Archives: Employment Taxes

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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

Significant TCJA Guidance Due Before End of Year, Kautter Says

Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter attended the AICPA National Tax Conference on November 13, 2019, and commented that significant TCJA-related guidance should be expected to be released before the end of 2019.  Such guidance is likely to include proposed regulations addressing (1) federal income tax withholding under section 3402, (2) the executive … Continue Reading

Hiring Employees vs. Independent Contractors: Navigating Classification Issues in a Drastically Altered California Legislative Landscape

Recently enacted California Assembly Bill 5 (“AB-5”) is a game changer for businesses that use independent contractors in California — and a warning shot for employers nationwide.  Subject to exemptions for certain occupations and professions, AB-5 imposes a strict “ABC” test that appears to put a thumb on the scale of classifying workers as employees … Continue Reading

MyPayrollHR Scandal Serves as Reminder to Verify Employment Tax Deposits

Although the facts are still unfolding, recent developments surrounding the collapse of payroll firm MyPayrollHR serve as a reminder to employers to regularly verify the actions of payroll service providers.  This should be a routine practice, regardless of the provider’s reputation and the longevity of the relationship.  In particular, employers should open their own EFTPS … Continue Reading

IRS Releases Updated Tax Withholding Estimator

Today, the IRS unveiled its new Tax Withholding Estimator to help employees complete the Form W-4 and ensure that withholdings are sufficient to cover their income tax liability.  The new calculator was previewed in the draft 2020 Form W-4.  (See earlier coverage.)  A near-final draft 2020 Form W-4 is expected to be released soon.  Currently, … Continue Reading

D.C. Starts Collecting Taxes to Fund New Paid-Leave Program

In 2017, the District of Columbia passed the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (the “Act”), which called for the creation of a paid-leave program for private sector employees who work in D.C. Earlier this year, the D.C. Office of Paid Family Leave adopted final regulations to implement this new paid-leave program. One of … Continue Reading

Draft 2020 Form W-4 Addresses Some Privacy Concerns

On May 31, the IRS released a draft 2020 Form W-4 that addresses some, but not all, of the privacy concerns that led the IRS to abandon the redesigned form for 2019.  According to an accompanying news release, the IRS anticipates releasing a near-final form in July to allow payroll processors and employers to begin … Continue Reading

IRS Legal Memo Addresses Payroll Compliance when Employer Appoints Agent in the Middle of Calendar Year

On May 31, the IRS released a legal memorandum, ILM 201922026, regarding the information return obligations of a common law employer when it appoints a pay agent in the middle of a calendar year.  In general, an employer may appoint a pay agent under section 3504 by using IRS Form 2678 (Employer/Payer Appointment of Agent) … Continue Reading

Proposed 3405 Withholding Regulations Three Decades in the Making

In 1987, the IRS released Notice 87-7 providing guidance on whether certain recipients of payments from employer deferred compensation plans, individual retirement plans, and commercial annuities are subject to federal income tax withholding under section 3405.  The notice provided that: payors must withhold on periodic and nonperiodic payments under section 3405(a) or 3405(b), respectively, to payees … Continue Reading

Final CPEO Rules Signal Loosened Bond Requirements, Clarify Other Provisions

On May 23, the IRS and Treasury released final regulations governing certified professional employer organizations (“CPEOs”).  CPEOs were created by the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, P.L. 113-295, which added new Code sections 3511 and 7705 that contain certification requirements for, and the federal employment tax consequences of, being a CPEO.  The measure, passed … Continue Reading

Tax Court Reverses Course on TFRP after Remand from Eleventh Circuit

On remand from the Eleventh Circuit, the Tax Court, in Romano-Murphy v. Comm’r, determined that the failure of the IRS to provide a pre-assessment appeals hearing invalidated the IRS’s assessment of trust fund recovery penalty under section 6672 and proposed levy to collect the same.  In July 2006, the IRS sent a letter to the … Continue Reading

Justice Department Announces Employment Tax Enforcement Actions

Consistent with its ongoing employment tax enforcement efforts, the Justice Department recently announced developments in two cases involving the failure to properly withhold and remit federal employment taxes from employee wages. On April 25, the Justice Department announced that Kae Wook Lee, the sole owner and CEO of Mona Lisa 7 Corporation, was sentenced to … Continue Reading

IRS Announces Results of Employment Tax Campaign

On April 11, 2019, the IRS announced the results of a national two-week education and enforcement campaign to combat employment tax crimes.  Payroll taxes account for approximately 70% of all revenue collected by the U.S. Treasury.  Given the significance of payroll tax collections to the federal government, IRS revenue officers across the country visited   nearly … Continue Reading

Federal Court Allows Claim to Proceed Against Employer for Fraudulent W-2s

On March 5, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland determined that an employee was potentially entitled to relief under section 7434(a) of the Internal Revenue Code when an employer purposefully reports a portion of their wages on Form 1099-MISC as income from self-employment rather than on the Form W-2.  In Greenwald … Continue Reading

IRS Releases Withholding Guidance

Earlier today, the IRS released new percentage method withholding tables for 2018 implementing the changes to major withholding provisions following the enactment of tax reform legislation.  In the revised Notice 1036, the IRS provided new withholding tables utilizing the value of personal exemptions that would have existed in the absence of tax reform and the existing … Continue Reading
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