CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Package Passes Senate
Last night, just before midnight, the Senate unanimously passed the CARES Act bill as the 3rd phase of legislative relief related to the coronavirus. This vote came after hours of debate over an unemployment amendment proposed by Republicans which did not make the final bill. The House is expected to vote by Friday morning and to move the bill to President Trump for signature. 

The below information touches on certain areas of the bill including tax provisions, the small business loan program, and expanded unemployment insurance. Other sections not addressed include economic assistance for certain distressed industries of the US and support for the US healthcare system.

Individual Tax Provisions
  • Rebate program
  • Provides a credit against 2020 tax year of $1,200 for single filers or $2,400 for married filing joint taxpayers.
  • Additional $500 per qualifying child defined under the child tax credit rules.
  • Requirements based on individual’s 2019 tax return information
  • Based on 2018 return if taxpayer has not filed 2019 return
  • Paid as an advanced refund based on 2020 income. Direct deposit expected within 3 weeks. Mailed checks 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Phases out between $75k - $99k (or between $150k to $198k MFJ) by 5% for each dollar the taxpayer’s AGI exceeds $75k (or $150k MFJ)
  • Not available for nonresident alien individuals, dependents, estates or trusts
  • Required minimum distribution waiver for 2020
  • $300 charitable cash contribution above-the-line deduction for taxpayers taking standard deduction in 2020
  • Payment by employer of 2020 student loans will be nontaxable to the employee up to $5,250
  • Early retirement withdrawals
  • 10% penalty waived for coronavirus-related distributions up to $100,000. 
  • Distributions may be repaid within a 3-year period
  • Distributions taxable over 3-year period with option to include entire amount in year of distribution
  • May take $100,000 loan from qualified employer plan 
  • Retroactive delay of the excess business loss rules until the 2020 tax year

Business Tax Provisions
  • Refundable payroll tax credit of up to 50% of $10,000 of wages per employee for employers that do not participate in the new small business loan program (below)
  • Delays payment of 50% of 2020 employer-share payroll taxes from date of enactment through the end of 2020 until December 31, 2021 and the remaining 50% to December 31, 2022
  • Net operating loss 5-year carryback for losses arising in 2018, 2019, and 2020
  • Expands interest expense limitation allowance to 50% of adjusted taxable income (ATI) and allows taxpayers to use 2019 ATI for 2020
  • Gives qualified improvement property a 15-year life, thereby allowing bonus depreciation on non-structural internal improvements
  • Acceleration of prior years’ minimum tax credits

Small Business Loans
The CARES Act authorizes $349 billion for a small business “paycheck protection” loan program for eligible employers:
  • Eligible employers include those with less than 500 employees across affiliated businesses as well as self-employed individuals and 501(c)(3) nonprofits. 
  • Loan must be used for payroll costs, group health care benefits, interest on mortgages, rent, utilities, and interest on any other debt obligations incurred before February 15, 2020.
  • Loan application requires documents substantiating the previously mentioned expenses, certified by the employer. 
  • Employer must certify to lender that the loan is necessary to support operations as a result of the coronavirus, and that the loan funds will be used for the previously mentioned expenses. 
  • The amount of the loan is the lesser of (1) the employer’s average monthly payroll costs for the year preceding loan origination multiplied by 2.5, or (2) $10,000,000. 
  • Portion of loans may be forgiven if certain conditions are met by the employer:
  • Employer uses loan for payroll costs, group health care benefits, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities during the 8 weeks following loan origination
  • Employer’s average number of fulltime employees per month within 8 weeks from origination of the loan meets or exceeds the average number of fulltime employees per month during either the period of (1) February 15, 2019 through June 30, 2019, or (2) January 1, 2020 through February 29, 2020.
  • No employee with an annual rate of pay or salary less than $100,000 has had pay reduced by more than 25% during the 8 weeks from origination of the loan
  • Expenses paid after the first 8 weeks from loan origination do not appear to be eligible for forgiveness. Or in other words, unused loan proceeds after the 8 weeks from obtaining the loan appear subject to repayment.
  • Amounts forgiven do not have to be repaid and are nontaxable to the employer. 
  • Amounts not forgiven mature over 10 years with interest rate not to exceed 4%. There is also a 6-month deferral period for repayment.

Simple Example
Three employers, A, B, and C are considering applying for a loan on April 1, 2020 under the new small business loan program. The following facts apply:
  • Employer A has 100 employees, B has 400 employees, C has 800 employees. Employer C is ineligible for the loan because employee count exceeds 500.
  • Employer A has payroll costs for the applicable period of $15,000,000, B has $60,000,000
  • Employer A may obtain a loan for $3,125,000. B may obtain a loan for $10,000,000.
  • Assuming Employers A and B meet the previously mentioned conditions for loan forgiveness, amounts used during the 8 weeks following loan origination date do not have to be repaid and are nontaxable.

According to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, employers can expect to be able to apply for and receive loan funds in the same day through a streamlined process by the end of next week. The Small Business Administration is also to release regulations within 30 days of enactment.

Unemployment Expansion
  • Expands unemployment eligibility to individuals directly impacted by COVID-19 including self-employed, independent contractors, and others with limited work history
  • Reimbursement of 50% of unemployment amounts paid by nonprofits and government agencies during 2020
  • Adds $600 to weekly unemployment for up to 4 months
  • Covers first week of unemployment benefits for states that choose to pay individuals as soon as unemployed, instead of waiting one week to provide benefits
  • Adds 13 weeks of unemployment through December 31, 2020
  • Provides for short-time compensation programs whereby employers reduce employee hours instead of laying off workers. Unemployment benefits make up the difference in employees’ pay.

O’Connor & Drew will continue to review the detail of this bill. We will send follow up communication as pertinent information becomes available, including regulations which will accompany this legislation in the weeks following its passage.
Contact Us Today with your Questions on the CARES Act
Lauren A. Carnes, CPA
Tax Principal

O'Connor & Drew, P.C.
Ryan J. McDonell, CPA
Tax Manager

O'Connor & Drew, P.C.
Massachusetts Auto Dealers: Join us next week for a webinar hosted by the MSADA.

The webinar will provide an overview of recent tax changes and how these changes will impact dealerships, address the implications of the newly passed stimulus package, identify ways in which dealerships can free up cash, as well as discuss other critical business considerations for dealers during this unprecedented and unpredictable time.