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Welcome to Diana M. Reed & Associates, PC

When you need an accountant, you deserve someone focused and friendly, who is an excellent resource for all financial situations. At Diana M. Reed & Associates, PC, we provide a welcoming environment for all who seek financial guidance. 

If you are in Hershey, PA, or the surrounding areas, visit our office and receive the help you need. Whether you are interested in personal tax preparation assistance or bookkeeping services for your small business, we can guide you through the process.

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At Diana M. Reed & Associates, PC, we pride ourselves on being proactive and responsive for every client. We believe that no situation is the same, which is why we provide personalized and detail-oriented service. 

Whether you have an inquiry about a statement or need financial suggestions, our firm is relationship-committed and results-driven. We are dedicated to finding you exactly what you need when you need it.

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IRS Extends Federal Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines for Certain Taxpayers Affected by COVID-19

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. For individual taxpayers, the notice postpones to May 17, 2021, certain deadlines that would normally fall on April 15, 2021, such as the time for making IRA contributions and for filing federal income tax refund claims. The notice also extends the time for return preparers to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program for the 2021 calendar year.

The IRS has released this notice as a follow-up to a previous announcement on March 17 that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year was extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. This notice provides details on the additional tax deadlines which have been postponed until May 17.

Federal Tax Returns and Tax Payments

For an affected taxpayer, the due date for filing federal income tax returns in the Form 1040 series having an original due date of April 15, 2021, and for making federal income tax payments in connection with one of these forms, is automatically postponed to May 17, 2021. Affected taxpayers do not have to file any form, including Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to obtain this relief.

This relief includes the filing of all schedules, returns, and other forms that are filed as attachments to the Form 1040 series, or are required to be filed by the due date of the Form 1040 series, including, for example, Schedule H, Household Employment Taxes, and Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, as well as:

  • Form 965-A (Individual Report of Net 965 Tax Liability);
  • Form 3520 (Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts);
  • Form 5329 (Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts);
  • Form 5471 (Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations);
  • Form 8621 (Information Return by a Shareholder of a Passive Foreign Investment Company or Qualified Electing Fund);
  • Form 8858 (Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Foreign Disregarded Entities (FDEs) and Foreign Branches (FBs));
  • Form 8865 (Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships);
  • Form 8915-E (Qualified 2020 Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments); and
  • Form 8938 (Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets).

Additionally, elections that are made or required to be made on a timely filed Form 1040 series (or attachment to such form) will be timely made if filed on such form or attachment, as appropriate, on or before May 17, 2021.

Amounts Paid for COVID-19 PPE Are Deductible Medical Expenses

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).

Therefore, amounts paid by an individual taxpayer for COVID-19 PPE for use by the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or the taxpayer’s dependent(s) that are not compensated for, by insurance or otherwise, are deductible under Code Sec. 213(a) if the taxpayer’s total medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

Since amounts paid for COVID-19 PPE are medical care expenses under Code Sec. 213(d), they are also eligible to be paid or reimbursed under:

  • health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs),
  • Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs),
  • health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or
  • health savings accounts (HSAs).

Note, however, that amounts paid or reimbursed under one of these arrangements or accounts are not deductible under Code Sec. 213.

Group Health Plans

If COVID-19 PPE expenses may not be reimbursed under the terms of a group health plan (including a health FSA and an HRA), the plan can be amended under this IRS guidance to provide for reimbursements of expenses for COVID-19 PPE incurred for any period beginning on or after January 1, 2020. Such an amendment will not be treated as causing a failure of any reimbursement to be excludable from income under Code Sec. 105(b), or as causing a cafeteria plan to fail to meet the requirements of Code Sec. 125.

Group health plans can be amended under this IRS guidance if:

  • the amendment is adopted no later than the last day of the first calendar year beginning after the end of the plan year in which the amendment is effective,
  • no amendment with retroactive effect is adopted after December 31, 2022, and
  • The plan is operated consistent with the terms of the amendment, including during the period beginning on the effective date of the amendment through the date the amendment is adopted.
Deposit Penalty Relief Extended for COVID-19 Employer Credits

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:

  • the paid sick and family leave credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127), as amended by the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Tax Relief Act) (Division N of P.L. 116-260), for qualified leave wages paid with respect to the period beginning January 1, 2021, and ending March 31, 2021;
  • the paid sick and family leave credits under Code Secs. 3131, 3132, and 3133, added by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) ( P.L. 117-2), for qualified leave wages paid with respect to the period beginning April 1, 2021, and ending September 30, 2021;
  • the employee retention credit under section 2301 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) ( P.L. 116-136), as amended by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act) (Division EE of P.L. 116-260), for qualified wages paid with respect to the period beginning January 1, 2021, and ending June 30, 2021;
  • the employee retention credit under Code Sec. 3134, added by ARP, for qualified wages paid with respect to the period beginning July 1, 2021, and ending December 31, 2021; and
  • the COBRA Continuation Coverage Premium Assistance credit under Code Sec. 6432, added by ARP, for continuation coverage premiums not paid by assistance eligible individuals under section 9501(a)(1) of the ARP, during the period beginning April 1, 2021, and ending September 30, 2021.

Background

Eligible employers claim the paid sick and family leave credits under the Families First Act, and the employee retention credit under the CARES Act, against the employer’s share of the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (Social Security) portion of FICA tax under Code Sec. 3111(a). Employers that are eligible for the paid sick and family leave credits under Code Secs. 3131, 3132, and 3133, the employee retention credit under Code Sec. 3134, or the COBRA Continuation Coverage credit under Code Sec. 6432, can claim the credit(s) against the employer’s share of the Hospital Insurance (Medicare) portion of FICA tax under Code Sec. 3111(b). The credits are also available to eligible railroad employers for the attributable Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) taxes under Code Sec. 3221(a).

These refundable tax credits are reported on the employer’s employment tax return for reporting its FICA tax liability, which for most employers is the quarterly Form 941. Certain employers may claim an advance payment of the refundable credits by filing Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19.

Code Sec. 6656 imposes a penalty for failure to timely deposit required tax amounts, unless the failure is due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. Failure to deposit employment taxes required under Code Sec. 6302 generally subjects an employer to the penalty. The various legislative acts and provisions implementing the refundable employment tax credits described above either instruct the IRS to waive the penalty or authorize guidance that provides penalty relief.

Paid Leave Credit Penalty Relief

An employer can reduce an employment tax deposit for a calendar quarter without a penalty, by the amount of the applicable paid sick or family leave credit anticipated for the calendar quarter prior to the required deposit, as long as:

  • the employer paid qualified leave wages, qualified health plan expenses, or qualified collectively bargained contributions, for the period beginning on April 1, 2021, and ending on September 30, 2021, to its employees in the calendar quarter prior to the time of the required deposit,
  • the amount of employment taxes that the employer does not timely deposit is less than or equal to its anticipated applicable paid leave credits claimed for the calendar quarter as of the time of the required deposit, and
  • the employer did not seek payment of an advance credit by filing Form 7200 for the anticipated credits it relied upon to reduce its deposits.

The total amount of the deposit reduction cannot be more than the total amount of the employer’s anticipated paid leave credits as of the time of the required deposit, minus any amount of those anticipated credits that had previously been used (1) to reduce a prior required deposit in the calendar quarter and obtain this relief or (2) to seek payment of an advance credit.

Employee Retention Credit Penalty Relief

After a reduction, if any, of an employment tax deposit by the amount of the anticipated paid sick or family leave credits, an employer may further reduce an employment tax deposit for a calendar quarter without a penalty, by the amount of its applicable employee retention credit anticipated for the calendar quarter prior to the required deposit, as long as:

  • the employer paid qualified retention wages for the period beginning January 1, 2021 and ending December 31, 2021, to its employees in the calendar quarter prior to the time of the required deposit,
  • the amount of employment taxes that the employer does not timely deposit— reduced by the amount of employment taxes not deposited in anticipation of the paid leave credits claimed— is less than or equal to the amount of the employer’s anticipated applicable employee retention credits for the calendar quarter as of the time of the required deposit, and
  • the employer did not seek payment of an advance credit by filing Form 7200 for the anticipated credits it relied upon to reduce its deposits.

The total amount of any deposit reduction cannot be more than the total amount of the employer’s anticipated employee retention credit as of the time of the required deposit, minus any amount of the anticipated credit that had previously been used (1) to reduce a prior required deposit in the calendar quarter and obtain this relief or (2) to seek payment of an advance credit.

COBRA Credit Penalty Relief

After a reduction, if any, of an employment tax deposit by the amount of the anticipated paid sick or family leave credits and the anticipated employee retention credit, an employer may further reduce an employment tax deposit for a calendar quarter without a penalty, by the amount of the employer’s COBRA continuation coverage credit anticipated for the calendar quarter prior to the required deposit, as long as:

  • the employer is a “person to whom premiums are payable,”
  • the amount of employment taxes that the employer does not timely deposit— reduced by the amount of employment taxes not deposited in anticipation of the paid leave credits and the employee retention credits claimed—is less than or equal to the amount of the employer’s anticipated credits under Code Sec. 6432 for the calendar quarter as of the time of the required deposit, and
  • the employer did not seek payment of an advance credit by filing Form 7200 for the anticipated credits it relied upon to reduce its deposits.

The total amount of any deposit reduction cannot be more than the total amount of the employer’s anticipated COBRA continuation coverage credit as of the time of the required deposit, minus any amount of the anticipated credit that had previously been used (1) to reduce a prior required deposit in the calendar quarter and obtain this relief or (2) to seek payment of an advance credit.

Effect on Other Documents

Notice 2020-22, I.R.B. 2020-17, 664, is amplified.

Empowerment Zone Designations Automatically Extended Through 2025

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.

Empowerment Zone Designation Termination Dates

Empowerment zone designations generally continue until the termination date selected by the government that nominated the zone (the designated termination date), or the termination date established by legislation (the statutory termination date).

The statutory termination date has been extended multiple times, with each extension deemed to extend the designated termination date as well. Most recently, the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 ( P.L. 116-260) extended the statutory termination date to December 31, 2025. Thus, the designated termination dates for all empowerment zones are also deemed to be extended to December 31 2025.

A state or local government may decline the extension via a written notification to the IRS by May 25, 2021. The notification must be faxed to Bruce Chang, CC:ITA:B07, at (855) 576-2341.

Rev. Proc. 2020-16, I.R.B. 2020-27, 10, is obsolete for tax years beginning after 2020.

Guidance on Temporary Full Deduction for Business Meals

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.

Restaurants Defined

According to the IRS’s guidance, a restaurant is a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption. Note that the food and beverages do not need to be consumed on the premises for the 100-percent deduction to apply.

Restaurants are not businesses that predominantly sell pre-packaged food or beverages that are intended for later consumption. Food or beverages purchased from such businesses are still subject to the 50-percent deduction limitation. Examples of businesses that are not restaurants include grocery stores, specialty food stores, liquor stores, drug stores, convenience stores, newsstands, vending machines, or kiosks.

Restaurants are also not eating facilities located at an employer’s business that provide meals that are excluded from the employees’ gross income under Code Sec. 119, or that are considered a de minimis fringe under Code Sec. 132(e)(2). This also applies to eating facilities on the employer’s premises that are operated by a third party with regards to Reg. §1.132-7(a)(3).

Effective Date

This IRS guidance is effective for food and beverages purchases made after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023

COBRA Premium Assistance Guidance

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. This guidance, from the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, includes documents to implement these provisions, such as FAQs about COBRA premium assistance, FAQs on COBRA continuation health coverage for workers, and model notices.

COBRA Premium Subsidy

COBRA allows employees and their families who would otherwise lose their group health coverage due to certain life events to continue their group health coverage, known as COBRA continuation coverage. The ARP provides a 100 percent premium subsidy between April 1, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2021, for individuals whose reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment makes them eligible for COBRA continuation coverage during this period. The ARP also requires group health plans to provide notices to individuals losing health coverage to inform them about premium assistance that may be available to them.

Individuals Experiencing Homelessness Can Receive EIPs

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.

While EIPs are made automatically to most people, payments cannot be issued to eligible Americans when there is no information available in the tax agency’s systems. For this reason, the IRS urges employers and others to share information about EIPs and encourage the rural poor and other historically under-served groups to file returns so they can receive the benefits they are entitled to.

Individuals who do not normally file tax returns should nevertheless file a basic 2020 tax return with the IRS. Returns can be filed for free using the Free File tool available on IRS.gov. Once the return is processed, the IRS can send stimulus payments to an address that is selected by the eligible individual. Importantly, people do not need a permanent address, bank account, or a job. Payments are issued to eligible individuals even if the person has not filed returns in years.

Individuals in this category can still qualify for the first two EIPs when they file their 2020 return by claiming recovery rebate credit. For the current round of payments, individuals who are experiencing homelessness may qualify to receive $1,400 for themselves. If they are married or have dependents, they can get an additional $1,400 for each of their family members.

In addition, some eligible workers experiencing homelessness may qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). To be eligible, the worker must have lived in the U.S. for more than half of the year and meet other requirements. For 2020, the income limit is $15,820 for individuals with no children, and $21,710 for couples with no children.

If individuals want to receive their payments through direct deposit, many financial institutions are helping them open a low-cost or no-cost bank account. Those that open accounts will then have an account and routing number available when they claim a direct deposit of their EIP. Those with a prepaid debit card may be able to have their refund applied to the card.

Guidance for Claiming Employee Retention Credit for First and Second Quarters in 2021

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.

In general, eligible employers can claim a refundable employee retention credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70 percent of the qualified wages they pay to employees after December 31, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Qualified wages are limited to $10,000 per employee per calendar quarter in 2021. Thus, the maximum employee retention credit available is $7,000 per employee per calendar quarter, for a total of $14,000 for the first two calendar quarters of 2021.

For calendar quarters beginning after 2020, an employer is generally eligible for the credit if it was carrying on a trade or business during the calendar quarter for which the credit is determined, and either (1) had operations that were fully or partially suspended during the calendar quarter due to governmental orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19, or (2) experienced a decline in gross receipts for the calendar quarter when compared to the same quarter in 2019.

The guidance explains changes made to the employee retention credit for the first two calendar quarters of 2021, including:

  • the increase in the maximum credit amount,
  • the expansion of the types of employers that may be eligible to claim the credit,
  • modifications to the gross receipts test,
  • revisions to the definition of qualified wages, and
  • new restrictions on the ability of eligible employers to request an advance payment of the credit.

The guidance does not address the employee retention credit provided by Code Sec. 3134, enacted by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 ( P.L. 117-2), for wages paid after June 30, 2021, and before January 1, 2022. The IRS will address Code Sec. 3134 in future guidance.

Highlights of some of the items addressed in the guidance are summarized below.

Suspension of Excess Advance Premium Tax Credit Repayment

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. A taxpayer’s excess APTC is the amount by which the taxpayer’s advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit (APTC) exceed his or her Premium Tax Credit (PTC). Eligible taxpayers with excess APTC for 2020 are not required to file Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, or report an excess advance Premium Tax Credit repayment on their 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR when they file. Taxpayers claiming a net PTC must file Form 8962 when they file their TY 2020 return.

Taxpayers who have already filed their TY 2020 return and who have excess APTC do not need to file an amended tax return or contact the IRS. Taxpayers who enrolled, or enrolled a family member, in health insurance coverage for TY 2020 through the marketplace should have received Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, from the marketplace. Taxpayers can check with their tax professional or use tax software to figure the amount of allowable PTC and reconcile it with their APTC received using the information from Form 1095-A.

The Premium Tax Credit helps pay for health insurance coverage bought from the health insurance marketplace. If the taxpayer’s PTC computed on the return is more than the APTC paid on the taxpayer’s behalf during the year, the difference is a net PTC.

Split-Dollar Insurance Benefits Were Compensation, Not Distribution

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.

Background

The taxpayers were a medical doctor and his wife. The doctor was the sole owner of his practice, which was organized as an S corporation that employed him and his wife. The taxpayers received wages from the S corporation, as well as fringe benefits from an employee welfare benefit plan.

The fringe benefits included death benefits that the Tax Court had previously concluded were provided under a compensatory split-dollar life insurance program ( R. De Los Santos, Dec. 61.270). However. the taxpayers responded by seeking summary judgment that the economic benefits provided by the program actually constituted a corporate distribution.

Tax Court Rejects Machacek

In Machacek, the Sixth Circuit had relied on Reg. §1.301-1(q), which states that economic benefits that a corporation provides to a shareholder under a split-dollar life insurance policy are treated as distributions of property. The Sixth Circuit emphasized that the regulation’s cross reference to Reg. §1.61-22(b) meant that it applied to both compensatory and noncompensatory split-dollar arrangements.

The Tax Court rejected this analysis. Instead, it determined that Code Sec. 301 clearly requires distributions to be made to a shareholder in the shareholder’s capacity as a shareholder. Because the compensatory split-dollar life insurance arrangement afforded benefits to the doctor in his capacity as an employee of the S corporation, the Tax Court concluded that the economic benefits he received under the arrangement could not be characterized as “distributions” under Code Sec. 301.

S Corporation Fringe Benefits

The benefits also were fringe benefits paid by an S corporation under Code Sec. 1372. As such, they were treated as guaranteed partnership payments that were ordinary income, and not a corporate distribution.

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