IRS Offers Tax Credit Guidance to Businesses Hiring Unemployed Veterans and Youth

Businesses planning to claim the newly-expanded work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) for eligible unemployed veterans and unskilled younger workers hired during the first part of 2009 have until Aug. 17 to request the certification required for these workers, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Newly-revised Form 8850, now available on IRS.gov, is used by employers to request certification from their state workforce agency. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enacted in February, added unemployed veterans returning to civilian life and “disconnected youth” to the list of groups covered by the credit. Though eligible unemployed veterans and disconnected youth who begin work anytime during 2009 or 2010 may qualify a business for the credit, certification by the state workforce agency is required.

In general, an unemployed veteran is a person discharged or released from the military during the five years preceding the hiring date who received unemployment benefits for at least four weeks during the one-year period ending on the hiring date. A “disconnected youth” is a person age 16 to 24 on the hiring date who has not been regularly employed or attending school and who meets other requirements.

The WOTC offers tax savings to businesses that hire workers belonging to any of 12 targeted groups, including unemployed veterans and disconnected youth. The other 10 include people ages 18 to 39 living in designated communities in 43 states and the District of Columbia, Hurricane Katrina employees, recipients of various types of public assistance, and certain veterans, summer youth workers and ex-felons. The instructions for Form 8850 detail the requirements for each of these groups.

The certification requirement applies to all groups of workers except employees who were Hurricane Katrina victims. Normally, a business must file Form 8850 with the state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work. But under a special rule, businesses have until Aug. 17, 2009, to file this form for unemployed veterans and disconnected youth who begin work on or after Jan. 1, 2009 and before July 17, 2009. Notice 2009-28, posted today on IRS.gov, and the instructions for Form 8850 provide details on this special rule.

Law Offers Special Tax Breaks for Small Business; Act Now and Save, IRS Says

Small Business Week was May 17 to 23, and the Internal Revenue Service urges small businesses to act now and take advantage of tax-saving opportunities included in the recovery law.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enacted in February, created, extended or expanded a variety of business tax deductions and credits. Because some of these changes—the bonus depreciation and increased section 179 deduction, for example—are only available this year, eligible businesses only have a few months to take action and save on their taxes. Here is a quick rundown of some of the key provisions.

Faster Write-Offs for Certain Capital Expenditures

Many small businesses that invest in new property and equipment will be able to write off most or all of these purchases on their 2009 returns. The new law extends through 2009 the special 50 percent depreciation allowance, also known as bonus depreciation, and increased limits on the section 179 deduction, named for the relevant section of the Internal Revenue Code. Normally, businesses recover these capital investments through annual depreciation deductions spread over several years. Both of these provisions encourage these investments by enabling businesses to write them off more quickly.

The bonus depreciation provision generally enables businesses to deduct half the cost of qualifying property in the year it is placed in service.

The section 179 deduction enables small businesses to deduct up to $250,000 of the cost of machinery, equipment, vehicles, furniture and other qualifying property placed in service during 2009. Without the new law, the limit would have dropped to $133,000. The existing $25,000 limit still applies to sport utility vehicles. A special phase-out provision effectively targets the section 179 deduction to small businesses and generally eliminates it for most larger businesses.

Bonus depreciation and the section 179 deduction are claimed on Form 4562. Further details are in the instructions for this form.

Expanded Net Operating Loss Carryback

Many small businesses that had expenses exceeding their incomes for 2008 can choose to carry those losses back for up to five years, instead of the usual two. For small businesses that were profitable in the past but lost money in 2008, this could mean a special tax refund. The option is available for a small business that has no more than an average of $15 million in gross receipts over a three-year period.

This option is still available for most eligible taxpayers, but only for a limited time. A corporation that operates on a calendar-year basis, for example, must file a claim by Sept. 15, 2009. For eligible individuals, the deadline is Oct. 15, 2009.

Eligible individuals should file a claim using Form 1045, and corporations should use Form 1139. Details can be found in the instructions for each of these forms, and answers to frequently-asked questions are posted on IRS.gov.

Exclusion of Gain on the Sale of Certain Small Business Stock

The new law provides an extra incentive for individuals who invest in small businesses. Investors in qualified small business stock can exclude 75 percent of the gain upon sale of the stock. This increased exclusion applies only if the qualified small business stock is acquired after Feb. 17, 2009 and before Jan. 1, 2011, and held for more than five years. For previously-acquired stock, the exclusion rate remains at 50 percent in most cases.

Estimated Tax Requirement Modified

Many individual small business taxpayers may be able to defer, until the end of the year, paying a larger part of their 2009 tax obligations. For 2009, eligible individuals can make quarterly estimated tax payments equal to 90 percent of their 2009 tax or 90 percent of their 2008 tax, whichever is less. Individuals qualify if they received more than half of their gross income from their small businesses in 2008 and meet other requirements. For details, see Publication 505.

COBRA Credit

Employers that provide the 65 percent COBRA premium subsidy under ARRA to eligible former employees claim credit for this subsidy on their quarterly or annual employment tax returns. To help avoid imposing an unnecessary cash-flow burden, affected employers can reduce their employment tax deposits by the amount of the credit. For details, see Form 941. Answers to frequently-asked questions are posted on IRS.gov.

Other ARRA business provisions relate to discharges of certain business indebtedness, the holding period for S corporation built-in gains and acceleration of certain business credits for corporations. Also see Fact Sheet FS-2009-11.

Why Pay Taxes? — The Truth about Frivolous Tax Arguments

The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments (PDF 405K) addresses some of the more common false “legal” arguments made by individuals and groups who oppose compliance with the federal tax laws. These arguments are grouped under six general categories, with variations within each category. Each contention is briefly explained, followed by a discussion of the legal authority that rejects the contention. The second section deals with frivolous arguments encountered in collection due process cases. The final section illustrates penalties imposed on those pursuing frivolous cases.

Tax Protestors
Tax Protestors