NEWS & UPDATES IN THE ACCOUNTING WORLD

Peruse our News section below filled with helpful tips regarding your financing, company updates and industry resources. Doing our job well doesn’t end at handling accounts and managing finances - it extends past the office and into the trends, changes and news in the finance industry. We’re especially proud of staying up to date on new ways to help our clients manage their money, and we will always share thoughts and updates with visitors and customers to ensure they’re in the loop too.

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WHEN SHOULD YOU ITEMIZE AND WHAT?

The Act provides that eligible educators (i.e., kindergarten-through-grade-12 teachers, instructors, etc.) can claim the existing $250 above-the-line educator expense deduction for personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 that were bought after March 12, 2020. IRS is directed to issue guidance to that effect by Feb. 28, 2021. (COVIDTRA Sec. 275; Code Sec. 62(a)(2)(D)(ii) )

7.5%-of-AGI "floor" on medical expense deductions is made permanent. The Act makes permanent the 7.5%-of-adjusted-gross-income threshold on medical expense deductions, which was to have increased to 10% of adjusted gross income after 2020.

The lower threshold will allow more taxpayers to take the medical expense deduction in 2021 and later years. ( Code Sec. 213(a) , as amended by Act Sec. 101) Mortgage insurance premium deduction is extended by one year. The Act extends through 2021 the deduction for qualifying mortgage insurance premiums, which was due to expire at the end of 2020. The deduction is subject to a phase-out based on the taxpayer's adjusted gross income. ( Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(E)(iv)(I) , as amended by Act Sec. 133)

Above-the-line charitable contribution deduction is extended through 2021; increased penalty for abuse. For 2020, individuals who don't itemize deductions can take up to a $300 above-the-line deduction for cash contributions to "qualified charitable organizations." The Act extends this above-the-line deduction through 2021 and increases the deduction allowed on a joint return to $600 (it remains at $300 for other taxpayers). ( Code Sec. 170(p) , as added by Act Sec. 212(a)) Taxpayers who overstate their cash contributions when claiming this deduction are subject to a 50% penalty (previously it was 20%). ( Code Sec. 6662(l) , as added by Act Sec. 212(b))

Extension through 2021 of allowance of charitable contributions up to 100% of an individual's adjusted gross income. In response to the COVID pandemic, the limit on cash charitable contributions by an individual in 2020 was increased to 100% of the individual's adjusted gross income. (The usual limit is 60% of adjusted gross income.) The Act extends this rule through 2021. ( Code Sec. 170(b)(1)(G) , as amended by Act Sec. 213).

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RECOVERY REBATE/ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENT

Direct-to-taxpayer recovery rebate. The Act provides for a refundable recovery rebate credit for 2020 that will be paid in advance to eligible individuals, often automatically, early in 2021. ( Code Sec. 6428A , as added by COVIDTRA Sec. 272) These payments are in addition to the direct payments/rebates provided for in earlier Federal legislation, the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, PL 116-136, 3/27/2020), which were called Economic Impact Payments (EIP).

The amount of the rebate is $600 per eligible family member-$600 per taxpayer ($1,200 for married filing jointly), plus $600 per qualifying child. Thus, a married couple with two qualifying children will receive $2,400, unless a phase-out applies. The credit is phased out at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income starting at $150,000 of modified adjusted gross income for marrieds filing jointly and surviving spouses, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for single taxpayers.

Treasury must make the advance payments based on the information on 2019 tax returns. Eligible taxpayers who claimed their EIPs by providing information through the non-filer portal on IRS's website will also receive these additional payments.

Taxpayers who receive an advance payment that exceeds the amount of their eligible credit (as later calculated on the 2020 return) will not have to repay any of payments.

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Pro-taxpayer changes to CARES Act Economic Impact Payment rules

The Act makes the following changes to the CARES Act EIP.

  • Provides that the $150,000 limit on adjusted gross income before the credit amount starts to phase out, which, under the CARES Act, applied to joint returns, also applies to surviving spouses. (Code Sec, 6428(c)(1), as amended by Act Sec. 273(a)) This change may allow taxpayers who qualify to use the surviving-spouse filing status to claim a larger EIP on their 2020 returns.

  • Makes the requirement to provide IRS with the taxpayer's identification number identical to the same requirement under the new rebate, described above under "Direct-to-taxpayer recovery rebate." ( Code Sec. 6428(g) , as amended by COVIDTRA Sec. 273(a).