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Tax Alerts
June 18, 2021
Tax Briefing(s)

On April 28, 2021, the White House released details on President Biden’s new $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. The proposal follows the already passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and the recently proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure-focused American Jobs Plan. The details were released in advance of President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress.


The IRS announced that it had started issuing refunds to eligible taxpayers who paid taxes on 2020 unemployment compensation that was excluded from taxable income by the recently enacted American Rescue Plan (ARP) (P.L. 117-2).


A safe harbor is available for certain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipients who relied on prior IRS guidance and did not deduct eligible business expenses. These taxpayers may elect to deduct the expenses for their first tax year following their 2020 tax year, rather than filing an amended return or administrative adjustment request for 2020.


Individuals may use two special procedures to file returns for 2020 that allow them to receive advance payments of the 2021 child credit and the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.


The IRS has provided guidance for employers, plan administrators, and health insurers regarding the new credit available to them for providing continuation health coverage to certain individuals under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.


The IRS has reminded employers that under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) ( P.L. 117-2), small and midsize employers and certain government employers are entitled to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19. This includes leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations.


The IRS has reminded taxpayers who owe 2020 taxes that there are different ways to pay their taxes online, including payment options for many people who cannot pay in full.


The IRS reminds taxpayers that May includes National Hurricane Preparedness Week and National Wildfire Awareness Month. It urges taxpayers to create or review emergency preparedness plans for surviving natural disasters.


Dependent care assistance benefits carryovers and extended claims period amounts that would have been excluded from income if used during the preceding tax year will remain excludable in tax years ending in 2021 and 2022. In addition, these benefits will not be taken into account in determining the dependent care benefits exclusion limit for the tax years ending in 2021 and 2022.


The Treasury Department has released a statement discussing investment in the IRS and improving tax compliance. 


Michael Jackson’s image and likeness, as well as his interests in two trusts—one trust (NHT II) that held his interest in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC, and one trust (NHT III) that held Mijac Music—were valued for estate tax purposes.


The IRS has responded to criticism from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the National Taxpayer Advocate, among others, that resolution of identity theft accounts takes too long by increasing its measures to flag suspicious tax returns, prevent issuance of fraudulent tax refunds, and to expedite identity theft case processing. As a result, the IRS's resolution time has experienced a moderate improvement from an average of 312 days, as TIGTA reported in September 2013, to an average of 278 days as reported in March 2015. (The 278-day average was based on a statistically valid sampling of 100 cases resolved between August 1, 2011, and July 31, 2012.) The IRS has recently stated that its resolution time dropped to 120 days for cases received in filing season 2013.


The IRS budget has suffered significant funding cuts to the past few fiscal year (FY) budgets. Most recently, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told reporters that the IRS has been forced to absorb a $346 million cut to its FY 2015 budget. Such drastic reductions directly impact the IRS's ability to enforce the nation's tax laws. This became evident after the IRS issued its annual Data Book for FY 2014. (The Data Book provides statistical information on examinations, collections, taxpayer assistance, and other activities.) This year, the Data Book indicated that IRS audit rates have fallen for individuals and large corporate taxpayers between FY 2013 and FY 2014. On the other hand, the audit rate for partnerships increased slightly, ostensibly as a result of the IRS's recent policy favoring more audits of this long-neglected sector.


It is never too early to begin planning for the 2016 filing season, the IRS has advised in seven new planning tips published on its website. Although the current filing season has just ended, there are steps that taxpayers can take now to avoid a tax bill when April 2016 rolls around. For example, the IRS stated that taxpayers can adjust their withholding, take stock of any changes in income or family circumstances, maintain accurate tax records, and more, in order to reduce the probability of a surprise tax bill when the next filing season arrives.


The Affordable Care Act—enacted nearly five years ago—phased in many new requirements affecting individuals and employers. One of the most far-reaching requirements, the individual mandate, took effect this year and will be reported on 2014 income tax returns filed in 2015. The IRS is bracing for an avalanche of questions about taxpayer reporting on 2014 returns and, if liable, any shared responsibility payment. For many taxpayers, the best approach is to be familiar with the basics before beginning to prepare and file their returns.