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American Rescue Plan Act Passes

March 11, 2021


President Biden has signed a $1.9 trillion economic relief package today. This legislation has a number of tax implications that may impact your return. 

  • Unemployment Benefits – The first $10,200 in unemployment benefits may be tax free for taxpayers making less than $150,000 per year.
  • Recovery Rebates – The newest round of direct impact payments that are to be sent directly to qualifying individuals begin to phase out at an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 for single taxpayers, $150,000 for married taxpayers who file jointly, and $112,500 for Heads of Household.  The Act uses the 2019 AGI to determine eligibility, unless a 2020 return has already been filed. These payments will be reported on your 2021 return.
  • COBRA continuation coverage – Beginning April 1, 2021, laid off workers can now use COBRA continuation benefits without paying any of the premiums for the coverage through Sept 30, 2021.
  • Child Tax Credit – The child tax credit has been increased to $3000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6) and begins to phase out at an AGI of $75,000 for single taxpayers, $150,000 for married taxpayers who file jointly, and $112,500 for Heads of Household, reducing the expanded portion of the credit by $50 for each $1000 of income over those limits.
  • Earned Income Credit – For 2021, the applicable minimum age is decreased to 19 for most, 24 for students, and 18 for former foster youth or homeless youth with the maximum age limit being eliminated. For qualifying taxpayers, the threshold for disqualifying investment income is raised from $2,200 to $10,000. Temporarily, taxpayers may use their 2019 income instead of 2021 in determining the credit amount.
  • Child and dependent care credit – Effective for 2021 only, the credit will be worth 50% of eligible expenses, up to a limit based on income, making the credit worth up to $4,000 for one qualifying individual and up to $8,000 for two or more. Credit reduction will start at household income levels over $125,000. For households with income over $400,000, the credit can be reduced below 20%.
  • Family and sick leave credits – Related credits originally enacted in a previous Coronavirus Response Act are extended to September 30, 2021. The current Act increases the limit on the credit for paid family leave up to $12,000, increases the number of days a self-employed individual can take into account in calculating the qualified family leave equivalent amount from 50 to 60, allows the credits to be used for leave that is due to a COVID-19 vaccination, resets the limitation on the overall number of days taken into account for paid sick leave as of 3/31/2021, and expands the credits to allow 501(c)(1) governmental organizations to take them.
  • Employee retention credit – The employee retention credit, originally enacted in the CARES Act, is extended through the end of 2021 and is allowed against the Medicare tax.
  • Premium tax credit – The act expands the health care premium tax credit for 2021 & 2022 and removes the requirement to repay excess amounts of the credit received in 2020.
  • Student loans – It is specified that gross income does not include any amounts that would otherwise be included in income due to the discharge of any student loans that after December 31, 2020 and before January 1, 2026.
  • Miscellaneous tax provisions – The act has additional impacts on: the list of individuals at a corporation subject to the $1 million cap on deductible compensation; limitations on excess business losses of noncorporate taxpayers; elections to allocate interest on a worldwide basis for affiliated groups; grants received from the US Small Business Administration; multiemployer pension plan designations;

Contact your tax preparer directly with any questions regarding how the bill will affect your taxes. 

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