The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of people’s lives. Across the nation, supply chains have been disrupted, businesses have ground to a halt, and millions of jobs hang in the balance. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law to respond to these circumstances. The FFCRA ensures that employees would have paid sick leave, extended family, or medical leave. These leave requirements must be related to specified COVID-19 reasons and apply from the date of effectivity through December 31, 2020.
This new law covers small employers—that is, businesses with 500 workers or fewer. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempted if the viability of the business would be affected as a result. However, such employers must still file for the exemption.
Sick Leave Guidelines
For non-exempted businesses, they must provide employees with up to two weeks of paid sick time, limited to $511 per day or $5,110 in total if they were subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order because of COVID-19. If the employee was advised by a health care professional to self-isolate due to the same virus, they may apply for a sick leave even if residing in an area without quarantine measures in place.
Employees who are caring for an individual under quarantine orders or for a child whose school or care center was placed under isolation measures may also apply for the leave. Both full- and part-time workers are covered in the FFCRA.
Full-time employees are eligible for up to 80 hours of leave, while part-timers may receive the number of hours they render work in two weeks. Workers may also receive $200 a day or $2,000 in sum if they are caring for a quarantined family member or a child whose school was closed due to pandemic concerns.
If the leave is in relation to child care as stipulated, an employee can apply for up to 12 weeks of leave; that is, two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to ten weeks of expanded family and medical leave. If applying under the child care provision, part-time employees are eligible for the number of hours they render work over 12 weeks.
Tax credits for small employers
Granting extended periods of paid sick leave to all affected employees might weigh heavily on the company’s resources. The FFCRA recognizes this and grants a payroll tax credit to small employers. Under this act, a small employer may be subsidized with 100 percent of qualified sick and family leave payments made from March 18 to December 31, 2020.
If the employer has excess credit, they can claim payment from the government to cover the excess. Keep in mind, though, that employers receiving credit under the Internal Revenue Code Section 45S can no longer claim this tax credit.
Furthermore, sick- and family-leave payments under the FFCRA are exempt from the federal payroll tax collected by Social Security on wages. Employers can also claim a credit for the 1.45 percent Medicare tax collected under the federal payroll tax.
Tax return filings
In addition to these, the federal income tax deadline of April 15 was deferred. Persons have until July 15, 2020 to file tax returns, without needing to submit extension requests. Trusts, estates and corporations that use the calendar year for filing taxes may also submit until July 15 without needing to apply for extensions. Any taxpayers whose deadline is anything other than April 15 has not been granted relief at the time of writing.
The tax relief does not apply to payroll, excise, estate, and gift taxes. Normal filing, payment, and deposit due dates apply for these. Information returns are also not included in the deferment. Meanwhile, taxpayers under section 965(h) installment payments due on April 15, 2020, may defer payments until July 15, 2020.
The COVID-19 situation is a rapidly changing one, requiring quick responses and actions. Though it is a time of uncertainty, measures like the FFCRA help put some sense of security in people’s lives. Moreover, it becomes even more important to keep neat transaction records during these turbulent times.
If you are seeking guidance on the current situation with regards to your books and taxes, get in touch with us today to see how we can help. We provide a complete accounting solution covering bookkeeping, taxes, and CFO services for simple, flat prices.