Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Plan Loan Guidance

The IRS has issued guidance on Coronavirus-related distributions and plan loans. The guidance presents the rules set out in Act Sec. 2202 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136). It adds three new categories to the list of individuals who qualify due to adverse financial consequences. It provides analysis and examples repayments reporting. The guidance includes safe harbors for employee certification and the plan loan payment suspension period.

 

Background: Coronavirus-Distributions and Plan Loan Relief

The CARES Act provides that qualified individuals may treat as coronavirus-related distributions up to $100,000 in distributions made from their eligible retirement plans (including IRAs) between January 1 and December 30, 2020. A coronavirus-related distribution is not subject to the 10 percent additional tax that otherwise generally applies to distributions made before an individual reaches age 59 ½. In addition, a coronavirus-related distribution can be included in income in equal installments over a three-year period, and an individual has three years to repay a coronavirus-related distribution to a plan or IRA and undo the tax consequences of the distribution.

In addition, the CARES Act provides that plans may implement certain relaxed rules for qualified individuals relating to plan loan amounts and repayment terms. In particular, plans may suspend loan repayments that are due from March 27 through December 31, 2020, and the dollar limit on loans made between March 27 and September 22, 2020, is raised from $50,000 to $100,000.

New Categories of Qualified Individuals

One of the categories of individuals who qualify for Coronavirus-related distributions are those who experience adverse financial consequences as a result of Coronavirus. As laid out in the CARES act, these consequences may include: being quarantined; being furloughed or laid off or having work hours reduced due to such virus or disease; being unable to work due to lack of child care due to such virus or disease; and closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to such virus or disease.

The CARES Act authorizes the Treasury Department to add to this list of adverse financial consequences, the these are the new additions:


  • a reduction in pay (or self-employment income) due to COVID-19 or having a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed due to COVID-19;

  • the individual’s spouse or a member of the individual’s household being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, or having work hours reduced due to COVID-19, being unable to work due to lack of childcare due to COVID-19, having a reduction in pay (or self-employment income) due to COVID-19, or having a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed due to COVID-19; or

  • closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual’s spouse or a member of the individual’s household due to COVID-19.


For purposes of applying these additional factors, a member of the individual’s household is someone who shares the individual’s principal residence.

 

Recontributions for Taxpayers Recognizing Income in Year of Distribution

The new guidance goes into some detail about recontributions. Individuals have up to three years to recontribute qualified distributions. Recontributed dollars are not taxed, so earlier returns may have to be amended. The rules differ depending on whether the individual is recognizing income over three years or entirely in the year of distribution.

If a taxpayer includes all coronavirus-related distributions received in a year in gross income for that year and recontributes any portion during the three-year recontribution period, the amount of the recontribution will reduce the amount of the related distribution included in gross income for the year of the distribution.

Example 1. Taxpayer Bob receives a $45,000 coronavirus distribution from B’s employer plan on November 1, 2020. Bob recontributes $45,000 to an IRA on March 31, 2021. Bob reports the recontribution on Form 8915-E and files the 2020 federal income tax return on April 10, 2021. No portion of the coronavirus-related distribution is includible as income for the 2020 tax year.

Example 2.. The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that Bob timely requests an extension of time to file the 2020 federal income tax return and makes a recontribution on August 2, 2021, before filing the 2020 federal income tax return. Bob files the 2020 federal income tax return on August 10, 2021. As in Example 1, no portion of the coronavirus-related distribution is includible in income for the 2020 tax year because Bob made the recontribution before the timely filing of the 2020 federal income tax return. 

Example 3. Taxpayer Cynthia receives a $15,000 distribution from an employer plan on March 30, 2020. Cynthia elects out of the 3-year ratable income inclusion on Form 8915-E and includes the entire $15,000 in gross income for the 2020 tax year. On December 31, 2022, she recontributes $15,000 to her employer plan. Cynthia will need to file an amended federal income tax return for the 2020 tax year to report the amount of the recontribution and reduce the gross income by $15,000 with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution included on the 2020 original federal income tax return.

Recontributions for Taxpayers Recognizing Income Over Three Years

If a qualified individual includes a coronavirus-related distribution ratably over a three-year period and the individual recontributes any portion to an eligible retirement plan at any date before the timely filing of the individual’s federal income tax return (that is, by the due date, including extensions) for a tax year in the three-year period, the amount of the recontribution will reduce the ratable portion of the coronavirus-related distribution that is includible in gross income for that tax year.

Example 4. Taxpayer Dan receives $75,000 from his employer plan on December 1, 2020. Dan uses the three-year ratable income inclusion method. Dan makes one recontribution of $25,000 to the plan on April 10, 2022. Dan files his 2021 federal income tax return on April 15, 2022. Without the recontribution, Dan should include $25,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on each of Dan 2020, 2021, and 2022 federal income tax returns. However, as a result of the recontribution, Dan should include $25,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2020 federal income tax return, $0 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2021 federal income tax return, and $25,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2022 federal income tax return.

Example 5. The facts are the same as in Example 4 except Dan recontributes $25,000 to the plan on August 10, 2022. Dan files the 2021 federal income tax return on April 15, 2022, and does not request an extension of time to file that federal income tax return. As a result of the recontribution, Dan should include $25,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2020 federal income tax return, $25,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2021 federal income tax return, and $0 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2022 federal income tax return. 

Carryovers. If the taxpayer recontributes an amount for a tax year in the three-year period that exceeds the amount that is otherwise includible in gross income for that tax year, the excess amount of the recontribution may be carried forward to reduce the amount of the distribution includible in gross income in the next tax year in the three-year period. Alternatively, the qualified individual is permitted to carry back the excess amount of the recontribution to a prior taxable year or years in which the individual included income attributable to a coronavirus-related distribution. The individual will need to file an amended federal income tax return for the prior taxable year or years to report the amount of the recontribution on Form 8915-E and reduce his or her gross income by the excess amount of the recontribution.

Example 6. Taxpayer Eliza receives a distribution of $90,000 from her IRA on November 15, 2020. Eliza ratably includes the $90,000 distribution in income over a three-year period. Without any recontribution, Eliza will include $30,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on each of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 federal income tax returns. Eliza includes $30,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2020 federal income tax return. Eliza then recontributes $40,000 to an IRA on November 10, 2021 (and makes no other recontribution in the three-year period). Eliza may do either of the following:

  • Option 1: includes $0 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2021 federal income tax return, and carry forward the excess recontribution of $10,000 to 2022 and includes $20,000 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on Eliza’s 2022 federal income tax return.

  • Option 2: includes $0 in income with respect to the coronavirus-related distribution on the 2021 tax return and $30,000 in income on the 2022 federal income tax return. Also file an amended federal income tax return for 2020 to reduce the amount included in income as a result of the coronavirus-related distribution to $20,000 (that is, the $30,000 original amount includible in income for 2020 minus the remaining $10,000 recontribution that is not offset on either the 2021 or 2022 federal tax return).


Safe Harbor for Plan Loans

The CARES Act provides that in the case of a qualified individual with a loan from a qualified employer plan outstanding on or after March 27, 2020, if the due date for any repayment with respect to the loan occurs during the period beginning on March 27, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020, the due date shall be delayed for one year. Under a safe harbor, a qualified employer plan will satisfy this requirement if a qualified individual’s obligation to repay a plan loan is suspended under the plan for any period beginning not earlier than March 27, 2020, and ending not later than December 31, 2020. The loan repayments must resume after the end of the suspension period, and the term of the loan may be extended by up to one year from the date the loan was originally due to be repaid.

Wilson Tax Law Group, APLC (www.wilsontaxlaw.com) is a boutique Orange County tax controversy law firm that specializes in representation of individuals and businesses before federal and state tax authorities with audits, appeals, FBAR, offshore compliance, litigation and criminal defense. The firm was founded in 2014 by Joseph P. Wilson, a former Federal tax prosecutor, trial attorney for the IRS and trial attorney for the Franchise Tax Board.

For further information, or to arrange a consultation please contact: Wilson Tax Law Group, APLC

Newport Beach and Yorba Linda, California

Tel: (949) 397-2292 (Newport Beach Office)

Tel: (714) 463-4430 (Yorba Linda Office)

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