Temporary Eligibility Expansion permits eligible taxpayers to voluntarily reclassify their workers as employees for federal employment tax purposes and obtain relief

Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2012-51
December 17, 2012
Announcement 2012-46
Voluntary Classification Settlement Program — Temporary Eligibility Expansion

Table of Contents

I. PURPOSE
II. BACKGROUND
III. ELIGIBILITY
IV. EFFECT OF THE VCSP TEMPORARY ELIGIBILITY EXPANSION
V. APPLICATION PROCESS
VI. DRAFTING INFORMATION

This document provides notice and information regarding a temporary expansion of eligibility for the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) that will be available through June 30, 2013. The temporary eligibility expansion makes a modified VCSP available to taxpayers who would otherwise be eligible for the current VCSP but have not filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers to be reclassified. Eligible taxpayers that take advantage of this limited, temporary eligibility expansion agree to prospectively treat workers as employees and will receive partial relief from federal employment taxes.
I. PURPOSE

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has developed a new, temporary initiative to permit taxpayers who are otherwise eligible for the VCSP, but have not filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers to be reclassified, to apply for a modified version of the VCSP, the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion. The VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is available through June 30, 2013.

Like the VCSP, the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion permits eligible taxpayers to voluntarily reclassify their workers as employees for federal employment tax purposes and obtain relief similar to that obtained through the current Classification Settlement Program (CSP). The VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is optional and provides taxpayers with an opportunity to voluntarily reclassify their workers as employees for future tax periods with limited federal employment tax liability for the past nonemployee treatment. Payment under the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is higher than the payment under the VCSP, but the benefits are otherwise the same for taxpayers that want to voluntarily reclassify their workers but have not filed all required Forms 1099 for those workers. To participate, the taxpayer must meet certain eligibility requirements, apply to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, and enter into a closing agreement with the IRS.
II. BACKGROUND

Whether a worker is performing services as an employee or as an independent contractor depends upon the facts and circumstances and is generally determined under the common law test of whether the service recipient has the right to direct and control the worker as to how to perform the services. In some factual situations, the determination of the proper worker classification status under the common law may not be clear. For taxpayers under IRS examination, the current CSP is available to resolve federal employment tax issues related to worker misclassification if certain criteria are met. The CSP permits the prospective reclassification of workers as employees, with reduced federal employment tax liabilities for past nonemployee treatment. The CSP allows businesses and tax examiners to resolve the worker classification issues as early in the administrative process as possible, thereby reducing taxpayer burden and providing efficiencies for both the taxpayer and the government.

In order to facilitate voluntary resolution of worker classification issues and achieve the benefits of increased tax compliance and certainty for taxpayers, workers, and the government, the IRS determined that it would be beneficial to provide taxpayers with a program that allows for voluntary reclassification of workers as employees outside of the examination context and without the need to go through normal administrative correction procedures applicable to employment taxes. Accordingly, the VCSP was established on September 21, 2011, through Announcement 2011-64, 2011-41 I.R.B. 503. In response to feedback from taxpayers and taxpayer representatives, the VCSP is modified under Announcement 2012-45, 2012-51 I.R.B. , to (1) permit a taxpayer under IRS audit, other than an employment tax audit, to be eligible to participate in the VCSP; (2) clarify the current eligibility requirement that a taxpayer that is a member of an affiliated group within the meaning of section 1504(a) is not eligible to participate in the VCSP if any member of the affiliated group is under employment tax audit; (3) clarify that a taxpayer is not eligible to participate in the VCSP if the taxpayer is contesting in court the classification of the class or classes of workers from a previous audit by the IRS or the Department of Labor; and (4) eliminate the requirement that a taxpayer agree to extend the period of limitations on assessment of employment taxes as part of the VCSP closing agreement with the IRS.

To be eligible under the VCSP, a taxpayer must meet certain requirements, including having consistently treated the workers as nonemployees and having filed all required Forms 1099, consistent with the nonemployee treatment, for the previous three years with respect to the workers to be reclassified. Taxpayers that do not qualify under the VCSP because they have not filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years requested a similar program. The IRS decided to provide this limited, temporary eligibility expansion through June 30, 2013, to permit taxpayers that have not filed all required Forms 1099 to agree to voluntarily reclassify their workers prospectively and file and furnish any required Forms 1099 with respect to the workers being reclassified for the previous three years.
III. ELIGIBILITY

The VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is available for taxpayers who want to voluntarily change the prospective classification of their workers. The program applies to taxpayers who are currently treating their workers (or a class of workers) as independent contractors or other nonemployees and want to prospectively treat the workers as employees. To be eligible, a taxpayer must have consistently treated the workers as nonemployees. The taxpayer cannot currently be under employment tax audit by the IRS. A taxpayer that is a member of an affiliated group within the meaning of section 1504(a) is considered to be under employment tax audit for purposes of the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion if any member of the affiliated group is under employment tax audit. Furthermore, the taxpayer cannot be currently under audit concerning the classification of the class or classes of workers by the Department of Labor or by a state government agency.

A taxpayer who was previously audited by the IRS or the Department of Labor concerning the classification of the class or classes of workers is eligible for the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion if the taxpayer has complied with the results of that audit and is not currently contesting the classification in court.

In addition, in order to be eligible to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, a taxpayer must furnish to the workers and electronically file all required Forms 1099, consistent with the nonemployee treatment, with respect to the workers being reclassified for the previous three years prior to executing the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion closing agreement with the IRS. Taxpayers must electronically file such Forms 1099 in accordance with IRS instructions, which will be provided once the IRS has reviewed the application and verified that the taxpayer is otherwise eligible for the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, as indicated in Section V, Application Process.

Taxpayers seeking to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion must submit an application, as indicated below in Section V, Application Process, on or before June 30, 2013.
IV. EFFECT OF THE VCSP TEMPORARY ELIGIBILITY EXPANSION

A taxpayer who participates in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion agrees to prospectively treat the class or classes of workers identified in the application as employees for future tax periods. In exchange, the taxpayer pays 25 percent of the employment tax liability that would have been due on compensation paid to the workers being reclassified for the most recent tax year if those workers were classified as employees for such year, determined under the reduced rates of section 3509(b); pays a reduced penalty, as discussed below, for unfiled Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers being reclassified; is not liable for any interest and penalties on the liability; and is not subject to an employment tax audit with respect to the worker classification of the class or classes of workers for prior years. The taxpayer must certify as part of the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion closing agreement with the IRS that it has furnished to the workers and has electronically filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers being reclassified.

Under the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, the penalty for unfiled Forms 1099 is graduated, based on the number of required Forms 1099 that were not filed for the previous three years with respect to the workers being reclassified, up to a maximum amount. The worksheet provided with this announcement provides further details regarding how the penalty is calculated.
V. APPLICATION PROCESS

Eligible taxpayers who wish to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion must submit an application on or before June 30, 2013, for participation in the program using Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP). However, taxpayers seeking to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion should write “VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion” at the top of Form 8952.

Taxpayers seeking to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion must complete all parts of Form 8952, with the following modifications:

(1) Taxpayers should put a line through Part V, Line A3, to indicate that Taxpayer has not satisfied all Form 1099 requirements for each of the workers for the 3 preceding calendar years ending before the date of the application; and

(2) Taxpayers should not complete Part IV, Payment Calculation, of Form 8952. Instead, taxpayers should use the worksheet provided in this announcement to calculate their payment under the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion. Taxpayers should attach the completed worksheet provided in this announcement to Form 8952.

Information about the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion and the application is available on http://www.irs.gov. Along with the application, the taxpayer may provide the name of a contact or an authorized representative with a valid Power of Attorney (Form 2848). The IRS will contact the taxpayer or authorized representative with instructions on how to electronically file Forms 1099 once it has reviewed the application and verified that the taxpayer is otherwise eligible. The IRS retains discretion whether to accept a taxpayer’s application for the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion. The taxpayer must contact the IRS to provide confirmation that the taxpayer has electronically filed Forms 1099 and furnished the forms to the workers being reclassified. The IRS will then contact the taxpayer to complete the process. Taxpayers whose application has been accepted enter into a closing agreement with the IRS to finalize the terms of the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion and must simultaneously make full and complete payment of any amount due under the closing agreement.
VI. DRAFTING INFORMATION

The principal drafter of this announcement is Ligeia M. Donis of the Office of the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt & Government Entities). For further information regarding this announcement, contact Ligeia Donis at 202-622-6040 (not a toll-free call).

Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2012-51
December 17, 2012
Announcement 2012-46
Voluntary Classification Settlement Program — Temporary Eligibility Expansion

Table of Contents

I. PURPOSE
II. BACKGROUND
III. ELIGIBILITY
IV. EFFECT OF THE VCSP TEMPORARY ELIGIBILITY EXPANSION
V. APPLICATION PROCESS
VI. DRAFTING INFORMATION

This document provides notice and information regarding a temporary expansion of eligibility for the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) that will be available through June 30, 2013. The temporary eligibility expansion makes a modified VCSP available to taxpayers who would otherwise be eligible for the current VCSP but have not filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers to be reclassified. Eligible taxpayers that take advantage of this limited, temporary eligibility expansion agree to prospectively treat workers as employees and will receive partial relief from federal employment taxes.
I. PURPOSE

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has developed a new, temporary initiative to permit taxpayers who are otherwise eligible for the VCSP, but have not filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers to be reclassified, to apply for a modified version of the VCSP, the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion. The VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is available through June 30, 2013.

Like the VCSP, the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion permits eligible taxpayers to voluntarily reclassify their workers as employees for federal employment tax purposes and obtain relief similar to that obtained through the current Classification Settlement Program (CSP). The VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is optional and provides taxpayers with an opportunity to voluntarily reclassify their workers as employees for future tax periods with limited federal employment tax liability for the past nonemployee treatment. Payment under the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is higher than the payment under the VCSP, but the benefits are otherwise the same for taxpayers that want to voluntarily reclassify their workers but have not filed all required Forms 1099 for those workers. To participate, the taxpayer must meet certain eligibility requirements, apply to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, and enter into a closing agreement with the IRS.
II. BACKGROUND

Whether a worker is performing services as an employee or as an independent contractor depends upon the facts and circumstances and is generally determined under the common law test of whether the service recipient has the right to direct and control the worker as to how to perform the services. In some factual situations, the determination of the proper worker classification status under the common law may not be clear. For taxpayers under IRS examination, the current CSP is available to resolve federal employment tax issues related to worker misclassification if certain criteria are met. The CSP permits the prospective reclassification of workers as employees, with reduced federal employment tax liabilities for past nonemployee treatment. The CSP allows businesses and tax examiners to resolve the worker classification issues as early in the administrative process as possible, thereby reducing taxpayer burden and providing efficiencies for both the taxpayer and the government.

In order to facilitate voluntary resolution of worker classification issues and achieve the benefits of increased tax compliance and certainty for taxpayers, workers, and the government, the IRS determined that it would be beneficial to provide taxpayers with a program that allows for voluntary reclassification of workers as employees outside of the examination context and without the need to go through normal administrative correction procedures applicable to employment taxes. Accordingly, the VCSP was established on September 21, 2011, through Announcement 2011-64, 2011-41 I.R.B. 503. In response to feedback from taxpayers and taxpayer representatives, the VCSP is modified under Announcement 2012-45, 2012-51 I.R.B. , to (1) permit a taxpayer under IRS audit, other than an employment tax audit, to be eligible to participate in the VCSP; (2) clarify the current eligibility requirement that a taxpayer that is a member of an affiliated group within the meaning of section 1504(a) is not eligible to participate in the VCSP if any member of the affiliated group is under employment tax audit; (3) clarify that a taxpayer is not eligible to participate in the VCSP if the taxpayer is contesting in court the classification of the class or classes of workers from a previous audit by the IRS or the Department of Labor; and (4) eliminate the requirement that a taxpayer agree to extend the period of limitations on assessment of employment taxes as part of the VCSP closing agreement with the IRS.

To be eligible under the VCSP, a taxpayer must meet certain requirements, including having consistently treated the workers as nonemployees and having filed all required Forms 1099, consistent with the nonemployee treatment, for the previous three years with respect to the workers to be reclassified. Taxpayers that do not qualify under the VCSP because they have not filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years requested a similar program. The IRS decided to provide this limited, temporary eligibility expansion through June 30, 2013, to permit taxpayers that have not filed all required Forms 1099 to agree to voluntarily reclassify their workers prospectively and file and furnish any required Forms 1099 with respect to the workers being reclassified for the previous three years.
III. ELIGIBILITY

The VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion is available for taxpayers who want to voluntarily change the prospective classification of their workers. The program applies to taxpayers who are currently treating their workers (or a class of workers) as independent contractors or other nonemployees and want to prospectively treat the workers as employees. To be eligible, a taxpayer must have consistently treated the workers as nonemployees. The taxpayer cannot currently be under employment tax audit by the IRS. A taxpayer that is a member of an affiliated group within the meaning of section 1504(a) is considered to be under employment tax audit for purposes of the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion if any member of the affiliated group is under employment tax audit. Furthermore, the taxpayer cannot be currently under audit concerning the classification of the class or classes of workers by the Department of Labor or by a state government agency.

A taxpayer who was previously audited by the IRS or the Department of Labor concerning the classification of the class or classes of workers is eligible for the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion if the taxpayer has complied with the results of that audit and is not currently contesting the classification in court.

In addition, in order to be eligible to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, a taxpayer must furnish to the workers and electronically file all required Forms 1099, consistent with the nonemployee treatment, with respect to the workers being reclassified for the previous three years prior to executing the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion closing agreement with the IRS. Taxpayers must electronically file such Forms 1099 in accordance with IRS instructions, which will be provided once the IRS has reviewed the application and verified that the taxpayer is otherwise eligible for the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, as indicated in Section V, Application Process.

Taxpayers seeking to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion must submit an application, as indicated below in Section V, Application Process, on or before June 30, 2013.
IV. EFFECT OF THE VCSP TEMPORARY ELIGIBILITY EXPANSION

A taxpayer who participates in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion agrees to prospectively treat the class or classes of workers identified in the application as employees for future tax periods. In exchange, the taxpayer pays 25 percent of the employment tax liability that would have been due on compensation paid to the workers being reclassified for the most recent tax year if those workers were classified as employees for such year, determined under the reduced rates of section 3509(b); pays a reduced penalty, as discussed below, for unfiled Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers being reclassified; is not liable for any interest and penalties on the liability; and is not subject to an employment tax audit with respect to the worker classification of the class or classes of workers for prior years. The taxpayer must certify as part of the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion closing agreement with the IRS that it has furnished to the workers and has electronically filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers being reclassified.

Under the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion, the penalty for unfiled Forms 1099 is graduated, based on the number of required Forms 1099 that were not filed for the previous three years with respect to the workers being reclassified, up to a maximum amount. The worksheet provided with this announcement provides further details regarding how the penalty is calculated.
V. APPLICATION PROCESS

Eligible taxpayers who wish to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion must submit an application on or before June 30, 2013, for participation in the program using Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP). However, taxpayers seeking to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion should write “VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion” at the top of Form 8952.

Taxpayers seeking to participate in the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion must complete all parts of Form 8952, with the following modifications:

(1) Taxpayers should put a line through Part V, Line A3, to indicate that Taxpayer has not satisfied all Form 1099 requirements for each of the workers for the 3 preceding calendar years ending before the date of the application; and

(2) Taxpayers should not complete Part IV, Payment Calculation, of Form 8952. Instead, taxpayers should use the worksheet provided in this announcement to calculate their payment under the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion. Taxpayers should attach the completed worksheet provided in this announcement to Form 8952.

Information about the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion and the application is available on http://www.irs.gov. Along with the application, the taxpayer may provide the name of a contact or an authorized representative with a valid Power of Attorney (Form 2848). The IRS will contact the taxpayer or authorized representative with instructions on how to electronically file Forms 1099 once it has reviewed the application and verified that the taxpayer is otherwise eligible. The IRS retains discretion whether to accept a taxpayer’s application for the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion. The taxpayer must contact the IRS to provide confirmation that the taxpayer has electronically filed Forms 1099 and furnished the forms to the workers being reclassified. The IRS will then contact the taxpayer to complete the process. Taxpayers whose application has been accepted enter into a closing agreement with the IRS to finalize the terms of the VCSP Temporary Eligibility Expansion and must simultaneously make full and complete payment of any amount due under the closing agreement.
VI. DRAFTING INFORMATION

The principal drafter of this announcement is Ligeia M. Donis of the Office of the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt & Government Entities). For further information regarding this announcement, contact Ligeia Donis at 202-622-6040 (not a toll-free call).

AMERICAN TAXPAYER RELIEF ACT-SUMMARY FOR KATHERMAN KITTS CLIENTS READING PLEASURE

Yesterday, the President signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed on New Year’s Day. Here is brief summary of selected portions of it, for your review. We can help answer any questions that you may have.

Individual Tax Rates
The Act preserves and permanently extends the Bush-era income tax cuts except for single individuals with taxable income above $400,000; married couples filing joint returns with taxable income above $450,000; and heads of household with taxable income above $425,000. Income above these thresholds will be taxed at a 39.6 percent rate, effective January 1, 2013. The $400,000/$450,000/$425,000 thresholds will be adjusted for inflation after 2013.
The new law, however, does not extend the payroll tax holiday. Effective January 1, 2013, the employee-share of Social Security tax withholding increased from 4.2% to 6.2% (its rate before the payroll tax holiday).

Capital Gains and Dividend Tax Rate
Effective January 1, 2013, the maximum tax rate on qualified capital gains and dividends rises from 15 to 20 percent for taxpayers whose taxable incomes exceed the thresholds set for the 39.6 percent rate (the $400,000/$450,000/$425,000 thresholds discussed above). The maximum tax rate for all other taxpayers remains at 15 percent; and moreover, a zero-percent rate will continue to apply to qualified capital gains and dividends to the extent income falls below the top of the 15- percent tax bracket. Note – The 2010 Affordable Care Act imposes a 3.8% Medicare tax on interest, dividends, capital gains, and other passive income, starting in 2013, and it applies at taxable income over $200,000 for single filers and over $250,000 for joint filers.

Estate and Gift Tax
Federal transfer taxes (estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes) seem to have been in a constant state of flux in recent years. The Act provides some certainty. Effective January 1, 2013, the maximum estate, gift and GST tax rate is generally 40 percent, which reflects an increase from 35 percent for 2012. The lifetime exclusion amount for estate and gift taxes is unchanged for 2013 and subsequent years at $5 million (adjusted for inflation). The GST exemption amount for 2013 and beyond is also $5 million (adjusted for inflation). The new law also makes permanent portability and some enhancements made in previous tax laws.

Other Act Elements Affecting Individuals
• AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) – Higher exemptions are made permanent, and indexed for inflation
• IRA distributions to charitable organizations, (for those over age 70) – restored through 2013
• Exclusion for cancellation of debt on principal residence – extended through 2013
• Reduction of itemized deductions for incomes over certain levels, (which was not in place since 2010) – will apply starting in 2013

Business Tax Provisions
Code Sec. 179 business equipment expensing. In recent years, Congress has repeatedly increased dollar and investment limits under Code Sec. 179 to encourage spending by businesses. For tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011, the Code Sec. 179 dollar and investment limits were $500,000 and $2 million, respectively. [This means that you can expense up to $500,000 of equipment or software purchased, so long as you don’t spend more than $2 million in total. Expenditures over the $2 million level reduces the allowable expense amount dollar-for-dollar.] The Act restores the dollar and investment limits for 2012 and 2013 to their 2011 amounts ($500,000 and $2 million) and adjusts those amounts for inflation. However, this increase is temporary. The Code Sec. 179 dollar and investment limits are scheduled, unless changed by Congress, to decrease to $25,000 and $200,000, respectively, after 2013. The new law also provides that off-the-shelf computer software qualifies as eligible property for Code Sec. 179 expensing. The software must be placed in service in a tax year beginning before 2014. Additionally, the Act allows taxpayers to treat up to $250,000 of qualified leasehold and retail improvement property as well as qualified restaurant property, as eligible for Code Sec. 179 expensing.

Bonus depreciation. Bonus depreciation of business equipment is one of the most important tax benefits available to businesses, large or small. In recent years, bonus depreciation has reached 100 percent, which gave taxpayers the opportunity to write off 100 percent of qualifying asset purchases immediately. For 2012, bonus depreciation remained available but was reduced to 50 percent. The Act extends 50 percent bonus depreciation through 2013. The Act also provides that a taxpayer otherwise eligible for additional first-year depreciation may elect to claim additional research or minimum tax credits in lieu of claiming depreciation for qualified property.

While not quite as attractive as 100 percent bonus depreciation, 50 percent bonus depreciation is valuable. For example, a $100,000 piece of equipment with a five-year MACRS life would qualify for a $55,000 write-off: $50,000 in bonus depreciation plus 20 percent of the remaining $50,000 in basis as “regular” depreciation, with the half-year convention applied in the first and last year.

Bonus depreciation also relates to the passenger vehicle depreciation dollar limits under Code Sec. 280F. This provision imposes dollar limitations on the depreciation deduction for the year in which a taxpayer places a passenger automobile/truck in service within a business and for each succeeding year. Because of the new law, the first-year depreciation cap for passenger automobile/truck placed in service in 2013 is increased by $8,000.

Bonus depreciation, unlike Code Sec. 179 expensing, is not capped at a dollar threshold. However, only new property qualifies for bonus depreciation. Code Sec. 179 expensing, in contrast, can be claimed for both new and used property and qualifying property may be expensed at 100 percent.

Research Tax Credit. The research tax credit was restored for 2012 and extended through 2013.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

IRS Patrol – IRS Announces New Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program; Past Payroll Tax Relief Provided to Employers Who Reclassify Their Workers as Employees

Original caption: Farm, farm workers, Mt. Will...

Worker or Contractor that is the question

If you or your clients think there might be an issue with the classification of  employees – that is, are your workers independent contractors or not, now is the time to look into correction.

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service  launched a new program that will enable many employers to resolve past worker classification issues and achieve certainty under the tax law at a low cost by voluntarily reclassifying their workers.

This new program will allow employers the opportunity to get into compliance by making a minimal payment covering past payroll tax obligations rather than waiting for an IRS audit.

This is part of a larger “Fresh Start” initiative at the IRS to help taxpayers and businesses address their tax responsibilities.

“This settlement program provides certainty and relief to employers in an important area,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This is part of a wider effort to help taxpayers and businesses to help give them a fresh start with their tax obligations.”

The new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) is designed to increase tax compliance and reduce burden for employers by providing greater certainty for employers, workers and the government. Under the program, eligible employers can obtain substantial relief from federal payroll taxes they may have owed for the past, if they prospectively treat workers as employees. The VCSP is available to many businesses, tax-exempt organizations and government entities that currently erroneously treat their workers or a class or group of workers as nonemployees or independent contractors, and now want to correctly treat these workers as employees.

To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • • Consistently have treated the workers in the past as nonemployees,
  • • Have filed all required Forms 1099 for the workers for the previous three years
  • • Not currently be under audit by the IRS, the Department of Labor or a state agency concerning the classification of these workers

Interested employers can apply for the program by filing Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program, at least 60 days before they want to begin treating the workers as employees.

Employers accepted into the program will pay an amount effectively equaling just over one percent of the wages paid to the reclassified workers for the past year. No interest or penalties will be due, and the employers will not be audited on payroll taxes related to these workers for prior years. Participating employers will, for the first three years under the program, be subject to a special six-year statute of limitations, rather than the usual three years that generally applies to payroll taxes.

Full details, including FAQs, are available on the Employment Tax pages of IRS.gov, and in Announcement 2011-64, posted [September 21, 2011].

Another Dreaded IRS Reporting Requirement Gets Interim Guidance Today. Health Coverage Reporting Requirement on Form W2

obama postcard

IRS

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Well here it is, guidance on more reporting requirements.  If you are an employer providing health insurance coverage for your employees, Good For You.  And….. now the IRS wants to track it.  So add this to the long list of other reporting requirements dear business owners.  If you file 250 or more W2’s, starting in 2012 you will need to report employee health insurance premiums on Form w2.  Employers with less than 250 W2’s are exempt until further notice.  I guess there is always a small sliver of a silver lining.


WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued interim guidance to employers on informational reporting on each employee’s annual Form W-2 of the cost of the health insurance coverage they sponsor for employees. The IRS is also requesting comments on this interim guidance. The IRS emphasized that this new reporting to employees is for their information only, to inform them of the cost of their health coverage, and does not cause excludable employer-provided health coverage to become taxable; employer-provided health coverage continues to be excludable from an employee’s income, and is not taxable.

The Affordable Care Act provides that employers are required to report the cost of employer-provided health care coverage on the Form W-2. Notice 2010-69, issued last fall, made this requirement optional for all employers for the 2011 Forms W-2 (generally furnished to employees in January 2012). In today’s guidance, the IRS provided further relief for smaller employers (those filing fewer than 250 W-2 forms) by making this requirement optional for them at least for 2012 (i.e., for 2012 Forms W-2 that generally would be furnished to employees in January 2013) and continuing this optional treatment for smaller employers until further guidance is issued.

Using a question-and-answer format, Notice 2011-28 also provides guidance for employers that are subject to this requirement for the 2012 Forms W-2 and those that choose to voluntarily comply with it for either 2011 or 2012. The notice includes information on how to report, what coverage to include and how to determine the cost of the coverage.

The 2011 Form W-2, prior IRS Notice 2010-69 deferring the reporting requirement for 2011, and Notice 2011-28 containing the new guidance are available on IRS.gov.

IRS Patrol: IRS Releases Draft W-2 Form for 2011; Announces Relief for Employers (Optional Reporting of the Cost of Health Coverage in 2011)

 

Engraving of the U.S. Treasury building in 1804.

engraving of the US Treasury building in 1804

 

Stacie says:  Doesn’t good news come in three’s?  Well here is good news number two for the day – the IRS announced that it will defer the new requirement for employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.  The reporting is now optional in 2011.

WASHINGTON — The IRS today issued a draft Form W-2 for 2011, which employers use to report wages and employee tax withholding. The IRS also announced that it will defer the new requirement for employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan, making that reporting by employers optional in 2011.

The draft Form W-2 includes the codes that employers may use to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.  The Treasury Department and the IRS have determined that this relief is necessary to provide employers the time they need to make changes to their payroll systems or procedures in preparation for compliance with the new reporting requirement. The IRS will be publishing guidance on the new requirement later this year.

Although reporting the cost of coverage will be optional with respect to 2011, the IRS continues to stress that the amounts reportable are not taxable. Included in the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March, the new reporting requirement is intended to be informational only, and to provide employees with greater transparency into overall health care costs.

IRS Presents: Four Steps to Follow If You Are Missing a W-2

Getting ready to file your tax return?  Make sure you have all your documents before you start. You should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement from each of your employers.  Employers have until February 1, 2010 to send you a 2009 Form W-2 earnings statement. If you haven’t received your W-2, follow these four steps:

1. Contact your employer If you have not received your W-2, contact your employer to inquire if and when the W-2 was mailed.  If it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address.  After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend or to issue the W-2.

2. Contact the IRS If you do not receive your W-2 by February 16th, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, city and state, including zip code, Social Security number, phone number and have the following information:

  • Employer’s name, address, city and state, including zip code and phone   number
  • Dates of employment
  • An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and when you worked for that employer during 2009. The estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if possible.

3. File your return You still must file your tax return or request an extension to file by April 15, even if you do not receive your Form W-2. If you have not received your Form W-2 by April 15th, and have completed steps 1 and 2, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Attach Form 4852 to the return, estimating income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible.  There may be a delay in any refund due while the information is verified.

4. File a Form 1040X On occasion, you may receive your missing W-2 after you filed your return using Form 4852, and the information may be different from what you reported on your return. If this happens, you must amend your return by filing a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Form 4852, Form 1040X, and instructions are available on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:

  • Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement (PDF 29K)
  • Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (PDF 123K)
  • Instructions for Form 1040X (PDF 43K)  

Guidance – Payroll Form 944 Rev Proc 2009-51 – Know Who is Eligible to File Annual Form Rather Than Quarterly

Revenue Procedure 2009-51 sets forth the procedures for employers who are eligible to file Form 944, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return, to request to file Form 944 instead of Forms 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010. In addition, this revenue procedure sets forth the procedures for employers who previously were notified to file Form 944 to request to file Forms 941 instead for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010.

Revenue Procedure 2009-51 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2009-45 on November 9, 2009.

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