The IRS recently released Notice 2020-46, providing favorable tax relief for “leave-based donation programs” designed to aid victims of COVID-19 pandemic. Under these programs, employees may elect to forgo vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for payments that the employer makes to charitable organizations described under section 170(c). Under this notice, payments employees elect to forgo do not constitute income or wages of the employees for federal income and employment tax purposes if the employer makes the payments, before January 1, 2021, to charitable organizations for the relief of victims of the pandemic. The IRS will not assert that an opportunity to make this election results in employees’ constructive receipt of the payments. Accordingly, an employer would not need to include the payments in Box 1, 3 (if applicable), or 5 of the Forms W-2 for employees electing to forgo their vacation, sick, or personal leave.
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