Last week, the Treasury Department released the “Green Book,” formally known as the General Explanations of the Administration’s Revenue Proposals.  Among its proposals, the Green Book includes a new proposal that could signal stepped-up enforcement of section 409A, as well as a new tool for the IRS.  Section 409A, adopted almost two decades ago, represented a significant shift in the tax treatment of non-qualified deferred compensation plans.  Prior to its adoption, these plans often relied on traditional concepts of constructive receipt to determine when it was required that a plan participant recognize income.  Section 409A overlaid those principles with significant new rules regarding the time that an election to defer compensation must be made, as well as limitations on the time and form of payment of deferred compensation.
Continue Reading Administration Proposes New Withholding Requirements for 409A Failures

Last week, the Treasury Department released the “Green Book,” formally known as the General Explanations of the Administration’s Revenue Proposals.  Among its proposals, the Green Book addresses the treatment of on-demand pay arrangements.  These arrangements, which have recently grown in popularity, permit employees to access a portion of their earned wages in advance of the employee’s normal pay date.  For this reason, they are often referred to as “earned wage access programs.”

One of the potential tax concerns with these arrangements has been that, depending upon the program design, the employee could be considered to be in “constructive receipt” of their earned wages.  This creates payroll withholding and depositing obligations for employers regardless of whether the employee actually receives a wage payment.  In addition, the program can cause uncertainty regarding how to properly calculate the required FICA tax and income tax withholdings when the employee elects to receive a payment of earned wages.  For this reason, some third-parties designing the programs (which are often app-based) have sought either to structure the programs as loans or to avoid the constructive receipt issue by requiring the payment of a small fee when the earned wages are paid.
Continue Reading Treasury Stakes Out a Position on “On-Demand Pay” Arrangements

Section 80604 of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) amends Section 3134 of the Internal Revenue Code to terminate the employee retention credit for employers subject to closure for COVID-19 effective October 1, 2021.  The legislation, which passed the House on November 5 (after passing the Senate on August 10), was presented

Nearly 18 months into the pandemic, the IRS continues to issue guidance on the employee retention credit, a credit that was adopted in March 2020 and has been addressed in a number of articles on the Tax Withholding & Reporting Blog, most recently on August 3, 2021.

The latest guidance takes the form of Notice 2021-49 and Revenue Procedure 2021-33, which together address a range of topics, including how employers should treat cash tips for purposes of determining the amount of qualified wages, whether the credit may be claimed with respect to the same wages for which the employer receives the Code Section 45B credit, how the related individual rules work for determining qualified wages, and whether employers are required to file amended tax returns if they claim the employee retention credit retroactively.  The Service has also outlined a safe harbor that employers may apply to exclude from gross receipts the amount of the forgiveness of any PPP loans or the amount of shuttered venue operator grants or restaurant revitalization grants.
Continue Reading IRS Issues Additional Guidance on Employee Retention Credit

The bipartisan infrastructure bill introduced in the Senate earlier this week includes a provision that would end early the employee retention credit, which was codified in Section 3134 of the Internal Revenue Code by the American Recovery Plan Act earlier this year.  The Section 3134 credit, which took effect on July 1 but mirrors the

The Supreme Court, today, denied New Hampshire’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint challenging Massachusetts’ COVID-related tax regulations.  The decision comes little more than a month after the Acting Solicitor General of the United States filed an amicus brief urging the court to deny the motion.  In addition to New Hampshire, the decision will leave New Jersey and other states (nearly fourteen states had filed amicus briefs urging the Court to take the case) disappointed.  The case was seen as an indirect threat to New York’s convenience of the employer rule, which operates similarly to the temporary regulations adopted by Massachusetts.  See earlier coverage here and here.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Denies New Hampshire’s Challenge to Massachusetts Telecommuter Tax Rule; Convenience of the Employer Lives to See Another Day

Almost a year after the employee retention credit was adopted as part of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), and nearly a month after the final Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, claiming the credit for 2020 was due, the IRS issued Notice 2021-20 (the “Notice”).  This is the final article in our three-part series looking at how the IRS’s guidance on the employee retention credit has changed over the past ten months.  This article focuses on how Notice 2021-20 builds on previous IRS guidance to narrow the scope of the credit and limit its availability.  Part I focuses on the statute and approach the IRS took in interpreting statute when the IRS issued frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) in April 2020. Part II focuses on the initial signs of trouble for employers that first appeared in the updated FAQs in June 2020.

The Notice is the proverbial effort to close the barn door after the horse is out of the barn–and in this case, clear across the pasture.  Although much of the guidance in the Notice reflects the (“FAQs”) that were posted to the IRS website beginning last April and that have been revised multiple times since, the Notice continues the trend that began last June of narrowing the availability and the amount of the employee retention credit—and in some instances, narrowing it in a way not contemplated by the permissive statutory language. (For our complete coverage of the employee retention credit and IRS guidance, click here.)
Continue Reading A Look at IRS Guidance on the Employee Retention Credit: Part III—The IRS Seeks to Close the Barn Door

On March 10, 2021, the House passed the fifth major COVID-relief legislation, the American Rescue Plan Act (the “Act”), which it originally passed last week before its amendment and passage by the Senate on March 6.  President Biden is expected to sign the Act on Friday, March 12, 2021.

The Act adopts a new payroll tax credit that is similar to the employee retention credit, which was originally enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) and amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”).  The new credit will be in effect from July 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.  In addition, the Act significantly increases the exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance for 2021, and makes prospective changes to extend the availability of paid leave credits similar to those originally adopted as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) and that are set to expire on March 31.  Finally, the Act will extend the deduction limitation under section 162(m) to additional employees.
Continue Reading American Rescue Plan Act Goes to Biden for Signature: Includes Changes to Employee Retention Tax Credit, Employer-Provided Dependent Care, Paid Leave Credits, and Deduction Limitations for Executive Compensation

Almost a year after the employee retention credit was adopted as part of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), and nearly a month after the final Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, claiming the credit for 2020 was due, the IRS issued Notice 2021-20 (the “Notice”), providing guidance on

Recently released IRS Notice 2021-20 (the “Notice”) provides guidance on the interaction between the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the employee retention credit.  Unfortunately, the Notice may limit the ability of many PPP borrowers to claim an employee retention credit that employers may have believed they would be entitled to claim.
Continue Reading Notice 2021-20 Limits Employee Retention Credit For Many PPP Borrowers