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Tax Alerts
March 06, 2021
Tax Briefing(s)

The IRS has released new Form 7202, Credits for Sick Leave and Family Leave for Certain Self-Employed Individuals. The form allows eligible self-employed individuals to calculate the amount to claim for qualified sick and family leave tax credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) ( P.L. 116-127). They can claim the credits on their 2020 Form 1040 for leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, and on their 2021 Form 1040 for leave taken between January 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021.


The IRS is urging employers to take advantage of the newly-extended employee retention credit (ERC), which makes it easier for businesses that have chosen to keep their employees on the payroll despite challenges posed by COVID-19. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Division EE of P.L. 116-260), which was enacted December 27, 2020, made a number of changes to the ERC previously made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) ( P.L. 116-136), including modifying and extending the ERC, for six months through June 30, 2021.


The IRS has announced that lenders who had filed or furnished Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Information, to a borrower, reporting certain payments on loans subsidized by the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (Administrator) as income of the borrower, must file and furnish corrected Forms 1099-MISC that exclude these subsidized loan payments.


The IRS is providing a safe harbor for eligible educators to deduct certain unreimbursed COVID-19-related expenses. The safe harbor applies to expenses for personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom, paid or incurred after March 12, 2020. All amounts remain subject to the $250 educator expense deduction limitation.


With some areas seeing mail delays, the IRS has reminded taxpayers to double-check before filing a tax return to make sure they have all their tax documents, including Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and Forms 1099. Many of these forms may be available online. However, when other options are not available, taxpayers who have not received a W-2 or Form 1099, or who received an incorrect W-2 or 1099, should contact the employer, payer, or issuing agency directly to request the documents before filing their 2020 tax returns.


The IRS has highlighted how corporations may qualify for the new 100-percent limit for disaster relief contributions, and has offered a temporary waiver of the recordkeeping requirement for corporations otherwise qualifying for the increased limit. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 ( P.L. 116-260) temporarily increased the limit, to up to 100 percent of a corporation’s taxable income, for contributions paid in cash for relief efforts in qualified disaster areas.


The IRS has announced that tax professionals can use a new online tool to upload authorization forms with either electronic or handwritten signatures. The new Submit Forms 2848 and 8821 Online tool is now available at the IRS.gov/TaxPros page. The new tool is part of the IRS's efforts to develop remote transaction options that help tax practitioners and their individual and business clients reduce face-to-face contact.


The IRS has urged taxpayers to e-file their returns and use direct deposit to ensure filing accurate tax returns and expedite their tax refunds to avoid a variety of pandemic-related issues. The filing season opened on February 12, 2021, and taxpayers have until April 15 to file their 2020 tax return and pay any tax owed.


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.


Employers generally have to pay employment taxes on the wages they pay to their employees. A fine point under this rule, however, is missed by many who themselves have full time jobs and don’t think of themselves as employers: a nanny who takes care of a child is considered a household employee, and the parent or other responsible person is his or her household employer. Housekeepers, maids, babysitters, and others who work in or around the residence are employees. Repairmen and other business people who provide services as independent contractors are not employees. An individual who is under age 18 or who is a student is not an employee.


The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns this year and issue billions of dollars in refunds. That huge pool of refunds drives scam artists and criminals to steal taxpayer identities and claim fraudulent refunds. The IRS has many protections in place to discover false returns and refund claims, but taxpayers still need to be proactive.


The IRS requires that taxpayers substantiate their donations to charity. Whatever the donation is, whether money or a household item or clothing, the substantiation rules must be followed. The rules are complex and frequently tripped up taxpayers who had good intentions but failed to satisfy the IRS's requirements.