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December 27, 2020

 

On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”) was signed into law.  The CAA contains both the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (COVIDTRA) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (TCDTR).  In addition to providing for stimulus payments of $600 per taxpayer and qualifying child, the CAA also contains numerous tax provisions and extenders as follows:

Do note that any of the below provisions that are applicable to income tax at the state level, California may not conform.

Individual Provisions

Increased deduction for medical expenses – The CAA permanently decreases the limitation for deducting medical expenses to 7.5% of adjusted gross income (“AGI”).  Previous law only allowed for a deduction of medical expenses in excess of 10% of AGI.

Child Tax Credit & Earned Income Credit (“CTC” & “EIC”) – The CAA allows individuals to use their earned income from 2019, if greater, to calculate their CTC & EIC for 2020.

Charitable contributions for taxpayers who do not itemize deductions – The CARES act, passed earlier in 2020, created a new above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions made in 2020 for taxpayers who do not itemize deductions.  The maximum allowable deduction is $300 ($600 for a married couple).  The CAA extends this rule through 2021.

Income limitations for charitable contributions – Under previous law, charitable contributions to qualified organizations were generally limited to 60% of a taxpayer’s AGI.  The CARES act removed the limitation for 2020; the new Act also removes the limitation for 2021.

Education credits – The CAA removes the above the line deduction for tuition and fees in exchange for an expanded application of the Lifetime Learning credit.  This applies to tax years 2021 and beyond.

Exclusion from income for forgiveness of qualified principal residence indebtedness – Forgiveness of debt is generally included in taxable income.  An exception applied for forgiveness of debt that was used to acquire a personal residence.  The maximum which could be excluded was $2 million for a married couple.  This provision was set to expire in 2020.  The CAA extends this exclusion through 2025, but at a reduced amount of $750,000.

Mortgage insurance premiums – The CAA extends the deduction for qualified mortgage insurance premiums through 2021.

Retirement plan distributions – The CAA allows for distributions from retirement plans of up to $100,000 without being subject to the 10% penalty that applies to early retirement distributions.  The distribution, however, will be subject to income tax over a 3-year period.  This extends the relief provided in the CARES Act & expands the eligibility to all taxpayers.

Payroll Provisions

FSA Plans – Employers may choose to allow a carryover of unused funds from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022 or to extend the grace period for spending unused FSA funds to 12 months after the plan year.

Extension of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) credits for paid sick and family leave – The FFCRA, passed earlier in 2020, provided employers a payroll tax credit for paid sick and family leave due to COVID-19.  The Act extends this credit through March 31, 2021.

Employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave – Earlier tax law allowed businesses to claim a general business credit for paid family and medical leave up to 12 weeks per year.  The provision was set to expire at the end of 2020; the Act extends this credit through 2025.

Work opportunity credit – The work opportunity credit is available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups.  The credit was set to expire at the end of 2020.  The CAA extends the credit through 2025.

Expansion of Employee Retention Credit (“ERC”) – The CARES Act provided a 50% credit for companies who continued to pay their employees during a COVID-19 imposed lockdown.  The CAA expands eligibility for the ERC, increases the credit to 70%, and extends the credit through June 30, 2021.

Extension of deferred payroll taxes – President Trump signed an executive memorandum in August 2020 allowing employers to defer the employee’s share of social security taxes between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.  The taxes were required to be repaid through a reduction in the employee’s pay between January 1, 2021 and April 30, 2021.  The CAA extends the required repayment period to December 31, 2021.

Employer payment of student loans – The CAA extends the current CARES act provision which allows employers to repay education loans incurred by their employees, which was set to expire at the end of 2020.  The CAA extends the provision to 2025.  The maximum annual payment is $5,250.

Business Tax Provisions

Deductions for expenses paid using PPP loan proceeds – The CAA clarifies the original intention of the PPP loan program and allows for full deduction of any expense paid for using PPP loan proceeds.

Bringing back the business lunch – The CAA temporarily allows for a full 100% deduction for meals provided by restaurants that are paid or incurred in 2021 or 2022.

Qualified disaster relief contributions – The CAA creates a new category of “qualified disaster relief contributions” for qualifying contributions made to organizations for disaster relief efforts.  Contributions must be made between January 1, 2020 and 60 days after passage of the Act.  Corporations could receive a deduction of up to 100% of taxable income.

Accelerated depreciation of residential rental property for electing real property trade or business – Real property trades or businesses subject to the interest expense limitations of 163(j) may choose to make an election.  Under the election, the interest limitations will not apply; however, the taxpayer must use ADS depreciation rules resulting in a longer useful life and lower depreciation expense each year.  Under prior law, residential rental property placed in service prior to January 1, 2018 was subject to a 40-year ADS useful life.  The CAA changes this to a 30-year ADS useful life if the taxpayer was not subject to ADS prior to January 1, 2018.

September 9, 2020

California law conforms to Federal Income Tax treatment of PPP Loan Forgiveness

On September 9, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1577 into law, which amends California’s tax code as it relates to loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program.

PPP loans are subject to forgiveness when borrowers use proceeds to pay for payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities. For PPP loan borrowers, for purposes of federal income taxation, existing federal law EXCLUDED from gross income any amounts of PPP loans that are FORGIVEN.

With the passage of  AB 1577 adds of sections 17131.9 and 24308.6 to the California Revenue and Taxation Code, California tax law, effective for taxable years on and after January 1, 2020, California tax law conforms to federal income tax law.  Gross income is not to include any covered loan amount forgiven pursuant to the CARES Act, the PPP and Health Care Enhancement Act, or the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020.

Regarding deductions paid from PPP loans, AB 1577 provides that any credit or deduction allowed for any amount paid or incurred by a taxpayer upon which the state income and franchise tax exclusions are based shall be reduced by the amount of the exclusion allowed under the new law. California tax law is consistent with federal tax law and under AB 1577 denies business expense deductions for expenses paid using forgiven PPP loan funds.

 

Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

The IRS has issued the luxury car depreciation limits for business vehicles placed in service in 2021 and the lease inclusion amounts for business vehicles first leased in 2021.


The IRS has issued guidance for employers claiming the employee retention credit under Code Sec. 3134, enacted by section 9651 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), P.L. 117-2, which provides a credit for wages paid after June 30, 2021, and before January 1, 2022. The guidance amplifies previous notices which addressed the employee retention credit under section 2301 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), P.L. 116-136, as amended by sections 206 and 207 of the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, P.L. 116-260.


The Treasury and IRS have provided an optional safe harbor allowing employers to exclude the following amounts from their gross receipts solely for determining eligibility for the employee retention credit.


The IRS issued transition relief for certain employers claiming the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) under Code Sec. 51. This would apply for certain employees beginning work after December 31, 2020, in response to legislation permitting the designation of an Empowerment Zone under Code Sec. 1393(b) to be extended from December 31, 2020, through December 31, 2025. Specifically, section IV of this notice provides transition relief by extending the 28-day deadline for employers to request certification from a designated local agency that an individual who begins work on or after January 1, 2021, and before October 9, 2021, is a member of the Designated Community Resident targeted group or the Qualified Summer Youth Employee targeted group.


The U.S. Small Business Administration ( SBA) is launching a streamlined application portal to allow certain borrowers to apply for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan forgiveness directly through the SBA. The SBA also is explaining why it discontinued use of Loan Necessity Questionnaires for PPP borrowers.


The IRS stated that families should use the Child Tax Credit (CTC) Update Portal to confirm their eligibility for the payments. If eligible, the tool also indicates whether taxpayers are enrolled to receive their payments by direct deposit. More information can be found at https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/advance-child-tax-credit-payments-in-2021.


The IRS provided additional guidance on the application of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) ( P.L. 117-2) relating to temporary premium assistance for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) continuation coverage. This notice supplements Notice 2021-31, I.R.B. 2021-23, and addresses additional issues.


The foreign tax credit did not apply against the net investment income tax (NIIT). The structure of the Internal Revenue Code made the credit inapplicable to the NIIT, and tax treaties did not override that fact.


A missing or unknown federal gift tax return could constitute reasonable cause for the late filing of an estate tax return.