Harless Tax Blog

Harless Tax Blog

SBA Updates Guidance and Increases Cap for Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Thursday, September 30, 2021

September 19, 2021 By Susan Kaplan

The most recent good news from the SBA is the increasing of the cap for COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loans from $500,000 to $2 million starting October 8th.

The SBA, is targeting hard-hit sectors of the economy. There will be an exclusive 30-day window for approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less. Approval and disbursement of loans over $500,000 will begin after the 30-day period. To ease the COVID EIDL application process for small businesses, the SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

COVID EIDL funds can be used for normal operating expenses and working capital, to make regular payments for operating expenses, including payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, purchasing equipment, paying ordinary business expenses, and to pay business debt incurred at any time (past present or future). COVID EIDL funds will now be eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.

Reminders:

  1. The SBA is authorized to make COVID EIDL loans through December 31, 2021, or when funds are exhausted, whichever occurs sooner.
  2. Interest rates are: businesses: 3.75% fixed; private nonprofit organizations: 2.75% fixed
  3. Loan term is 30 years. COVID EIDL repayment is deferred until 2 years after loan origination, but interest will accrue. Payments of principal and interest are made over the remaining 28 years. No penalty for prepayment.
  4. Fees will vary but are minimal, credit scores will be taken into consideratio0n as well. A personal guaranty is required for loans more than $200,000, except in the case of a non-profit. Loans of $200,001 to $2,000,000 require a full personal guaranty from:
    • All individuals or entities owning 20% or more of the applicant business;
    • For sole proprietorships, the proprietor;
    • For independent contractors, the contractor;
    • For General Partnerships, all general partners;
    • For Limited Partnerships, all general partners and any limited partner who owns 20% or more of the partnership;
    • For Limited Liability Entities, the Managing Member and any member who owns 20% or more of the entity;
    • For Corporations, any individual or legal entity who owns 20 percent or more of the voting stock.
    • If no single owner owns 20% or more, then at least one individual or entity must provide a full guaranty.
  5. For loans under $25,000 no collateral is required, however:
    1. From $25,001 to $500,000 collateral requirements are as follows: Security agreement (UCC-1) lien required on business assets. A UCC filing is a legal notice that SBA will file with the Secretary of State to record a security interest against your business assets ($100 fee).
    2. $500,001 – $2,000,000: Security agreement (UCC-1) lien required on business assets and a best available mortgage on real estate owned by the applicant business. SBA will charge a one-time $100 fee for filing the UCC-1 lien. Additionally, the borrower will be responsible for recording the real estate lien and paying the associated fees.
  6. You may be eligible for a targeted EIDL advance that does not have to be repaid:
    1. Targeted EIDL Advance: If you are located in a low-income community, have 300 or fewer employees, and suffered greater than 30% reduction in revenue, you may be eligible for up to $10,000.
    2. Supplemental Targeted Advance: If you are located in a low-income community, have 10 or fewer employees, and suffered greater than 50% reduction in in revenue, you may be eligible for an additional $5,000 Supplemental Targeted Advance, for a total of $15,000 in Advances.
  7. You can apply for an increase at this time in your EIDL portal
  8. If you suffered working capital losses due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and meet the size and other eligibility requirements, you can apply for a new COVID EIDL here: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/
  9. More information on eligibility requirements and documents you need for the application can be found here: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2021-09/COVID-EIDL-FAQs-090821-508.pdf and here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/eidl/covid-19-eidl

CONTACT US: The expiration of the PPP, and soon of the Employee Retention Credit, make the EIDL program a great option for small businesses. You cannot expand your business or start a new business with these funds, but you can keep an existing business afloat. If you need assistance, our COVID task force is here to help you with eligibility, documentation, application, tax questions and more.

Fall Into Tax Savings

Thursday, September 30, 2021

QUICK TAX TIPS & GOOD NEWS:

  • Cost of COVID Home Test Reimbursable: We would like to remind clients that the cost of home testing for COVID-19 is an eligible medical expense that can be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). The cost to diagnose COVID-19 is an eligible medical expense for tax purposes. The IRS has also clarified that the purchase of personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of coronavirus are deductible medical expenses as well.
  • SBA Increases Cap for E.I.D.L to $2 Million: The SBA is increasing the cap for COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loans from $500,000 to $2 million, targeting hard-hit sectors of the economy. The expiration of the PPP, and soon of the Employee Retention Credit, make the EIDL program a great option for small businesses. EIDL funds can be used for normal operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment, and paying off debt. COVID EIDL funds will now be eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt. Also, small business owners won’t need to begin COVID EIDL repayment until 2 years after loan origination. The EIDL program expires 12/31/2021.
  • New Safe Harbor for Claiming the ERC: The IRS issued a safe harbor that allows an employer to exclude certain amounts received from other COVID economic relief programs in determining whether it qualifies for the employee retention credit (ERC) based on a decline in gross receipts. The amounts that can be excluded in calculated gross receipts are: 1) Forgiveness of PPP loans; 2) Shuttered Venue Operators Grants; and 3) Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants. The employer must consistently apply this safe harbor for each calendar quarter in which gross receipts for that calendar quarter are relevant to determining eligibility for the ERC.

Don’t Miss Midyear Tax Planning Opportunities

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Valuable tax planning opportunities exist if you anticipate potential tax changes and take advantage of what’s still available under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, CARES Act, and other tax provisions. The American Rescue Plan Act enacted earlier this year included changes that will affect 2021 tax returns and, if enacted, the proposed American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan could both contain provisions that will impact 2021 tax returns. Are you ready for an increase in the capital gains rate that might be retroactive? Whether you are a business or an individual, being proactive can save you $$$$ – here are some ideas.

BUSINESSES

  1. The TCJA deduction for foreign-derived intangible income is often an overlooked tax benefit. It’s not just geared toward products sold overseas using U.S. intellectual property, it’s potentially available for any domestic corporation that sells, licenses or leases any products to any foreign entity for use outside the United States. It may be a benefit that disappears under the Biden administration, so use it now if you can.
  2. The TCJA’s Global Intangible Low Taxed Income (GILTI) rules attempted to coax U.S.-based multinational businesses back from sheltering their profits in lower-tax jurisdictions overseas. The new tax rules featured a 10.5% statutory rate with a 50% earnings deduction, an exclusion of 10% return on foreign tangible assets, and the ability to pool foreign profits, losses and tax credits for a company’s U.S. tax bill. Careful planning with foreign tax credits and an assessment whether a retroactive election for the high-tax exception in the regulations could result in a prior-year refund. There also may be planning opportunities to benefit from rate arbitrage by adjusting the timing of items before an increase in the GILTI rate.
  3. The R&D credit is still underused. Many taxpayers leave money on the table because they don’t understand how broadly the credit can apply. See our prior article HERE: https://www.fuoco.cpa/surprising-tax-saving-expenses-eligible-for-rd-credits/. Beginning in 2022, the federal research tax credit must be amortized: over a 5 year period if incurred inside the U.S., or a 15 year period if incurred outside the U.S. Taxpayers may need to begin preparing to track these costs now in order to be able to comply for 2022. A bill is being proposed which would repeal mandatory capitalization of R&D costs.
  4. Meals and entertainment deductibility has taken a roller coaster ride due to TCJA and CARES Act changes. The TCJA repealed any deduction for entertainment expenses but left a 50% deduction for meals. The CARES Act raised the deduction to a full 100% to help restaurants return to normal in 2021 and 2022. Businesses should have tracking systems in place to identify which meal costs may be eligible for a 50% deduction or a 100% deduction.
  5. There are significant tax refund opportunities regarding sales and use tax – look at your state and local compliance. Many states and localities offer sales and use tax exemptions from machinery and equipment or from property purchased for further manufacture or resale. If your company makes frequent or large purchases, perhaps consider a review of purchases to identify if any exemptions might apply.
  6. Check out our update on the Employee Retention Credit, which has been extended and enhanced, HERE: https://www.fuoco.cpa/employee-retention-tax-credits-available-thru-december-2021/. The IRS has interpreted the rules generously, so that if remote employees are getting their full salaries but are not performing full services, the employer can claim the credit for them as well.

INDIVIDUALS

  1. The 3d round of Economic Impact Payments will impact 2021 returns. So if you haven’t received yours, examine why! It should be based on your 2019 return, but if it was paid based on the 2019 return and your 2020 return is filed by August 17, 2021, you might get a second check if they were entitled to more based on their 2020 return.
  2. The American Rescue Plan expanded the Child Tax Credit for 2021, with up to $3,600 per child under the age of six, and $3,000 for those ages six to 17. The credit is fully refundable, and will be mailed in monthly installments of up to $300 per child from July 15th through December 15th. There is an IRS portal to report a child born in 2021. Just remember, if a taxpayer receives more than they were entitled to, they have to pay it back.
  3. Recent college graduates might qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, since the American Rescue Plan expanded the EITC for 2021 primarily for childless low-income individuals.
  4. For the 2021 tax year, the Child and Dependent Care Credit can get you up to 50% of up to $8,000 of child care and similar costs for a child under 13, a spouse or parent who cannot care for themselves, or another dependent so that you can work (and up to $16,000 of expenses for two or more dependents). Be sure to document care providers to qualify for the Dependent Care Credit – you will need to prove how much care was provided and have the ID number of the provider. Summer day camp counts!
  5. Be prepared for an increase in the capital gains rate that might be retroactive! Under the Biden plan, capital gains for those earning more than $1 million would be taxed at their marginal tax rate, which is currently 37% and which the administration hopes to increase to 39.6% in 2022. Those taxpayers would also have to continue paying the 3.8% Medicare surtax on capital gains, bringing the total levy to 40.4% in 2021 and 43.4% in 2022. The key to avoiding the higher capital gains tax is to keep income below $1 million, but any pre-emptive moves should not inflict harm if the tax hike doesn’t pass, which is also a possibility.
  • If proceeds from a sale (business or asset) are being paid out in increments over several years, perhaps elect out of the installment tax payment plan and pay the full tax liability this year.
  • If planning a big sale sometime soon, consider doing it this year instead of next year.
  • Use other traditional methods to reduce tax liability like increasing retirement plan contributions, deferring other income, harvesting tax losses and making charitable contributions, including securities, to a donor-advised fund.
  • Structure future sales to keep as much of the proceeds, combined with a taxpayer’s income, under $1 million for any given year to avoid the higher capital gains tax. String out payments to keep income under $1 million and pay just 20% on capital gains instead of the higher income tax rate.

Contact Us: This is just the tip of the iceberg. Financial transactions can be negatively impacted by “tax drag” if appropriate tax planning isn’t conducted beforehand. With potentially significant changes to the tax landscape looming, we want to take stock of our clients’ financial health now, especially for those who are most at-risk.

Employee Retention Tax Credits Available Thru December 2021

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act signed in March extended the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) through December 2021, and made a number of related changes. The ERTC remains a key resource available to businesses seeking to recover from the effects of the COVID pandemic, potentially returning $28,000 per employee to qualifying employers for wages paid in 2021. The ERTC was also extended to new businesses, which started after February 15, 2020, with average annual receipts of under $1,000,000. For such businesses, the amount of the credit may not exceed $50,000 per quarter.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) increased the value of the ERTC for wages paid from January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021 to 70% (from 50%) of qualified wages, which were increased from $10,000 per year to $10,000 per quarter. Thus, the maximum credit per employee for wages paid between January and June 2021 is $14,000. The American Rescue Plan reaffirms the credit percentage remains 70% of up to $10,000 in qualified wages per employee per quarter; i.e., a $28,000 maximum credit per employee for 2021.

The CAA changing the 100-employee threshold to 500 for 2021 made it easier to qualify, as well. Employers became eligible in 2021 if they were able to demonstrate revenue declines of 20% (formerly 50%) to determine eligibility.

Legislation also enabled employers that received PPP loans to qualify for the ERTC as well. This provision was both effective in 2021 — and retroactive to March 2020. The maximum credit remains $5,000 per employee for 2020 while other limits in effect in 2020 continue to apply (e.g., revenue declines of 50% or more). Qualifying employers who received PPP loans in 2020 can amend their federal employment tax returns to request refunds for the ERTC.

More information on juggling both the PPP and ERTC HERE: https://www.fuoco.cpa/maximizi...

And HERE: https://www.fuoco.cpa/new-ppp-...

Contact Us: The information above should be evaluated to determine whether the ERTC may be available to an employer. Please consult with your Fuoco Group tax advisors to assess your situation and make sure you are taking advantage of all the tax credits and financial assistance available to you at this time.

Reality Check for Real Estate Post-COVID

Monday, July 12, 2021

Thanks to COVID-19 vaccines, business is now bouncing back but many challenges will likely linger for real estate. COVID made financial reporting and accounting much more difficult for owners of real estate due to closures, tenants who stopped paying rent, rule changes for lease accounting, and the office or retail space that went unused.

When preparing their 2020 GAAP year-end financial statements, clients that own real estate property had to deal with issues like asset impairment, going-concern evaluations, tenant receivables, the new lease standard, and accounting for Paycheck Protection Program loans. Where to go from here? Looking forward to 2021 consider the following:

Asset Impairment

COVID would seem to qualify as a triggering event to asset impairment due to the widespread losses and business closures it triggered, and we are still suffering from. It also precipitated decreased cash flow, reduced occupancy, and created a “deterioration in the environment in which an entity operates,” for some sooner rather than later. For those clients, an impairment assessment would seem important. There is potential for an asset write-down when your tenants are suffering and experiencing losses that leads to a dent in your future net cash flow. When an impairment has been identified, the entity may need to recognize the loss and report it as a current net income item.

Income-producing real estate entities for residential and commercial industrial property should have a conversation with their Fuoco CPA about whether there could be an impairment based on carrying value versus the future net cash flow. Compare cash flow forecasts to contractual rent obligations, and consider the true collectability of postponed rent payments as well as tenants’ readiness to renew their leases. You may also need to consider property valuations as part of an impairment assessment.

Going Concern

Many commercial tenants are asking landlords for rent concessions, or reducing their real estate footprint as they consider whether they can have more of their workforce become remote, or put on a “flex” schedule. There’s probably been a higher frequency of modifications or terminations and lease contract changes, and some clients may not be used to accounting for those. If too many tenants stop paying rent or ask for steep rent concessions, that could affect a landlord’s ability to continue operating as a “going concern.” If an entity is looking at an asset impairment, it could mean they have losses and tenants terminating their leases earlier. Maybe there are liquidity and capital resources issues? All these things impact the indication of a going concern. Private companies do need to satisfy their lender who is looking at the financial statement and may be asking if they going to be able to pay down their loan over the rest of the term. Disclosures may need to be provided to reassure lenders. Some clients may be able to get deferrals on principal and interest payments on their loans, but how does that impact future maturities of long-term debt? When are those deferrals going to come due? Are they going to amortize the debt?

With the strong economic recovery underway this year, more landlords and more tenants are making overdue improvements as they reopen their businesses. Some construction that was started, was halted during COVID so there are construction costs. Tenants continue to be late in paying. Receivables are up, accrued expenses are up, yet clients haven’t actually paid for the capital expenditures. Could be a non-cash item if there are construction costs not yet paid for. If this is your situation, consider the impact on your current year cash flow as well as next year.

Bad Debt

Mom and pop shops, local restaurants and other service-based professions will continue to lag. Small shop space vacancies continue downward pressure on rents in commercial real estate. Debts are piling up for many, which may or may not be repaid. See our article on bad debt here: https://www.fuoco.cpa/be-sure-...

PPP Loans and Forgiveness

The Paycheck Protection Program Loans complicated things further this year. You can account for it one of two ways: either the debt method or a grant method. The debt method is similar to how debt would be presented on a normal for-profit company’s balance sheet: you have debt which is recorded as income when it’s actually forgiven. The grant method requires an analysis to say it’s probable that the loan will be forgiven, partially or in full. It’s initially recognized as deferred income and then the gain is recognized in the period over which the related expenses are made. For many clients this would be 2020, so it would not have a balance sheet impact. It would really be all income statement impact.

For many real estate businesses, the PPP is the first time they have participated in a government incentive program and have never had to account for it. For pass-through entities, there are tax considerations as well as the implications of determining when an entity may need some basis or not, which could have an impact on the way that it’s recorded on the financial statement.

Many PPP loans will qualify for full or partial forgiveness. If the loan has not yet been forgiven, real estate professionals and their Fuoco CPA will need to consider the interplay of costs used for forgiveness with employee retention credits prior to filing for forgiveness. See our prior article on maximizing both here: https://www.fuoco.cpa/maximizi...

FASB & Leases

Adding fuel to this financial fire, is the new leases standard, ASC 842, from the Financial Accounting Standards Board. In response to the pandemic, FASB deferred the deadline for adoption by private companies and not-for-profits until fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2021, and interim periods within fiscal years starting after December 15, 2022. Companies still need to get ready to implement the new rules. Finish dealing with the pandemic, but then pay attention to this because it will have a huge impact on the lessees. For those clients who are leasing space where they used to have an operating lease, it will now be on the balance sheet. Have leased equipment? It could have a huge impact there as well.

Reach Out to Us: As a result of the pandemic and its lingering effects, there is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty regarding the commercial real estate market. Many owners of commercial real estate will be contending with the coronavirus pandemic’s impacts on their financial performance for years to come. Interest rates may remain low thru 2021 due to an accommodative Federal Reserve. Keeping short term rates low could provide a favorable backdrop for commercial borrowers. There will be some winners and some losers. As retail, hotel and office prices decline, industrial, data center, life science and single-family homes will continue to increase in value. Let us help you put your company in a more favorable position in the last half of 2021.

Quick Tax Tips

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Millions to Get Refunds for Tax Paid on Unemployment: July is a great month for folks who filed tax returns early in 2021 reporting their 2020 unemployment benefits. The IRS announced 4 million of those taxpayers are about to get refunds for their tax overpayments. If the IRS has direct deposit data, it will issue refunds starting July 14th. The average refund being delivered is $1,265. The refunds were created by the American Rescue Plan Act which excluded up to $10,200 in 2020 unemployment compensation from taxable income. The nontaxable amount applied to individuals and married couples whose modified adjusted gross income was less than $150,000.

Florida Back to School Sales Tax Holiday: Back-to-school shopping is one of the most expensive times of the year for families. Returning to school for the first time in a year and a half due to Covid-19, may put some parents in a state of financial shock. Being strategic with BTS purchases will help maximize your savings, especially if consumers can delay their purchases until the sales tax holiday dates. Remember - it is not just for kids! From July 31st thru August 9th, consumers can purchase a single article of clothing up to $60 without paying 6% tax on it; the first $1,000 of a computer purchase will also be tax-free. More info on eligible items here: https://floridarevenue.com/tax...

Delinquent Taxes May Affect Your Travel Plans: Many vaccinated U.S. residents are planning trips abroad late Summer and early Fall. But federal tax trouble could pose problems for some overseas travelers. The IRS says that on July 15th it will resume notifying the State Department to revoke or deny renewal of the passports of taxpayers with seriously delinquent tax debt. If you owe Uncle Sam more than $54,000 in back taxes, penalties, and interest, reach out before IRS issues a lien or levy. Proactively working with the IRS could help you resolve your tax debt on better terms.

Fantasy Sports Players May Face Tax Consequences: the IRS has consistently maintained that Fantasy sports competitions involving money are a form of gambling and just reiterated this position in a new ruling. If you play Fantasy sports online for money and win $600 or more, the sponsoring website is legally obligated to report the winnings. Typically, you’ll receive a Form 1099-MISC or a 1099-K for payment from a third party source. The same information is sent to the IRS. If you are eligible to itemize deductions above the standard deduction, you can deduct your gambling expenses to the extent of your winnings. If that is the case, your net profit for tax purposes is the amount of your winnings minus any entry fee.

Are Stimulus Checks Coming?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Saturday, a divided Senate passed the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, paving the way for $1,400 checks and jobless aid. The bill must now clear the House again!

The package would include direct payments of up to $1,400 for Americans, jobless aid of $300 a week to last till September 6th, with the first $10,200 in federal unemployment benefits tax-free for households making less than $150,000 per year.

Known as the American Rescue Plan Act, the bill will be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law if it passes the House without changes. Congress is under pressure because legislation authorizing $300 a week in federal funds added to unemployment checks expires on March 14th.

Eligibility for the recovery rebate credits (stimulus checks) would phase out more quickly than it did previously. For single taxpayers, the phaseout will begin at an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 and the credit will be completely phased out for taxpayers with an AGI over $80,000. For married taxpayers who file jointly, the phaseout will begin at an AGI of $150,000 and end at AGI of $160,000. And for heads of households, the phaseout will begin at an AGI of $112,500 and be complete at AGI of $120,000.

Be Sure To Track Uncollectable Balances and Bad Debt

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The challenging economic environment continues to be fueled by the pandemic, and has left many businesses holding “bad debt” in the form of payments owed that will never be collected from customers. Why should a business manager worry about bad debt? The balance sheet is an accurate and fair indicator of the company’s financial position on a given day at the end of the financial reporting period and the balance sheet must be adjusted to reflect the impact of bad debts. How much should a company hold relative to their revenue? Let’s discuss some strategies you can use to keep uncollectable balances and bad debt as low as possible.

  1. Look for warning signs: You should assume that due to the pandemic and the hardships it has imposed on both businesses as well as individuals that uncollectable balances will pop up. The key is to not let them spiral out of control. Benchmark internally and track your numbers over time. How many uncollectables were there 30/60/90 days ago? Over time they could turn into bad debt.
  2. Examine your revenue-to-cash ratio: If your sales are a million dollars a month, ideally the cash flowing in during the subsequent period should be around 80%. If less, look for where the gap might be.
  3. Know your customers, and how flexible you can be with them: Are they in the hospitality industry or other industry hard hit by COVID? They might truly have challenges paying on time. Talk to them, be ready to extend terms, take a percentage. Don’t sacrifice your bottom line, but it may be worth agreeing to extended payment terms for important and strategic customer relationships, even if COVID means accepting slower or lower payments while they ride out the crisis.
  4. Revisit your credit policies: You may have to tighten your credit policies. Generally, with items over 120 days it becomes more unlikely you will collect, you may have to write off that bad debt, accordingly.
  5. Be proactive about bringing in cash:
  • Train your staff to prioritize accounts for collection, how to work with customers in difficulty, and identify those deserving of extended payment terms.
  • Require a deposit, often it is more likely the customer will pay the balance.
  • Offer “early pay” discounts!
  • Leverage credit holds till customers pay their balance.
  • Look into a customer pay portal, it facilitates customer payments.

Uncollectable balances represent money you won’t get for a service or product you’ve already delivered. With many areas of the country still battered by the pandemic, a portion of uncollectable balances should be expected at this time. It’s more important than ever to monitor, measure and track the trend, to work with customers to recover whatever you can in order to keep your own boat afloat.

Remember, a business-related bad debt is a deductible item when filing the business income tax returns, but the federal government allows this deduction only if it was previously included in the gross income while filing the taxes. It can be claimed as an operating loss and can be subtracted from gross profits as a tax deduction, but if the books of accounts are maintained on a cash basis, bad debts cannot be claimed as a deduction, as all income is recognized only when received in cash.

Reach Out To Us: Some companies in today’s economic environment are struggling to keep their business above water or to continue making their payroll. You are not alone – we are here to help! A good finance manager should know when their company is holding too much bad debt. Let us help you recognize if trouble is on the way, and devise solutions to limit the amount of uncollectables and recognize red flags before it gets too late. Call 855-542-7537 or email CPA@fuoco.com.

Surprising Tax Saving Expenses Eligible For R&D Credits

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

In pandemic times, every penny saved counts. Tax planning can reduce business taxes, but there are additional savings opportunities. When it comes to research and development tax credits, certain costs related to wages, supplies and contract research are eligible, and can save you $$$. Taxpayers often overlook processes and routine work that counts towards extra tax savings. Why?

  1. Because the list of what might be eligible is more extensive than most business owners realize, and
  2. The R&D Tax Credit is for businesses of all sizes, not just major corporations with research labs.

Activities related to applied sciences and other technical projects qualify for companies in numerous industries; there doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking invention or revolutionary technology, it can be as simple as products and processes that are improved. Some years ago the PATH Act not only made the R&D Tax Credit permanent, it modified the credit for the benefit of small and mid-size businesses and opened up its availability to startups. If your company does any of the following, your business may qualify for the R&D Tax Credit:

  • Develops or designs new products or processes
  • Enhances existing products or processes
  • Develops or improves upon existing prototypes and software

Since the credit may be claimed for both current and prior tax years, companies can benefit from documenting their R&D activities to ensure they are positioned to claim the credit in both situations. To claim the credit, the taxpayer must evaluate and document their research activities to establish the amount of qualified research expenses paid for each eligible research activity. While taxpayers may estimate some research expenses, but must have documentation for the estimates. Examples of such documentation includes:

  • Payroll records
  • General ledger expense detail
  • Project lists and budgets
  • Project process and notes
  • Third party agreements

These records combined with credible employee testimony can form the basis of a R&D Tax Credit claim. Remember the 4-part test the IRS uses to determine if a project qualifies:

  1. Technical Uncertainty
  2. Process of Experimentation
  3. Technical in Nature
  4. Qualified Purpose

Startups and small businesses may qualify for up to $1.25 million (or $250,000 each year for up to five years) of the federal R&D Tax Credit to offset the FICA portion of their annual payroll taxes. Ensure you are receiving the full value you are entitled to under relevant IRS guidelines and Treasury regulations. To be eligible, a company must:

  • Have less than $5 million in gross receipts for the credit year
  • Have no more than five years of gross receipts

Standard procedure for claiming an R&D tax credit is to complete the required documentation and submit form 6765 alongside your company’s original filing. Companies either forget, or are unaware of the need to include this form.

Generally, you have at least 3 years from the date you file your tax return to amend your return to correct any errors or include any missing items. Additionally, this 3 year period can be further extended if you incur net operating losses, make subsequent tax payments, or voluntarily extend the time to assess deficiencies. Innovative companies that claim the credit every year will realize the highest return on their investment. Even if unutilized in a given tax year, credits can be carried forward up to 20 years, and, in some cases, recorded as deferred tax assets on your balance sheet.

Don’t fail to claim R&D tax credits because you think day-to-day activities don’t qualify for this dollar-for-dollar reduction in income tax liability. Here are some qualifiers that might surprise you:

  1. Cloud computing server, platform and SaaS software application innovation costs may be qualified research expenses (QREs) eligible for federal and state R&D credits. Cloud-hosted development platforms and beta testing of pre-released software programs are included (operating platforms are not).
  2. If companies migrate their platform or legacy systems during a merger, the development efforts related to the move may qualify if moving workloads and tasks from one system to another involves design, process improvements, technical uncertainty and points of failure, the baseline criteria for federal research credits.
  3. Replacing an obsolete part or product with a new design, or changing a product to accommodate a new part currently available on the market. This would require design changes and taxpayers who can provide proof of concept, demonstrate how the innovation made the product better, and document the failure points, may be able to recoup expenses related to design and testing.
  4. Process Automation tools that improve efficiencies such as automated shelving, robotic arms and labeling systems, which improve workflows and manufacturing processes. The time invested in designing the type of robot (static or dynamic), how and where that robot is used, and the trial runs testing the product or process may be qualified expenses.
  5. Any product or process using machine learning and artificial intelligence to learn how to do something better, faster and more efficiently qualifies for research credits.

Reach Out To Us: Many companies are eligible for R&D tax credits, with an expansive list of activities qualifying for the credit. Although it’s too late to claim your 2019 research credit as a payroll tax offset, companies can amend their return to monetize it as an income tax credit – and can even consider performing a ‘look-back’ to capture up to 3 years of unclaimed tax credits. To find out more about R&D tax credits, or to discuss whether your business qualifies, contact us at 855-542-7537 or CPA@fuoco.com.

Maximizing Both the Employee Retention Credit and PPP Loan Forgiveness

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

For 2020, eligible employers with a PPP loan can now claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), although the same wages cannot be counted for both. The IRS has made clarifications to the CARES Act changes passed late December that expanded eligibility for the ERC in 2020. It now may be easier for employers to both achieve PPP Loan forgiveness and get ERCs, but it is a balancing act!

With the first round of the PPP, forgiveness and the ERC were mutually exclusive, so you had to pick one or the other, but now business owners and employers have options. The key is finding a way to maximize the benefits of each one. There is a limitation on the dollars used for the PPP and the ERC, but if done right you can get full PPP Loan forgiveness and the full ERC amount available to you. We are here to help.

For 2020, the ERC can be claimed by employers who paid qualified wages after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021, if they experienced a full or partial suspension of their operations, or a significant decline in gross receipts. The ERC is equal to 50% of qualified wages paid, including health plan expenses, for up to $10,000 per employee in 2020 for all calendar quarters. The maximum credit for qualified wages paid to any employee is $5,000. Eligible employers that received a PPP loan can now claim that ERC, BUT the same wages can not be counted both for seeking forgiveness of the PPP loan and for calculating the ERC!

Key Point: The filing of a PPP Loan forgiveness application should 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.

More ERC changes for 2021:

  • The Employee Retention Credit has been extended through the first 2 quarters of 2021;
  • Credit amount increases to 70% of qualified wages;
  • Cap on qualified wages is increased from $10,000 total to $10,000 per quarter;
  • Reduction in gross receipts to qualify if the business was not shut down by government order is now reduced to 20% year-over-year;
  • Businesses with less than 500 employees can now take the credit for all employees; and
  • Some non-profits now qualify as eligible employers.

Our tax professionals have been advising patience, amended returns, and quantitative analysis to guide clients through the complexities of claiming both the PPP forgiveness and the ERC. Businesses that got PPP loans last year can apply for a “second draw” if they still need resources, full story HERE: https://www.fuoco.cpa/drill-down-on-2nd-round-ppp-loans/. Many small businesses are going to qualify for it (and the ERC!) through a gross receipts analysis or a partial suspension of operations analysis. For some businesses owners the economic benefit and tax benefit of the PPP will far outweigh the ERC, but every business situation is different.

Eligibility for the PPP loan is priority #1, but analyzing payroll for the 1st Quarter of 2021 may provide some insight for the ERC. Look at the date of your loan and perhaps you will be able to take advantage of the ERC for a certain period of the year without affecting the PPP forgiveness. For the PPP, whenever your covered period runs out on this new loan, you’re going to apply for forgiveness. The 941 at the end of April of 2021 may be used to get the ERC credit, but you can get an ERC credit upfront via the 7200 form.

We also have clients taking a first round PPP loan that didn’t qualify or couldn’t obtain funds last year. For them it makes sense to analyze the payroll and non-payroll costs for the PPP. There may be an opportunity to use some PPP proceeds to potentially get forgiveness – then for the non-payroll costs, maximize those up to that 60/40 ratio. That may make you eligible to go after the ERC. Timing of the funds used for forgiveness will matter. If you’re outside the covered window, then what is spent on payroll should be applicable to the ERC. If an employee makes more than the $100,000 cap in the PPP, you might be able to take advantage of the ERC….we are waiting for further guidance for more complex scenarios.

Remember, Congress also affirmed deductibility of expenses paid by forgiven PPP loans within The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. There were also tax extenders and enhanced tax credits included in the bill. A full list is HERE.

Reach Out To Us: Just when you thought things could not become more complex, new legislation arrives, and with it more questions. There are retroactive changes to the ERC that apply to 2020. Keep in mind that new legislation extended and modified the ERC for the first two calendar quarters in 2021, but the recent guidance only addresses the rules applicable to 2020. More guidance is on the way regarding the changes for 2021. Let our tax team and PPP Loan advisors help guide you and your business. After all, opportunities lost and mistakes made can cost you $$$. Contact us at CPA@Fuoco.com or call 855-542-7537 for assistance.


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