a quarterly basis. For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points.

Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points. The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point.

The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points. The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point.

Interest factors for daily compound interest for annual rates of 0.5 percent are published in Appendix A of Revenue Ruling 2011-32. Interest factors for daily compound interest for annual rates of 2 percent, 3 percent and 5 percent are published in Tables 7, 9, 11, and 15 of Rev. Proc. 95-17, 1995-1 C.B. 561, 563, 565, and 569.

2014 Tax Season to Start Later Following Government Closure

The IRS recently announced a delay of approximately one to two weeks to the start of the 2014 filing season to allow adequate time to program and test tax processing systems following the 16-day federal government closure.

The IRS is exploring options to shorten the expected delay and will announce a final decision on the start of the 2014 filing season in December, Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said. The original start date of the 2014 filing season was January 21, 2014, and with a one- to two-week delay, the IRS would start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns no earlier than January 28.

The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season. Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. Updating these core systems is a complex, year-round process with the majority of the work beginning in the fall of each year.

About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, with some major workstreams closed entirely during this period, putting the IRS nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season. There are additional training, programming and testing demands on IRS systems this year in order to provide additional refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention.

“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Werfel said. “The adjustment to the start of the filing season provides us the necessary time to program, test and validate our systems so that we can provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers. We want the public and tax professionals to know about the delay well in advance so they can prepare for a later start of the filing season.”

The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the start date, which will be announced in December. There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit. The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place.

Home Office Expense and Unrecaptured Section 1250 gain

Do you take the home office expense on Schedule C for your small business? While taking the home office expense can help reduce your tax liability, you should be aware of a potential significant downside: unrecaptured Section 1250 gain on depreciation.

This article will explain the basics of unrecaptured Section 1250 gain; it is not intended to convey tax or legal advice. Running a small business can involve many complex tax and legal issues, so you are advised to seek an experienced attorney in these matters. Sherayzen Law Office, PLLC can assist you in all of your tax and legal needs, and help you avoid making costly mistakes.

Section 1250 Property Defined

The IRS defines Section 1250 property to include, “[A]ll real property that is subject to an allowance for depreciation and that is not and never has been section 1245 property. It includes a leasehold of land or section 1250 property subject to an allowance for depreciation.” (Section 1245 property includes a variety of specified types of property, including tangible and intangible personal property).

Treatment of Unrecaptured Section 1250 Gain

Most taxpayers are aware that when single individuals or married couples sell their primary residence, some or all of the gain may be excluded from taxation (the exclusion is $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 for married couples). Gain that exceeds the exclusion amount is then taxed at the favorable capital gains rates.

However, when taxpayers take the home office expense and depreciate their homes, the typical tax rules no longer apply. This is partly because by taking a depreciation expense on a home, a benefit is received in the form of a lower tax liability; thus it only makes sense that the IRS would want a portion of that amount back when a taxpayer finally sells a home (this is referred to as “recapturing” depreciation).

Unlike the general rule for sales or exchanges of property, if depreciable or amortizable property is disposed of at a gain, taxpayers may have to treat all, or part of, the gain (even if otherwise nontaxable) as ordinary income. Whereas the sale or exchange will allow taxpayers to pay at capital gains rates, dispositions involving unrecaptured Section 1250 gain will be taxed at a maximum of 25%, regardless of a taxpayer’s ordinary income bracket. Note that like typical capital gains transactions, dispositions involving unrecaptured Section 1250 gain will still be reported on Schedule D of Form 1040.

Does it Matter if Depreciation Expense Was Not Taken?

A frequent question arises when taxpayers take the home office expense on their Form 1040 Schedule C. Because of the disadvantage of paying tax on unrecaptured Section 1250 gain, taxpayers wonder whether they can simply take the home office expense but not take depreciation expense on their home, thereby avoiding this tax.

Unfortunately, this is not allowed under the Internal Revenue Code. As with rental real estate, taxpayers are imputed to have depreciated their business assets, regardless of whether depreciation was actually taken. As the IRS notes in Publication 946, “You must reduce the basis of property by the depreciation allowed or allowable, whichever is greater. Depreciation allowed is depreciation you actually deducted (from which you received a tax benefit). Depreciation allowable is depreciation you are entitled to deduct. If you do not claim depreciation you are entitled to deduct, you must still reduce the basis of the property by the full amount of depreciation allowable.”