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How to Manage Payroll and HR Compliance During COVID-19
In our COVID-19 article series, we previously talked about how to avoid COVID-19 phishing scams via email, text, and social media. In the third article of our series, we are discussing new compliance updates affecting businesses in the United States.
As the amount of COVID-19 cases rises, previous compliance mandates are being relaxed and new federal government regulations are being introduced. Some of these updates and changes affect tax deadlines, unemployment, Form I-9, COVID-19 mandates, HDHP testing, and OSHA regulations.
So what are you doing to stay informed? This great resource article will be updated as new information is available. For other information about the COVID-19 virus, visit our COVID-19 Resource page.
What We Know
We are sharing everything we know in on our blog and COVID-19 Resources page. We will update our related articles and COVID-19 Resources page as information is released, so we encourage you to bookmark this page.
Federal tax deadline extended to July 15, 2020
In response to the spread of COVID-19, the government is rapidly passing legislative acts and mandates to help alleviate the coronavirus impact on individuals and businesses alike. Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced a new regulatory agenda extending the federal income tax filing due date.
For individuals and businesses filing and paying their 2019 taxes, the due date is from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. The IRS also announced individuals and organizations expecting tax refunds should file as soon as possible. This is to help alleviate any financial burdens they might be experiencing due to COVID-19.
Which Tax Forms Have Been Postponed to July 15?
- Forms 1040, 1040-SR, 1040-NR, 1040-NR-EZ, 1040-PR, 1040-SS
- Forms 1041, 1041-N, 1041-QFT
- Forms 1120, 1120-C, 1120-F, 1120-FSC, 1120-H, 1120-L, 1120-ND, 1120-PC, 1120-POL, 1120-REIT, 1120-RIC, 1120-SF
- Form 8960 Net Investment Income Tax - Individuals, Estates, and Trusts
- Form 8991 Tax on Base Erosion Payments of Taxpayers With Substantial Gross Receipts
Which Tax Forms Haven’t Been Postponed?
According to the IRS, any taxpayers who have filing or payment due dates other than April 15 have not been granted relief at this time.
- Form 990-T Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return is due on May 15
- Forms 1065, 1065-B, 1066, and 1120-S for calendar year taxpayers have not been postponed.
For more information related to tax filing deadlines, you can visit the question and answer section of the IRS’ website here.
Federal Tax Payment Extension
In addition to the tax filing extension, those who owe the IRS tax payments can defer those payments to July 15, 2020. These deferrals will be met without penalties or interest, and apply to all taxpayers: organizations and individuals alike.
Individual Tax Return Extension
If an individual needs additional time to file beyond July 15, they can request for a file extension using Form 4868. The request can be made through a tax professional or the IRS. If approved, the IRS will push an individual’s tax filing extension deadline to October 15th.
Business Tax Return Extension
For businesses that need an extension on tax returns, they can file a Form 7004. This includes corporations, S corporations, and multiple-member LLC businesses filing as partnerships, corporations, or S corporations.
It’s important to note, filing a Form 4868 or 7004 is not a payment extension. Tax payments are still due July 15th. If granted, this is an extension of time for an individual or business to file a 2019 tax return.
State Tax Deadline Extensions
As the federal government rolls out tax deadline extensions, state governments are following suit. On March 18, California announced it would be extending its state tax deadline to July 15. On March 23, the Louisiana Department of Revenue announced it would also extend its deadline to July 15. To find your state’s updated tax regulations, click here.
State Unemployment Qualifications
Various states have begun releasing their protocol and procedures for employees that need to claim partial or temporary unemployment benefits related to mass layoffs or shutdowns due to COVID-19. Please be sure to check out the state’s unemployment website to provide the correct and most current information to the employees that are being affected.
For State Unemployment Information, click here.
Subscribe to the APS blog for the latest Coronavirus updates and news to help your business navigate this challenging and uncertain time.
Form I-9 Relaxed Regulations
As the IRS and other government entities modify their existing regulations, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also made some modifications to protect the public health.
On Friday, March 20, the DHS announced it would offer leniency on Form I-9. More specifically, the DHS would temporarily exempt the need for new employees to be physically present for employment verification.
According to the DHS, “Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence.”
This Form I-9 update is only applicable for organizations or businesses that are working off-site. There will be no exceptions made if an employee is physically present at the work location.
Offering Remote Inspections
To verify employees, employers must obtain physical documents for remote workers over a video link, fax, e-mail, etc. Once acquired, the employer must inspect and retain copies of all documents within 3 business days. When remote employees return to the office, those employees have 3 days to report to their employer with their identification documents for a follow up in-person identity verification.
What Information Employers Should Enter on I-9
After the employer examines the employee’s documents in person, an employer completes the I-9. In Section 2 or 3 of Form I-9, employers should enter, “COVID-19, documents physically examined” as well as the date the documents were physically reviewed.
For Form 1-9 Tools and Information, click here.
To minimize the burden taken on by both employers and employees, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented these policies:
- Within three business days from the date of hire, employers must create a case for that new hire.
- When creating an e-Verify case, employers must use the employee’s hire date on the Form I-9. If this is delayed due to COVID-19 precautions, select “Other” from the drop-down list and enter “COVID-19” as the specific reason.
- Employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee if the E-Verify case is in interim case status. This also applies to the employee’s case if it’s in extended interim case status.
Mandatory COVID-19 Employee Rights Poster
In accordance with the Family First Coronavirus Response Act, the Department of Labor has released a mandatory employee rights poster. Employers must post this notice in a conspicuous location in the workplace. If employees report to different buildings, then this must be posted at each location.
Employees who are working from home must receive the notice as well. Employers can get it to them by email, snail mail, or posting to an internal or external website intended to provide information to employees.
Do High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) Cover COVID-19 Testing?
Yes, following H.R. 6201-Families First Coronavirus Response Act, self-funded and fully-insured group health plans cover all costs (copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles) related to COVID-19 diagnostic testing. This includes services such as:
- In-person and telehealth visits,
- Urgent care visits, and
- Emergency room visits that result in an order for in vitro diagnostic products approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act covers the cost of diagnostic testing, it does not cover treatment cost for COVID-19. Some state plans and group health plans are now subject to state mandates. Select mandates require coverage for treatment of COVID-19 without cost-sharing to the individual.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resources to help employers and workers prepare for and respond to Coronavirus in the workplace:
- OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19: Developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help employers respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace.
- Temporary OSHA Guidance on Respiratory Protection Standard: This guidance provides suggestions and options to help increase the availability of N95 filtering facepiece respirators for healthcare providers.
- COVID-19 Webpage: Provides infection prevention information specifically for employers and workers.
In addition, employers may also refer to the following OSHA guidelines:
- OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Standard lists the requirements necessary for wearing protective gear like gloves, face masks, and regulators.
- OSHA’s General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970: Requires that employers, provide each employee with “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
- OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements: Regulation (29 CFR 1904) mandates that employers with more than 10 employees record work-related illnesses and injuries on their OSHA log. If an employee contracts COVID-19 on the job, this regulation would apply.
Furthermore, 28 states have additional requirements under OSHA approved State Plans. You can find the full list of OSHA State Plans here.
What We Are Doing to Support Our Customers During This Time
At APS, we understand that what you need most right now is readily-available information and support. We are closely monitoring all tax regulation changes to ensure we are helping minimize customer compliance burdens during this time. As we become aware of new policies and procedures, we are frequently updating our Help Center and COVID-19 Resources page. Our customer service team is also communicating with clients regularly.
Meanwhile, our Tax Compliance team is continuing to ensure accuracy and timeliness of tax payments and filings. We are also helping with changes to quarterly 941 filings with adjusted due dates.
Our recent COVID-19 blog series also provides information on the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Employee Pay, and Tax Credits to Businesses. You can check out our COVID-19 Resource Center for even more Coronavirus-related resources.
For other federal information about the Coronavirus, you can visit the U.S. government website here.
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