Senate Stimulus Bill to Provide COVID-19 Relief

March 25, 2020

Details are still being drafted but the Senate has reportedly made a deal finalizing the most recent stimulus package.  

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, CARES Act, provides loans and grants for struggling businesses (some of which are forgivable), significantly beefs up unemployment funding for those who have lost their job, supports the health care system, sends direct cash payments to taxpayers, and makes several changes to the tax code.

Some of the tax changes are retroactive, creating refund opportunities.  The key tax provisions include: 

  • Recovery rebate direct cash payments for certain taxpayers
  • Penalty-free withdrawal from retirement accounts up to $100,000
    • 3-year repayment or income inclusion options
  • Temporary waiver of RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions)
  • Above the line $300 deduction for cash charitable contributions for non-itemizers
  • Temporary waiver of AGI limitations for deducting charitable contributions
  • Employee retention credit for employers facing closure due to COVID-19
  • Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes
  • Five year NOL carryback with waived 80% limitation
  • Delay of the 461(l) excess business loss limitation
  • Acceleration of refundable AMT credits
  • Relaxed business interest expense limitation rules
  • Fix for the qualified improvement property “retail glitch”
  • Exclusion for employer payments to student loans
  • An exception to the alcohol excise tax for the use of alcohol to make hand sanitizer

Direct cash payments of $1,200 per person plus $500 per child start to phase out beginning at $75,000 for single filers and $150,000 for those married filing joint.

The $300 above the line deduction seems small but could help boost contributions to nonprofits who were already facing lower donations since the passing of 2017 tax reform and now even worse off with COVID-19.

More detailed coverage will be forthcoming, and this information is subject to change as Congress works out the details.  Stay tuned to Tax News & Views for updates!

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