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The “Act” generally requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide 80 hours (Generally 10 days at 8 hours/day) of paid sick time to employees who are unable to work for virus-related reasons. The pay is up to $511 per day with a $5,110 overall limit for an employee directly affected by the virus and up to $200 per day with a $2,000 overall limit for an employee that is a caregiver.

Checking family member for coronavirus symptoms.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Act provides a credit equal to 100% of the “Qualified Sick Leave Wages” paid by an employer. Eligible employers who pay qualifying sick leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS. (The payroll sick leave credit)

The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees. If there are not enough payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick leave paid, employers will be able to file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less. The details of this new, expedited procedure is forthcoming.

The credit includes provisions that prevent double tax benefits (for example, using the same wages to get the benefit of the credit and of the current law employer credit for paid family and medical leave). The credit applies to wages paid beginning on April 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020.

Also, wages paid as sick leave payments are not considered wages for purposes of the employer’s 6.2% portion of the Social Security payroll tax.

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