Newsletters

Tax Alerts
May 04, 2021
Tax Briefing(s)

The IRS has postponed the federal tax filing and payment deadlines, and associated interest, penalties, and additions to tax, for certain taxpayers who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 


The IRS has provided guidance related to the temporary 100-percent deduction for business meals provided by a restaurant. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 ( P.L. 116-260) temporarily increased the deduction from 50 percent to 100 percent for a business’s restaurant food and beverage expenses for 2021 and 2022. All other food and beverage expenses are still subject to the 50 percent deduction limitation unless some other exception applies.


The IRS has issued guidance for employers claiming the employee retention credit under Act Sec. 2301 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) ( P.L. 116-136), as modified by Act Secs. 206 and 207 of the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act) (Division EE of P.L. 116-260), for the first and second calendar quarters in 2021. The guidance amplifies previous guidance which addressed amendments made by section 206 of the Relief Act for calendar quarters in 2020.


The IRS has issued guidance clarifying that amounts paid for personal protective equipment—such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes—for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19 PPE) are treated as amounts paid for medical care under Code Sec. 213(d).


The U.S. Department of Labor has published a new webpage with guidance implementing the Continuation of Health Coverage premium assistance provisions of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to provide full COBRA premium assistance to certain individuals who experienced a reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment.


The IRS has announced that, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) ( P.L. 117-2), the requirement that taxpayers increase their tax liability by all or a portion of their excess advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit (excess APTC) is suspended for tax year (TY) 2020.


The IRS has extended the penalty relief provided in Notice 2020-22, I.R.B. 2020-17, 664, for failure to deposit employment taxes, to eligible employers that reduce their required deposits in anticipation of the following credits.


Continuing an ongoing effort to help those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, the IRS has reminded people who do not have a permanent address or a bank account that may still qualify for Economic Impact Payments (EIP) and other tax benefits.


Death benefits that an S corporation provided to its sole shareholder under a split-dollar life insurance arrangement were employee compensation rather than a corporate distribution. In reaching this decision, the Tax Court firmly rejected the contrary conclusion reached by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in J.J. Machacek, CA-6, 2018-2 U.S.T.C. 50,447.


The termination date for an empowerment zone designation under Code Sec. 1391 is generally deemed to extend until December 31, 2025. However, the state or local government that nominated the zone may decline the deemed extension.


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.