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IRS Provides Guidance on Leave Donation Programs in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

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 … Continue Reading

IRS Updates FAQs on Employee Retention Credit Enacted as Part of CARES Act

On Friday, June 19, the IRS updated several FAQs on its website related to the Employee Retention Credit adopted as part of the Coronavirus Relief, Aid, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.  The updated FAQs provide additional insight into the IRS’s current thinking regarding employer eligibility for and determination of the credit.  Unfortunately, the updated FAQs … Continue Reading

Some Employers Must Act Immediately to Take Advantage of CARES Act Social Security Tax Deferral for Deposits Made Early in the Second Quarter

The IRS recently released a second set of draft instructions for Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.  The IRS also released the final Form 941, which was revised significantly from the prior form to accommodate the employer social security tax deferral and employer social security tax credits enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, … Continue Reading

IRS Revises Administrative Waiver for Late Deposit Penalties Arising from Employment Taxes on Stock Options, SARs, and RSUs

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 … Continue Reading

Much Ado About Nothing Much New: IRS Releases GLAM Addressing Payroll Taxation of Equity Compensation

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 … Continue Reading

IRS Adds Employment Tax Corrections to Expanding List of Postponed Time-Sensitive Actions Due to COVID-19

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 … Continue Reading

IRS Provides COVID-19 Emergency Relief for Individuals Planning to Claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

Prompted by the COVID-19 global health emergency (the “COVID-19 Emergency”), Treasury and the IRS recently issued Rev. Proc. 2020-27 to provide relief for U.S. citizens and residents planning to take advantage of the foreign earned income exclusion under section 911 of the Internal Revenue Code whose expatriate assignments were interrupted due to the pandemic.  The … Continue Reading

IRS Provides Relief for Nonresidents Unable to Depart U.S. Due to Pandemic

On March 13, 2020, the President issued a proclamation declaring a national emergency regarding the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus (the “COVID-19 Emergency”).  Subsequently, FEMA approved all states and the District of Columbia for major disaster declarations to provide federal emergency assistance.  The Federal Government and state governments have also taken unprecedented preventative and … Continue Reading

IRS Reverses Course on Health Plan Expenses for Furloughed Employees

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 … Continue Reading

State Approaches to Telework and Withholding Taxes Differ During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused turmoil throughout the economy as states have issued stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, and other orders closing offices and forcing employees who traditionally go to work each morning to work from their dining room tables or spare bedrooms of their own homes or from alternative locations such as rentals away from COVID-19 hotspots … Continue Reading

IRS FAQs Provide More Guidance on Employee Retention Credit for Employers Using Third Party Payers

On April 29, 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.  Section 2301(l) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) instructs Treasury to issue regulations concerning the application of the credit to employers that … Continue Reading

IRS FAQs Address Income and Deduction Issues around Employee Retention Credit

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 fourth in a series of articles that will address various aspects of the FAQs.  This article addresses income and deduction issues related to the … Continue Reading

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 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

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
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