S. Michael Chittenden

S. Michael Chittenden

Michael Chittenden practices in the areas of tax and employee benefits with a focus on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), information reporting (e.g., Forms 1095, 1096, 1098, 1099, W-2, 1042, and 1042-S) and withholding, payroll taxes, and fringe benefits. Mr. Chittenden advises companies on their obligations under FATCA and assists in the development of comprehensive FATCA and Chapter 3 (nonresident alien reporting and withholding) compliance programs.

Mr. Chittenden advises large employers on their employment tax obligations, including the special FICA and FUTA rules for nonqualified deferred compensation, the successor employer rules, the voluntary correction of employment tax mistakes, and the abatement of late deposit and information reporting penalties. In addition, he has also advised large insurance companies and employers on the Affordable Care Act reporting requirements in Sections 6055 and 6056, and advised clients on the application of section 6050W (Form 1099-K reporting), including its application to third-party payment networks.

Mr. Chittenden counsels clients on mobile workforce issues including state income tax withholding for mobile employees and expatriate and inpatriate taxation and reporting.

Mr. Chittenden is a frequent commentator on information withholding, payroll taxes, and fringe benefits and regularly gives presentations on the compliance burdens for companies.

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IRS Employee Retention Credit FAQs Provide Guidance on Calculation of Qualified Wages and Qualified Health Plan Expenses

On Wednesday, the IRS released extensive new guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) on the IRS website addressing various aspects of the employee retention credit.  This is the third in a series of articles addressing various aspects of these FAQs.  This article addresses the determination of qualified wages and allocable qualified health … Continue Reading

IRS FAQs on Retention Credit Provides Guidance on “Significant Decline in Gross Receipts”

Late Wednesday, the IRS released extensive new guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) on the IRS website addressing various aspects of the employee retention credit.  This is the second in a series of articles that will address various aspects of the FAQs.  This article addresses employer eligibility for the credit based on … Continue Reading

IRS FAQs on Retention Credit Highlight Aggregation Concerns and Narrow Potential Eligibility

Late Wednesday, the IRS released extensive new guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) on the IRS website addressing various aspects of the employee retention credit.  Covington continues to analyze the guidance, but employers who have made use of the employee retention credit—which took effect over a month ago with respect to wages … Continue Reading

IRS Released New FAQs on Employee Retention Credit

On April 29, 2020, the IRS released new FAQs providing significant guidance on the employee retention credit.  We are still analyzing the guidance, but in general, we are concerned that the IRS’s approach to interpreting its application may make it difficult for some employers in difficult financial conditions to claim the credit.  Moreover, given that … Continue Reading

A Primer for Employers: How to Stack the Employer Social Security Tax Deferral with the COVID-19 Payroll Tax Credits

Employers electing to defer the deposit of the employer share of Social Security taxes on wages, as permitted under section 2302 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, are challenged with how to take the deferral in conjunction with the COVID-19 payroll tax credits—the employee retention credit authorized by section 2301 of … Continue Reading

IRS Reiterates Scope of Section 139 Disaster Relief Payments in FAQ

The IRS recently updated its FAQs discussing the two COVID-19-related payroll tax credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) to confirm the availability of section 139 disaster relief programs to respond to employee needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the FAQ also serves to remind employers of the scope of Section 139: 58.  … Continue Reading

IRS Releases FAQs on Federal Tax Consequences of Payroll Support for Air Carriers and Contractors under CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) authorizes the Treasury Department to provide payments to passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and certain contractors that must be exclusively used for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.  The Payroll Support to Air Carriers and Contractors Program provides a total … Continue Reading

IRS Releases Guidance on Coronavirus-Related Payroll Tax Credits

On March 31, the IRS released multiple pieces of guidance regarding provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (“CARES”) Act.  The FFCRA includes two employer social security tax credits for employers of 500 or fewer employees equal to the amount of paid leave that the … Continue Reading

CARES Act Enacted; Employers May Defer Some Payroll Tax Deposits Due on Monday

UPDATE: President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday afternoon. Earlier this afternoon, the House passed by voice vote the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, the third Coronavirus-related piece of legislation, which was passed by the Senate on Wednesday with a 96-0 vote.  At $2 trillion, the CARES Act is the … Continue Reading

Senate-Passed COVID-19 Legislation Includes Payroll Tax Provisions

Late Wednesday night, the Senate passed (96-0) the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, the third Coronavirus-related piece of legislation. Early Wednesday, the Senate announced that an agreement had been reached among Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the Trump Administration on the package, but late concerns from a quartet of Republican senators stalled … Continue Reading

IRS Offers Informal Guidance on New Paid Leave Tax Credits; More to Come Next Week

Earlier this evening, the IRS offered informal guidance in IR-2020-57 regarding its administration of the payroll tax credits enacted as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) earlier this week.  The Act mandates two forms of paid leave for employees of employers of 500 or fewer employees.  Employers of more than 500 … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Emergency Declaration: Notice 2020-17 Suggests Code Section 139 is Available to Provide Tax-Free Payments for Certain Expenses

In an earlier alert, we expressed concern about the applicability of Section 139.  Our concern was based on the fact that the President’s declaration of an emergency on March 13, 2020, with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic was under Section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the “Stafford Act”) … Continue Reading

Paid Leave Measure Enacted in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

UPDATE: President Trump signed the bill into law this evening. This afternoon, the Senate voted 90-8 to approve the House-backed Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  The legislation will provide up to ten weeks of paid FMLA leave and two weeks of paid sick leave to certain employees affected by COVID-19.  Details on the legislation, which … Continue Reading

House-Passed Coronavirus Relief Bill Leaves Many with More Questions than Answers

This weekend, the House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a relief bill negotiated with the agencies and supported by the President.  On Monday night, the House of Representatives substantively modified that bill in a follow-on resolution, H. Res. 904, referred to as technical corrections.  Despite the changes, concerns have been expressed … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Emergency Declaration: Code Section 139 Uncertain; Leave-Sharing Policies Permitted

UPDATE: We have provided an updated analysis of the issues surrounding the availability of Section 139.  Our original post is below. On March 13, 2020, the President declared the COVID-19 pandemic to be an emergency under Section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the “Stafford Act”).  The decision to … Continue Reading

New Treasury Regulations Ease Payroll Administration Related to Employer-Provided Vehicles

For decades, employers and employees have been effectively precluded from using two of the handiest special valuation rules—the fleet-average and vehicle cents-per-mile valuation rules—to value employees’ personal use of employer-provided vehicles.  The 1989 fringe benefit regulations imposed modest maximum vehicle values ($16,500 and $12,800, respectively, as adjusted for inflation) to limit the use of the … Continue Reading

IRS Releases Proposed Regulations on the Mechanics of Income Tax Withholding

Today, the IRS published proposed regulations addressing changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “TCJA”) to how an employee instructs an employer to withhold income taxes on his or her Form W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Certificate). The Form W-4 was redesigned for 2020 to reflect the TCJA changes to how income … Continue Reading

Justice Department Continues Criminal Prosecutions in Employment Tax Cases

Over the last few years, the Justice Department has worked with the IRS to more aggressively prosecute cases involving employment tax noncompliance and the failure to remit trust fund taxes to the U.S. Treasury.  Trust fund taxes are taxes withheld from the wages of employees such as federal income tax withholding and FICA tax withholding.  … Continue Reading

IRS Launches New Tax Withholding Estimator

Earlier this year, the IRS issued IR-2020-09, in which it announced the launch of a new and improved Tax Withholding Estimator. The Tax Withholding Estimator (the “Estimator”) is designed to help employees adjust their federal income tax withholdings by performing a “Paycheck Checkup.”  The process also helps employees  target the refund they want by adjusting … Continue Reading

IRS Issues Interim Guidance on Income Tax Withholding from Deferred Income Distributions

The IRS recently released Notice 2020-3, which provides interim guidance on default federal income tax withholding rates applicable to certain periodic payments of deferred income.  The Notice also provides clarity as to how the IRS will accommodate a change that affects the form used to elect federal income tax withholding from wages, but not the … Continue Reading

Treasury Finalizes Section 871(m) Regulations and Further Extends Transitory Relief

On December 16, 2019, the Treasury and the IRS released final regulations under section 871(m) of the Internal Revenue Code.  The regulations finalize the 2017 temporary and proposed section 871(m) regulations without any substantive change.  On the same day, the Treasury and the IRS released Notice 2020-2 to extend through 2022 the relief provided in … Continue Reading

Proposed 162(m) Regulations are a “Lump of Coal”

To corporations hoping for a holiday reprieve from the IRS’s narrow interpretation of the grandfathering rules included in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) amendment of section 162(m), the IRS has said “Bah… Humbug!”  To those foreign private issuers, publicly traded partnerships, and issuers of public debt hoping for relief from the expanded definition … Continue Reading

Notice 2019-63 Delivers Relief for Providers of Minimum Essential Coverage

Holding true to its holiday tradition, the IRS yet again decided to extend the deadline by which providers of minimum essential coverage (including certain applicable large employers (“ALEs”)) must furnish information statements to individuals regarding their 2019 insurance coverage. However, due to the effective elimination of the ACA’s individual mandate penalty through the Tax Cuts … Continue Reading

The IRS Introduces More Informative Backup Withholding Notices for Payers

On November 14, 2019, the IRS announced that it has redesigned Notices CP2100 and CP2100A with the goal of providing more information to affected payers. These Notices are used to alert payers that the IRS received Forms 1099 containing incorrect or missing Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) for payees and that the payer may need to contact … Continue Reading
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