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Legal Alert

COVID-19 Business Update: Tax Deadline and Proposed CARES Act

March 20, 2020

Maslon is closely monitoring the government response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its potential impact on businesses.

April 15th Income Tax Return Filing Deadline
Today, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated the IRS will move the income tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. This will allow taxpayers additional time to file and make payments without the imposition of penalties or interest. Individual taxpayers and entities being taxed as S corporations, C Corporations, sole proprietorships, or single member limited liability companies, are subject to the April 15th deadline and will benefit from this extension.

Proposed Legislation: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act")
On March 19, Senate Republicans unveiled proposed legislation seeking to provide individuals and businesses with a variety of benefits to combat the financial fall-out associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although the bill is likely to change as it moves through Congress, if passed into law in its current form, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act") would potentially impact businesses. The Act is comprised of seven divisions, each divided into further titles and subdivisions. Those most applicable to business owners include:

Division A
Division A seeks to support small businesses by expanding the Small Business Administration ("SBA") Section 7(a) loan program through December 31, 2020. Under the expansion, certain businesses that employ less than 500 employees would be eligible to receive a loan, the proceeds of which could be used for payroll support (including paid sick, medical, or family leave), employee salaries, rent, utilities, or other debt obligations. Each loan would be capped at the price of covering the business's monthly operating costs (e.g. payroll, utilities, mortgage and other debt payments) for up to four (4) months—up to the maximum amount of $10,000,000. All loan amounts used for applicable payroll costs would be eligible for forgiveness.

Division B
Title II of Division B would provide several tax-related benefits to businesses to mitigate financial damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposed benefits include:

  • Delay of estimated tax payments for corporations. Allows corporations to postpone estimated tax payments due after the enactment of the bill until October 15, 2020.
  • Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes. Allows deferring of payment of the business's share of the Social Security tax for which they are otherwise responsible, with deferred taxes being paid over the two years after enactment.
  • Modifications for net operating losses. Relaxes limitations on the business's use of losses from prior years—particularly that a loss from 2018, 2019, or 2020 can be carried back five years—and temporarily removes the taxable income limitation to allow net operating losses to fully offset income.
  • Modification of limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations. Modifies the loss limitation applicable to pass-through entities and sole proprietors so they can benefit from the net operating loss carryback rules described above.
  • Modification of credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations. Accelerates a company's ability to recover Alternative Minimum Tax credits.
  • Modifications of limitation on business interest. Temporarily increases the amount of interest expense businesses may deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of the taxable income for 2019 and 2020.
  • Technical amendment regarding qualified improvement property. Enables business—with particular attention to the hospitality industry—to immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities instead of having to depreciate those improvements over the 39-year life of the building.
  • Installments not to prevent credit or refund of overpayments or increase estimated taxes. Corrects an error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to allow businesses to recover any overpayment of taxes paid pursuant to the Section 965 one-time repatriation toll charge.
  • Restoration of limitation on downward attribution of stock ownership in applying constructive ownership rules. Clarifies that certain foreign subsidiaries should not be subject to certain requirements of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and will allow those companies to amend their 2018 tax return to reflect the clarification.

Division C
Division C, which is titled "Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020," seeks to provide loans to eligible, severely distressed businesses impacted by COVID-19 (up to $208,000,000,000 in the aggregate). This includes up to $50,000,000,000 to passenger air carriers, $8,000,000,000 to cargo air carriers, and $150,000,000,000 to other eligible businesses. Executives at companies receiving money may not make more than $425,000 in total annual compensation for two years, or receive severance pay or other termination benefits which exceed twice the maximum total compensation the executive received in 2019.

Division D
Title III of Division D provides various provisions relating to paid leave. This includes providing guidance on the applicability of the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act ("EFMLEA") eligibility for rehired employees after a layoff. Currently, rehired employees would not be EFMLEA eligible until employed for at least 30 days. The bill would change that, providing that employees who were laid off after March 1, 2020, and were rehired would be immediately eligible for EFMLEA protections, provided the employee had worked for that employer for at least 30 of the last 60 calendar days prior to the layoff. Further, the bill provides that if an employer fails to make an employment tax deposit with the IRS due to the anticipation of EFMLEA payroll credits, any tax penalties will be waived.

Division E
Division E provides that Section 131 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which relates to certain restrictions on guaranteeing money market mutual funds, would not apply during the national emergency period for COVID-19.

We Can Help
Maslon is closely monitoring this bill as it moves through Congress and will continue to provide updates on policies that will affect your businesses. In the meantime, Maslon's Corporate & Securities and Labor & Employment attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have relating to new and proposed laws addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

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