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President Trump on March 27 signed the $2 trillion bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The House approved the historically large emergency relief measure by voice vote just hours before Trump’s signature. The CARES Act cleared the Senate unanimously on March 25, by a 96-to-0 vote.


Lawmakers are continuing talks on a "phase four" economic relief package in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. To that end, the House’s "CARES 2" package is currently in the works and could see a floor vote as early as this month.


The IRS announced on March 30 that distribution of economic impact payments in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would begin in the next three weeks. On April 1, the Treasury Department clarified that Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefit recipients who are not required to file a federal tax return will not have to file a return in order to receive their economic impact payment.


The Treasury Department and IRS have provided a notice with additional relief for taxpayers, postponing until July 15, 2020, a variety of tax form filings and payment obligations that are due between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020. Associated interest, additions to tax, and penalties for late filing or late payment will be suspended until July 15, 2020. Additional time to perform certain time-sensitive actions during this period is also provided. The notice also postpones due dates with respect to certain government acts and postpones the application date to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. This notice expands upon the relief provided in Notice 2020-18, I.R.B. 2020-15, 590, and Notice 2020-20, I.R.B. 2020-16, 660.


synopsisThe Treasury Department and the IRS have released the "Get My Payment" tool to assist Americans in receiving their “economic impact payments” issued under the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The free tool went live on April 15, and is located at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.


As a result of the retroactive assignment of a 15-year recovery period to qualified improvement property (QIP) placed in service after 2017, QIP generally qualifies for bonus depreciation, and typically at a 100 percent rate. IRS guidance requires taxpayers who previously filed two or more returns using what is now an "incorrect" depreciation period (usually 39 years) to file an accounting method change on Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method, to claim bonus depreciation and/or depreciation based on the 15-year recovery period. The automatic consent procedures apply. If only one return has been filed, a taxpayer may either file Form 3115 or an amended return. No alternatives to filing Form 3115 or an amended return are provided.


The IRS has issued guidance providing administrative relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) for taxpayers with net operating losses (NOLs).


The IRS is allowing taxpayers to file by fax Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund, and Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund, for certain coronavirus relief, a senior IRS official said on April 13. On the same day, the IRS unveiled related procedures for claiming quick refunds of the credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations and net operating loss (NOL) deductions ( https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/temporary-procedures-to-fax-certain-forms-1139-and-1045-due-to-covid-19).


The IRS has released guidance on making the following elections for the business interest deduction limitation:


The IRS has set forth rules for BBA partnerships to file amended returns to immediately get benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). "BBA partnerships" are those subject to the centralized partnership audit regime established by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) ( P.L. 114-74). The procedure allows BBA partnerships the option to file an amended return instead of an Administrative Adjustment Request (AAR) under Code Sec. 6227.


The IRS has announced that the employment tax credits for paid qualified sick leave and family leave wages required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ( P.L. 116-127) will apply to wages and compensation paid for periods beginning on April 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020. Additionally, days beginning on April 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020, will be taken into account for the credits for paid qualified sick leave and family leave equivalents for certain self-employed individuals as provided by the Act.


The IRS has provided penalty relief for failure to deposit employment taxes under Code Sec. 6656 to employers entitled to the new refundable tax credits provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127), and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The relief is provided the extent that the amounts not deposited are equal to or less than the amount of refundable tax credits to which the employer is entitled under the Families First Act and the CARES Act.


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.