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Paid Sick Leave and Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave Credits

March 6, 2021

Dear Clients and Friends,

We hope that you are doing well during this time. We have enjoyed conversations with all of you as we move along during tax season and look forward to seeing you soon.

Over the course of the pandemic, many employment credits have been passed in various COVID-19 relief acts. We have spent a lot of time attending seminars and becoming educated on how these various credits will affect our clients.

One of these credits is for paid leave provided by small and midsize businesses for COVID-19 related time off. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), later amended by the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, provides small and midsize employers refundable tax credits that reimburse them, dollar for dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19.

These wages cannot have been paid with funds from a PPP loan and cannot also be used for the Employee Retention Credit. The Paid Sick Leave and Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave Credits are available for reimbursement of wages paid from April 30, 2020 through March 31, 2021.

In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons, such as: being subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; being advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; carrying for an individual subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; caring for a child whose school or child care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons; or is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition as specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

If you have paid wages to an employee of which you think may be eligible for the Paid Sick Leave and Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave Credits, please contact our office to discuss the next steps.

As always, we appreciate your continued patronage and we are working diligently throughout the pandemic to assist our clients with their tax and financial needs.

Sincerely,

Starkey & Company, PA

IRS Statements about CP59 Notices

February 18, 2021

Earlier this month, the IRS issued notices to approximately 260,000 taxpayers stating they haven’t filed their 2019 federal tax return. These notices, referred to as CP59 notices, are issued yearly to identified taxpayers who have failed to file a tax return that was due the prior calendar year (2019). Due to pandemic related shutdowns, the IRS has not completed processing all 2019 returns at this time. Therefore, the CP59 notices should not have been sent because some portion of the recipients may actually have filed a return that is still being processed. People who filed their 2019 return but received the CP59 notice, can disregard the letter and do not need to take any action. There is no need to call or respond to the CP59 notice because the IRS continues to process 2019 tax returns as quickly as possible. The IRS regrets any confusion caused by this mailing. 

The IRS encourages those who have yet to file their 2019 return to promptly do so.

DE Taxpayer Portal

In the middle of December, the Department of Finance/Delaware Division of Revenue mailed all business taxpayers a letter regarding the new Delaware Taxpayer Portal. The new Portal will replace the previous Gross Receipts and Withholding tax systems and allow users to file certain tax returns, make payments, renew business licenses, etc. all in one place. 

Go to the DE Taxpayer Portal by following the link below:

DE Taxpayer Portal

Economic Impact Payments

In 2020, most taxpayers received “Stimulus Checks” or “Economic Impact Payments” from the Federal government for the 2020 tax year.

Both the first stimulus, sent in early 2020, and the second stimulus, sent at the end of 2020, are considered advance payments of a special 2020 tax credit known as the recovery rebate credit.

Your stimulus checks were an advance payment of this special 2020 tax credit. When we file your 2020 return, we will have to reconcile the stimulus checks you received with the recovery rebate credit you’re entitled to claim. For most people, the stimulus check payments will equal the tax credit allowed. In that case, your credit will be reduced to zero. If your stimulus check was less than your credit amount, the tax you owe will be reduced by the difference and you could even receive a refund. The stimulus check payments are not taxable. If you received more than you were supposed to receive, you do not have to pay it back. Christmas came early for you.

Please follow the link below to check the status of your Economic Impact Payments.

Economic Impact Payments

Letter to Business Clients

January 13, 2021

Dear Clients and Friends,

As a year end holiday gift, Congress overwhelmingly approved a $900 billion Covid relief package for individuals and businesses. The President signed the bill into law on December 27, 2020.  For businesses, additional time is provided for paying previously deferred payroll taxes, another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans is available, and borrowers with PPP loans may take deductions for expenses paid with PPP loan proceeds. The legislation also extends numerous expiring tax provisions for businesses.

The provisions of greatest interest to individuals and businesses fall in the following categories spanning the three bills that were passed into law; (i) Covid-related tax relief, (ii) Paycheck Protection Program extension and enhancement, (iii) tax extenders, (iv) miscellaneous tax provisions, and (v) disaster tax relief.

There is a lot of information in the new law to digest. We were scrambling to change our tax planning projections the last couple days of the year when the PPP loan expenses became deductible. Give us a call to discuss these provisions if you have any questions at this time. We will be communicating with you as more information becomes available from the IRS and SBA that applies to your situation. We look forward to working with you to maximize the benefits available and minimize the tax that you pay. We have also enclosed our most recent Tax Update newsletter for your review which includes more information regarding tax changes for 2021

You will notice a new voice answering the phone if you call the office. Please take a minute to introduce yourself to our new administrative assistant, Rebecca Watkins. She and her family live here in Milford. If you’re wondering about Mary, don’t worry she hasn’t gone far. She has joined the accounting staff to head up our new book keeping division and moved her desk to the back office. We are excited for both of them and wish them success in their new positions as we move forward into the new year.

If you know of someone who would benefit from this information please let us know and we will send it to them right away. It is also available on our website. We look forward to hearing from you soon and assisting you with your tax and financial needs. As always, contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Starkey & Company, P.A.

$900 BILLION COVID RELIEF PACKAGE – BUSINESS

Executive Summary

Highlights of the year-end Covid-related legislation include:

  • The creation of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Second Draw loan program with a maximum loan amount of $2 million made available for businesses that employ 300 or less employees and have used, or will use, the full amount of their first PPP loan
  • A new rule establishing that business expenses paid with the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan are    deductible  (effectively overriding prior law and IRS guidance issued earlier this year)
  • A three month extension of credits reimbursing employers for paid sick and family leave paid to employees due to Covid-19
  • Additional time for employees and employers to pay back deferred employee payroll tax amounts from the President’s August memorandum
  • An extension and expansion of the employee retention tax credit
  • Permanent and temporary extensions of expiring tax provisions (“tax extenders”)
  • A 100-percent deduction for business meal and beverage expenses, including any carry-out or delivery meals, provided by a restaurant that are paid or incurred in 2021 and 2022.

Tax Treatment of PPP Loans

Section 276 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act provides that gross income does not include any amount that would otherwise arise from the forgiveness of a PPP loan. This provision also (1) overrides current law (and IRS guidance) preventing the deduction of expenses paid with tax-exempt income by allowing businesses to deduct business expenses paid with the proceeds of a PPP loan that is forgiven, and (2) provides that the tax basis and other attributes of the borrower’s assets will not be reduced as a result of the loan forgiveness. The provision is effective as of the date of enactment of the CARES Act (3/27/2020).

Employee Retention Tax Credit Modifications

Sections 206 and 207 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act extend and expand the CARES Act employee retention tax credit (ERTC) and makes technical corrections. Beginning on January 1, 2021 and through June 30, 2021, the provision:

  • Increases the credit rate from 50 percent to 70 percent of qualified wages
  • Expands eligibility for the credit by reducing the required year-over-year gross receipts decline from 50 percent to 20 percent and provides a safe harbor allowing employers to use prior quarter gross receipts to determine eligibility
  • Increases the limit on per-employee creditable wages from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 for each quarter
  • Increases the 100-employee delineation for determining the relevant qualified wage base to employers with 500 or fewer employees
  • Allows certain public instrumentalities to claim the credit
  • Removes the 30-day wage limitation, allowing employers to, for example, claim the credit for bonus pay to essential workers
  • Allows businesses with 500 or fewer employees to advance the credit at any point during the quarter based on wages paid in the same quarter in a previous year
  • Provides rules to allow new employers who were not in existence for all or part of 2019 to be able to claim the credit
  • Retroactive to March 13, 2020, the provision: (1) clarifies the determination of gross receipts for certain tax-exempt organizations; (2) clarifies that group health plan expenses can be considered qualified wages even when no other wages are paid to the employee, consistent with IRS guidance; and (3) provides that employers who receive PPP loans may still qualify for the ERTC with respect to wages that are not paid for with forgiven PPP proceeds.

Extension of Credits for Paid Sick and Family Leave

Section 286 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act extends the refundable payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave, enacted in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act), through the end of March 2021. It also modifies the tax credits so that they apply as if the corresponding employer mandates were extended through the end of March 2021. This provision is effective as if included in Families First Act.

Extension of Certain Deferred Payroll Taxes

On August 8, 2020, the President issued a Presidential Payroll Tax Memorandum allowing employers to defer withholding employees’ share of social security taxes or the railroad retirement tax equivalent from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, and requiring employers to increase withholding and pay the deferred amounts ratably from wages and compensation paid between January 1, 2021, and April 31, 2021.

Under the Payroll Tax Memorandum, the deferral is only available with respect to any employee with wages or compensation, as applicable, payable during any bi-weekly pay period of less than $4,000, calculated on a pre-tax basis, or the equivalent amount with respect to other pay periods. This equates to wages of $104,000 per year. The Payroll Tax Memorandum provides that the amounts deferred are not subject to any penalties, interest, additional amounts, or additions to the tax. The Payroll Tax Memorandum also authorizes the Treasury Secretary to issue guidance to implement these orders and directs the Treasury Secretary to explore avenues, including legislation, to eliminate the obligation to repay the deferred taxes. Under the Payroll Tax Memorandum, penalties and interest on deferred unpaid tax liability would begin to accrue on May 1, 2021.

Section 274 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act extends the repayment period through December 31, 2021. Additionally, penalties and interest on deferred unpaid tax liability will not begin to accrue until January 1, 2022.

Clarification of Tax Treatment of Certain Loan Forgiveness and Other Business Financial Assistance Under the Coronavirus Relief Legislation

Section 278 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act clarifies that gross income does not include forgiveness of certain loans, emergency EIDL grants, and certain loan repayment assistance, each as provided by the CARES Act. The provision also clarifies that deductions are allowed for otherwise deductible expenses paid with the amounts not included in income by this section, and that tax basis and other attributes will not be reduced as a result of those amounts being excluded from gross income. The provision is effective for tax years ending after March 27, 2020.

 Authority to Waive Certain Information Reporting Requirements

Section 279 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act gives the Treasury Department authority to waive information filing requirements for any amount excluded from income by reason of the exclusion of covered loan amount forgiveness from taxable income, the exclusion of emergency financial aid grants from taxable income or the exclusion of certain loan forgiveness and other business financial assistance under the CARES Act from income.

Election to Waive Application of Certain Modifications to Farming Losses

Section 281 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act allows farmers who elected a two-year net operating loss carryback prior to the CARES Act to elect to retain that two-year carryback rather than claim the five-year carryback provided in the CARES Act. This provision also allows farmers who previously waived an election to carry back a net operating loss to revoke the waiver. These clarifications are aimed at eliminating unnecessary compliance burdens for farmers. The provision applies retroactively as if included in the CARES Act.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM EXTENSION AND ENHANCEMENT

Section 311 of the Economic Aid Act creates a second loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), called a “PPP Second Draw” loan for smaller and harder-hit businesses, with a maximum loan amount of $2 million. In order to receive a PPP Second Draw loan, eligible entities must: employ not more than 300 employees, have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP; and must demonstrate at least a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, third, or fourth quarter of 2020 relative to the same 2019 quarter.

In addition to the creation of the PPP Second Draw, Section 304 of the Economic Aid Act expands the list of eligible expenses for which a PPP loan may be used. Additional eligible expenses include (1) covered operations expenditures; (2) covered property damage costs; (3) covered supplier costs; and (4) covered worker protection expenditures.

Eligible and Noneligible Entities

Entities eligible for the PPP Second Draw include businesses, certain non-profit organizations, housing cooperatives, veterans’ organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small agricultural co-operatives. Entities ineligible include entities listed in 13 C.F.R. 120.110 and subsequent regulations (except for entities from that regulation which have otherwise been made eligible by statute or guidance, and except for nonprofits and religious organizations); entities involved in political and lobbying activities including engaging in advocacy in areas such as public policy or political strategy or an entity that otherwise describes itself as a think tank in any public document, entities affiliated with entities in the People’s Republic of China; and registrants under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Loan Terms

In general, borrowers may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs in the one year prior to the loan or the calendar year. Seasonal employers may calculate their maximum loan amount based on a 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019 through February 15, 2020. New entities may receive loans of up to 2.5 times the sum of average monthly payroll costs. Entities in industries assigned to NAICS Code 72 (Accommodation and Food Services) may receive loans of up to 3.5 times average monthly payroll costs. Businesses with multiple locations that are eligible entities under the initial PPP requirements may employ not more than 300 employees per physical location. Waiver of affiliation rules that applied during initial PPP loans apply to a second loan. An eligible entity may only receive one PPP second draw loan. Fees are waived for both borrowers and lenders to encourage participation. For loans of not more than $150,000, the entity may submit a certification attesting that the entity meets the revenue loss requirements on or before the date the entity submits its loan forgiveness application and non-profit and veterans organizations may utilize gross receipts to calculate their revenue loss standard.

Loan Forgiveness

Borrowers of a PPP Second Draw loan are eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the sum of their payroll costs, as well as covered mortgage, rent, and utility payments, covered operations expenditures, covered property damage costs, covered supplier costs, and covered worker protection expenditures incurred during the covered period. The 60/40 cost allocation between payroll and non-payroll costs in order to receive full forgiveness will continue to apply.

Churches and Religious Organizations

Churches and religious organizations are eligible for PPP Second Draw loans.

Safe Harbor on Restoring Full-time Employees and Salaries and Wages Applies

The rule of reducing loan forgiveness for a borrower reducing the number of employees retained and reducing employees’ salaries in excess of 25 percent applies.

Maximum Loan Amount for Farmers and Ranchers

A specific loan calculation for the first round of PPP loans for farmers and ranchers who operate as a sole proprietor, independent contractor, self-employed individual, who report income and expenses on a Schedule F, and were in business as of February 15, 2020, is established. These entities may utilize their gross income in 2019 as reported on a schedule F. Lenders may recalculate loans that have been previously approved to these entities if they would result in a larger loan. This provision applies to PPP loans before, on, or after the date of enactment (i.e, December 27, 2020), except for loans that have already been forgiven.

Seasonal Employer

A seasonal employer is defined as an eligible recipient which: (1) operates for no more than seven months in a year, or (2) earned no more than 1/3 of its receipts in any six months in the prior calendar year.

Prohibition on Use of Loan Proceeds for Lobbying Activities

An eligible entity is prohibited from using proceeds of the covered loan for lobbying activities, lobbying expenditures related to state or local campaigns, and expenditures to influence the enactment of legislation, appropriations, or regulations.

TAX EXTENDERS (PARTIAL LIST)

The Disaster Tax Relief Act permanently extends the following tax provisions:

(1) Energy efficient commercial buildings deduction

The Disaster Tax Relief Act extends the following tax provisions through December 31, 2025:

(1) New markets tax credit

(2) Work opportunity credit

(3) Seven-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complex

(4) Empowerment zone tax incentives

(5) Employer credit for paid family and medical leave

(6) Exclusion from income for certain employer payments of student loans

The Disaster Tax Relief Act extends the following tax provisions through December 31, 2021:

(1)  Second generation biofuel producer credit

(2) Alternative fuel refueling property credit

(3) Two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit

(4) Extension of excise tax credits relating to alternative fuels

Temporary Rule Preventing Partial Plan Termination

Section 209 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides that a qualified retirement plan will not be treated as having a partial termination under Code Sec. 411(d)(3) during any plan year which includes the period beginning on March 13, 2020, and ending on March 31, 2021, if the number of active participants covered by the plan on March 31, 2021, is at least 80 percent of the number of active participants covered by the plan on March 13, 2020.

Temporary Allowance of Full Deduction for Business Meals

Effective for amounts paid or incurred after December 31, 2020, Section 210 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act amends Code Sec. 274(n)(2) to provide that the 50 percent limitation on the deduction for food or beverage expenses does not apply to expenses for food or beverages provided by a restaurant and paid or incurred before January 1, 2023.

DISASTER TAX RELIEF

Disaster Tax Relief in General

Section 301 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides relief for individuals and businesses in Presidentially declared disaster areas for major disasters declared on or after January 1, 2020, through February 25, 2021. The relief generally applies to incident periods beginning on or after December 28, 2019. It does not apply to areas for which a major disaster has been so declared only by reason of Covid-19.

Employee Retention Credit for Employers Affected by Qualified Disasters

Section 303 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides a tax credit for 40 percent of wages (up to $6,000 per employee) paid by a disaster-affected employer to a qualified employee. The credit applies to wages paid without regard to whether services associated with those wages were performed. Certain tax-exempt entities are provided the option to claim the credit against payroll taxes.

Letter to Individual Clients

January 13, 2021

Dear Clients and Friends,

As a year-end holiday gift, Congress overwhelmingly approved a $900 billion COVID relief package for individuals and businesses. The President signed the bill into law on December 27, 2020. The law provides for $600 payments to individual taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 or less (or $112,500 AGI for heads of households), payments of $1,200 to joint filers with AGI of $150,000 or less, and an additional $600 payment for each qualifying child. The legislation also extends numerous expiring tax provisions for individuals.

The provisions of greatest interest to individuals and businesses fall in the following categories spanning the three bills that were passed into law; (i) COVID-related tax relief, (ii) Paycheck Protection Program extension and enhancement, (iii) tax extenders, (iv) miscellaneous tax provisions, and (v) disaster tax relief. We have also enclosed our most recent Tax Update newsletter for your review which includes more information regarding tax changes for 2021.

You will notice a new voice answering the phone if you call the office. Please take a minute to introduce yourself to our new administrative assistant, Rebecca Watkins. She and her family live here in Milford. If you’re wondering about Mary, don’t worry she hasn’t gone far. She has joined the accounting staff to head up our new book keeping division and moved her desk to the back office. We are excited for both of them and wish them success in their new positions as we move forward into the new year.

If you know of someone who would benefit from this information please let us know and we will send it right away. It is also available on our website. We look forward to hearing from you soon and assisting you with your tax and financial needs. As always, contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Starkey & Company, P.A.                                                                                                                                            

$900 BILLION COVID RELIEF PACKAGE – INDIVDUAL

Executive Summary

Highlights of the year-end Covid-related legislation include:

  • Additional unemployment assistance which provides 11 weeks of $300 per-week emergency unemployment benefits, an extension of expiring pandemic-related unemployment assistance, and protection for individuals who received pandemic-related unemployment benefit overpayments through no fault of their own and are now unable to repay the funds
  • A second round of direct cash assistance payments of $600 for each family member, subject to certain family adjusted gross income limitations, with mixed-status families now eligible where only one spouse has a social security number
  • Eligibility to use 2019 income to determine the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit
  • A permanent reduction in the adjusted gross income threshold for medical expense deductions from 10 percent to 7.5 percent
  • An expansion of the carryover and grace period policies relating to employees with unused amounts in their health and dependent care flexible spending accounts
  • An increase in the income threshold at which the Lifetime Learning Credit phases out
  • Permanent and temporary extensions of expiring tax provisions (“tax extenders”).

COVID-RELATED TAX RELIEF

Additional 2020 Recovery Rebates for Individuals and Amendments to Earlier Recovery Rebates

Sections 272 and 273 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act provide a refundable tax credit in the amount of $600 per eligible family member. The credit is $600 per taxpayer ($1,200 for married filing jointly), in addition to $600 per qualifying child. The credit phases out starting at $75,000 of modified adjusted gross income ($112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married filing jointly) at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income.

The provision also provides for the Department of Treasury to issue advance payments based on the information on 2019 tax returns. Eligible taxpayers treated as providing returns through the non-filer portal in the first round of Economic Impact Payments, provided under the CARES Act, will also receive payments. The Treasury Department may issue advance payments for Social Security Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance beneficiaries, Supplemental Security Income recipients, Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries, and Veterans Administration beneficiaries who did not file 2019 returns based on information provided by the Social Security Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Veterans Administration.

Taxpayers receiving an advance payment that exceeds the amount of their eligible credit will not be required to repay any amount of the payment. If the amount of the credit determined on the taxpayer’s 2020 tax return exceeds the amount of the advance payment, taxpayers will receive the difference as a refundable tax credit.

In general, taxpayers without an eligible social security number are not eligible for the payment. However, married taxpayers filing jointly where one spouse has a social security number (SSN) and one spouse does not are eligible for a payment of $600, in addition to $600 per child with an SSN. The provision aligns the eligibility criteria for the new round of Economic Impact Payments and the credit for the Economic Impact Payments provided by the CARES Act.

Advance payments are generally not subject to administrative offset for past due federal or state debts. In addition, the payments are protected from bank garnishment or levy by private creditors or debt collectors. Additionally, the provision instructs the Treasury Department to make payments to the United States territories that relate to each territory’s cost of providing the credits.

Election to Use Prior Year Net Earnings from Self-Employment in Determining Average Daily Self-Employment Income for Purposes of Credits for Paid Sick and Family Leave

Section 287 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act provides an election for an individual who elects the credit for paid sick or family leave to use prior year net earnings from self-employment income, rather than current year earnings, in calculating the income tax credit available.

Clarification of Educator Expense Deduction for PPE

Section 275 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act requires the IRS to issue guidance or regulations providing that personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 are treated as eligible expenses for purposes of the educator expense deduction. Such regulations or guidance will be retroactive to March 12, 2020.

Emergency Financial Aid Grants

Section 277 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act provides that certain emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act are excluded from the gross income of college and university students. The provision also holds students harmless for purposes of determining eligibility for the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning tax credits. The provision is effective as of March 27, 2020, the date of enactment of the CARES Act.

Application of Special Rules to Money Purchase Pension Plans

The CARES Act temporarily allows individuals to make penalty-free withdrawals from certain retirement plans for coronavirus-related expenses, permits taxpayers to pay the associated tax over three years, allows taxpayers to recontribute withdrawn funds, and increases the allowed limits on retirement plan loans. Section 280 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act clarifies that money purchase pension plans are included in the retirement plans qualifying for these temporary rules. The provision applies retroactively as included in the CARES Act.

Election to Waive Application of Certain Modifications to Farming Losses

Section 281 of the Covid-Related Tax Relief Act allows farmers who elected a two-year net operating loss carryback prior to the CARES Act to elect to retain that two-year carryback rather than claim the five-year carryback provided in the CARES Act. This provision also allows farmers who previously waived an election to carry back a net operating loss to revoke the waiver. These clarifications are aimed at eliminating unnecessary compliance burdens for farmers. The provision applies retroactively as if included in the CARES Act.

TAX EXTENDERS

The Disaster Tax Relief Act permanently extends the following tax provisions:

(1) Reduction in medical expense deduction floor from 10 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 7.5 percent of AGI

(2) Energy efficient commercial buildings deduction

(3) Exclusion from income of certain tax benefits for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders

(4) Repeal of deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses, replaced with increased income limitation on lifetime learning credit

The Disaster Tax Relief Act extends the following tax provisions through December 31, 2025:

(1) Exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness; and

(2) Exclusion from income for certain employer payments of student loans;

The Disaster Tax Relief Act extends the following tax provisions through December 31, 2023:

(1) Residential energy-efficient property credit

(2) Energy credit under Code Sec 48

The Disaster Tax Relief Act extends the following tax provisions through December 31, 2021:

(1) Credit for electricity produced from certain renewable resources

(2) Treatment of mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest

(3) Credit for health insurance costs of eligible individuals

(4) Nonbusiness energy property credit

(5) Qualified fuel cell motor vehicles credit

(6) Energy efficient homes credit

Temporary Special Rule for Determination of Earned Income

Section 211 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides that, if the earned income of a taxpayer for the taxpayer’s first tax year beginning in 2020 is less than the taxpayer’s earned income for the preceding tax year, the credits allowed under Code Sec. 24(d) (i.e., child tax credit) and Code Sec. 32 (i.e., earned income tax credit) may, at the taxpayer’s election, be determined by substituting the taxpayer’s earned income for the preceding tax year for the earned income for the taxpayer’s first tax year beginning in 2020. For these purposes, in the case of a joint return, the earned income of the taxpayer for the preceding year means the sum of the earned income of each spouse for the preceding tax year.

 Certain Charitable Contributions Deductible by Non-Itemizers

Section 212 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides that, in the case of any tax year beginning in 2021, if an individual does not elect to itemize deductions, the deduction under Code Sec. 170 for a charitable contribution equals the deduction, not in excess of $300 ($600 in the case of a joint return), which would be determined under Code Sec. 170 if the only charitable contributions taken into account in determining the deduction were contributions made in cash during the tax year to an organization described in Code Sec. 170(b)(1)(A) and not (1) to a Code Sec. 509(a)(3) supporting organization, or (2) for the establishment of a new, or maintenance of an existing, donor advised fund (as defined in Code Sec. 4966(d)(2)). In addition, the penalty under Code Sec. 6662(a) for an underpayment attributable to an overstatement of the deduction for charitable contributions by non-itemizers is increased from 20 percent to 50 percent of the underpayment.

Modification of Limitations on Charitable Contributions

The increase of the limitation for the deduction for donations of food inventory in a tax year from 15 percent to 25 percent under Section 2205 of the CARES Act is extended by Section 213 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act through 2021. Under the CARES Act, the increased deduction limitation for food inventory donations is available only to taxpayers other than C corporations.

Temporary Special Rules for Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangements

Section 214 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides that, for plan years ending in 2020 or 2021, a plan that includes a health flexible spending arrangement or dependent care flexible spending arrangement will not fail to be treated as a cafeteria plan under the Code merely because the plan or arrangement permits participants to carry over any unused benefits or contributions remaining in any such flexible spending arrangement from the 2020 or 2021 plan year to the next plan year.

In addition, a plan that includes a health flexible spending arrangement or dependent care flexible spending arrangement will not fail to be treated as a cafeteria plan under the Code merely because the plan or arrangement extends the grace period for a plan year ending in 2020 or 2021 to 12 months after the end of such plan year, with respect to unused benefits or contributions remaining in a health flexible spending arrangement or a dependent care flexible spending arrangement.

A plan that includes a health flexible spending arrangement will not fail to be treated as a cafeteria plan under the Code merely because the plan or arrangement allows an employee who ceases participation in the plan during calendar year 2020 or 2021 to continue to receive reimbursements from unused benefits or contributions through the end of the plan year in which such participation ceased (including any grace period).

DISASTER TAX RELIEF

Disaster Tax Relief in General

Section 301 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides relief for individuals and businesses in Presidentially declared disaster areas for major disasters declared on or after January 1, 2020, through February 25, 2021. The relief generally applies to incident periods beginning on or after December 28, 2019. It does not apply to areas for which a major disaster has been so declared only by reason of Covid-19.

Special Disaster Related Rules for Use of Retirement Funds

Section 302 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act provides an exception to the 10 percent early retirement plan withdrawal penalty for qualified disaster relief distributions (not to exceed $100,000 in qualified disaster distributions cumulatively). Amounts withdrawn are included in income ratably over 3 years or may be recontributed to a retirement plan to avoid taxable income and restore savings. It also allows for the re-contribution of retirement plan withdrawals for home purchases cancelled due to eligible disasters, and provides flexibility for loans from retirement plans for qualified disaster relief.

Other Disaster Related Tax Relief Provisions

Section 304 of the Disaster Tax Relief Act temporarily suspends limitations on the deduction for charitable contributions associated with qualified disaster relief. With respect to uncompensated losses arising in the disaster area, the provision eliminates the current law requirements that personal casualty losses must exceed 10 percent of adjusted gross income to qualify for deduction. The provision also eliminates the current law requirement that taxpayers must itemize deductions to access this tax relief.

2021 Tax Season Newsletter

January 8, 2021

Dear Clients and Friends:

What a relief it is that 2020 is finally behind us. The COVID pandemic has affected all of us in some way. Many lives have been lost because of the virus and our economy has been hit hard with many small businesses on the brink of disappearing. As we enter 2021, there is a glimmer of hope that the new vaccine can get life back to some semblance of normal by late summer. I think we can all agree that getting back to normal will be the best thing to happen since sliced bread.

We were expecting 2020 to be a quiet year in terms of tax laws, however, that wasn’t the case. The government funding bills that were signed by President Trump in December 2019 included a lot of tax provisions. Then, the economic stimulus packages enacted to help boost the economy also added more tax changes. One of these changes include the addition of recovery rebate credits under the CARES Act. Most Americans received a stimulus check in early 2020 for $1,200 plus $500 more for each child under the age of 17. On December 27, 2020, another bill was signed that included additional stimulus in the amount of $600 per taxpayer plus $600 for each child. See the attached Client Stimulus Statement.

There are a lot of changes in 2020 relating to retirement plans. The SECURE Act and the CARES Act significantly impacted Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). Under the SECURE Act, the beginning age for taking RMDs increases from 70 ½ to 72 (this applies to account owners who turn 70 ½ after 2019). The CARES Act allowed seniors to skip their RMDs in 2020 without penalty. The SECURE Act also allows owners of traditional IRAs to make contributions past the age of 70 ½ starting in 2020. The CARES Act includes a few other key retirement-related tax breaks for 2020. It waives the 10% penalty on pre-age 59 ½ payouts from retirement accounts for up to $100,000 of coronavirus-related payouts. A coronavirus-related distribution can also be included in income in equal installments over a three-year period, and you have three years to put the money bank into your retirement account and undo the tax consequences of the distribution.

Additionally, more charitable contributions can be deducted for 2020 under the CARES Act. The 60%-of-AGI limit on deductions for cash donations by people who itemize is suspended. The relief applies only to charitable cash contributions that you make this year and deduct on the Schedule A for 2020. Non-itemizers can also write off up to $300 of charitable cash contributions, $600 if you have a joint tax return.

When you have gathered all your tax information, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with us to go over your tax information. You may also drop off or mail your information to our office if you do not wish to have appointment. This year, we are utilizing a new portal which gives us the capability to securely share QuickBooks backups and other documents along with electronic copies of your tax returns. If you are interested in utilizing our portal, please let us know and we will initiate this by sending you an invitation to access your portal.

We look forward to hearing from you soon and assisting you with your tax and financial needs. As always, contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Starkey & Company, PA

DE Taxpayer Portal

Dear Clients and Friends,

In the middle of December, the Department of Finance/Delaware Division of Revenue mailed all business taxpayers a letter regarding the new Delaware Taxpayer Portal. The new Portal will replace the previous Gross Receipts and Withholding tax systems and allow users to file certain tax returns, make payments, renew business licenses, etc. all in one place. The new portal account will need to be set up by the end of this month. The letter mailed to all taxpayers contains an individualized PIN. You will need this PIN to set up an account on the new Portal and link your tax and license accounts with it.

The attachment in this email includes information regarding the portal and how it works.

We are requesting that we be added as an authorized user of your portal. This will allow us the ability to view your payment history, view a copy of your business license, file gross receipts returns and complete various other tasks related to your business and quarterly payroll filings. You can grant us access as an Authorized User in the Delegation section within the portal.

Once you set up your portal account, go to Profile and select Manage Authorized Users and then select the tab “Add New Authorized User.”

Please call our office for our portal identification information in order to add us as a user.

Once you enter this information, the next screen will be where you decide when and what access to grant us. The start date and end date should be 01/01/2020 – 12/31/2025. In the “Assignments” section, please select the tab under “Or” and choose “CPA.”

If you did not receive or you think you may have discarded the above referenced letter, please call (302) 577-8200 to retrieve a personalized PIN number for your taxpayer portal.

If you would like us to assist you in setting up your account on the Portal, please call us and we will discuss the steps with you.

Sincerely,

Starkey & Company, PA

Year-end Newsletter 2020

October 9, 2020

Dear Clients & Friends,

We hope that you are doing well during these strange times. As most of you are aware, our office has remained open. We are working diligently completing extended tax returns and assisting our clients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are addressing any new legislation that is passed in response to the pandemic and are here to advise our clients on these new provisions.

Enclosed with this letter, you will find our year-end tax newsletter. There are new tax laws that were passed over the last year that could affect your 2020 tax situation. The 10% early distribution penalty is waived for up to $100,000 of retirement withdrawals for coronavirus-related reasons during 2020. New rules also allow tax liabilities on these distributions to be paid over a three-year period.

Also, the CARES Act temporarily waived Required Minimum Distributions for most types of retirement plans for the calendar year 2020. The waiver applies to defined-contribution retirement plans, including 401(k) or 403(b) plans and IRAs. This waiver does not apply to defined-benefit plans.

Additionally, the medical deduction threshold has decreased for 2020. Qualified medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income may be used as an itemized deduction. IRS Publication 502 has a full list of the medical expenses that are tax deductible. Publication 502 can be found online and is an excellent resource.

Beginning for the year 2020, Non-Employee Compensation will be reported on its own 1099 form, 1099-NEC. The new form will be used to report any payments received for your service fees, commissions, prizes and awards. The form 1099-Misc will still be used for rents, fishing boat proceeds, health care payments, attorney fees, crop insurance, and payments in lieu of dividends or interest.

Did you know that new parents can withdraw up to $5,000 out of their retirement funds without penalty to pay for the cost of a birth or adoption? The SECURE Act allows new parents to take this early retirement withdrawal.

Also, there are several new tax breaks for charitable donations in 2020. You can claim an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for cash donations to qualified charities without itemizing. If you are feeling charitable this year, you can donate up to 100% of your 2020 income. The annual deduction for monetary donations is normally limited to 60% of your income but this has increased for 2020. Businesses can contribute up to 25% of taxable income., normally 10% of taxable income.

Please note the new 2020 amounts for standard deductions, mileage rates, Section 179 maximums, earned income tax credits and retirement plan contributions which are covered on the back page of the newsletter.

With all the new rules, it is more important than ever to do planning before the end of the year. Please call the office if you have any questions regarding the information contained in this letter. We look forward to hearing from you and we are just a phone call away from assisting you with all of your tax needs.

Sincerely,

Starkey & Company, PA

1043 N WALNUT ST
MILFORD, DE 19963

Phone: (302) 422-0108
(302) 422-3640
Fax: (302) 422-5530

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