April 6, 2021

Employee Retention Tax Credit Offers Huge Relief Opportunities for the Construction Industry

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) has been a valuable COVID-19 relief option for businesses who faced revenue losses due to ongoing impacts of the pandemic. While some industries were impacted more than others, certain sectors of the construction industry actually expanded in 2020, including homebuilders and industrial contractors. Even if your company performed well overall last year, there could still be an opportunity to claim the ERTC.

Who Qualifies for the ERTC?

Originally part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the ERTC allows businesses to take a credit against payroll taxes in order to help offset some of the business losses due to COVID-19. The original ERTC was only available for businesses who were forced to shut down or whose gross receipts in 2020 were 50% less than the same quarter in 2019. The ERTC has since been expanded, modifying the reduction in revenue by an additional 30%. For 2021, businesses are eligible if gross receipts are less than 80% of the gross receipts for same quarter in the prior year.

Businesses that averaged no more than 100 full-time employees in 2019 qualify for the ERTC in 2020 on wages paid to all employees. For the ERTC in 2021, this employee threshold increases to no more than 500 full-time 2019 employees. Full-time employees are those that work at least 30 hours per week. Union employees are included in the employee count for the credit, but those working part-time (less than 30 hours/week) are not.

How Much Can Businesses Qualify for?

For 2020, eligible employers can take a credit of 50% on qualified wages up to $10,000 paid to employees between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021. In 2021, the tax credit is increased to 70% of qualified wages, which are limited to $10,000 per employee per quarter. With the 70%, the maximum ERTC amount available is $7,000 per employee per quarter, for a potential total of $28,000 per employee in 2021. We have seen clients qualify for anywhere from $5,000 to $2.5 million through the ERTC.

How Could My Company Qualify for the ERTC After a Good Revenue Year?

Unlike other industries, construction revenue typically isn’t cyclical, and contractors can have revenue fluctuations that vary from month to month or quarter to quarter depending on projects. To qualify for the ERTC, the business only needs to have a quarter-by-quarter drop in revenue of 50% when comparing a 2020 quarter to 2019, and 20% when comparing a quarter in 2021 to 2019. You can also look back a quarter for the ERTC, so if your company was down 20% in Q4 of 2020 compared to 2019, you would qualify for Q1 of 2021.

ERTC Case Study

In one unique scenario, a taxpayer with a 40% increase in revenue in 2020 vs 2019 overall assumed they would not qualify for the ERTC. When taking a closer look, we discovered their revenue dropped 50% in Q4 of 2020 compared to 2019, making them eligible for the ERTC in Q4 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021. Projected total benefit for this taxpayer exceeds $200,000.

How Can I Take Advantage of the ERTC?

Initially, the CARES Act prohibited employers who had received a PPP loan from also utilizing the ERTC. New laws allow an employer to claim the credit for any wages paid beyond the proceeds of the PPP loan that have been forgiven. Taking advantage of both PPP loan funding and the ERTC is a great way to maximize COVID-19 relief opportunities.

If you discover you qualified for the ERTC in 2020, you can amend your quarterly payroll returns to claim the credit. If you identify that you qualify in advance, you can reduce payroll deposits for 2021 to take advantage of the credit.

Find out if your business is eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit in 2020 or 2021.

While the above highlights the opportunity for eligible businesses, please contact an Anders advisor below to discuss your situation and recovery options. Our advisors are closely following COVID-19 relief efforts and will continue to publish insights to keep you informed. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources.

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March 19, 2021

How Employers Can Take Advantage of the Expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit

On March 11, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This relief bill comes in response to the continued COVID-19 pandemic and makes some changes to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) that was originally part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and later expanded and extended under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2020. Below we dig into the changes and expansions that were part of the CAA and the recently enacted ARPA.

QUICK REFRESHER ON THE ORIGINAL ERTC

Let’s first revisit the provisions of the ERTC in the original CARES Act. Enacted in the spring of 2020, the Act allowed businesses to take a credit against payroll taxes in order to help offset some of the business losses due to COVID-19. The law allowed eligible employers to take a credit of 50% of qualified wages up to $10,000 paid to employees between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021. Consequently, the maximum credit for each employee was $5,000 ($10,000 in wages X the 50% tax credit rate).

However, not every business was eligible for this credit. Businesses must have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 either by a shutdown order or by experiencing a significant reduction in revenue. There were also restrictions on which wages were “qualified” if an employer had more than 100 full-time employees. Businesses were also not allowed to take the credit if they used Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to cover employee payroll costs.

UPDATES AND EXPANSIONS TO THE ERTC

The passage of both the CAA and the newly signed ARPA relief bill is good news to many businesses who continue to feel the economic impacts of the pandemic as the laws enhance and expand many provisions of the original ERTC. Under the CAA of 2020, the ERTC was extended until June 30, 2021 and increased the tax credit to 70% of qualified wages for each of the first two quarters of 2021.

With the newly enacted ARPA legislation, the ERTC has been extended again – this time through December 31, 2021. This means an employer eligible for the ERTC in all four quarters of 2021 could receive up to $28,000 in credits per employee ($10,000 quarterly wage cap x 70% x 4 quarters).

ERTC Eligibility

More businesses will be eligible for the ERTC in 2021. The original ERTC was only available for businesses who were forced to shut down or whose gross receipts in 2020 were 50% less than the same quarter in 2019. The CAA modified this reduction in revenue by 30%. Under the CAA guidelines, the test was satisfied for either of the first two quarters of 2021 if gross receipts were less than 80% of the gross receipts for same quarter in 2019. The ARPA extends the 80% gross receipts test for the third and fourth quarters of 2021 as well. 

ERTC Wage Threshold

A change in the threshold for determining which wages “qualify” for the tax credit will also benefit employers in 2021. Under the original CARES act, for businesses with less than 100 full-time employees, all wages qualified for the tax credit, regardless if the employee’s role changed or not due to the pandemic. Whereas businesses with over 100 employees could not claim the credit for employees that were still performing services for the business.

The CAA, effective January 1, 2021, raised the threshold number to 500 employees.  In addition, the ARPA, effective July 1, 2021, also includes a new provision for “severely financially distressed employers.” These employers are defined as those whose gross receipts are less than 10% of the gross receipts for the same quarter in 2019. If an employer meets this definition, they may treat all wages paid to employees as qualified wages regardless of the number of full-time employees. 

Employers with PPP Loans

Initially, the CARES Act prohibited employers who had received a PPP loan from also utilizing the ERTC. The CAA allowed an employer to claim the credit for any wages paid beyond the proceeds of the PPP loan that have been forgiven. This change is retroactive to the effective date under the original law: March 12, 2020. A company that received a PPP loan in 2020 but paid qualified wages beyond the amount of the loan could benefit by filing an amended Form 941 and claiming the credit.

NEW ENHANCEMENTS TO THE ERTC

While many provisions of the CAA and the ARPA enhanced the CARES Act, they also include some brand-new provisions as well. Under the CAA, businesses can take an advanced payment on their credit even if those wages have not yet been paid. Additionally, some government entities not previously allowed to take the credit became eligible with the passage of the CAA, such as public universities, hospitals, federal credit unions, etc.

The ARPA also allows a startup business to take the ERTC even if the business does not meet the other ERTC eligibility tests. To qualify the business must have been established after February 15, 2020 and have annual gross receipts of no more than $1 million. The recovery startup credit is capped at $50,000 per quarter, per employer.

While the above highlights how changes in the recent COVID-19 relief bill have affected the ERTC, please contact an Anders advisor below to discuss your situation and recovery options. Our advisors are closely following COVID-19 relief efforts and will continue to publish insights to keep you informed. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources.

Find out if your business is eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit in 2020 or 2021.

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March 9, 2021

Permanent 179D Tax Deduction Incentivizes Energy Efficient Building Improvements

The Consolidations Appropriations Act of 2021 signed into law on December 27, 2020 permanently extended the 179D tax deduction for energy efficient building improvements. This is great news for commercial building owners as they can now take advantage of the 179D tax deduction for energy efficient building upgrades without wondering if and when the deduction will expire. Below we dive into the details to know before taking advantage of the 179D deduction.

BACKGROUND ON 179D AND ELIGIBILITY

The 179D deduction helps incentivize energy efficient construction projects. This deduction was originally created as a temporary measure under the Energy Police Act of 2005 and was extended every year until it expired in 2017. A tax deduction of $1.80 per square foot that reduced the building’s total energy and power cost by 50% or more is available to owners of new or existing buildings who install the following:

  • Interior Lighting
  • Building Envelope
  • Heating/Cooling Ventilation
  • Hot Water Systems

Deductions of $0.60 per square foot are available for situations where expenditures partially qualify by meeting certain target levels or through an interim lighting rule issued by the IRS. For government-owned buildings, this deduction is transferable to the person or company responsible for the energy efficient design. Therefore, architecture and engineering firms that design government owned buildings may also claim this deduction when completing additional requirements.

Under the extender bill of 2019, the deduction is retroactively extended for tax years 2018, 2019 and available for 2020. Qualified buildings placed in service in 2018 and 2019 may be eligible to claim the 179D deduction.

CLAIMING 179D

Eligible building owners can claim the 179D deduction for up to $1.80 per square foot of the entire building for the installation of energy efficient systems into new or existing buildings.

The Anders Real Estate and Construction Group can help determine if your construction project would qualify for the 179D deduction as well as other tax credits and incentives. Contact an Anders advisor below to learn more.

Abigail A. Mabley is a contributor to this post.

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February 21, 2021

2021 Anders Tax Pocket Guide

December 29, 2020

Rehabbing a Historic Building? Historic Preservation Tax Credits Can Help

The Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program works to revitalize communities across the country by offering a tax incentive for the rehabilitation of historic buildings. The program offers a 20% Federal tax credit to private investors who undertake substantial rehabilitation of a historic building that will be used for a business or other income-producing purpose while maintaining the historic character of the property. The 20% rehabilitation credit equals 20% of qualified expenses spent on the approved rehabilitation of a certified historic structure.

How do Historic Preservation Tax Credits work?

Only certified historic structures qualify for Historic Preservation Tax Credits. The National Park Service maintains a list of buildings that are certified as historic. The rehabilitation work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation, which aim to ensure the historic integrity of the building remains intact.

Taxpayers must complete a three-part application to qualify for the 20% tax credit:

  1. Part 1 presents information about the significance and appearance of the building
  2. Part 2 describes the condition of the building and planned rehabilitation work
  3. Part 3 certifies that the project meets specific standards laid out by the Secretary of the Interior

Do states offer Historic Preservation Tax Credits?

Many states also offer Historic Preservation Tax Credits. An application and approval process is required at the state level, as well. Missouri offers tax credits equal to 25% of qualified expenses of the rehabilitation to approved historic buildings. The Missouri Historic Tax Credits can be carried back 3 years or carried forward 10 years.

Find out how Anders can help with Missouri Historic Tax Credits.

Should I take advantage of Historic Preservation Tax Credits?

Yes, Historic Preservation Tax Credits are a great way for historic real estate owners to lessen their tax burden for rehabilitating or restoring their historic property. If you are considering purchasing or have already purchased a historic building for commercial use, contact an Anders advisor below to take the next steps for qualifying for these tax credits.

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August 13, 2020

My Employee Tested Positive for Coronavirus, What Should I Do?

As the pandemic continues, employers are asking a lot of questions around what they need to do when an employee tests positive or is unable to work due to COVID-19. Is the employer required to pay the employee? Is there assistance available to businesses paying for sick leave when an employee tests positive? While some of the nuances should be advised by a lawyer or HR representative, below we dive into what types of relief are available for employers from an accounting perspective.

Are employers required to pay sick leave for COVID-19?

The answer is yes. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Learn more about employee paid leave rights.

Is there assistance available for employers?

Yes. To help employers pay employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19, the FFCRA tax credit and disaster relief payments are available.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

When an employee is unable to work (including telework) due to COVID-19, the FFCRA provides a 100% credit against the company’s payroll tax liability. Companies and not-for-profits with less than 500 employees are eligible for FFCRA.

The credit is limited to the maximum amount that needs to be paid based on the sick leave cap of $511 per day for up to 10 days, or $5,110 per employee.

How does FFCRA work?

Employers pay the employee up front and take a dollar-for-dollar tax credit by reporting their total qualified leave wages and the related credits for each quarter on their federal employment tax returns.

The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees.

FFCRA Example

An eligible employer paid $5,000 in sick leave for a quarantined employee and is otherwise required to deposit $8,000 in payroll taxes. The employer would only be required to deposit $3,000 on its next regular deposit date.

For more information about the FFCRA, refer to the U.S. Department of Labor or IRS.

Disaster Relief Payments

With COVID-19 being declared a national emergency by President Trump, employers can now take advantage of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The Act, also known as Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code, allows employers to provide tax-free payments or reimbursements to affected employees as “qualified disaster payments”.

How do the disaster relief payments work?

Disaster relief payments must be to pay or reimburse an employee for reasonable and necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses. This does NOT include payments that would be covered by insurance or other reimbursements and income replacement payments. Since this assistance Act has never been used during a global pandemic, it’s still open to interpretation on what expenses are qualified, but Section 139 “reasonably suggests” these expenses would qualify:

  • Over-the-counter medications, co-pays, deductibles and other medical expenses not covered by insurance
  • Funeral costs of an employee or family member of employee
  • Costs associated with enabling employees to work-from-home
  • Cost of employee’s childcare or tutoring for family members
  • Commuting expenses
  • Caregiver and domestic services
  • Legal and accounting expenses

Payments are tax-free to employees, but fully deductible to the employer. Employers may provide assistance directly to the employee or through a non-exempt fund established to receive contributions from the employer as well as employees.

What should employers document?

Documentation for payment is not required as long as it’s considered “reasonable and necessary”, but Section 139 recommends employers document:

  • Their intention for making the payments
  • The amounts paid and to whom
  • Start and end date of any Section 139 assistance
  • Listing of expenses paid or reimbursed
  • Any maximum amount per-employee or total combined amount employer will pay

Learn more about Section 139.

Our advisors are closely following COVID-19 relief efforts and will continue to publish insights to keep you informed about potential impacts and benefits. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources. To discuss your situation and recovery options, contact an Anders advisor below.

Agnes M. Rybak, Associate + Outsourced Accounting and Ryan T. Knudsen, Senior Accountant + Outsourced Accounting were contributors to this post.

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July 27, 2020

Stock Up on School Supplies During Missouri’s Back to School Sales Tax-Free Weekend August 7-9

While “going back to school” may look different this year, the Missouri Back to School Sales Tax Holiday is a great time to stock up on supplies needed for remote or in-school learning. In Missouri, the tax-free holiday starts at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 7th and lasts through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 9th. During this period, qualified purchases are exempt from sales tax. Be aware not all cities and counties in Missouri observe this holiday.

What items are exempt from sales tax?

In Missouri, items such as clothing, personal computers and school supplies are exempt from sales tax. Below is a list of popular items that normally qualify as fitting into one of these categories.

Clothing – any article having a taxable value of $100 or less:

  • Belts
  • Coats
  • Dresses
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Jackets
  • Leggings
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Shorts
  • Shoes or Boots
  • Socks
  • Tights

Personal Computers – not to exceed $1,500:

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Tower computer systems
  • Keyboards
  • Motherboards
  • Mouses
  • Multimedia Speakers
  • Storage Drives
  • Tablet Computers
  • iPads
  • Monitors
  • Computer peripheral devices

School Supplies – not to exceed $50 per purchase:

  • Art supplies
  • Backpacks
  • Crayons
  • Calculators
  • Glue
  • Lunch boxes
  • Notebooks
  • Textbooks
  • Paper
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Staplers and staples
  • Tape
  • USB flash drives
  • Writing instruments
  • Graphing calculators (not to exceed $150)

What items do not qualify?

  • Batteries
  • Facial tissues
  • Umbrellas
  • CD players
  • Furniture
  • Copiers/office equipment
  • Headphones
  • Watches
  • Sporting equipment
  • Fixtures
  • Envelopes
  • Power strips
  • Watchbands
  • Telephones

Which states does this apply to?

This holiday is recognized in Missouri, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin. However, you do not have to be a resident of one of these states to benefit from the sales tax holiday.  Other states listed above may be on different dates and may include other items and not include some items listed above for Missouri.  Be sure to check each state’s date and qualifications.

Do items purchased online qualify for the sales tax exemption?

Yes, if the purchase is made of the qualifying items during the holiday then online purchases qualify. Delivery can occur after the holiday if the purchaser pays in full during the sales tax holiday.

The Back to School Sales Tax Holiday is a great way for people to stock up on school supplies while avoiding to pay sales tax. For more information on this holiday visit the DOR’s website.

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