joseph castellano

The IRS encourages businesses to begin planning now to take advantage of tax benefits available to them when they file their 2022 federal income tax return. This includes the enhanced business meal deduction.

For 2021 and 2022 only, businesses can generally deduct the full cost of business-related food and beverages purchased from a restaurant. Otherwise, the limit is usually 50% of the cost of the meal.

To qualify for the enhanced deduction:

  • The business owner or an employee of the business must be present when food or beverages are provided.
  • Meals must be from restaurants, which includes businesses that prepare and sell food or beverages to retail customers for immediate on-premises or off-premises consumption.
  • Payment or billing for the food and beverages occurs after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023.
  • The expense cannot be lavish or extravagant.

Grocery stores, convenience stores and other businesses that mostly sell pre-packaged goods not for immediate consumption, do not qualify as restaurants. ¬

Employers may not treat certain employer-operated eating facilities as restaurants, even if they operate under contract by a third party.

Here’s what business owners need to know about certain costs:

  • The cost of the meal can include taxes and tips.
  • The cost of transportation to and from the meal isn’t part of the cost of a business meal.

Entertainment events
Business owners may be able to deduct the costs of meals and beverages provided during an entertainment event if either of these apply:

  • the purchase of the food and beverages occurs separately from the entertainment
  • the cost of the food and beverages is separate from the cost of the entertainment on one or more bills, invoices, or receipts.

Businesses should review the special recordkeeping rules that apply to business meals.

More information:
Publication 463, Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses

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The EITC is one of the federal government’s largest refundable tax credits for low-to moderate-income families. The recent expansion of this credit means that more people may qualify to have some much-needed money put back in their pocket.

The IRS urges people to check to see if they qualify for this important credit. While people with income under a certain amount aren’t required to file a tax return because they won’t owe any tax, those who qualify for EITC may get a refund if they file a 2021 tax return.

Here’s an overview of the recent notable changes to the EITC for tax year 2021 only:

Expanded EITC for people who do not have qualifying children
More workers without qualifying children can qualify for the EITC, and the maximum credit amount is nearly tripled for these taxpayers this year. For the first time, the credit is now available to both younger workers and senior citizens. There is no upper age limit for claiming the credit if taxpayers have earned income.

The EITC is generally available to workers without qualifying children who are at least 19 years old with earned income below $21,430 for those filing single and $27,380 for spouses filing a joint return. The maximum credit for taxpayers with no qualifying children is $1,502. There are also special exceptions for people who are 18 years old and were formerly in foster care or are experiencing homelessness. Full-time students under age 24 don’t qualify.

Some taxpayers can use 2019 earned income to figure their EITC
Taxpayers can elect to use their 2019 earned income to figure their 2021 earned income credit if their 2019 earned income is more than their 2021 earned income. This option may help workers get a larger credit if they earned less in 2021 from employment. Taxpayers can review line 27c of the instructions for Form 1040 for more information.

Phaseouts and credit limits
For 2021, the amount of the credit has been increased and the phaseout income limits have been expanded.

Any third-round Economic Impact Payments or child tax credit payments received are not taxable or counted as income for purposes of claiming the EITC. People who are missing a stimulus payment or got less than the full amount may be eligible to claim the recovery rebate credit on their 2021 tax return.

New law changes expand the EITC for 2021 and future years. These changes include:

  • More workers and working families who also have investment income can get the credit. Starting in tax year 2021, the amount of investment income they can receive and still be eligible for the EITC increases to $10,000. After 2021, the $10,000 limit is indexed for inflation.
  • Married but separated spouses can choose to be treated as not married for the purposes claiming EITC. To qualify, the spouse claiming the credit cannot file jointly with the other spouse. They must have a qualifying child living with them for more than half the year and either:
    • Do not have the same principal residence as the other spouse for at least the last six months out of the year.
    • Are legally separated according to their state law under a written separation agreement or a decree of separate maintenance and not live in the same household as their spouse at the end of the tax year for which the EITC is being claimed. Taxpayers should file Schedule EIC – Form 1040 and check the box showing them as married filing separately with a qualifying child.
  • Single people and couples with children who have Social Security numbers can claim the credit, even if their children do not have SSNs. In this instance, they will get the smaller credit available to workers who do not have qualifying children. Taxpayers should complete Schedule EIC and attach it to Form 1040 or 1040-SR if they have at least one qualifying child, even if the child doesn’t have a valid SSN. For more information, taxpayers should review the instructions for Form 1040, line 27a, and Schedule EIC.

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WASHINGTON – As part of ongoing efforts to provide additional help for people during this period, the IRS announced today the suspension of more than a dozen additional letters, including the mailing of automated collection notices normally issued when a taxpayer owes additional tax, and the IRS has no record of a taxpayer filing a tax return.

These mailings include balance due notices and unfiled tax return notices. The IRS entered this filing season with several million original and amended returns filed by individuals and businesses that have not been processed due to challenges of the historic pandemic and is taking this step to help avoid confusion for taxpayers and tax professionals.

“IRS employees are committed to doing everything possible with our limited resources to help people during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We are working hard, long hours pushing creative paths forward in an effort to be part of the solution, rather than the problem. Our employees continue to expend every effort to balance a confluence of multiple, unprecedented demands − including successfully starting the filing season, working our inventory of unprocessed tax returns as well as looking for additional ways to minimize burden for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses.

“Our efforts are not limited to suspension of these additional letters and the possibility of similar actions going forward. We have redeployed and reallocated resources throughout the IRS and have implemented innovative strategies in an ongoing effort to provide a meaningful reduction in our inventories,” Rettig said.

These automatic notices have been temporarily stopped until the backlog is worked through. The IRS will continue to assess the inventory of prior year returns to determine the appropriate time to resume the notices.

Some taxpayers and tax professionals may still receive these notices during the next few weeks. Generally, there is no need to call or respond to the notice as the IRS continues to process prior year tax returns as quickly as possible.

However, if a taxpayer or tax professional believes a notice is accurate, they should act to rectify the situation for the well-being of the taxpayer. For example, the IRS cautions people with a balance due that interest and penalties can continue to accrue. In addition, IRS employees may in select circumstances issue notices to particular taxpayers to resolve specific compliance issues.

The IRS does not have the authority to stop all notices as many are legally required to be issued within a certain timeframe. The IRS will continue to assess other changes and system modifications that the IRS may be able to implement to assist taxpayers on an array of issues. The IRS will continue to make information available to taxpayers throughout the filing season.

The IRS encourages those who have a filing requirement and have yet to file a prior year tax return or to pay any tax due to promptly do so as interest and penalties will continue to accrue. Visit IRS.gov for payment options.

The suspended notices include:

 

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today updated its frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the 2021 Child Tax Credit and Advance Child Tax Credit Payments.

This updated FAQ modifies a question and adds a new question (FS-2022-07) PDF:

  • Question 4, Topic H: Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Tax Return
  • Question 10, Topic H: Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Tax Return

These FAQs are being issued to provide general information to taxpayers and tax professionals as expeditiously as possible.

More information about reliance is available.

With the tax filing season almost here, taxpayers should check out two IRS publications available on IRS.gov. These publications can help people get prepared and stay organized with tips for year-round tax planning.

Publication 5348, Get ready to file
Tax planning is for everyone. Taxpayers can use this publication to help them get ready to file their 2021 federal income tax return next year. Planning helps individuals file an accurate return and avoid processing delays that can slow their tax refund.

Publication 5349, Year-round tax planning is for everyone
Life changes can affect taxpayers’ expected refunds or the amount of tax they owe. These changes include things such as employment status, marital status and financial gains or losses. Publication 5349 provides tips on developing habits throughout the year that will help make tax preparation easier. This resource also includes a checklist of items taxpayers should have on hand when filing their tax return.

More information:
Steps to Take Now to Get a Jump on Next Year’s Taxes

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Businesses that make structural adaptations or other accommodations for employees or customers with disabilities may be eligible for tax credits and deductions.

Here’s an overview of the tax incentives designed to encourage employers to hire qualified people with disabilities and to off-set some of the costs of providing accommodations.

Disabled access credit 
The disabled access credit is a non-refundable credit for small businesses that have expenses for providing access to persons with disabilities. An eligible small business is one that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full-time employees in the previous year. The business can claim the credit each year they incur access expenditures.

Barrier removal tax deduction 
The architectural barrier removal tax deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of people with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses on items that normally must be capitalized.

Businesses claim this deduction by listing it as a separate expense on their income tax return. Also, businesses may use the disabled tax credit and the architectural/transportation tax deduction together in the same tax year if the expenses meet the requirements of both sections. To use both, the deduction is equal to the difference between the total expenses and the amount of the credit claimed.

Work opportunity tax credit
The work opportunity tax credit is available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. This includes people with disabilities and veterans.  The maximum amount of  tax credit for employees who worked 400 or more hours of service is:

  • $2,400 or 40% of up to $6,000 of first year wages, for qualifying individuals.
  • $9,600 or 40% of up to $24,000 of first year wages for certain qualified veterans.

A 25% rate applies to wages for individuals who work at least 120 hours but less than 400 hours for the employer.

IR-2021-242, Dec. 6, 2021

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today issued guidance for employers regarding the retroactive termination of the Employee Retention Credit. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was enacted on Nov. 15, 2021, amended the law so that the Employee Retention Credit applies only to wages paid before October 1, 2021, unless the employer is a recovery startup business.

Notice 2021-65 applies to employers that paid wages after September 30, 2021, and received an advance payment of the Employee Retention Credit for those wages or reduced employment tax deposits in anticipation of the credit for the fourth quarter of 2021, but are now ineligible for the credit due to the change in the law. The notice also provides guidance regarding how the rules apply to recovery startup businesses during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Employers who Received Advance Payments

Generally, employers that are not recovery startup businesses and received advance payments for fourth quarter wages of 2021 will avoid failure to pay penalties if they repay those amounts by the due date of their applicable employment tax returns. 

Employers who Reduced Employment Tax Deposits

Employers that reduced deposits on or before Dec. 20, 2021, for wages paid during the fourth calendar quarter of 2021 in anticipation of the Employee Retention Credit and that are not recovery startup businesses will not be subject to a failure to deposit penalty with respect to the retained deposits if—

  1. The employer reduced deposits in anticipation of the Employee Retention Credit, consistent with the rules in Notice 2021-24,
  2. The employer deposits the amounts initially retained in anticipation of the Employee Retention Credit on or before the relevant due date for wages paid on December 31, 2021 (regardless of whether the employer actually pays wages on that date). Deposit due dates will vary based on the deposit schedule of the employer, and
  3. The employer reports the tax liability resulting from the termination of the employer’s Employee Retention Credit on the applicable employment tax return or schedule that includes the period from October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021. Employers should refer to the instructions to the applicable employment tax return or schedule for additional information on how to report the tax liability.

Due to the termination of the Employee Retention Credit for wages paid in the fourth quarter of 2021 for employers that are not recovery startup businesses, failure to deposit penalties are not waived for these employers if they reduce deposits after Dec. 20, 2021.

If an employer does not qualify for relief under this Notice, it may reply to a notice about a penalty with an explanation and the IRS will consider reasonable cause relief.

More information for businesses seeking coronavirus- related tax relief can be found at IRS.gov.

WASHINGTON — During National Small Business Week, the Internal Revenue Service reminds business owners that it’s critical to correctly determine whether the individuals providing services are employees or independent contractors.

An employee is generally considered to be anyone who performs services, if the business can control what will be done and how it will be done. What matters is that the business has the right to control the details of how the worker’s services are performed. Independent contractors are normally people in an independent trade, business or profession in which they offer their services to the public. Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, accountants, contractors, subcontractors, public stenographers or auctioneers are generally independent contractors.

Independent contractor vs. employee
Whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee depends on the relationship between the worker and the business. Generally, there are three categories to examine:

  • Behavioral Control − does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does the job?
  • Financial Control − does the business direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker’s job. Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (Things like how the worker is paid, are expenses reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
  • Relationship of the Parties − are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

Misclassified worker
Misclassifying workers as independent contractors adversely affects employees because the employer’s share of taxes is not paid, and the employee’s share is not withheld. If a business misclassified an employee without a reasonable basis, it could be held liable for employment taxes for that worker. Generally, an employer must withhold and pay income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, as well as unemployment taxes. Workers who believe they have been improperly classified as independent contractors can use IRS Form 8919, Uncollected Social Security and Medicare Tax on Wages (.pdf) to figure and report their share of uncollected Social Security and Medicare taxes due on their compensation.

Voluntary Classification Settlement Program
The Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) is an optional program that provides taxpayers with an opportunity to reclassify their workers as employees for future tax periods for employment tax purposes with partial relief from federal employment taxes for eligible taxpayers that agree to prospectively treat their workers (or a class or group of workers) as employees. Taxpayers must meet certain eligibility requirements, apply by filing Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program, and enter into a closing agreement with the IRS.

Who is self-employed?
Generally, someone is self-employed if any of the following apply to them.

Self-employed individuals generally are required to file an annual tax return and pay estimated tax quarterly. They generally must pay self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare tax) as well as income tax. Self-employed taxpayers may be able to claim the home office deductionif they use part of a home for business.

What about the gig economy?
The gig economy − also called sharing economy or access economy−is activity where people earn income providing on-demand work, services or goods. Gig economy income must be reported on a tax return, even if the income is: from part-time, temporary or side work; not reported on a Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, W-2 or other income statement; or paid in any form, including cash, property, goods or virtual currency.

Help spread the word – Advance Child Tax Credit
The IRS  encourages employers to help get the word out about the advanced payments of the Child Tax Credit during Small Business Week. Employers have direct access to many  who may receive this credit. More information on the Advanced Child Tax Credit is available on IRS.gov. The website has tools employers can use to deliver this information, including e-posters, drop-in articles (for paycheck stuffers, newsletters) and social media posts to share.

For more information and help
The Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center has information for those who are in an independent trade, business or profession in which they offer their services to the general public.

Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop is composed of nine interactive lessons designed to help new small business owners learn their tax rights and responsibilities.

The IRS Video Portal contains video and audio presentations on topics of interest to small businesses, individuals and tax professionals.

The Internal Revenue Service joins the Small Business Administration in support of its National Small Business Week. The IRS will issue numerous online materials that focus on getting small business owners the information they need to comply with filing and paying requirements.

This year, as part of its ongoing effort to help eligible people access Advance Child Tax Credit payments, the IRS will be encouraging employers to help spread the word about these payments during Small Business Week. The IRS knows that employers have direct access to many people who may be eligible for the credit. The IRS has materials for employers and others who can help spread the word available on the IRS website at 2021 Child Tax Credit and Advance Child Tax Credit Payments: Resources and Guidance.

Other IRS Small Business Week highlights include:

  • IRS news releases beginning September 13 on the following topics:
    • Employer responsibilities
    • Employee vs. independent contractor
    • Work Opportunity Tax Credit
    • Employment tax compliance
    • Expanded tax benefits
  • A special Small Business Week page on the IRS Video Portal featuring videos and recorded webinars of interest to small businesses and the self-employed.
  • A new Publication 5557, A Guide to Starting a Small Business.
  • IRS’s increased multilingual outreach – the IRS offers tax information in multiple languages. IRS.gov pages have links to any available translations on the right side, just below the title. Languages currently available include Spanish, Chinese simplified and traditional, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese and Haitian-Creole.
  • An IRS virtual booth at the Small Business Administration’s Virtual Summit conference.

The Small Business Administration will hold a Virtual Summit conference on September 13-15. The event’s schedule is posted, and there’s still time to register for it. Participants can learn new business strategies, meet other business owners, and chat with industry experts. This free online event will include educational webinars, updates on resources for small businesses, and a networking chat room for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Helpful IRS resources for small businesses and the self-employed:

Taxpayers have the right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard. This is part of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which clearly outlines the fundamental rights every taxpayer has when working with the IRS.

Taxpayers have the right to:

• Raise objections.
• Provide additional documentation in response to formal or proposed IRS actions.
• Expect the IRS to consider their timely objections.
• Have the IRS consider any supporting documentation promptly and fairly.
• Receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.

Here are some specific things this right affords taxpayers.

• In some cases, the IRS will notify a taxpayer that their tax return has a math or clerical error. If this happens, the taxpayer:

o Has 60 days to tell the IRS that they disagree.
o Should provide copies of any records that may help correct the error.
o May call the number listed on the letter or bill for assistance.
o Can expect the agency to make the necessary adjustment to their account and send a correction if the IRS upholds the taxpayer’s position.

• Here’s what will happen if the IRS does not agree with the taxpayer’s position:

o The agency will issue a notice proposing a tax adjustment. This is a letter that comes in the mail.
o This notice provides the taxpayer with a right to challenge the proposed adjustment.
o The taxpayer makes this challenge by filing a petition in U.S. Tax Court. The taxpayer must generally file the petition within 90 days of the date of the notice, or 150 days if it is addressed outside the United States.

• Taxpayers can submit documentation and raise objections during an audit. If the IRS does not agree with the taxpayer’s position, the agency issues a notice explaining why it is increasing the tax. Prior to paying the tax, the taxpayer has the right to petition the U.S. Tax Court and challenge the agency’s decision.

• In some circumstances, the IRS must provide a taxpayer with an opportunity for a hearing before an independent Office of Appeals. The agency must do this:

o Before taking enforcement actions to collect a tax debt. These actions include levying the taxpayer’s bank account. Immediately after filing a notice of federal tax lien in the appropriate state filing location. If the taxpayer disagrees with the decision of the Appeals Office, they can petition the U.S. Tax Court.

More Information:
Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund
Publication 1,Your Rights as a Taxpayer

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