Coronavirus

With Congress still negotiating a third round of stimulus payments, you should carefully consider when to file your taxes this tax season.  Tax season begins February 12th and ends April 15th.  Filing your taxes earlier or later within that time period may determine whether or not you receive the third stimulus payment and how much that you receive. The third stimulus payment is again expected to be capped at certain income levels.  The current proposal is $1,400 payments to individuals earning up to $75,000 per year and married couples earning up to $150,000 per year.  Individuals earning more than $100,000…
On January 21, 2020, President Joe Biden ordered OSHA to issue revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. On January 29, 2020, OSHA provided guidance entitled “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.” This guidance is directed to employers outside of health care and emergency response settings. The guidance reiterates the need for employers to implement a comprehensive COVID-19 Prevention Program. To assist employers with determining whether the procedures and policies they have in place are sufficient, OSHA’s guidance includes a list of 16 elements that should be in…
On Monday, February 8, 2021, US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Chuck Schumer announced that part of the December COVID-19 relief bill will include $2 billion in funds to FEMA for the reimbursement of funeral expenses for those who have died from COVID. Exact details are limited, but families will be eligible for a reimbursement up to $7,000 for funeral assistance. The funds will be available for COVID deaths dating back to January of 2020. Funeral expenses are often a source of stress incurred at a time when families are grieving their loss. Many funeral homes will require a substantial…
On Thursday, February 4, 2021, the Wisconsin State Assembly (“Assembly”) voted on a resolution to repeal the mask mandate. This vote came a week after the Wisconsin State Senate (“Senate”) voted on the same resolution to repeal the mask mandate. The same statute that gives the Governor power to create executive orders, also allows the Senate and the Assembly to repeal the orders by simple majority vote in each chamber. Republican lawmakers argued that Governor Evers exceeded his authority by issuing multiple emergency declarations during the pandemic which has allowed him to extend the mask mandate beyond the 60 days…
A little less than a month ago, the IRS reversed its original  position, and stated that businesses can deduct expenses paid for with the proceeds of a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, as further detailed here.  However, in guidance issued on Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue clarified that expenses that are paid with the forgivable PPP funds (in the first round) are not deductible for Wisconsin income/franchise tax purposes and must be added back to Wisconsin income in the year incurred or paid. Therefore, unless the legislature acts, businesses that have received PPP loans may find themselves…
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new, “stronger” Guidance on identifying and preventing coronavirus exposure risks in the workplace. Although this is labeled a “Guidance” and OSHA says that it is advisory, employers are cautioned that they can be at risk for standard OSHA penalties under the General Duty Clause if reasonable efforts are not made to minimize… Source
Today the CDC issued its “ COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers: Getting Started”, which includes posters, FAQs, and templates to use when communicating with your workforce about the vaccine. In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ webpage on the vaccine has a great deal of information specific to our state. As always, as you consider the vaccine and its… Source
Since COVID-19 vaccinations have received emergency use approval (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are being distributed in the United States, employers should evaluate whether they will implement mandatory vaccine policies in their workplaces and the legal and regulatory implications of doing so. Employers should look at the risks associated with a mandatory policy versus those associated with a voluntary policy, and how these competing risks may affect their business practices. If employers decide to make the vaccine mandatory, they will need to understand employees’ refusal rights, how refusal impacts a mandatory policy, and whether termination of…
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) includes several provisions affecting qualified retirement plans. A relaxation of the partial plan termination rules should provide relief to plans which see unusual turnover in the number of active participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other provisions, including an amendment of the CARES Act which allows coronavirus related distributions to be made from money purchase pension plans, may provide retroactive relief to plan sponsors. Finally, a series of disaster relief provisions is intended to assist participants affected by certain non-COVID disasters in the past year. Although plan sponsors may wish to adopt some of…
Businesses can now deduct expenses paid for with the proceeds of a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The IRS, in Revenue Ruling 2021-2 issued today, reversed its original position that prohibited businesses with PPP loans from “double-dipping” by paying expenses with a forgivable loan, then writing off those expenses. Congress, in the latest COVID-19 relief bill, as we explained further here, explicitly stated that such expenses were deductible, forcing the IRS to reverse course. This ruling is sure to provide a significant tax benefit and relief for many small business owners who had availed themselves of the PPP…
Previous posts detailed the length of time and number of cases in the unemployment backlog in part 1, some of the mistakes by the Department that allow cases to be re-opened in part 2, a place for stories and advice about how to find assistance in part 3, and how most claims in Wisconsin — and unlike in other states — are being denied and thereby creating a ginormous backlog in hearings. The Department announced at the end of 2020 that the claims backlog had been cleared and that Transition Secretary Pechacek was now Secretary-Designee for
Although the share of people who are willing to get the COVID19 vaccine has increased since Fall 2020, from about 64% in September 2020 to 71% in December 2020, about nine percent of the holdouts say they will only get the vaccine if required for work, school or other activities. See Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor:  December 2020. The percentages will continue to shift as the COVID19 vaccine rolls out through 2021. But many employers will likely have employees who will refuse the vaccine unless forced to get it. It is unclear whether governments will mandate the…
On Sunday, December 27, President Trump signed into law a general government funding and appropriations bill that included several Coronavirus Response and Relief provisions. The COVID-19 provisions address continued unemployment benefits, provide funding for schools and day cares to operate safely, extend the CDC eviction moratorium, fund another round of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP), and modify some of the rules regarding PPP forgiveness. Stimulus Payments Individuals making less than $75,000 per year, based on their 2019 tax return, will receive $600. Just as with the previous stimulus payment, the benefit decreases $5 for every $100 earned over the $75,000.…
On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the much-anticipated Coronavirus relief bill, formally titled the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Act), into law. In addition to COVID-19 relief measures, the Act includes significant amendments to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Beginning April 1, 2020, the FFCRA required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two types of paid leave to qualified employees: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA). Employers could claim a tax credit against the employer portion of Social Security taxes for up to 100% of EPSL and EFMLA…
On Sunday, December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the legislation providing government funding and a long-anticipated coronavirus relief package (the “Bill”). The wide-sweeping Bill contains a number of key provisions that will impact both public and private sector employment in 2021. Of particular significance to employers is that: The Bill does not extend the mandates of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) enacted under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The Bill allows tax credits to employers for “FFCRA like” paid leave benefits paid to employees through March…
Dec. 28, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined three tiers of population groups that should be within Phase 1 of the COVID-19 rollout, and lawyers and judges should be in the third tier, according to recent guidance from the CDC. In early December, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccines first, in Phase 1a of the vaccination program. Phase 1b, the second recommended group for prioritization, includes those aged 75 years and older and “front-line essential workers (non-health care workers).”…