Security Awareness Week Wraps Up
The National Tax Security Awareness Week has finished its focused campaign to help tax professionals and taxpayers protect themselves from security risks. Issues for the week included basic steps that should be taken to avoid scams and identity theft schemes taking advantage of holiday shopping, the approaching tax season and coronavirus concerns; the multi-factor authentication that will be available on all 2021 online tax preparation products; the expanded Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program for all taxpayers who can properly verify their identities; security advice for businesses; and more security advice for tax professionals.
Interest Rates To Remain The Same
The IRS has announced that interest rates for under- and overpayments will remain the
same for the calendar quarter beginning January 1, 2021. The rates will continue at three (3) percent for overpayments (two (2) percent in the case of a corporation); one-half (0.5) percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000; three (3) percent for underpayments; and
five (5) percent for large corporate underpayments.
Wage Statements Due February 1, 2021
The IRS reminds employers that Forms W-2 and other wage statements must be filed with the Social Security Administration no later than February 1, 2021, to avoid penalties and reduce fraud. Normally, such statements are due January 31, but since that date falls on a Sunday, the deadline has been pushed to the next business day. Copies to employees are also due by then, as well as Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC.
Final QTF Regulations Issued
The IRS and Treasury have issued final regulations on the deduction for qualified transportation fringe (QTF) and commuting expenses following changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). These final regulations address expenses related to QTFs, including providing guidance on determining the amount of QTF parking expenses that is nondeductible, and the disallowance of the deduction for expenses of transportation between an employee’s home and workplace.
Beware of Text Scam
The IRS and Security Summit partners have alerted taxpayers that neither the IRS nor local agencies will ever text taxpayers asking for bank account information so that an economic impact payment may be made to them. Scam texts may read, “you have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment…” A link to a fake phishing web address is included, and can result in identity theft. If you’ve received such a text, the IRS asks that you contact them and share the details. As a reminder the IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails, nor do they call people with threats of jail or lawsuits.
Some College Students May Still Qualify For EIP
The IRS is reminding non-filers to register for an economic impact payment (EIP) if they haven’t received one yet. This includes self-supporting college students who have little to no income – but are not listed as dependents on anyone else’s return. Those who do not file a tax return will only receive an EIP if they use the Non-Filers Tool to register. The tool is designed for married couples making less than $24,400 or individuals making less than $12,200. The deadline for such registrations is November 21, 2020.
Terminating 403(b) Guidance Issued
The IRS and Treasury have issued guidance for employers and employees with terminating 403(b) plans that fund benefits through 403(b)(7) custodial accounts. Changes in the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act) are reflected in the guidance. Revenue Ruling 2020-23 provides the details and Notice 2020-80 requests comments regarding the application of annuity and spousal rights provisions included in the guidance.
Taxpayer Relief For IRS Debtors
The IRS has announced changes aimed at helping taxpayers who owe the IRS and are affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The relief includes payment plans and installment agreements, as well as temporary collections delay, offers in compromise, and penalties relief.
In the craziness that is 2020, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has helped many people survive when their places of employment had to shut down. Employees often do not think about the fact that unemployment payments are taxable income.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue recently wrote a reminder to help tax payers plan ahead for taxes. You may request that taxes are withheld from your unemployment payments, you may pay on a quarterly cycle, or pay the entire bill due at tax time next year.
Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages. Withholding taxes from your unemployment can cause a reduction in weekly cash flow that you cannot afford while looking for new work. Quarterly taxes will give you regular cash flow and avoid a large lump sum at the end of the year. But, they can result in different payments if you are tracking expenses and tax deductions on the year or if you plan to offset your tax bill with tax credits at the end of the year. Finally, you can pay your entire tax bill during next year’s tax season. With good tax help, this will result in the most accurate tax cost but will also mean that you can be liable for a large lump sum payment when you file your taxes.
No matter your chosen method of managing your taxes, you need to talk to a professional about your tax bill from this year. It is going to be different than any year previously. We are available Mon-Wed, call ahead to arrange a covid-safe appointment with our staff during office hours.
North Carolina parents who want to receive the $335 covid relief check for families need to file their taxes by October 15.
If you have not done your taxes, lived in North Carolina for all of 2019, and have at least one dependent under the age of 17, then contact us on the form below to see if we can help you get your taxes in before the deadline.
Tax Relief For Disaster Victims
The IRS has provided tax relief to victims of the Oregon wildfires that began on September 7, as well as those affected by Hurricane Sally on September 14. Taxpayers in these FEMA-designated areas now have until January 15, 2021 to file returns and make any payments that were due after the September 7 or 14 date. This means those who filed extensions to file their 2019 taxes by October 15 now have until the January deadline to file. Updated relief information can always be found at the IRS’ disaster relief page.
100% Depreciation Rules Finalized
The IRS has issued final guidelines regarding the implementation of the 100% additional first year depreciation deduction that allows businesses to write off the cost of most depreciable business assets in the year they are placed in service. This deduction was created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017 and applies to depreciable business assets with an expected recovery of 20 years or less, such as computers, machinery, furniture, and appliances. Rules for used equipment and self-constructed components were also included.
Non-Filers: Do You Qualify For Economic Impact Payments?
The IRS has released a state-by-state breakdown of the number of people they’re attempting to contact this month, to encourage them to see if they’re eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) , including more than 350,000 in the Carolinas. Those who do not usually have to file a tax return and haven’t received an EIP can check their eligibility and register to receive the payment. The due date for registration is October 15, 2020. The IRS is attempting to send letters to over 8 million potentially eligible individuals.
IRS Reminds Extension Filers: Due Date Approaches
Taxpayers who were granted an extension on filing their 2019 taxes have until October 15, 2020, to file their tax return. There are convenient electronic filing options available, as well as direct deposit for refunds and multiple options for scheduling and making electronic tax payments.
Interest Rates Remain The Same
The IRS has made the decision to keep the same interest rate for the fourth quarter of 2020. Each quarter, the IRS sets the interest rates charged or paid on over- and underpayment. For taxpayers (other than corporations), the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. Other rates are as follows:
- 3% for overpayments (2% in the case of a corporation)
- 5% for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000
- 3% percent for underpayments
- 5% percent for large corporate underpayments
Final BEAT Regulations Issued
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) added a new tax on large U.S. corporations that make deductible payments to related foreign parties, called the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT). The IRS has issued final regulations providing detailed guidance regarding how to compute certain BEAT calculations. They also contain rules permitting taxpayers to waive deductions for purposes of the BEAT, and additional guidance regarding partnerships and anti-abuse rules.
Temporary Digital Signatures Allowed
The IRS has released a list of tax forms on which they are allowing digital signatures. This is a temporary measure, in place until December 31, 2020, intended to help protect the health of taxpayers and tax professionals. These forms have to be printed and mailed, but the digital signatures will enable the forms to be filled and filed without contact between taxpayer and tax preparer, and in a timely manner. The IRS will continue to monitor this temporary option and determine if further measures are necessary.
Third Quarter Tax Payments Due September 15
The IRS reminds taxpayers that third quarter tax payments are due September 15. This applies to anyone not subject to payroll tax withholding like self-employed or gig workers, investors, recipients of alimony, retirees, and others. Taxes are “pay as you go,” and there are penalties for late payment or underpayment of taxes. Due dates for disaster victims have been delayed.
Natural Disaster Relief
Victims of recent disasters have had many deadlines extended to December 15, 2020. This includes many individual and business tax returns and tax payments normally due in September, October, and November. The extensions have been granted to those living in FEMA-designated disaster zones, including parts of Iowa affected by the August 10 derecho storm, and those affected by wildfires in California. Hurricane affected areas are being added; the IRS’ disaster relief page provides a current list of designated areas. No action is needed for qualified taxpayers to take advantage of this relief.
Economic Impact Payment Catchup
Some 50,000 spouses will receive their economic impact payment in the form of a check. In some cases, an individual’s payment was redirected to pay their husband’s or wife’s child support debt. Those who filed Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation with a recent tax return will receive their check in early- to mid-September. Those who have not filed Form 8379 will still receive their EIP check, but it is not yet known when to expect it. No action is required in either case.
Interest To Be Paid To Millions of Taxpayers
Individual taxpayers who filed their return by July 15 and were due a refund will receive an interest payment along with it. This applies to those who have received refunds in the past three months, or who are still waiting on their refunds. The interest is calculated from the original filing due date of April 15, and will be direct-deposited with the refund for those who use direct-deposit. Paper checks will be issued to others. Additionally, the interest is considered taxable income and recipients will receive a Form 1099-INT early next year.
Guidance For Presidential Payroll Tax Memorandum
The IRS and Treasury Department have issued guidance implementing the August 8 Presidential Memorandum allowing employers to defer withholding and payment of an employee’s share of Social Security tax. The deferral generally applies to wages paid from September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and only if the wages total less than $4,000 during a bi-weekly pay period.
Simplified Small Business Accounting Regulations Proposed
The IRS has released proposed regulations to adopt the simplified tax accounting rules for small businesses under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). For tax years beginning in 2019 and 2020, these simplified tax accounting rules apply to taxpayers having average annual gross receipts of $26 million or less (known as the gross receipts test), and exempted these taxpayers from the uniform capitalization rules. Accounting and inventory methods are addressed, as well as long-term construction contracts. Taxpayers classified as tax shelters may not use the simplified rules.
Rehabilitation Credit Deadlines Extended
Additional pandemic relief has been provided by the IRS for rehabilitation credits. These are projects that satisfy the “substantial rehabilitation test” within a 24- or 60-month period. Any qualified project whose deadline was on or after April 1, 2020 but before March 31, 2021, now has until March 31, 2021 to satisfy the test. Projects usually have to claim the credit over five years, but under a transition rule, some projects may be able to claim the credit in a single year.
Guidance For Business Interest Expense Deduction Limitation
The IRS has issued final regulations regarding TCJA provisions that limit the deduction for business interest expense, including the changes made by basic statutory amendments to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). In addition to these final regulations, proposed regulations have been issued for other situations not addressed, including more complex issues related to CARES Act amendments. Written and electronic comments in response to the proposed regulations are encouraged.
Retirement Account Rules Loosened
The IRS reminds taxpayers that CARES Act provisions allow for easier access to retirement funds, for those who qualify. Early distribution of some retirement funds may be made without the usual penalties. Those eligible for coronavirus-related relief may be able to withdraw up to $100,000 before December 31, 2020, from IRAs, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans and others. Relief includes delayed loan repayments, an increase in loan limits, a waiver of the 10% tax on early distributions, and more.
Refund Myths Addressed
The IRS is debunking some common refund myths circulating among taxpayers.
- The IRS wants taxpayers to know that calling them or a tax professional cannot expedite your refund, nor do they have access to any special information regarding your refund date.
- Ordering a tax transcript doesn’t provide that either.
- A smaller refund doesn’t mean the IRS has a problem: outstanding child support, federal or state taxes, student loans or other debts can cause your refund to be less than expected.
Retirement Distributions Waived For 2020
Seniors and retirees do not have to take their usual required minimum distribution (RMD) from their IRA or workplace retirement accounts in 2020, thanks to coronavirus relief measures passed this year. The waiver includes RMDs for individuals who turned 70 ½ in 2019 and took their first RMD in 2020. Those who have already taken their RMD have the option of returning it to their qualified plan. These provisions apply to most retirement plans, including traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and others.
Annual “Dirty Dozen” Unveiled
The IRS has published its list of the 12 most common tax scams perpetrated by criminals this year. Taxpayers should be aware and vigilant in regards to spotting and avoiding these scams, especially the ones on the rise in the wake of the pandemic and economic impact payments (EIPs). Scams on the list include phishing emails, fake charities, threatening phone calls, EIP or refund theft, organizations “overselling” Offer In Compromise assistance, payroll scams, ransomware, and more.
Foreign-Taxed Income Guidelines
The IRS has published final regulations on how income from foreign corporations subject to a high rate of foreign tax shall be treated. The final regulations allow taxpayers to exclude certain high-taxed income of a controlled foreign corporation from their Global Intangible Low Taxed Income (GILTI) computation on an elective basis. The IRS also released proposed regulations regarding that high-tax exception with the GILTI exclusion, and welcomes public comments on the subject.