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.
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 declare an emergency is addressed in a letter from the President to Administration officials in which he explained that his decision to issue an emergency declaration was “based on the fact that our entire country is now facing a significant public health emergency.”…
Continue Reading COVID-19 Emergency Declaration: Code Section 139 Uncertain; Leave-Sharing Policies Permitted