April 17, 2020

COVID-19 Government Relations Daily Summary 

ICPAS UPDATES
Responses to Frequent Member Questions

Illinois Department of Revenue 
Estimated Payments, Penalties and Extensions

 
Question:  Will the Department of Revenue extend estimated payment deadlines?
Answer:    As reported in the April 7th COVID-19 Government Relations Daily Summary, the IDOR added a third option for estimated payments to assist the taxpayer and tax preparer.  Also highlighted was “The department was upfront that estimated payment filings for first and second quarter would not be extended due to the state’s acute financial situation and expenditures in responding to COVID-19.”  Maximum efforts have been exerted in this area and in our ongoing, IDOR has not move away from their original position.
 
Question:  Will the Department of Revenue issue blanket waivers of penalties for underpayments? 
Answer:    Based on our discussions with IDOR, it is unlikely that blanket waivers of penalties for underpayments will be enacted. 
Discussion:  In determining whether to impose a penalty, IDOR will not only look to whether the payment is late, or whether the payment is subject to any of the “safe harbor” provisions under IITA Section 804.  An argument most likely could be made that if income is received unevenly over the year and individual or corporation could demonstrate, for example, that they didn’t have any income for the first and second quarters due to COVID-19 and for that reason didn’t make an estimated payment and avoid the penalty for those quarters.  Additionally, the UPIA has reasonable cause provisions that a taxpayer can claim when asking for penalty relief. 
 
Illinois Attorney General
AG 990-IL Filing Extensions

 
Question:  Will the Illinois Attorney General’s Office grant automatic extensions for AG990-IL filings?
Answer:     No, the Attorney General does not have statutory authority to issue automatic blanket extensions.
Discussion:  In our March 24th COVID-19 Government Relations Daily Summary, the Attorney General Charitable Trust Filings was addressed.  ICPAS Government Relations spoke with the Bureau Chief of the Charitable Trust Bureau who explained that neither the Charitable Trust Act nor the Solicitation for Charity Act provides for blanket extensions similar to other statutes.  Extension request can be made informally and will be expedited.  With that being said, requested extensions will be granted, however, not automatically.  Extensions can be requested by phone by calling 312-814-2595 or by fax at 312-814-2596.  You can leave a voice mail and a compliance staff member will promptly return your call. 
 
STATE AND LOCAL UPDATES

Executive Order
Suspending Service of Garnishment Summonses

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office has issued an executive order (EO-No. 23) temporarily suspending the service of garnishment summonses, wage deduction summonses, and citations to discover assets on consumer debtors and consumer garnishees for the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations.  See summary of gubernatorial COVID-19 Executive Orders.
 
Illinois Department of Employment Security
Expanding IDES’ Capacity-Processing Record Breaking Number of Claims

IDES has taken a number of steps to expand operating capacity of its website and call center.  Lines of effort in this regard include the following:  Overhauling the IDES website infrastructure, expanding call center capacity and building private partnerships.  IDES announced that it processed 141,000 new initial unemployment claims for the week ending April 11th; and as of March 1, the department has processed more than 650,000 initial unemployment claims--12 times more than the number of claims over the corresponding period last year.  See more.
 
Self-employed Workers, Freelancers, and Independent Contractors
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Beginning May 11th, the federal government will allow self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.  This program provides 39 weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits to individuals not typically eligible for unemployment benefits including independent contractors and self-proprietors who have become unemployed due to COVID-19.  NOTE:  It is noted that this program begins on May 11th.  The Federal Department of Employment of Labor’s rules for this program have made it more difficult than Congress intended for gig workers to receive benefits. See more.
 
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission
Essential Employees Guaranteed Workers’ Compensation during COVID-19

The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission approved emergency administrative rules that provide for a rebuttable presumption that any exposure to the COVID-19 virus will be presumed to have “arisen out of and in the course of petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment.”  The emergency rules also provide a rebuttable presumption that the exposure was “causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment.”  The emergency rule is effective for a maximum of 150 days.  Section 9030.70(a)(2) of the emergency rules specifically defines two categories of employees: (1) First Responders and (2) Front Line Workers (citing Section 1 Part(s) 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020).

Separate and apart from the information provided above on the eligibility of Workers' Comp, business groups have expressed their concern and questioned the Commission’s legal authority for broad alteration of existing statutory authority and disrupting the fundamental balance of workers compensation and burden shifting.  Business groups have also requested the General Assembly and the Governor to waive the chargeability on employers for the COVID-19 benefits from the beginning of the shutdown to the end of the year.  This cannot be done through agency emergency rules.
 
FEDERAL UPDATES

Internal Revenue Service
IRS Extends the Form 5500 Due Dates for Some Employee Benefit Plans

IRS Notice 2020-23 postpones, among other relief, the due date for employee benefit plans required to make the Form 5500 series filings due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.  Plans with original due dates or extended due dates falling within this period now have until July 15, 2020 to file their information reports.
  
Small Business Administration
Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration announced that it is unable to accept new applications at this time for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding. Through April 13th, the SBA guaranteed 1,035,086 loans under the PPP program.  See SBA posting.
  
ICPAS Advocacy & Agents
 The Illinois CPA Society has received a number of inquiries of members regarding the uncertainty in SBA guidelines for agents.  See Rules & Regulations.  ICPAS has requested the SBA address the uncertainties surrounding the roles and fees of agents and agent relationships with financial institutions and clients.  ICPAS has also been in contact with the Community Bankers Association of Illinois and the Illinois Bankers Association to collectively provide their respective members with information.  Finally, ICPAS Government Relations has ongoing conversations with members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation for legislative remedies. 
  
SBA-PPP
Self-Employment & Partnerships
 
Immediately prior to the Small Business Administration’s announcement of expenditure of the appropriation for the PPP Program, the SBA posted additional guidance on self-employed and partner income.  The SBA also updated FAQs on the PPP Program.  We are providing you with this information with the possibility that Congress may pass additional funding.
  
AICPA PPP Resource Center
Professional Responsibility & CPAs as Agents
The American Institute of CPAs has developed a Paycheck Protection Program resource page with resources and guidance.  On April 13th, the Professional Ethics Executive Committee posted information on the Impact of accepting PPP agent fees on independence.  Also, updated is the PPP lender documents.
 
ICPAS GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
COVID-19 Digital Library-Daily Summaries & Resources.