Newsletters

Tax Alerts
May 17, 2021
Tax Briefing(s)

The IRS has postponed the federal tax filing and payment deadlines, and associated interest, penalties, and additions to tax, for certain taxpayers who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 


The IRS has provided guidance related to the temporary 100-percent deduction for business meals provided by a restaurant. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 ( P.L. 116-260) temporarily increased the deduction from 50 percent to 100 percent for a business’s restaurant food and beverage expenses for 2021 and 2022. All other food and beverage expenses are still subject to the 50 percent deduction limitation unless some other exception applies.


The IRS has issued guidance for employers claiming the employee retention credit under Act Sec. 2301 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) ( P.L. 116-136), as modified by Act Secs. 206 and 207 of the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act) (Division EE of P.L. 116-260), for the first and second calendar quarters in 2021. The guidance amplifies previous guidance which addressed amendments made by section 206 of the Relief Act for calendar quarters in 2020.


The IRS has issued guidance clarifying that amounts paid for personal protective equipment—such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes—for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19 PPE) are treated as amounts paid for medical care under Code Sec. 213(d).


The U.S. Department of Labor has published a new webpage with guidance implementing the Continuation of Health Coverage premium assistance provisions of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to provide full COBRA premium assistance to certain individuals who experienced a reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment.


The IRS has announced that, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) ( P.L. 117-2), the requirement that taxpayers increase their tax liability by all or a portion of their excess advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit (excess APTC) is suspended for tax year (TY) 2020.


The IRS has extended the penalty relief provided in Notice 2020-22, I.R.B. 2020-17, 664, for failure to deposit employment taxes, to eligible employers that reduce their required deposits in anticipation of the following credits.


Continuing an ongoing effort to help those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, the IRS has reminded people who do not have a permanent address or a bank account that may still qualify for Economic Impact Payments (EIP) and other tax benefits.


Death benefits that an S corporation provided to its sole shareholder under a split-dollar life insurance arrangement were employee compensation rather than a corporate distribution. In reaching this decision, the Tax Court firmly rejected the contrary conclusion reached by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in J.J. Machacek, CA-6, 2018-2 U.S.T.C. 50,447.


The termination date for an empowerment zone designation under Code Sec. 1391 is generally deemed to extend until December 31, 2025. However, the state or local government that nominated the zone may decline the deemed extension.


Gross income is taxed to the person who earns it by performing services, or who owns the property that generates the income. Under the assignment of income doctrine, a taxpayer cannot avoid tax liability by assigning a right to income to someone else. The doctrine is invoked, for example, for assignments to creditors, family members, charities, and controlled entities. Thus, the income is taxable to the person who earned it, even if the person assigns the income to another and never personally receives the income. The doctrine can apply to both individuals and corporations.


The mortgage interest deduction is widely used by the majority of individuals who itemize their deductions. In fact, the size of the average mortgage interest deduction alone persuades many taxpayers to itemize their deductions. It is not without cause, therefore, that two recent developments impacting the mortgage interest deserve being highlighted. These developments involve new reporting requirements designed to catch false or inflated deductions; and a case that effectively doubles the size of the mortgage interest deduction available to joint homeowners. But first, some basics.


Many federal income taxes are paid from amounts that are withheld from payments to the taxpayer. For instance, amounts roughly equal to an employee's estimated tax liability are generally withheld from the employee's wages and paid over to the government by the employer. In contrast, estimated taxes are taxes that are paid throughout the year on income that is not subject to withholding. Individuals must make estimated tax payments if they are self-employed or their income derives from interest, dividends, investment gains, rents, alimony, or other funds that are not subject to withholding.


A business operated by two or more owners can elect to be taxed as a partnership by filing Form 8832, the Entity Classification Election form. A business is eligible to elect partnership status if it has two or more members and:


The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns this year and issue billions of dollars in refunds. That huge pool of refunds drives scam artists and criminals to steal taxpayer identities and claim fraudulent refunds. The IRS has many protections in place to discover false returns and refund claims, but taxpayers still need to be proactive.


An employer must withhold income taxes from compensation paid to common-law employees (but not from compensation paid to independent contractors). The amount withheld from an employee's wages is determined in part by the number of withholding exemptions and allowances the employee claims. Note that although the Tax Code and regulations distinguish between withholding exemptions and withholding allowances, the terms are interchangeable. The amount of reduction attributable to one withholding allowance is the same as that attributable to one withholding exemption. Form W-4 and most informal IRS publications refer to both as withholding allowances, probably to avoid confusion with the complete exemption from withholding for employees with no tax liability.