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Swimming poolOn August 8, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order, directing the U.S. Treasury to grant employers the ability to defer the withholding, deposit and payment of certain payroll taxes as further COVID-19 tax relief.  The deferral applies only to the employee portion of Social Security taxes and Railroad Retirement taxes (i.e., 6.2 percent of wages) required to be withheld and paid under Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) Sections 3101(a) and 3201(a) from September 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. 

PRACTICE ALERT:  The deferral does not apply to required employee Medicare tax withholdings under Code Section 3101(b) (either the standard 1.45 percent on all wages or the additional 0.9 percent tax on wages in excess of $200,000).  Further, the deferral is not available for the employer’s share of Social Security (6.2 percent) or Medicare (1.45 percent) taxes.

IRS NOTICE 2020-65

On August 28, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-65, providing guidance relative to the president’s executive order.  It provides answers to several important questions.

Notice 2020-65 defines employers required to withhold and pay Social Security and Railroad Retirement taxes as “Affected Taxpayers.”  It goes on to provide that the due date for withholding and payment of the employee portion of Social Security taxes and Railroad Retirement taxes for the period September 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 is postponed until the period commencing January 1, 2021 through April 30, 2021. 

SignatureAs I previously reported, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (“PPPFA”) was jointly introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (“House”) by Representative Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas and Representative Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota.  By a nearly unanimous vote, the PPPFA was passed in the House on May 28, 2020.  As anticipated, the legislation was promptly introduced in the U.S. Senate (“Senate”), where (without amendment) it was unanimously passed on June 3, 2020 by a voice vote.  President Trump signed the PPPFA into law today.

This is especially good news for businesses that have been shut down and/or otherwise severely financially impaired by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The PPPFA changes the landscape relative to loans received by businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) that was enacted as part of the CARES Act.  The PPPFA, at least for some PPP loan borrowers, may not bring glee and joy!  The law contains some provisions that could be detrimental to some businesses.

MoneyAs discussed in recent blog posts, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), signed into law on March 27, 2020, created the Payroll Protection Plan (“PPP”) under which the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) was authorized to make up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to enable them to meet payroll costs, benefits, rent and utility payments.  On April 24, 2020, Congress increased the amount of available funds under the PPP to $659 billion when the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act was signed into law.

The PPP legislation and the administrative rules promulgated thereunder are plagued with numerous unanticipated defects.  One of the defects in the PPP, as rolled out by the federal government, may be the death of small businesses, including restaurants.

Silver bulletLast week, we reported that the IRS issued Notice 2020-32, wherein (relying primarily on Code Section 265) it emphatically pronounced that taxpayers receiving Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans do not get to have their cake and eat it too!  As a result of the notice, if a taxpayer’s PPP loan is forgiven and, in accordance with the CARES Act, has no cancellation of debt income as he/she/it would otherwise have under Code Section 61(a)(11), the taxpayer cannot deduct the business expenses for which it used the forgiven loan proceeds. 

As we explained last week, the government’s conclusion, from a purely academic perspective, makes some sense.  In normal times, taxpayers should not get a double tax benefit from a forgiven debt (i.e., a deduction with respect to expenses paid from the loan proceeds and an exemption from tax on the forgiven loan).  However, we are not living in normal times.

NOTICE 2020-23

Working lateOn April 9, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury issued Notice 2020-23.  It greatly expands the tax compliance relief previously granted to taxpayers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

On March 13, 2020, President Trump issued an emergency declaration, instructing the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to relieve taxpayers from certain tax compliance deadlines during these horrific times. 

Code Section 7508A grants Treasury authority to postpone the time to perform certain acts required under the Code for taxpayers affected by a federally declared disaster (as defined in Code Section 165(i)(5)(A)). 

A Succinct Summary of the Key Tax Provisions

CavalryOn March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (colloquially, the “CARES Act” or the “Act”).  The CARES Act is a historic $2.2 trillion relief package enacted by lawmakers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Act is more than 880 pages in length and contains a multitude of provisions, all of which are intended to support individuals and businesses during these horrific times.

We have attempted to provide our readers with a broad overview of the most significant tax provisions of the Act.  If a provision is potentially applicable to a given situation, please read the entire provision of the Act to affirm its application.

CautionYesterday, like other commentators, we reported that, in accordance with its terms, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Act”) is effective on April 2, 2020.  Please be aware, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) posted on its website a statement that the Act is effective on April 1, 2020.  We assume this is not a premature April Fool’s joke.  Accordingly, since DOL is the agency enforcing the non-tax aspects of the Act, we advise employers to ready themselves for the new law one day earlier than expected.  It is better to be safe than sorry!    

FamilyPresident Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) on March 18, 2020.  The Act becomes effective April 2, 2020, and contains a number of tax provisions that fund the Act’s mandatory paid leave provisions. 

This blog post summarizes the Act’s paid leave and associated employer tax-related benefits.  The Act is broad in application, creating complexity.  In general, it applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.  We have attempted to dissect the Act in bite-sized, easily understandable chunks, removing the complexities whenever possible.

U.S. TreasuryOn March 13, 2020, President Trump issued an emergency declaration, which in part instructed the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) to provide taxpayers with “relief from tax deadlines” due to the impact of the Coronavirus.  In response, Treasury issued Notice 2020-17 (which will be published in IRB 2020-15, dated April 6, 2020).

Code Section 7508A gives Treasury authority to postpone the time to perform certain acts required under the Code for taxpayers affected by a federally declared disaster (as defined in Code Section 165(i)(5)(A)).  

On April 11, 2017, we discussed what constitutes Tax Reform. On April 24, 2017, we explored the process by which Tax Reform will likely be created by lawmakers. In our May 3, 2017 blog post, we focused on the likely timing for Tax Reform. In this blog post, we look at what Tax reform may look like.

Like one of my favorite things in this world, namely ice cream, Tax Reform also likely comes in different flavors. For starters, we have President Trump’s campaign comments on Tax Reform. Next, we have the Republican leaders’ from the U.S. House of Representatives initial draft of a Tax Reform package. Lastly, we have the White House’s April 26, 2017 one-page memorandum that broadly outlines the President’s current vision of Tax Reform.

Let’s break Tax Reform into three broad categories, namely:

  1. Estate & Gift Tax
  2. Individual Income Tax
  3. Corporate Income Tax

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Larry J. Brant
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Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder in Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.

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