Paid Family Leave Refundable Credit for COVID-19 Affected Employees
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has provided an employer refundable credit signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020, providing small and midsize employers refundable tax credits that reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19. Who does this affect and how?
- Employers with fewer than 500 employees, funds to provide employees with paid sick and family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. Workers may receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for their own health needs or to care for others and up to an additional ten weeks of paid family leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or child care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
- The refundable tax credits apply to qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid for certain periods when an employee is unable to work, as described below, during the period beginning April 1, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020, up to $200.00 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate, or up to 80 hours, if they are unable to work for the following reasons:
- the employee is under a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- the employee is caring for the child of such employee if the school or place of care of the child has been closed, or the childcare provider of such child is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions;
- the employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Eligible Employers that pay qualified leave wages will be able to retain an amount of all federal employment taxes equal to the amount of the qualified leave wages paid, plus the allocable qualified health plan expenses and the amount of the employer’s share of Medicare tax imposed on those wages, rather than depositing them with the IRS. The federal employment taxes that are available for retention by Eligible Employers include federal income taxes withheld from employees, the employees’ share of social security and Medicare taxes, and the employer’s share of social security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees.
Example: Company A pays $10,000 in qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages in Q2 2020. It does not owe the employer’s share of social security tax on the $10,000, but it will owe $145 for the employer’s share of Medicare tax (1.45%). Its credits equal $10,145, which include the $10,000 in qualified leave wages plus $145 for the Eligible Employer’s share of Medicare tax (this example does not include any qualified health plan expenses allocable to the qualified leave wages). This amount may be applied against any federal employment taxes that Eligible Employer is liable for on any wages paid in Q2 2020. Any excess over the federal employment tax liabilities is refunded in accord with normal procedures. Eligible Employer must still withhold the employee’s share of social security and Medicare taxes on the qualified leave wages paid.
If an Eligible Employer does not have enough federal employment taxes set aside for deposit to cover its obligation to provide qualified leave wages (and allocable qualified health plan expenses and the Employer’s share of Medicare tax on the qualified leave wages), the employer may request an advance of the credits by completing Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19.
The same requirements as a standard employee noted above, a self-employed individual must face the same stipulations.
The average daily self-employment income is determined by an amount equal to the net earnings from self-employment for the taxable year divided by 260. A taxpayer’s net earnings from self-employment are based on the gross income that he or she derives from the taxpayer’s trade or business minus ordinary and necessary trade or business expenses.
The qualified family leave equivalent amount with respect to an eligible self-employed individual is an amount equal to the number of days (up to 50) during the taxable year that the self-employed individual cannot perform services for which that individual would be entitled to paid family leave (if the individual were employed by an Eligible Employer (other than himself or herself)), multiplied by the lesser of two amounts: (1) $200, or (2) 67 percent of the average daily self-employment income of the individual for the taxable year.
Self-employed individuals can take both deductions however the qualified sick or family leave equivalent amounts are offset by the qualified sick or family leave wages. The refundable credits are claimed on the self-employed individual’s Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, tax return for the 2020 tax year.
Dwayne J. Briscoe
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