As Americans and global citizens, we are living in unprecedented times with the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world. As we work together to move through these difficult times together, the IRS has provided some tax relief provisions for affected taxpayers. Let’s take a look at what’s being offered.

Extended Due Date to File and Pay Taxes

The regular due date for filing your Federal tax return is April 15th of any given tax year. Taxpayers, however, are generally allowed to file an extension of time to file their returns to October 15th of the same year. However, this is not typically considered an extension of time to pay any taxes owed.

The IRS has extended the tax deadline for this tax season (tax year 2019) to July 15, 2020. It is important to note that this is an extension to both file and pay any taxes owed. This includes both taxes owed for the 2019 tax filing year and 2020 Federal tax estimated payments.

Economic Impact Payments for Individuals and Families

Congress recently passed legislation that allows for direct payments to U.S. individuals and their families. Most payments will be based on 2019 tax information, or the 2018 tax return if 2019 has not yet been filed. For those who are not required to file a tax return or for which the IRS does not have bank account information, the IRS has a portal where bank account information can be provided.

(Note: Non-filers can enter their information in the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info” form, available here.)

Those who receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), survivors’ benefits, Railroad Retirement or veteran’s benefits are not required to provide this information as it is already on file. Payments will be made for direct deposit for those with information on file and via check for anyone without readily available banking information.

The amount of payment received depends on filing status and adjusted gross income.

  • Single taxpayers or those who are married and file separate returns with gross incomes of less than $75,000 receive $1,200. This amount is reduced by $5 for every $100 which income exceeds $75,000, phasing out completely at $99,000.
  • Married taxpayers with gross incomes of less than $150,000 receive $2,400. This amount is reduced by $5 for every $100 which income exceeds $150,000, phasing out completely at $198,000.
  • Head of household taxpayers with gross income of less than $112,5000 receive $1,200. This amount is reduced by $5 for every $100 which income exceeds $112,500, phasing out completely at $136,500.
  • Those with children under the age of 17 will receive an additional payment of $500 per child.

Please note that for individuals who receive social security, disability or retirement benefits with children under 17, the online portal should be utilized to make the IRS aware of each dependent.

The payments are scheduled to begin in the middle of April 2020. Recipients should receive a letter from the IRS regarding their economic impact payment within 15 days of payment being made.

Sick Leave for Individuals and Families Affected by COVID-19 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides that individuals who are required to miss work due to Coronavirus-related illness or childcare leave may request up to 80 hours of paid leave from their employers. Employers will be completely reimbursed for the cost of the leave by the government.

For employees who are forced to miss work due to children’s schools being closed may in some instances be eligible for an additional ten weeks of pay at the same 2/3 of total pay in compliance with the expanded Family and Medical Leave Act.

Sick leave relief applies for employees who work for companies with fewer than 500 employees. For businesses with less than 50 workers, if the viability of the business would be threatened due to allowing leave for a child’s school closing and/or childcare is unavailable, the employer may qualify for an exemption to providing related childcare leave.

Full information on who qualifies for family and medical leave, as well as information on the employer effects of this legislation, can be seen here.

Unemployment Benefits

Another benefit being provided as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak is an expansion of unemployment benefits. Here’s a quick summary of some of the changes:

Eligibility for the program has now been extended to include:

  • People who are unable to work because their employer has temporarily halted operations due to the outbreak
  • People who have had to quit their jobs in order to care for vulnerable family members who are susceptible to the virus
  • People who have had to quit their jobs because they are at risk of being exposed to the virus and infecting vulnerable family members
  • People who have had to go into quarantine but are fully expecting to return to work after the quarantine period is over.
  • Self-Employed people
  • Independent Contractors
  • Gig Workers
  • People with a limited work history

Unemployed workers will receive an additional $600 per week over and above  the state benefits for up to six months. This is an increase on what would normally have been received – the average at present is around $300 a week.

In these difficult times, it is important to understand the relief options that are available to you and your family. If you have any questions about coronavirus-related tax relief, please feel free to reach out to us for more information. Stay healthy and safe