Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two New Tax Benefits for Employers who Hire & Retain Unemployed Workers


Two new tax benefits are now available to employers hiring workers who were previously unemployed or only working part time. These provisions are part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act enacted into law today.

Employers who hire unemployed workers this year (after Feb. 3, 2010 and before Jan. 1, 2011) may qualify for a 6.2-percent payroll tax incentive, in effect exempting them from their share of Social Security taxes on wages paid to these workers after March 18, 2010. This reduced tax withholding will have no effect on the employee’s future Social Security benefits, and employers would still need to withhold the employee’s 6.2-percent share of Social Security taxes, as well as income taxes. The employer and employee’s shares of Medicare taxes would also still apply to these wages.

In addition, for each worker retained for at least a year, businesses may claim an additional general business tax credit, up to $1,000 per worker, when they file their 2011 income tax returns.

The two tax benefits are especially helpful to employers who are adding positions to their payrolls. New hires filling existing positions also qualify but only if the workers they are replacing left voluntarily or for cause. Family members and other relatives do not qualify.

In addition, the new law requires that the employer get a statement from each eligible new hire certifying that he or she was unemployed during the 60 days before beginning work or, alternatively, worked fewer than a total of 40 hours for someone else during the 60-day period. The IRS is currently developing a form employees can use to make the required statement.

Businesses, agricultural employers, tax-exempt organizations and public colleges and universities all qualify to claim the payroll tax benefit for eligible newly-hired employees. Household employers cannot claim this new tax benefit.

Employers claim the payroll tax benefit on the federal employment tax return they file, usually quarterly, with the IRS. Eligible employers will be able to claim the new tax incentive on their revised employment tax form for the second quarter of 2010. Revised forms and further details on these two new tax provisions will be posted on during the next few weeks.,,id=220326,00.html

Monday, March 8, 2010

Do You Know Anyone Who Has Been Laid Off During The Last Three Years?

Immediate action may be necessary to secure refunds of Social Security taxes for 2006.

A District Court Case recently held that severance payments made by a bankrupt retailer to employees were not subject to Social Security taxes. While there is a good likelihood that the IRS will appeal since they won an Appeals Court case in 2008, companies should consider filing protective refund claims citing this new decision. It is critical if this issue applied in 2006 to file a protective claim immediately since the statute of limitations generally expires three years after the due date of tax returns. With a protective claim for refund, the IRS holds the claim until the case is ultimately decided. If the IRS ultimately loses its appeal, it will be required to honor the protective refund claim.

Severance payments refunds may also be available for 2007 and 2008, and you will need to take this new case into consideration for 2009.

Those affected should contact the company that laid them off to see if they are filing for the potential refunds.

Julie Welch, CPA, CFP
Meara Welch Browne, P.C.