ERTC Spells Opportunity But Also Filing Delays For Practice Owners

Just checked the IRS website to read about the updated Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) rules at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/faqs-employee-retention-credit-under-the-cares-act, and was greeted by this message:

Alert:

Note that the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted December 27, 2020, amended and extended the employee retention credit (and the availability of certain advance payments of the tax credits) under section 2301 of the CARES Act. These FAQs do not currently reflect the changes made by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020; however, please continue to check back on this page for any updates related to the change in law.

That’s a problem. The IRS has had more than two full months since the rules were revised back in December to provide guidance on how to coordinate the PPP loan forgiveness with the calculation of the ERTC. To further complicate matters, the instructions for the 1120S clearly states:

[The ERTC] reduces the amounts reported [for officer and staff wages] on lines 7 and 8 by the nonrefundable and refundable portions of the new CARES Act employee retention credit claimed on the corporation’s employment tax return(s).

This implies that practice owners planning to file for the ERTC need to:

  1. File for PPP Loan forgiveness to figure out the wages for Q2 and Q3 2020 available for the ERTC
  2. Figure out the ERTC Credit, and submit the amended 2020 payroll tax forms to claim the credit
  3. Adjust the deduction for salaries and wages by the amount of the credit claimed
  4. File the practice’s 2020 tax return with the correct deduction for salaries and wages
  5. File the owner’s 2020 personal tax returns showing higher practice income for reduced wages

Yes, it’s a mess.  We were hoping that the IRS would provide guidance allowing the credit to be claimed in 2021 even though the credit will be for wages paid in 2020. We were also hoping that that amount of the ERTC could reduce the deduction for 2021 salaries and wages instead of 2020 wages.

Until more guidance is issued, we’ll continue to finish up the business tax returns for our clients, and then at some point, finalize their personal tax returns too.  If we file tax returns that later need to be revised, that’s fine.  Remember, you always have three years from the return’s due date (or filing date for returns on extension) to submit amended tax returns.

One more wrinkle. There is a chance the government will announce this week that the filing deadline will be extended to 6/15/21.  Stay tuned.

PPP For Small Business and Sole Proprietors

SBA offers several different relief options to help businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

In order to reach the smallest businesses, SBA will offer Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses with fewer than 20 employees and sole proprietors only from Wednesday, February 24 through Wednesday, March 10, 2021. President Biden has also announced additional program changes to make access to PPP loans more equitable.

Please visit their website for more details at: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

 

Quick 2021 Tax Filing Season Facts

  • Tax filing season opens in a little less than two weeks. Friday February 12, 2021 is the first day that the IRS will begin to accept tax returns filed by taxpayers for the 2020 tax year.  If you have all your tax documents early and are due a refund, get your tax return submitted to the IRS soon and beat the filing season rush.
  • Do you need to file a tax return for your children or your parents this year? Save money by filing their taxes yourself using the IRS on-line service.  The IRS offers free e-filing for taxpayers on their website.  To qualify for this service, your income needs to be $72,000 or less.  You can even prepare your state income tax return through this site as well.  The link to the IRS Free E-file is:

Free File: Do your Federal Taxes for Free | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

  • Another taxpayer convenience offered by the IRS on their website is the option to pay federal estimated tax payments directly online. Taxpayers can set up a direct debit payment to be paid straight from their bank account via EFT.  Go green and avoid the trip to the post office.  The link to pay your federal estimated tax payment online electronically is:

Direct Pay | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

  • If a taxpayer finds themself owing more in federal taxes than expected when their tax return is completed, or as a result of a tax notice or audit, the IRS allows taxpayers to set up a monthly payment plan to pay off their remaining tax balance due over time. Taxpayers can quickly set up an IRS Installment Agreement to make monthly payments until their tax balance owed is paid off.  The IRS accepts the monthly payments either by check ($149 IRS set up fee) or via direct debit ($31 IRS set up fee) from the taxpayer’s bank account.   A federal tax payment plan can easily be applied for and set up if needed on the IRS website at the following link:

Online Payment Agreement Application | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

 

Keys to Minimizing IRS Audit “Red Flags” and IRS Tax Notices

The audit rate of personal income taxes continues to be low, hovering at around 0.5% of all personal tax returns filed each year based upon the past few tax filing seasons.  However, the chance of being audited is real and the chance of receiving an IRS notice is more common than you may think.  Keeping good records and not forgetting to report taxable items on your tax return will help to minimize the risk of being the subject of an IRS audit or receiving a tax discrepancy notice.  With tax filing season just around the corner, we have compiled a list of “helpful hints” for taxpayers to follow when organizing their tax documents this winter to assist in reducing the risk of receiving one of those unwanted IRS letters.

Keys to minimize IRS Audit Red Flags

  1. Don’t report Schedule C collections that total less than the sum of all your 1099-NEC’s reported to you.
  2. Avoid reporting 3 consecutive years of losses on a Schedule C.
  3. Don’t be over aggressive reporting auto (100% business use), travel and meal expenses on your Schedule C.
  4. Avoid showing all tax-deductible expenses in round numbers ($X,000).
  5. Report all your cryptocurrency transactions (new on the IRS’s radar for 2020 tax returns).
  6. Report foreign investments owned as well as gifts and bequests received from foreign sources.

Keys to minimize IRS Tax Notices

  1. Be sure to report all W-2’s received.
  2. Don’t miss reporting stock sales reported on your year-end 1099-B.
  3. Keep accurate records of all your self-employment (1099-NEC) income – don’t miss reporting one on your tax return and under report total income received.
  4. Report your 1099-Q’s (qualified education distributions).
  5. Report Health Savings Account distributions, even if properly used for qualifying medical expenses (Form 1099-SA).
  6. Report the sale of your residence, even if the sale meets the capital gain exclusion rules (Form 1099-S).
  7. Correctly report your estimated tax payments.