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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.

Cool New Stuff From The IRS – Retirement Plan Choice Helper

[Stacie says: This is pretty neat. IRS has a new tool to help employers navigate what type of plan to choose.]

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service has created a new Web-based tool to help small business owners determine which tax-favored pension plan best suits their needs and how to keep their plans in compliance.

The IRS Retirement Plan Navigator is intended to provide employers with an easy-to-use guide that focuses on three areas: choosing a plan, maintaining a plan and correcting a plan.

By using the navigator, employers may find that choosing and maintaining a pension plan is not as daunting as they thought. Some plan types are less costly and easier to establish than others.
The navigator does not suggest which plan may be best for a specific employer but it does lay out the options to allow them to choose one that best fits their situations. The navigator includes a side-by-side comparison of pension plans and their requirements.

The navigator provides a checklist and suggested resources for maintaining compliance. Pension laws change frequently. Employers can minimize problems by doing a once-a-year review to ensure they maintain compliance.

The IRS also recognizes that mistakes can be made unintentionally, and many errors can be corrected without notifying the agency. The navigator offers suggested options to employers seeking to correct errors and bring their plans back into compliance. Although the Retirement Plan Navigator is aimed at small business owners, it also can help mid-size businesses review their options as well. Individuals who want to better understand their employer’s plan may also find it of use.

The Web-based guide will be kept up to date as pension laws and regulations change.
Related Items:

Tax Information for Retirement Plan Community

Retirement and Savings Initiatives

The following Employee Plan News is published as part of the e-news for tax professionals.

On September 5, 2009, as part of the Retirement & Savings Initiatives, the IRS and Treasury issued four notices and three revenue rulings to promote retirement plan savings. The notices provide sample amendments to add an automatic enrollment feature (also known as an automatic contribution arrangement) to 401(k) and SIMPLE IRA plans, guidance on using an automatic contribution arrangement (ACA) in SIMPLE IRA plans and two updated safe harbor explanations (§402(f) notices) for eligible rollover distributions (ERDs). The revenue rulings clarify the rules on increasing ACA default contribution percentages and on contributing unused vacation and sick pay to a retirement plan, both annually and upon termination of employment.

The Treasury Department also issued the following statement:
Statement of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on the Administration’s New Retirement Security Initiatives “Today, the Administration announced steps we are taking to make it easier for working families to save, particularly for retirement. Working Americans should be able to retire with dignity and security, but nearly half of the nation’s workforce has little or nothing beyond Social Security benefits to get by on in old age. The measures we are announcing today will give more choices to families who want to save, and will complement the Administration’s legislative proposals to expand retirement savings. Just as the Administration is dedicated to reviving the economy and getting people back to work, so too it is dedicated to helping put retirement security within the reach of all Americans.”

Additionally, the IRS issued the following related technical guidance.
Revenue Ruling 2009-30 provides guidance on how automatic enrollment in a § 401(k) plan can work when there is an escalator feature included. An escalator feature means that the amount of an employee’s compensation that is contributed to the plan, without the employee’s affirmative election, is increased periodically according to the terms of the plan. Two situations are described, one involves a basic automatic contribution arrangement and the other involves an eligible automatic contribution arrangement described in § 414(w) of the Code. Revenue Ruling 2009-30 is part of the “Savings Initiative” guidance issued by the Service.

Revenue Ruling 2009-31 provides guidance on the tax consequences of an amendment to a tax-qualified retirement plan to permit annual contributions of an employee’s unused paid time off under the employer’s paid time off plan. A paid time off plan generally refers to a sick and vacation arrangement that provides for paid leave whether the leave is due to illness or incapacity. The amendment relates to a contribution (including a section 401(k) contribution) or cash out of the unused paid time off, determined as of the end of the plan year (December 31). Rev. Rul. 2009-31 is companion guidance to Rev. Rul. 2009-32 and is part of the “Savings Initiative” guidance issued by the Service.

Revenue Ruling 2009-32 provides guidance on the tax consequences of an amendment to a tax-qualified retirement plan to permit contributions for an employee’s accumulated and unused paid time off under the employer’s paid time off plan at a participant’s termination of employment. A paid time off plan generally refers to a sick and vacation arrangement that provides for paid leave whether the leave is due to illness or incapacity. The amendment relates to a post-severance contribution (including a section 401(k) contribution) or cash out of the accumulated and unused paid time off. Rev. Rul. 2009-32 is companion guidance to Rev. Rul. 2009-31 and is part of the “Savings Initiative” guidance issued by the Service.

Notice 2009-65 provides two sample amendments that sponsors of § 401(k) plans can use to add automatic enrollment features to their plans. The first sample amendment can be used to add a basic automatic contribution arrangement with, if elected by an adopting employer, an escalation feature. The second sample amendment can be used to add an eligible automatic contribution arrangement (“EACA”) as described in § 414(w) of the Code with, if elected by an adopting employer, an escalation feature. Final regulations under § 414(w) were published in the Federal Register on February 24, 2009 (74 F.R. 8200). Notice 2009-65, by providing sample amendments, facilitates the use of EACAs in § 401(k) plans. Notice 2009-65 is part of the “Savings Initiative” guidance issued by the Service.

Notice 2009-66 provides guidance to facilitate automatic enrollment in SIMPLE IRA plans, including questions and answers relating to the inclusion in a SIMPLE IRA plan of an automatic contribution arrangement. This notice also requests comments on whether the Department of the Treasury and the Service should issue guidance regarding SIMPLE IRA plans that include eligible automatic contribution arrangements under § 414(w).

Notice 2009-67 provides a sample amendment that can be used by a sponsor of a SIMPLE IRA Plan described in § 408(p) of the Code to add an automatic contribution arrangement to the plan. Only SIMPLE IRA plans that use a designated financial institution described in § 408(p)(7) can use the sample amendment. Notice 2009-67 is companion guidance to Notice 2009-66 and is part of the “Savings Initiative” guidance issued by the Service.

Notice 2009-68 contains two safe harbor explanations that may be provided to recipients of eligible rollover distributions from an employer plan in order to satisfy § 402(f) of the Code. The first safe harbor explanation applies to a distribution not from a designated Roth account, as described in § 402A. The second safe harbor explanation applies to a distribution from a designated Roth account. These safe harbor explanations update the safe harbor explanations that were published in Notice 2002-3, 2002-1 C.B. 289, to reflect changes in the law. Notice 2009-68 is part of the “Savings Initiative” guidance issued by the Service.

Independent Contractor or Employee? Not Sure – Check Out These Tips

[I just love this series by the IRS – this summer tax tip tells us how to determine if your worker is an employee or an independent contractor. This is an important distinction since misclassification of an employee as an independent contractor can result in significant taxes, penalties and interest for the employer.]

If you are a small business owner, whether you hire people as independent contractors or as employees will impact how much taxes you pay and the amount of taxes you withhold from their paychecks. Additionally, it will affect how much additional cost your business must bear, what documents and information they must provide to you, and what tax documents you must give to them.

Here are the top ten things every business owner should know about hiring people as independent contractors versus hiring them as employees.

Three characteristics are used by the IRS to determine the relationship between businesses and workers: Behavioral Control, Financial Control, and the Type of Relationship.

Behavioral Control covers facts that show whether the business has a right to direct or control how the work is done through instructions, training or other means.
Financial Control covers facts that show whether the business has a right to direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker’s job.

The Type of Relationship factor relates to how the workers and the business owner perceive their relationship.

If you have the right to control or direct not only what is to be done, but also how it is to be done, then your workers are most likely employees.

If you can direct or control only the result of the work done — and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result — then your workers are probably independent contractors.

Employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors can end up with substantial tax bills. Additionally, they can face penalties for failing to pay employment taxes and for failing to file required tax forms.

Workers can avoid higher tax bills and lost benefits if they know their proper status.

Both employers and workers can ask the IRS to make a determination on whether a specific individual is an independent contractor or an employee by filing a Form SS-8 – Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding – with the IRS.

You can learn more about the critical determination of a worker’s status as an Independent Contractor or Employee at IRS.gov by selecting the Small Business link. Additional resources include IRS Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide, Publication 1779, Independent Contractor or Employee, and Publication 1976, Do You Qualify for Relief under Section 530? These publications and Form SS-8 are available on the IRS Web site or by calling the IRS at 800-829-3676 (800-TAX-FORM).

Links:
Contractor vs. Employee
Publication 1779
Publication 15-A

Federal Minimum Wage Increases to $7.25

Posted by The United States Department of Labor on their web site at The federal minimum wage.

The federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007; $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.

The federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employment Standards Administration’s Wage and Hour Division. Many states also have minimum wage laws.

In cases where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages.

The FLSA contains some exceptions (or exemptions) from the minimum wage requirement. Some exceptions apply to specific types of businesses and others apply to specific types of work. It also provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the minimum wage. See subminimum wages.

Wages required by FLSA are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered. Deductions made from wages for such items as cash or merchandise shortages, employer-required uniforms, and tools of the trade, are not legal to the extent that they reduce the wages of employees below the minimum rate required by FLSA or reduce the amount of overtime pay due under FLSA.

The FLSA does not provide for wage payment or collection procedures for an employee’s wages or commissions in excess of those required by the FLSA. However, some states do have laws under which such claims may be filed.

Federal employees are subject to additional rules enforced by the Office of Personnel Management

It should also be noted that there are a number of employment practices that the FLSA does not regulate. For example, FLSA does not require:

vacation, holiday, severance, or sick pay;
meal or rest periods, holidays off, or vacations;
premium pay for weekend or holiday work;
pay raises or fringe benefits; and
a discharge notice, reason for discharge, or immediate payment of final wages to terminated employees.

COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE MATERIALS
BASIC INFORMATION

Employment Law Guide – Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay – Describes the statutes and regulations administered by DOL that regulate minimum wage and overtime pay.

Questions and Answers About the Minimum Wage – Answers questions ranging from “how often does the minimum wage increase” to “who ensures that workers are paid at least the minimum wage?”

Minimum Wage Laws in the States – Provides a clickable map that tells you what the minimum wage laws are in each state.

Chapter 30 – Wage and Hour Division’s Field Operations Handbook (PDF) – Discusses records, minimum wages, and the payment of wages.

Filing a complaint – DOL’s Wage and Hour Division manages complaints regarding violations of the various laws and regulations it administers. To file a complaint concerning one of these laws, contact your nearest Wage and Hour Division office or call the Department’s Toll-Free Wage and Hour HelpLine at 1-866-4-US-WAGE.

FACT SHEETS
Coverage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Provides general information about those covered by the FLSA.

Hours Worked Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Provides general information concerning what constitutes compensable time under the FLSA.

Youth Minimum Wage – FLSA – Answers a variety of questions about the minimum wage, including the subminimum wage.

Minimum Wage, Recordkeeping, and Child Labor Requirements of U.S. Law – Provides general information concerning federal minimum wage, recordkeeping and child labor requirements that apply to foreign commercial vehicle operators and their helpers who work in United States territory.

E-TOOLS
Comprehensive FLSA Presentation (Microsoft® PowerPoint®)
elaws Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Advisor – Addresses key wage and hour topics, including minimum wage requirements.

POSTERS
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Minimum Wage Poster – Describes the requirement that every employer of employees subject to the FLSA’s minimum wage provisions must post a notice explaining the Act. (Español) (Chinese)

RECORDKEEPING
Every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt worker. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires no particular form for the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned. For a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain, see the FLSA recordkeeping fact sheet.

Prior to paying an employed person the subminimum wage, as allowed under certain provisions of the FLSA, employers may have to apply for a certificate from the U. S. Department of Labor. See the form instructions page for additional information.

APPLICABLE LAWS AND REGULATIONS
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Establishes minimum wages, overtime pay, record keeping, and child labor standards for private sector and government workers.
29 CFR Part 531 – Regulations on wage payments under the FLSA.

RELATED TOPICS AND LINKS
State Labor Offices – When the state laws differ from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employer must comply with the standard most protective to employees.
State Labor Laws

DOL CONTACTS*
Employment Standards Administration (ESA) Wage and Hour Division 200 Constitution Avenue, NWRoom S-3502 Washington, DC 20210 Contact WHD Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) TTY: 1-877-889-5627Local Offices

For questions on other DOL laws, please call DOL’s Toll-Free Help Line at 1-866-4-USA-DOL. Live assistance is available in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Additional service is available in more than 140 languages through a translation service. Tel: 1-866-4-USA-DOL TTY: 1-877-889-5627
*Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Confidentiality Protocol for Compliance Assistance Inquiries, information provided by a telephone caller will be kept confidential within the bounds of the law. Compliance assistance inquiries will not trigger an inspection, audit, investigation, etc.

State map

States with minimum wage rates higher than the Federal

American Samoa has special minimum wage rates

States with no minimum wage law

States with minimum wage rates the same as the Federal
States with minimum wage rates lower than the Federal

IRS Tips For Recently Married Taxpayers

If you have recently gotten married or plan to get married in the near future, the IRS has some tips to help you avoid stress at tax time.

1) Notify the Social Security Administration – Report any name change to the Social Security Administration, so your name and SSN will match when you file your next tax return. Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple. File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security card at your local SSA office. The form is available on SSA’s Web site at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices.
2) Notify the IRS – If you have a new address you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address. You may download Form 8822 from the IRS website IRS.gov or order it by calling 800–TAX–FORM (800–829–3676).

3) Notify the U.S. Postal Service – You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so it can forward any IRS correspondence.
4) Notify Your Employer – Report any name and address changes to your employer(s) to ensure receipt of your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement after the end of the year.
5) Check Your Withholding – If both you and your spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator available on IRS.gov to assist you in determining the correct amount of withholding needed for your new filing status.

6) The IRS Withholding Calculator will even provide you with a new Form W-4, Employee’s

Withholding Allowance Certificate you can print out and give it to your employer so they can withhold the correct amount from your pay.
Links:
IRS Withholding Calculator
Form 8822, Change of Address

Now is a Good Time to Check Your Withholding to Avoid a Tax Surprise

With 2009 nearly half over, the Internal Revenue Service reminds individual taxpayers there is no better time to check their 2009 federal income tax withholding levels to make sure they do not face any surprises when returns are due next spring.
The Making Work Pay Credit lowered tax withholding rates this year for 120 million American households. However, particular taxpayers who fall into any of the following groups should review their tax withholding rates to ensure enough tax is withheld: multiple job holders, families in which both spouses work, workers who can be claimed as dependents by other taxpayers and pensioners.
Failure to adjust your withholding could result in potentially smaller refunds or may cause you to owe tax rather than receive a refund next year. So far in 2009, the average refund amount is $2,675 and 79 percent of all returns received a refund.
Because retirees typically have withholding from their pension payments, pension plan administrators or pension payors should be aware of the optional adjustment procedure for pension withholding announced in Notice 1036-P, Additional Withholding for Pensions for 2009.
Social security beneficiaries, supplemental security income recipients, disabled veterans and railroad retirees that receive this year’s one-time $250 economic recovery payment should be aware that the Making Work Pay credit will be reduced by the $250 payment amount. They may also want to review their withholding.
The IRS withholding calculator on IRS.gov can help a taxpayer compute the proper tax withholding. The worksheets in Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Withholding?, can also be used to do the calculation. If the result suggests an adjustment is necessary, the taxpayer should submit a new Form W-4, Withholding Allowance Certificate, to his or her employer or adjust the amount of quarterly tax paid.
In addition, the IRS reminds unemployed workers that the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits they receive during 2009 are tax-free for federal income tax purposes. People who expect to receive more than that should consider having tax withheld from their benefit payments in excess of $2,400. Use Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request, or the equivalent form provided by the payer to request withholding to begin or end.
Taxpayers should visit IRS.gov for more information about how to adjust federal income tax withholding. The Web site also has details on various tax incentives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as downloadable forms and publications. Free tax forms and publications are also available by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
Links:
The Making Work Pay Credit
Notice 1036-P, Additional Withholding for Pensions for 2009
IRS withholding calculator
Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Withholding?
Related News Releases and legal guidance
Publication 4766, Making Work Pay Credit and Form W-4 Withholding Certificate

Highlights of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Congress has approved and the President has signed new economic recovery legislation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The IRS is implementing tax-related provisions of this new program as quickly as possible.
Here are some key highlights:
Money Back for New Vehicle Purchases. Taxpayers who buy certain new vehicles in 2009 can deduct the state and local sales taxes they paid.

Increased Transportation Subsidy. Employer-provided benefits for transit and parking are up in 2009

Up to $2,400 in Unemployment Benefits Tax Free in 2009. Individuals should check their tax withholding.

Net Operating Loss Carryback. Small businesses can offset losses by getting refunds on taxes paid up to five years ago. Information on the carryback, an expanded section 179 deduction and other business-related provisions is now available.

COBRA: Health Insurance Continuation Subsidy. The IRS has extensive guidance for employers, including an updated Form 941, as well as information for qualifying individuals.

Notice 2009-27 is guidance provided under section 3001 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 relating to the premium reduction for individuals who were involuntarily terminated and are electing COBRA continuation coverage under the group health plan of their former employer. Notice 2009-27 will appear in IRB 2009-16 dated April 20, 2009.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Expands. Homebuyers who purchase in 2009 can get a credit of up to $8,000 with no payback requirement.

Enchanced Credits for Tax Years 2009, 2010. Details available on the earned income tax credit, additional child tax credit and American Opportunity Credit, a new higher education benefit.
Payroll Checks Increase This Spring. The Making Work Pay Tax Credit will mean $400 to $800 for many Americans. The IRS has issued new withholding tables for employers.

$250 for Social Security Recipients, Veterans and Railroad Retirees. The Economic Recovery Payment will be paid by the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Railroad Retirement Board.

Employment Tax and Disregarded Entities

For wages paid on or after January 1, 2009, single member/single owner limited liability companies (LLCs) that have not elected to be treated as corporations may be required to change the way they report and pay federal employment taxes and wage payments. On Aug. 16, 2007, changes to Treasury Regulation Section 301.7701-2 were issued. The new regulations state that the LLC, not its single owner, will be responsible for filing and paying all employment taxes on wages paid on or after Jan. 1, 2009.
A limited liability company is an entity formed under state law. For federal tax purposes, an LLC with more than one owner may be classified as if it were a partnership or a corporation. For federal tax purposes, an LLC with one owner is referred to as an entity disregarded as separate from its owner, or a “disregarded entity,” unless an election is made for it to be treated as a corporation. If the owner is an individual, a single member LLC is treated as a sole proprietorship for federal income tax purposes, and the owner is subject to taxes under the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). If the owner is not an individual, a single member LLC is treated as a branch or division of the owner.
For wages paid before Jan. 1, 2009, disregarded entities follow the guidance under Notice 99-6 and choose how they want to file and pay their employment taxes using either the name and EIN assigned to the LLC or the name and EIN of the single member owner. The new regulations make Notice 99-6 obsolete for wages paid on or after January 1, 2009; employment taxes must be reported and paid in the name and EIN of the LLC.
An LLC may secure an EIN by applying online at IRS.gov or by filing Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.
The regulations changes are not retroactive. The owner of a disregarded entity remains responsible for paying employment taxes on wages paid before Jan. 1, 2009 and the LLC is responsible for paying employment taxes on wages paid beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
The examples in the regulations clarify the treatment of a disregarded entity for purposes of employment tax on wages paid on or after Jan. 1, 2009.
LLCA is an eligible entity owned by individual A and is generally disregarded as an entity separate from its owner for federal tax purposes. However, LLCA is now treated as an entity separate from its owner for purposes of employment and certain excise taxes. LLCA has employees and pays wages as defined in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 3121(a), 3306(b), and 3401(a).
LLCA is an employer and is subject to all provisions of law and regulations, including penalties that apply to employers. Thus, LLCA is liable for income tax withholding, Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, and Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) taxes under IRC Sections 3402, 3403, 3102(b), 3111, and 3301, respectively. LLCA must file the applicable employment tax forms, such as Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Employment Tax Return, Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return; file Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration and furnish them to LLCA’s employees, and make timely employment tax deposits.
A is not, however, an employee of LLCA for purposes of employment tax because LLCA is treated as A’s sole proprietorship for income tax purposes. A is self-employed for purposes of the tax on self-employment income. This means that A is subject to tax under IRC Section 1401 on his net earnings from self-employment with respect to LLCA’s activities. As a sole proprietor, A is entitled to deduct trade or business expenses paid or incurred through LLCA’s activities, including the employer’s share of employment taxes imposed under sections 3111 and 3301, on A’s Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss for Business (Sole Proprietorship).
These changes in the regulations do not change income tax treatment for a disregarded entity or other LLCs, or employment and/or excise tax treatment for LLCs classified as partnerships or corporations.
The new regulations also state that otherwise disregarded entities are treated as the responsible parties for reporting and paying certain excise taxes that accrued after Jan. 1, 2008, including those reported on Forms 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return; 730, Monthly Tax Return for Wagers; 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return; and 11-C, Occupational Tax and Registration Return for Wagering; excise tax refunds or payments claimed on Form 8849, Claim for Refund of Excise Taxes; and excise tax registrations on Form 637, Application for Registration (For Certain Excise Tax Activities).
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