Photo of Marianna G. Dyson

Marianna Dyson practices in the areas of payroll tax, fringe benefits, and information reporting, with a specific focus on perquisites provided to employees and directors, worker classification, tip reporting, cross-border compensation, backup withholding, information reporting, and penalty abatement.

Ms. Dyson advises large employers on the application of employment taxes, the special FICA tax timing rules for nonqualified deferred compensation, the voluntary correction of employment tax errors, and the abatement of late deposit and information reporting penalties for reasonable cause. On behalf of the restaurant industry, her practice provides extensive experience with tip reporting, service charges, tip agreements, and Section 45B tax credits.

She is a frequent speaker at Tax Executives Institute (TEI), the Southern Federal Tax Institute, and the National Restaurant Association.

The IRS has shortened the time in which employers must deposit payroll taxes related to certain stock-settled awards issued to employees, in order to be eligible for an administrative waiver of late-deposit penalties.  Through a non-publicized change to its Internal Revenue Manual, the IRS has shortened the applicable deadline for depositing owed and accumulated employment taxes related to stock-settled awards from three business days after exercise (T+3) to two business days after exercise (T+2), while also expanding the administrative waiver’s applicability to additional types of awards.  This change occurred a mere eight days after General Legal Advice Memorandum, GLAM 2020-004, which we discussed earlier this month, was issued to IRS Examination explaining the timing of income rules and the deposit requirements applicable to certain stock-settled awards, as well as the history of the long-standing administrative waiver dating from 2003.
Continue Reading IRS Revises Administrative Waiver for Late Deposit Penalties Arising from Employment Taxes on Stock Options, SARs, and RSUs

On June 23, Proposed Treasury Regulations §§ 1.274-13 and 1.274-14 were published in the Federal Register addressing the disallowance of employer deductions for the cost of providing commuting and parking benefits to employees.  The proposed regulations are a mixed bag with some clarifications being helpful and others less so.  Proposed Treasury Regulation § 1.274-13 addresses the deduction disallowance under section 274(a)(4) for the cost of qualified transportation fringe benefits (QTFs) provided under section 132(f), i.e., qualified parking, transit passes, and other tax-free commuting benefits.  Proposed Treasury Regulation § 1.274-14 addresses the deduction disallowance for employee transportation costs under section 274(l).  Both deduction disallowance provisions were adopted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), and took effect for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.
Continue Reading Proposed Regulations Regarding TCJA Disallowance for Employee Commuting and Parking Costs a Mixed Bag

On May 22, 2020, the IRS released a Generic Legal Advice Memorandum, GLAM 2020-004, which addresses the timing of the taxation and withholding of payroll taxes on certain stock-settled awards issued to employees.  Specifically, the GLAM focuses on the treatment of stock options, stock-settled stock appreciation rights (SARs), and stock-settled restricted stock units (RSUs).

Employers should be aware that the GLAM does not appear to alter the Service’s existing position with respect to such awards—the fair market value of the stock underlying the award is includible in gross income when the stock is deemed transferred to the employee.  However, the GLAM does appear to offer some additional insight into the timing of income inclusion with respect to RSUs.  Perhaps most importantly, the GLAM reiterates the IRS’s 2003 administrative position regarding the application of late deposit penalties to payroll tax deposits due on the exercise of nonqualified stock options.  A question had arisen regarding whether SEC guidance shortening the standard settlement cycle for securities transactions to two business days had the effect of shortening the period for depositing payroll taxes.  Deposits owed with respect to option exercises will continue to be deemed timely if deposited within one day of settlement, so long as settlement occurs within three days of the exercise date.
Continue Reading Much Ado About Nothing Much New: IRS Releases GLAM Addressing Payroll Taxation of Equity Compensation

On May 28, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-35, postponing deadlines for more time-sensitive actions until July 15, 2020.  Notice 2020-35 is the latest in a series of IRS notices issued since mid-March providing for delays under the authority of section 7508A due to the COVID-19 emergency declaration.  Specifically, the relief relates to employment tax returns and returns filed by employee benefit plans exempt organizations due on or after March 30, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.  The big news arising out of the notice—although certainly not broadcast by the IRS—pertains to the extension of the period for correcting errors that occurred in prior calendar years until July 15, 2020.  This extension of time until July 15, 2020, permits employers to correct errors ascertained with respect to calendar year 2016 employment taxes, which ordinarily would have to have been corrected on or before April 15, 2020—the day on which the period of limitations would otherwise have lapsed.
Continue Reading IRS Adds Employment Tax Corrections to Expanding List of Postponed Time-Sensitive Actions Due to COVID-19

On May 7, the IRS updated its frequently asked questions to reverse its earlier determination that health plan expenses paid or incurred by an employer to provide health benefits to furloughed employees who were not paid other wages were not qualified health plan expenses for which an employer could claim the employee retention credit.  The

On May 4, the IRS revised its newly released frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) to clarify the interaction of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) with the employee retention credit.  FAQ 79 now indicates that an employer that repays its PPP loan by May 7, 2020, in accordance with rules issued by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”),

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 plan expenses.  Our first article discussed the IRS’s interpretation of the aggregation rules under section 2301(d) of the CARES Act and the determination of employer eligibility based on a full or partial suspension of operations due to a government order.  Our second article focused on employer eligibility for the credit based on a significant decline in gross receipts.  Subsequent articles will address issues related to the income and deduction treatment of qualified wages for employees and employers and issues related to the use of third-party payers.  Before the release of the IRS FAQs, we addressed how employers can claim the employee retention credit and its interaction with the deferral of employer social security tax deposits (see earlier article).

Although employers should carefully consider the FAQs, they should be mindful that these FAQs are not binding guidance but instead represent the current thinking of the IRS on the employee retention credit.


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

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 a significant decline in gross receipts.  In our first article, we discussed the IRS’s interpretation of the aggregation rules under section 2301(d) of the CARES Act and the determination of employer eligibility based on a full or partial suspension of operations due to a government order.  Subsequent articles will address the determination of qualified wages and allocable qualified health plan expenses, issues related to the income and deduction treatment of qualified wages for employees and employers, and issues related to the use of third-party payers.  Before the release of the IRS FAQs, we addressed how employers can claim the employee retention credit and its interaction with the deferral of employer social security tax deposits (see earlier article).

Employers should carefully consider the FAQs, but remain mindful that although they represent the current thinking of the IRS, the FAQs are not binding guidance.
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.  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 paid as many as six weeks ago—should review the FAQs to determine how the guidance may affect their determination of eligibility for the credit and the calculation of the credit amount.  Unfortunately, several of the answers take a narrower approach to interpreting the law than is necessary and seem somewhat divorced from the economic reality that is effecting many employers—particularly large employers—given the COVID-19 pandemic.  Employers who have relied on reasonable, good faith determinations of their credit eligibility so that they could afford to keep workers on the payroll may now be put in an even more precarious financial position by FAQs that suggest the credit is not available to them generally or is not available with respect to some workers.

Employers should carefully consider the FAQs, but remain mindful that although they represent the current thinking of the IRS, the FAQs are not binding guidance.  This is the first in a series of articles that will address various aspects of the FAQs.  This article focuses on the IRS’s interpretation of the aggregation rules under section 2301(d) of the CARES Act and the determination of employer eligibility based on a full or partial suspension of operations due to a government order.  Later articles will address employer eligibility based on a significant decline in gross receipts, the determination of qualified wages and allocable qualified health plan expenses, and issues related to the income and deduction treatment of qualified wages for employees and employers.  In an earlier article, we addressed how employers can claim the employee retention credit and its interaction with the deferral of employer social security tax deposits.


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

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