If you are like many business owners, then it is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you financially in addition to fundamentally changing the way you do business. Fortunately, in an effort to make things easier on businesses that are being affected by this global pandemic, the federal government has passed several coronavirus relief packages that provide financial assistance to businesses and families across the country.
However, what some business owners may not know is that these stimulus packages have created new tax credits and tax relief programs meant to help small business owners during this difficult time. To help ensure that you are taking full advantage of these programs, here is a look at what businesses need to know about COVID-19 small business tax credits and relief programs.
Employee Retention Tax Credit
In order to help businesses that were hurt financially by the coronavirus pandemic, The Employee Retention Tax Credit provides businesses with a refundable tax credit equal to 50% of wages paid to an eligible employee up to $10,00 per employee. This tax credit is available to all employers regardless of size or tax-exempt status. Qualifying employers can include those that are fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19. Once an employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a similar quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify for this tax credit.
Payroll Tax Deferral Relief
As part of the payroll tax deferral relief offered by the CARES Act, your business has the ability to defer the 6.2% employer portion of the Social Security tax owed on the first $137,700 of an employee’s 2020 wages paid during the deferral period (March 27, 2020 to December 31, 2020). You will then have to repay these deferred payroll taxes in two installments on December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022. This deferral is available to all employers regardless of the extent to which their business has been affected by COVID-19. It is important to note that this deferral program is unavailable to small businesses, sole proprietors, or self-employed individuals who receive forgiveness of SBA loans issued under the Payment Protection Program that was offered by the CARES Act.
Retroactive Tax Relief
The CARES Act also provided certain tax relief measures that were retroactive, which can potentially make it beneficial for you to file an amended tax return for past years in order to recover taxes paid. For instance, one provision of the CARES Act significantly liberalizes rules for deducting net operating losses by allowing net operating losses that arise from 2018 to 2020 to be carried back five years. A net operating loss that arises this year can then be carried back to 2015, allowing you to claim refunds for taxes paid in carry-back years. Since tax rates were higher before 2018, net operating losses carried back to those years can result in significant tax refunds, helping provide you with crucial capital during this difficult time.
Sick/Medical Leave Tax Credit
As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) signed into law in March, small businesses with fewer than 500 employees must provide limited paid leave benefits to employees affected by the coronavirus emergency. However, these small businesses have access to new tax credits to help pay for these benefits. The act requires that affected employers pay emergency sick leave of $511 per day for up to 10 days to employees in coronavirus quarantine or seeking a coronavirus diagnosis. An employee can also receive up to $200 per day for up to 10 days to care for a quarantined family member or a child whose school or child-care has been closed due to the pandemic. These required benefits are offset by a new tax credit that allows a small employer to collect 100% of qualified sick-leave and family-leave payments made by the employer as required by the law between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
Taking advantage of all available tax credits and tax relief programs can be crucial in helping your business to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. You should consider talking to an advisor who can help you to ensure that you are not missing any key tax credits that could help your business during this difficult time. Contact us to learn about how Incentax’s process can help you find tax credits that could help your business through this ongoing crisis.