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Are you thinking about setting up a retirement plan for yourself and your employees, but you’re worried about the financial commitment and administrative burdens involved in providing a traditional pension plan? Two options to consider are a “simplified employee pension” (SEP) or a “savings incentive match plan for employees” (SIMPLE).

SEPs are intended as an alternative to “qualified” retirement plans, particularly for small businesses. The relative ease of administration and the discretion that you, as the employer, are permitted in deciding whether or not to make annual contributions, are features that are appealing.

Uncomplicated paperwork

If you don’t already have a qualified retirement plan, you can set up a SEP simply by using the IRS model SEP, Form 5305-SEP. By adopting and implementing this model SEP, which doesn’t have to be filed with the IRS, you’ll have satisfied the SEP requirements. This means that as the employer, you’ll get a current income tax deduction for contributions you make on behalf of your employees. Your employees won’t be taxed when the contributions are made but will be taxed later when distributions are made, usually at retirement. Depending on your needs, an individually-designed SEP — instead of the model SEP — may be appropriate for you.

When you set up a SEP for yourself and your employees, you’ll make deductible contributions to each employee’s IRA, called a SEP-IRA, which must be IRS-approved. The maximum amount of deductible contributions that you can make to an employee’s SEP-IRA, and that he or she can exclude from income, is the lesser of: 25% of compensation and $58,000 for 2021. The deduction for your contributions to employees’ SEP-IRAs isn’t limited by the deduction ceiling applicable to an individual’s own contribution to a regular IRA. Your employees control their individual IRAs and IRA investments, the earnings on which are tax-free.

There are other requirements you’ll have to meet to be eligible to set up a SEP. Essentially, all regular employees must elect to participate in the program, and contributions can’t discriminate in favor of the highly compensated employees. But these requirements are minor compared to the bookkeeping and other administrative burdens connected with traditional qualified pension and profit-sharing plans.

The detailed records that traditional plans must maintain to comply with the complex nondiscrimination regulations aren’t required for SEPs. And employers aren’t required to file annual reports with IRS, which, for a pension plan, could require the services of an actuary. The required recordkeeping can be done by a trustee of the SEP-IRAs — usually a bank or mutual fund.

SIMPLE Plans

Another option for a business with 100 or fewer employees is a “savings incentive match plan for employees” (SIMPLE). Under these plans, a “SIMPLE IRA” is established for each eligible employee, with the employer making matching contributions based on contributions elected by participating employees under a qualified salary reduction arrangement. The SIMPLE plan is also subject to much less stringent requirements than traditional qualified retirement plans. Or, an employer can adopt a “simple” 401(k) plan, with similar features to a SIMPLE plan, and automatic passage of the otherwise complex nondiscrimination test for 401(k) plans.

For 2021, SIMPLE deferrals are up to $13,500 plus an additional $3,000 catch-up contributions for employees age 50 and older.

Contact us for more information or to discuss any other aspect of your retirement planning.

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As a business owner, you should be aware that you can save family income and payroll taxes by putting your child on the payroll.

Here are some considerations.

Shifting business earnings

You can turn some of your high-taxed income into tax-free or low-taxed income by shifting some business earnings to a child as wages for services performed. In order for your business to deduct the wages as a business expense, the work done by the child must be legitimate and the child’s salary must be reasonable.

For example, suppose you’re a sole proprietor in the 37% tax bracket. You hire your 16-year-old son to help with office work full-time in the summer and part-time in the fall. He earns $10,000 during the year (and doesn’t have other earnings). You can save $3,700 (37% of $10,000) in income taxes at no tax cost to your son, who can use his $12,550 standard deduction for 2021 to shelter his earnings.

Family taxes are cut even if your son’s earnings exceed his standard deduction. That’s because the unsheltered earnings will be taxed to him beginning at a 10% rate, instead of being taxed at your higher rate.

Income tax withholding

Your business likely will have to withhold federal income taxes on your child’s wages. Usually, an employee can claim exempt status if he or she had no federal income tax liability for last year and expects to have none this year.

However, exemption from withholding can’t be claimed if: 1) the employee’s income exceeds $1,100 for 2021 (and includes more than $350 of unearned income), and 2) the employee can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return.

Keep in mind that your child probably will get a refund for part or all of the withheld tax when filing a return for the year.

Social Security tax savings

If your business isn’t incorporated, you can also save some Social Security tax by shifting some of your earnings to your child. That’s because services performed by a child under age 18 while employed by a parent isn’t considered employment for FICA tax purposes.

A similar but more liberal exemption applies for FUTA (unemployment) tax, which exempts earnings paid to a child under age 21 employed by a parent. The FICA and FUTA exemptions also apply if a child is employed by a partnership consisting only of his or her parents.

Note: There’s no FICA or FUTA exemption for employing a child if your business is incorporated or is a partnership that includes non-parent partners. However, there’s no extra cost to your business if you’re paying a child for work you’d pay someone else to do.

Retirement benefits

Your business also may be able to provide your child with retirement savings, depending on your plan and how it defines qualifying employees. For example, if you have a SEP plan, a contribution can be made for the child up to 25% of his or her earnings (not to exceed $58,000 for 2021).

Contact us if you have any questions about these rules in your situation. Keep in mind that some of the rules about employing children may change from year to year and may require your income-shifting strategies to change too.

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A measure to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline from March 31, 2021, to May 31, 2021, has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. It now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature which he is expected to do promptly.

Small businesses will have until May 31, 2021, to continue submitting first and second-draw PPP loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA was also granted an additional 30 days past May 31 to finish processing applications. The measure does not include any funding increases for the program.

Contact us for assistance with your PPP loan or forgiveness applications.

Are you thinking about launching a business with some partners and wondering what type of entity to form? An S corporation may be the most suitable form of business for your new venture. Here’s an explanation of the reasons why.

The biggest advantage of an S corporation over a partnership is that as S corporation shareholders, you won’t be personally liable for corporate debts. In order to receive this protection, it’s important that the corporation be adequately financed, that the existence of the corporation as a separate entity be maintained and that various formalities required by your state be observed (for example, filing articles of incorporation, adopting by-laws, electing a board of directors and holding organizational meetings).

Anticipating losses

If you expect that the business will incur losses in its early years, an S corporation is preferable to a C corporation from a tax standpoint. Shareholders in a C corporation generally get no tax benefit from such losses. In contrast, as S corporation shareholders, each of you can deduct your percentage share of these losses on your personal tax returns to the extent of your basis in the stock and in any loans you make to the entity. Losses that can’t be deducted because they exceed your basis are carried forward and can be deducted by you when there’s sufficient basis.

Once the S corporation begins to earn profits, the income will be taxed directly to you whether or not it’s distributed. It will be reported on your individual tax return and be aggregated with income from other sources. To the extent the income is passed through to you as qualified business income, you’ll be eligible to take the 20% pass-through deduction, subject to various limitations. Your share of the S corporation’s income won’t be subject to self-employment tax, but your wages will be subject to Social Security taxes.

Are you planning to provide fringe benefits such as health and life insurance? If so, you should be aware that the costs of providing such benefits to a more than 2% shareholder are deductible by the entity but are taxable to the recipient.

Be careful with S status

Also be aware that the S corporation could inadvertently lose its S status if you or your partners transfers stock to an ineligible shareholder such as another corporation, a partnership or a nonresident alien. If the S election were terminated, the corporation would become a taxable entity. You would not be able to deduct any losses and earnings could be subject to double taxation — once at the corporate level and again when distributed to you. In order to protect you against this risk, it’s a good idea for each of you to sign an agreement promising not to make any transfers that would jeopardize the S election.

Consult with us before finalizing your choice of entity. We can answer any questions you have and assist in launching your new venture.

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President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) on March 11. While the new law is best known for the provisions providing relief to individuals, there are also several tax breaks and financial benefits for businesses.

Here are some of the tax highlights of the ARPA.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC). This valuable tax credit is extended from June 30 until December 31, 2021. The ARPA continues the ERC rate of credit at 70% for this extended period of time. It also continues to allow for up to $10,000 in qualified wages for any calendar quarter. Taking into account the Consolidated Appropriations Act extension and the ARPA extension, this means an employer can potentially have up to $40,000 in qualified wages per employee through 2021.

Employer-Provided Dependent Care Assistance. In general, an eligible employee’s gross income doesn’t include amounts paid or incurred by an employer for dependent care assistance provided to the employee under a qualified dependent care assistance program (DCAP).

Previously, the amount that could be excluded from an employee’s gross income under a DCAP during a tax year wasn’t more than $5,000 ($2,500 for married individuals filing separately), subject to certain limitations. However, any contribution made by an employer to a DCAP can’t exceed the employee’s earned income or, if married, the lesser of employee’s or spouse’s earned income.

Under the ARPA, for 2021 only, the exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance is increased from $5,000 to $10,500 (from $2,500 to $5,250 for married individuals filing separately).

This provision is effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2020.

Paid Sick and Family Leave Credits. Changes under the ARPA apply to amounts paid with respect to calendar quarters beginning after March 31, 2021. Among other changes, the law extends the paid sick time and paid family leave credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from March 31, 2021, through September 30, 2021. It also provides that paid sick and paid family leave credits may each be increased by the employer’s share of Social Security tax (6.2%) and employer’s share of Medicare tax (1.45%) on qualified leave wages.

Grants to restaurants. Under the ARPA, eligible restaurants, food trucks, and similar businesses that provide food and drinks may receive restaurant revitalization grants from the Small Business Administration. For tax purposes, amounts received as restaurant revitalization grants aren’t included in the gross income of the person who receives the money.

Much more

These are only some of the provisions in the ARPA. There are many others that may be beneficial to your business. Contact us for more information about your situation.

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The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 passed Congress and President Biden signed the bill into law on March 12, 2021. The ARPA approves $1.9 trillion in spending for individuals, businesses, governments, and certain industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The third Act in a year, the ARPA approves additional economic impact payments for individuals; the extension of federal unemployment benefits; additional funds for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for hard-hit small businesses; and grants for food and beverage establishments. Here are the key individual and business provisions in the bill.

Individual provisions in ARPA

The bill extends and slightly alters two key benefits many individuals have been relying upon through the pandemic.

Unemployment – Federal benefits of $300 per week (in addition to state benefits) are extended through Sep. 6, 2021. The first $10,200 in federal unemployment benefits is tax-free for households making less than $150,000 per year in 2020. Taxpayers who received unemployment income may need to update 2020 tax returns if already filed.

Economic impact (stimulus) payments (EIPs) – The IRS will issue another round of EIPs at $1,400 per individual, $2,800 per married filing joint (MFJ), plus $1,400 per dependent. Income phase-out limits reduce from previous EIPs to $80,000 for individuals and $150,000 for MFJ. Full-time students under the age of 24 are now eligible for economic impact payments (EIP), unlike previous rounds. Your 2019 or 2020 adjusted gross income (AGI) is the basis for EIPs, so taxpayers will want to consider when to file their 2020 tax return to ensure a maximum EIP benefit.

Small business funding provisions in ARPA

The bill includes additional funding for small business relief programs, including the PPP, EIDLs, and industry-specific relief.

PPP – The Act allocates an additional 7.25 billion in additional funds, and the eligibility expands to include:

The deadline is still Mar. 31, 2021, to apply, so don’t delay.

EIDL advance payments – The Act allocates $15 billion for EIDL advance payments, and eligibility requirements state:

Restaurants, bars, and other eligible food and beverage providers – The Act allocates $28.6 billion for grants, and $5 billion is set aside for applicants with 2019 gross receipts of $500,000 or less.

Shuttered venue operators – The program is extended from the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) with $1.25 billion allocated.

Community navigator pilot programs – $175 million is allocated for programs that increase awareness of and participation in COVID-19 relief programs for socially and economically disadvantaged business owners.

Other provisions of ARPA

For assistance with any of these provisions, please contact us.

Form 1040, Schedule C taxpayers received an updated interim final rule (IFR) on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the Small Business Association (SBA). The IFR clarifies guidance released on Feb. 22 that made changes to how self-employed and sole proprietors could calculate their maximum loan amount to help expand the program for these groups. Approximately 2.6 million sole proprietors have applied for PPP loans, and it is estimated there are about 25 million sole proprietors across the country.

The biggest adjustment made by the IFR is that these borrowers may calculate their maximum loan amount using their gross income. Previously, the calculation was done by using payroll costs plus net profits. This excluded many sole proprietors who had little or negative net profit.

Determining how much you can borrow

For sole proprietors with no employees the calculation is as follows:

  1. Use either line 31 net profit or line 7 gross income (up to $100,000)
  2. Divide by 12 and then multiply that amount by 2.5

First-draw and second-draw owner compensation is capped at $20,833; however, for accommodations and food services, second-draw owner compensation is capped at $29,167

For sole proprietors with employees, the calculation is as follows: Use either line 31 net profit or calculate the following using gross receipts:

  1. Line 7 gross income minus employee payroll costs (lines 14, 19, 26)
  2. Divide by 12 to get monthly total (cannot exceed $100,00 annually or $8,333 monthly)
  3. Add average monthly payroll costs
  4. Multiply by 2.5 months

The same owner compensation limits apply as for those with no employees.

Limited liability companies with only one member do qualify for these updated calculations, but single member S-corporations do not.

The calculation is only for loans submitted after the rule’s effective date of Mar. 3, 2021, meaning loans submitted between Jan. 1 and Mar. 2, 2021, would not be eligible for this new calculation. You can access the new forms here:

Additionally, the IFR states that first-draw PPP loans with $150,000 or less in gross income on a Schedule C will be eligible for the economic necessity safe harbor, but loans above will not and could receive additional SBA review.

The current PPP application period expires Mar. 31, 2021, and lenders are experiencing delays in implementing these new calculations. It is anticipated they will begin accepting applications the week of Mar. 8. We are continuously monitoring the situation for additional clarifications and updates.

The nation’s smallest businesses are getting revamped Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) rules and a special filing period announced in recent changes from the Biden-Harris administration. Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees make up 98% of the small businesses in the U.S. but have not received much assistance from the PPP so far and have accounted for a significant portion of business closures during the pandemic. These new rules seek to remedy that. Here’s what you should know.

Dedicated filing period – Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will get a dedicated filing period starting Wednesday, Feb. 24 and running through Tuesday, March 9 to allow lenders to focus on loans for these businesses. This includes individuals who receive 1099s or are considered self-employed who file a Schedule C.

New calculations for ‘no-payroll’ business owners – Specifics have not yet been released, but self-employed, independent contractors, and sole proprietors can expect a new calculation method to account for the missing payroll component of their PPP loans. Additionally, $1 billion is being set aside for this group for those located in low and moderate-income areas.

More opportunities for underserved communities – Former felons (with nonfraud convictions) and non-citizen small business owners with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), green card holders, and those with visas will be eligible to apply for relief. Further guidance is expected.

Greater access for business owners with delinquent student loan debt – Business owners with delinquent or defaulted federal debt over the last seven years will now be able to apply for a PPP loan.

Address PPP processing delays – Anti-fraud violation checks have been a significant hold up for PPP processing, and the White House expects to continue to work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address this issue while maintaining program integrity.

Further guidance is expected in many of these areas, and we will continue to update you as it becomes available. Contact us for assistance with your PPP loan application or forgiveness application.

Last spring, the CARES Act created the ERC for businesses that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the CARES Act disallowed the credit for businesses that received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Fast forward to December 2020, when Congress declared that businesses that had obtained PPP loans could also qualify for the ERC. In addition, Congress extended the availability of the ERC into the first two quarters of 2021, with a few new favorable provisions. The credit is refundable, which means that qualified businesses are able to get cash to the extent that the credit exceeds the payroll tax liabilities. The chart below outlines the terms of the ERC for both the original and extended filing periods:

How does PPP loan forgiveness impact the ERC?

In a statement from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “[t]he eligible employer can claim the ERC on any qualified wages that are not counted as payroll costs in obtaining PPP loan forgiveness. Any wages that could count toward eligibility for the ERC or PPP loan forgiveness can be applied to either of these two programs, but not both.” The release of the new loan forgiveness applications on January 19, 2021, includes a provision to incorporate this change in guidance on a forward-looking basis. The revised loan forgiveness applications (Form 3508SForm 3508EZ and Form 3508) note that a borrower should “not include qualified wages taken into account in determining the Employee Retention Credit.”

My PPP loan was already forgiven, what now?

As I previously noted, a business cannot “double dip,” or utilize the same wages to obtain PPP loan forgiveness while still benefiting from the ERC. However, the ERC was not available to PPP recipients prior to December 27, 2020. Accordingly, those businesses that applied for loan forgiveness would have included all eligible payroll costs paid or incurred during the covered period pursuant to the instructions in the loan forgiveness applications. Certainly, those businesses shouldn’t be penalized for already receiving forgiveness prior to this change in the law; however, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen something like that with the evolution of the PPP.

On January 15, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) sought clarification on this matter. In a letter to the IRS, the AICPA “recommends that the IRS and Treasury provide guidance stating that the filing of a PPP loan forgiveness application does not constitute an election to forgo the ERC with respect to the amount of wages reported on the application exceeding the amount of wages necessary for loan forgiveness.” It is clear — additional guidance is imminent.

What’s next?

As we await clarification from the IRS, businesses who have already received forgiveness on their PPP loans should first evaluate their eligibility for the ERC. After concluding their eligibility, businesses should begin gathering payroll reports, government shutdown orders and financial statements to calculate and claim their credits.

Borrowers of PPP loans who have yet to apply for loan forgiveness have an alternative path; those businesses looking to leverage the ERC now have an additional element to consider in their evolving journey to loan forgiveness. This change in guidance further emphasizes the importance of an intentional strategy to maximize the benefits of both programs, but also leaves questions unanswered for borrowers who have already received forgiveness on their PPP loans.

Three new interim final rules (IFRs) for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have been released from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury in response to the changes and second round of funding enacted by the relief portion of the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed at the end of December. 

Here’s the breakdown on the first two IFRs. 

Changes in provisions for first-draw PPP loans 

First-time borrowers of PPP forgivable loans received consolidated rules in the IFR “Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program as Amended” as well as an outline of changes made by the Act. Here’s what this rule clarified: 

Additionally, specific funds were set aside for minority, underserved, veteran, and women-owned businesses. When the PPP portal reopens on Monday, Jan. 11lenders for underserved communities will have exclusive access for two days for first-draw loans and will be able to offer second-draw loans on Wednesday, Jan. 13The portal will be open to all borrowers following these exclusive access days.  

New provisions for second-draw PPP loans 

In the IFR “Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans,” much-awaited guidance was released for those looking to apply for a second PPP loan. Here’s what it said:  

Eligible borrowers must  

Third interim final rule clarifications 

In an IFR released on Jan. 19, the SBA and Treasury made a few notable changes and clarifications to the PPP that apply regardless of which type of forgiveness application a business uses. Here are the key points: 

Additionally, the three forgiveness applications have been updated to account for changes in these IFRS. Here are the links: 

New PPP application forms have been released for first or second-draw loans. We will continue to update you as further guidance becomes available. Contact us for assistance with your application for a first or second-draw loan or forgiveness.