The IRS has reminded employers that under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) ( P.L. 117-2), small and midsize employers and certain government employers are entitled to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19. This includes leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations.
ARP tax credits are available to eligible employers that pay sick and family for leave from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. Under the Act, eligible employers include any business, including tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees who are not able to work or telework due to reasons related to COVID-19, including needing to recover from any injury, disability, illness or condition related to the vaccinations.
The IRS has informed taxpayers that the paid leave credits under the ARP are tax credits against the employer’s share of the Medicare tax. The tax credits are refundable, and the employer is entitled to payment of the full amount of credits if it exceeds the employer’s share of the Medicare tax. The tax credit for paid sick leave wages is equal to the sick leave wages paid for COVID-19 related reasons, for up to two weeks at 100 percent of the employee’s regular rate of pay. Further, the tax credit for paid family leave wages is equal to the family leave wages paid for up to twelve weeks, at 2/3rds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. Importantly, the amount of these tax credits increases according to allocable health plan expenses and contributions for certain collectively bargained benefits, as well as the employer’s share of social security and Medicare taxes paid on the wages.
Eligible employers are recommended to report their total paid sick and family leave wages, health plan expenses and collectively bargained contributions, including their share of social security and Medicare taxes on the paid leave wages for each quarter on their federal employment tax return. Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, can be used to report income tax and social security and Medicare taxes withheld from employee wages.
Further, in anticipation of claiming the credits on the Form 941, eligible employers can retain the federal employment taxes that they otherwise would have deposited, including federal income tax withheld, the employees’ share of social security, Medicare taxes and their share of social security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees up to the amount of credit for which they are eligible. If, however, an eligible employer does not have enough federal employment taxes set aside for deposit to cover amounts provided as paid sick and family leave wages, the eligible employer may request an advance of the credits by filing Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19. The eligible employer will then have to account for the amounts received as an advance when they file Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, for the relevant quarter. Finally, self-employed individuals may claim comparable tax credits on their individual Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.