By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management/Director, Ohio State University Income Tax Schools
Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021 on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 which was signed by the President on Dec. 27. The CAA funds the government through Sept. 30, 2021, implements COVID-19 relief provisions, and extends a number of expiring tax provisions. The $2.3 trillion bill provides $900 billion in COVID-19 relief. This article highlights key provisions for farm related issues from several Acts within the CAA’s 5,593 pages.
Economic impact payments
The Act provides for “additional 2020 recovery rebates for individuals.” The additional recovery rebate credit is $600 for “eligible individuals” or $1,200 for “eligible individuals” filing a joint return. “Eligible individuals” are entitled to a $600 credit for each “qualifying child.” (This generally includes dependent children under the age of 17.) Phaseouts apply for higher income taxpayers.
Paycheck Protection Program loans — Covered expenses now deductible
Previously, the IRS and Treasury indicated that the expenses covered by PPP loans that were forgiven (or would be forgiven) would not be deductible. This new legislation now allows for these expenses to be deducted. This provision overrides IRS Notice 2020-32 and Rev. Rul. 2020-27. The CARES Act indicated that the loan proceeds from PPP loans are not to be included as taxable income. This tax treatment would apply to original PPP loans, as well as any subsequent loans made possible by the Act.
Paycheck Protection Program — other new guidelines
Qualified self-employed farmers who did not have employees and had less than $100,000 of net income in 2019 were not originally eligible for the maximum forgivable PPP loan. The new legislation now allows for the PPP loan forgiveness based on gross income rather than net income. Farmers are now able to receive a PPP loan of up to $20,833 (reduced by any loan already received) based on gross receipts of at least $100,000.
The legislation amends the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to extend the covered period from Dec. 31, 2020, through March 31, 2021. An allocation of $284 billion is included to provide first and second PPP loans to small businesses. Details of the expanded program will not be known until SBA releases required guidance.
The PPP allows borrowers to spend proceeds on payroll costs and non-payroll costs of business mortgage interest, business rent payments, and business utility payments. This new legislation expands the allowable use of PPP loan proceeds.
The legislation allows borrowers to choose a covered period anywhere between an eight-week and 24-week covered period for purposes of loan forgiveness. The covered period must begin on the date the proceeds are disbursed.
The legislation provides a simplified forgiveness procedure for PPP loans up to $150,000. The new procedure provides that such loans “shall be forgiven” if the borrower signs a certification that shall not be more than one page in length and shall require minimal supporting information.
The legislation repeals the provision in the CARES Act requiring the SBA to reduce a borrower’s PPP forgiveness by the amount of an EIDL advance.
PPP second draw loans
The new legislation establishes a PPP Second Draw Loan program that generally applies to businesses with 300 or fewer employees if the business had gross receipts during any quarter in 2020 that were reduced by at least 25% from the gross receipts of the business during the same quarter in 2019.
To be eligible for a second draw loan, the borrower must have received a PPP loan in 2020 and used all of the proceeds of that loan for permitted purposes.
The Act allows borrowers who have not yet received forgiveness to request an increase in their loan amount if they returned all or part of a PPP loan or did not take the full amount of a PPP loan to which they were entitled. This provision allows borrowers who received loans before more favorable regulations were enacted to take advantage of those new provisions.
Employee retention credit (ERC)
The legislation extends and expands the employee retention credit, allowing employers to remain eligible up until July 1, 2021. Previously, employers who received a PPP loan were ineligible to claim the ERC. The new legislation retroactively allows employers who receive PPP loans to claim the ERC and to treat payroll costs paid during the loan-covered period as qualified wages to the extent the wages are not paid for with forgiven PPP loan proceeds.
For the period from Jan. 1, 2021 and prior to July 1, 2021 the ERC percentage increases from 50% of qualified wages to 70%. Employers can count qualified wages up to $10,000 per employee per quarter (instead of for all quarters) in calculating the credit. Employers qualify for the credit if their gross receipts for a calendar quarter are less than 80% of the gross receipts of the corresponding calendar quarter in calendar year 2019.
Economic Injury Disaster Assistance (EIDL) loans and advances
The Act allows Economic Injury Disaster Assistance (EIDL) Advances provided as emergency grants under the CARES Act to be excluded from gross income while the corresponding expenses would remain deductible. Additionally, loan forgiveness granted to an EIDL loan recipient under discretionary powers provided by the CARES Act does not result in gross income or a denial of deductions for allocable expenses.
New Net Operating Loss (NOL) options
The new legislation provides farmers new net operating loss options not otherwise available in the wake of the CARES Act. Farmers have the option to temporarily carry back Net Operating Losses 2 or 5 years with some caveats.
Extension of credits for paid sick and family leave
The Act extends the tax credits made available to employers by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act through March 31, 2021 (They were set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020). This includes the sick and family leave credits for self-employed individuals. The new legislation does not provide additional credits for employees but allows for a larger window to utilize them if the employer chooses.
Emergency EIDL grants
The Act appropriates an additional $20 billion for emergency EIDL grants. The Act extends the covered period for this program through Dec. 31, 2021, and extends the period to approve the applications from three days to 21 days.
Temporary allowance of 100% deduction for business meals
The new legislation allows for a 100% deduction for business meals where food or beverages is provided by a restaurant, for the 2021 and 2022 tax years.
Charitable contributions deduction by non-itemizers
For tax years beginning in 2021, the Act extends and increases the above-the-line deduction for cash contributions by non-itemizers to $300 for individuals and $600 for married filers.
Extension of Deferred Employee Portion of Payroll Taxes
The Act delays the repayment requirement for the employee portion of the payroll taxes that were deferred in response to the President’s Aug. 8 Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster. Instead of requiring full repayment of these deferred taxes by April 30, 2021, the new legislation delays this deadline to Dec. 31, 2021.