June 19, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2020-50, which provides new guidance regarding coronavirus-related distributions (CRDs) and loans from qualified retirement plans.
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, employer-sponsored retirement plans are permitted to allow qualified individuals* to request a plan distribution of up to $100,000 as a CRD. A CRD is not subject to tax penalties that might otherwise apply to early withdrawals, is not subject to mandatory withholding, and can also be included as income over a three-year period or be recontributed back to a qualified retirement account to avoid income tax altogether. Additionally, the CARES Act increased the amount that qualified individuals can borrow from their qualified retirement accounts and suspended loan repayments for one year.
Notice 2020-50 provides additional details on how to implement these and other CARES Act provisions, including:
Expanded Definition of Qualified Individual and Self-Certification
Eligibility for CRDs and loans has been significantly expanded to allow the definition of "qualified individual" to include those who suffer adverse financial consequences from income reduction due to COVID-19, as well as those who have had a job offer rescinded or a start date delayed due to the pandemic. Spouses or household members of qualified individuals under such circumstances are also covered under this definition. A plan administrator may continue to rely on an individual's certification that he or she is a qualified individual unless the administrator has knowledge to the contrary.
Clarification on CRDs
The new guidance clarifies that, even though any distribution can generally be designated as a CRD, and that a CRD does not need to be used for any specific purpose, distributions to correct excess annual additions and excess elective deferrals cannot be designated as CRDs. In addition, deemed distributions as a result of a loan default and withdrawals made upon request by a participant within 90 days of being automatically enrolled in an eligible automatic contribution arrangement (EACA) cannot be designated as CRDs.
Reporting CRDs on Tax Returns
Prior to Notice 2020-50, the IRS indicated that taxpayers should use Form 8915-E to claim an exemption on any tax penalty for early withdrawal and recommended electing to include income from the distribution in the current year or over a three-year period. Notice 2020-50 further provides guidance for qualified individuals on how to report CRDs on their individual tax returns by confirming that Form 8915-E will also be used when the qualified individual recontributes any of the CRD back into a qualified plan. In accordance with the CARES Act, if a qualified individual recontributes any portion of the CRD at any time during the three-year recontribution period, then the amount of the recontribution will reduce the amount of the CRD included in gross income.
Furthermore, if a qualified individual includes his or her full CRD in income in the year of the distribution and makes a recontribution of some or all of the amount after filing that year's tax return, the individual will need to file an amended federal income tax return for the year of the distribution, as well as a revised Form 8915-E, in order to get a refund of the tax that was paid. If a qualified individual includes the CRD ratably over a three-year period and then makes recontributions of any portion of the CRD before filing his or her federal income tax return, the amount of the recontribution will reduce the ratable portion of the CRD that can be included in gross income for that tax year. In addition, qualified individuals using the three-year ratable income inclusion method can carry forward or carry backward excess recontributions to reduce his or her gross income for the preceding or next tax year within the three-year period, beginning with the year of distribution.
A safe harbor is now provided so that a qualified individual's obligation to repay a plan loan is suspended for any period from March 27, 2020, to December 31, 2020. Loan repayments resume after the end of the suspension period. The term of the loan may be extended by up to one year from the date the loan was originally due to be repaid.
This is not intended as, and may not be relied on as, tax advice. Individuals should consult with a tax professional before making any decisions regarding their retirement accounts.
|* ||IRS Notice 2020-50 expanded the definition of "qualified individual" to include individuals who suffer adverse financial consequences as a result of: |
|1. ||the individual having a reduction in pay (or self-employment income) due to COVID-19 or having a job offer rescinded or the start date for a job delayed due to COVID-19; |
|2. ||the individual's spouse or a member of the individual's household (as defined below): |
| || |
|a. ||being quarantined, furloughed or laid off; |
|b. ||having work hours reduced due to COVID-19; |
|c. ||being unable to work due to lack of childcare due to COVID-19; |
|d. ||having a reduction in pay (or self-employment income) due to COVID-19; or |
|e. ||having a job offer rescinded or the start date for a job delayed due to COVID-19; |
|3. ||closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual's spouse or a member of the individual's household. For the purpose of the definition of "qualified individual," a member of an individual's household is anyone who shares the individual's principal residence. |