Should a Trust be an IRA Beneficiary?
Should a Trust be an IRA Beneficiary? Most owners of IRA accounts name a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive the assets upon the death of the IRA owner. But much…
February 8th, 2021
To assist taxpayers financially during the pandemic, Congress enacted several changes to early withdrawal rules from qualified plans and IRAs. These changes allow taxpayers early access to their funds without penalty and permit spreading out the inclusion of distributions in income. In addition to these relaxed rules, Congress also provided a mechanism for taxpayers to return the funds to qualified plans and IRAs within three years of 2020 distributions.
What provisions am I describing?
Distributions must have occurred after January 1, 2020, and before December 31, 2020, for the CARES Act provisions to apply.
If you are concerned as to what degree the coronavirus may have impacted your client, here are the rules:
DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this subsection— (A) CORONAVIRUS-RELATED DISTRIBUTION.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), the term “coronavirus-related distribution” means any distribution from an eligible retirement plan made— (i) on or after January 1, 2020, and before December 31, 2020, (ii) to an individual—
(I) who is diagnosed with the virus SARS– CoV–2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID– 19) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
(II) whose spouse or dependent (as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) is diagnosed with such virus or disease by such a test, or
(III) who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off or having work hours reduced due to such virus or disease, being unable to work due to lack of child care due to such virus or disease, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to such virus or disease, or other factors as determined by the Secretary.
Definition (III) should be the one that impacts many, if not all, of your clients.
Let’s assume taxpayers took early distributions under these rules. Why should you consider advising clients to report ALL of the distribution in 2020 rather than reporting the income ratably over tax years 2020, 2021, and 2022?
Our training and experience as tax professionals have us programmed to accelerate expenses and defer income recognition whenever possible. Perhaps the filing of 2020 returns should give us cause to reconsider our long-held programming.
There’s a Form for that… 8915-E.
Regardless of the client’s decision, early distributions either being included ratably or all in 2020 are reported on Form 8915-E.
The government anticipates most taxpayers will include the distributions ratably and has provided a box to check on the form if the taxpayer has decided to include the income all in 2020.
One additional note to mention: While the most recent tax legislation enacted in December provides much the same relaxed early withdrawal rules for distributions between January 1 and June 30, 2021, these withdrawals must be disaster-related and not COVID-related. The law specifically makes this distinction (Title III, §302).
Taxpayers who take early distributions for other reasons in 2021 are subject to the “pre” disaster relief rules (such as the 60-day rule, which is still alive and well) unless there is additional action from Congress, which is entirely possible.
Hopefully, this discussion gets you thinking about the valuable planning you can provide taxpayers beyond just accurate number crunching. While not applicable to all clients and all situations, my goal is to provide you with more food for thought.
by Tom O’Saben, EA
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