News, insight and advice to keep you informed.

IRS Spotlights Upcoming Tax Filing Season

As part of a series of reminders, the IRS has urged taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. A special page ( https://www.irs.gov/individuals/steps-to-take-now-to-get-a-jump-on-next-years-taxes), updated and available on the IRS website, outlines steps taxpayers can take now to make tax filing easier in 2021.

Taxpayers receiving substantial amounts of non-wage income like self-employment income, investment income, taxable Social Security benefits and, in some instances, pension and annuity income, should make quarterly estimated tax payments. The last payment for 2020 is due on January 15, 2021. Payment options can be found at IRS.gov/payments. For more information, the IRS encourages taxpayers to review Pub. 5348, Get Ready to File, and Pub. 5349, Year-Round Tax Planning is for Everyone.

Income
Most income is taxable, so taxpayers should gather income documents such as Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and records of virtual currencies or other income. Other income includes unemployment income, refund interest and income from the gig economy.

Forms and Notices
Beginning in 2020, individuals may receive Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, rather than Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, if they performed certain services for and received payments from a business. The IRS recommends reviewing the Instructions for Form 1099-MISC and Form 1099-NEC to ensure clients are filing the appropriate form and are aware of this change.

Taxpayers may also need Notice 1444, Economic Impact Payment, which shows how much of a payment they received in 2020. This amount is needed to calculate any Recovery Rebate Credit they may be eligible for when they file their federal income tax return in 2021. People who did not receive an Economic Impact Payment in 2020 may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 taxes in 2021.

Additional Information
To see information from the most recently filed tax return and recent payments, taxpayers can sign up to view account information online. Taxpayers should notify the IRS of address changes and notify the Social Security Administration of a legal name change to avoid delays in tax return processing.

PPP Deduction Safe Harbor if Loan Not Forgiven

The IRS has released rulings concerning deductions for eligible Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan expenses. The rulings:

  • deny a deduction if the taxpayer has not yet applied for PPP loan forgiveness, but expects the loan to be forgiven; and
  • provide a safe harbor for deducting expenses if PPP loan forgiveness is denied or the taxpayer does not apply for forgiveness.

Background
In response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) expanded Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act for certain loans made from February 15, 2020, through August 8, 2020 (PPP loans). An eligible PPP loan recipient may have the debt on a covered loan forgiven, and the cancelled debt will be excluded from gross income. To prevent double tax benefits, under Reg. §1.265-1, taxpayers cannot deduct expenses allocable to income that is either wholly excluded from gross income or wholly exempt from tax.

The IRS previously determined that businesses whose PPP loans are forgiven cannot deduct business expenses paid for by the loan ( Notice 2020-32, I.R.B. 2020-21, 837). The new guidance expands on the previous guidance, but provides a safe harbor for taxpayers whose loans are not forgiven.

No Business Deduction
In Rev. Rul. 2020-27, the IRS amplifies guidance in Notice 2020-32. A taxpayer that received a covered PPP loan and paid or incurred certain otherwise deductible expenses may not deduct those expenses in the tax year in which the expenses were paid or incurred if, at the end of the tax year, the taxpayer reasonably expects to receive forgiveness of the covered loan on the basis of the expenses it paid or accrued during the covered period. This is the case even if the taxpayer has not applied for forgiveness by the end of the tax year.

Safe Harbor
In Rev. Proc. 2020-51, the IRS provides a safe harbor allowing taxpayers to claim a deduction in the tax year beginning or ending in 2020 for certain otherwise deductible eligible expenses if:

  • the eligible expenses are paid or incurred during the taxpayer’s 2020 tax year;
  • the taxpayer receives a PPP covered loan that, at the end of the taxpayer’s 2020 tax year, the taxpayer expects to be forgiven in a subsequent tax year; and
  • in a subsequent tax year, the taxpayer’s request for forgiveness of the covered loan is denied, in whole or in part, or the taxpayer decides never to request forgiveness of the covered loan.

A taxpayer may be able to deduct some or all of the eligible expenses on, as applicable:

  • a timely (including extensions) original income tax return or information return for the 2020 tax year;
  • an amended return or an administrative adjustment request (AAR) under Code Sec. 6227 for the 2020 tax year; or
  • a timely (including extensions) original income tax return or information return for the subsequent tax year.

Applying Safe Harbor
To apply the safe harbor, a taxpayer attaches a statement titled “Revenue Procedure 2020-51 Statement” to the return on which the taxpayer deducts the expenses. The statement must include:

  • the taxpayer’s name, address, and social security number or employer identification number;
  • a statement specifying whether the taxpayer is an eligible taxpayer under either section 3.01 or section 3.02 of Revenue Procedure 2020-51;
  • a statement that the taxpayer is applying section 4.01 or section 4.02 of Revenue Procedure 2020-51;
  • the amount and date of disbursement of the taxpayer’s covered PPP loan;
  • the total amount of covered loan forgiveness that the taxpayer was denied or decided to no longer seek;
  • the date the taxpayer was denied or decided to no longer seek covered loan forgiveness; and
  • the total amount of eligible expenses and non-deducted eligible expenses that are reported on the return.

IRS Warns Taxpayers and Tax Professionals Against Scams and Identity Theft Schemes

This year marks the 5th Annual National Tax Security Awareness Week-a collaboration by the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry. The IRS and the Security Summit partners have issued warnings to all taxpayers and tax professionals to beware of scams and identity theft schemes by criminals taking advantage of the combination of holiday shopping, the approaching tax season and coronavirus concerns. The 5th Annual National Tax Security Awareness Week coincided with Cyber Monday, the traditional start of the online holiday shopping season.

The following are a few basic steps which taxpayers and tax professionals should remember during the holidays and as the 2021 tax season approaches:

  • use an updated security software for computers and mobile phones;
  • the purchased anti-virus software must have a feature to stop malware and a firewall that can prevent intrusions;
  • don’t open links or attachments on suspicious emails because this year, fraud scams related to COVID-19 and the Economic Impact Payment are common;
  • use strong and unique passwords for online accounts;
  • use multi-factor authentication whenever possible which prevents thieves from easily hacking accounts;
  • shop at sites where the web address begins with “https” and look for the “padlock” icon in the browser window;
  • don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like a mall;
  • secure home Wi-Fis with a password;
  • back up files on computers and mobile phones; and
  • consider creating a virtual private network to securely connect to your workplace if working from home.

In addition, taxpayers can check out security recommendations for their specific mobile phone by reviewing the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued warnings about fraud and scams related to COVID-19 schemes, anti-body testing, healthcare fraud, cryptocurrency fraud and others. COVID-related fraud complaints can be filed at the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Moreover, the Federal Trade Commission also has issued alerts about fraudulent emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization. Taxpayers can keep atop the latest scam information and report COVID-related scams at www.FTC.gov/coronavirus.