On Friday, January 1, 2021, the Senate voted to override President Trump’s veto of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (“2021 NDAA”) by a vote of 81 -13. The Senate’s override follows the House of Representatives’ override on December 28, 2020, and the 2021 NDAA is now law. As we reported on December 23, 2020
New Information Reporting on Beneficial Owners Included in 2021 NDAA
Earlier this month, both houses of Congress passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (“2021 NDAA”). Included in Title LXIV of the 2021 NDAA (Title 64 for those of us rusty on Roman numerals), are new information reporting requirements intended to identify individual beneficial owners of certain business entities. Subject to a number of exceptions, the bill requires certain U.S. and foreign entities to file annual reports with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) that will disclose information regarding the beneficial owners of reporting companies. Overall, the reporting will identify those individuals exercising “control,” as the term is defined, over those entities required to report. According to the legislation, over two million corporations, LLCs, and similar entities are formed under state law in the United States each year, and many “malign actors seek to conceal their ownership” of various entities intended to facilitate illegal activity. Accordingly, the reporting mandated by the legislation is intended to help protect national security interests and interstate and foreign commerce, as well as counter the financing of terrorism.
The legislation passed both chambers by overwhelming majorities − 335-78 in the House and 84-13 in the Senate. Notwithstanding the significant Congressional support, President Trump has not yet signed the bill into law and has suggested that he may veto the bill (H.R. 6395). The legislation will become law tomorrow (December 24, 2020) if the President does not veto the bill. Even if the President vetoes the bill, it appears likely that Congress will override it by reconvening after Christmas and before the new year. H.Res. 1271 (the rule providing for the consideration of the Senate amendment to H.R. 133 (the end-of-year package that includes COVID relief)) provided that if a veto message is laid before the House on the 2021 NDAA, the veto message and the bill shall be postponed until the legislative day of Monday, December 28, 2020. Accordingly, if Trump vetoes the bill, the House will vote on its override on December 28.
UPDATE: President Trump vetoed the bill on December 23, 2020.
UPDATE: The House of Representatives voted to override President Trump’s veto on December 28, 2020. Additional coverage is available here.
UPDATE: The Senate voted to override President Trump’s veto on January 1, 2021. Additional coverage is available here.…
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Fourth (and Final?) COVID Relief Measure Clears House and Senate
After months of gridlock, the House and Senate, on December 21, both passed another round of COVID relief legislation (H.R. 133). The 5,593-page bill, which gained momentum following the introduction of bipartisan compromise legislation, provides an enhanced employee retention credit (“ERC”), which is easier for employers to qualify during the first six months of 2021, as compared to the ERC enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.
The bill also includes extensions to a number of workforce-related tax credits, including the work opportunity tax credit (“WOTC”), the paid family and medical leave tax credit included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a two-year pilot program, and the paid leave credits enacted as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The bill would also extend the period during which employers may make student loan payments or reimbursements under an Internal Revenue Code Section 127 educational assistance plan, permit employers to provide additional flexibility under flexible spending accounts, and provide employers with a longer period in which to collect employee Social Security tax which was deferred during 2020 under IRS Notice 2020-65.
The bill would also add an employer income tax credit for qualified wages paid to employees in qualified disaster areas in 2020 for disasters other than COVID-19. Finally, the bill addresses the deductibility of expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans.
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Bad News for New York Nonresident Telecommuters: New York Issues COVID-19 Telecommuting Guidance
Without notice or fanfare, the New York Department of Taxation updated guidance on its website to address the application of its “convenience of the employer” rule to COVID-19 telecommuters. The question of whether New York would consider employees who are working remotely due to the pandemic as doing so for “convenience” or “necessity,” has been vexing employers and employees since April. New York’s latest update, which is disappointing but not surprising, has come down on the side of convenience. As a result, an employee whose principal office is in New York State but who is working outside of the state during the pandemic will generally remain subject to New York State income tax, and the employer should generally continue to withhold New York State tax from the employee’s compensation.
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IRS Warns Employers Claiming New Tax Credits of Erroneous Penalty Notices
The IRS recently announced that it erroneously sent failure-to-deposit (“FTD”) penalty notices to certain employers that reduced their employment tax deposits on Form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return) in anticipation of claiming sick and family leave credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) or the employee retention credit (“ERC”) under the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Securities (“CARES”) Act.
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Senate Bill Would Ignore COVID-19 Assistance in Determining Worker Classification; Treat Certain Benefits as Qualified Disaster Relief Payments
Is an individual service provider an employee or an independent contractor? As our employee benefits colleagues have noted previously in Covington’s Inside Compensation blog, the IRS test is complicated and just one of many for determining worker status under federal and state laws. The American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act (the “Bill”), one of a series of COVID-19 relief bills released by Senate Republicans, would address one aspect of worker classification during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Section 214 of the Bill would provide that certain COVID-19 related benefits provided to an individual would not be taken into account in determining worker classification under the Code. Section 214 further provides that such benefits (other than cash payments) would generally be considered qualified disaster relief payments under Code Section 139.
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Senate Republican Proposal Includes Payroll Tax Credit to Defray Employer Expenses for COVID-19 Prevention
On July 27, Senate Republicans released a series of COVID-19 relief bills, including the “American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act” (the “Bill”). The Bill is a successor to several provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, passed in March of this year, which attempted to blunt the early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Section 213 of the Bill would create a new “safe and healthy workplace tax credit,” which would provide a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50% of an employer’s “qualified employee protection expenses,” such as COVID-19 tests, protective personal equipment, and cleaning supplies. The new tax credit would also cover “qualified workplace reconfiguration expenses,” including workspace modifications to protect employees and customers from the spread of COVID-19, and “qualified workplace technology expenses,” including technologies designed to reduce contact between employees and customers that were acquired by the employer on or after March 13, 2020, and were not acquired pursuant to a plan in existence before that date.…
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Senate Republican Proposal Would Enhance Employee Retention Credit
As we noted in an earlier post, on July 27, Senate Republicans introduced new legislation in response to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. One of the introduced bills, titled the American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act (the “Bill”), would enhance the existing employee retention credit.
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Recapture of Excess COVID-19 Payroll Tax Credits Addressed in New Regs
On July 27, 2020, the IRS published Information Release 2020-169 announcing the issuance of new temporary and proposed regulations to implement procedures to assess, reconcile, and recapture any portion of the credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) erroneously credited, paid, or refunded in excess of the actual amount allowed.
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Senate Republican Proposal Would Expand WOTC to Spur Hiring
On July 27, Senate Republicans introduced a series of bills intended as their opening salvo in what appears likely to be contentious negotiations among Senate Republicans, the White House, and House and Senate Democrats over the next legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with another round of direct stimulus payments to individual taxpayers, extended…