IRS Chief Counsel memorandum are legal advice, signed by executives in the National Office of the Office of Chief Counsel and issued to IRS personnel who are national program executives and managers. According to the IRS website, memorandum “are issued to assist Service personnel in administering their programs by providing authoritative legal opinions on certain matters, such as industry-wide issues.” Although a GLAM cannot be used or cited as precedent, it does provide insight into the IRS legal position on an issue, in this case the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).
The July 21st GLAM discusses the following five different scenarios involving an employer and supplier:
Scenario 2: Employer B was not subject to any governmental orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19 at any time. However, certain critical goods from Supplier 2 were stuck at port in State X. Employer B assumed the bottleneck at the port was a result of COVID-19. Employer B could not identify any specific governmental order applicable to Supplier 2 or any specific governmental order that caused the bottleneck at the port. Some news sources stated that COVID-19 was the reason for the bottleneck, while others cited reasons such as increases in consumer spending and aging infrastructure. In addition, Supplier 2 mentioned to Employer B that other critical goods that were not stuck at port would be delayed due to a truck driver shortage. Employer B saw some discussion on social media that the truck driver shortage was because drivers were out sick due to COVID-19.
Scenario 3: Employer C and Supplier 3 are located in a jurisdiction that issued governmental orders suspending both of their business operations for the duration of April 2020. Employer C and Supplier 3’s jurisdiction lifted all orders related to COVID in May 2020. For the remainder of 2020 and 2021, Employer C experienced a delay in receiving critical goods from Supplier 3. Supplier 3 does not provide a reason for the delay, but Employer C assumes the delay is due to the governmental order in place in April 2020.
Scenario 4: Employer D was not subject to any governmental orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19 at any time. During 2020 and 2021, Employer D could not obtain critical goods from Supplier 4. However, Employer D was able to obtain the goods from an alternate supplier. The critical goods from the alternate supplier cost 35% more than those from Supplier 4. Employer D could continue to operate its trade or business even though it was not as profitable as in 2019.
Scenario 5: Employer E operates a large retail business selling a wide variety of products. Employer E was not subject to any governmental orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19 in 2021. Due to various supply chain disruptions, Employer E was not able to stock a limited number of products and was forced to raise prices on other products that were in limited supply. However, at no time did the product shortage prevent Employer E from continuing to fully operate as a retail business during 2021.
The GLAM concludes that the employers in scenarios 1, 2, 4 and 5 are not eligible employers for ERC. Only in scenario 3 is the employer eligible for ERC.
Again, a GLAM is only an opinion of IRS Counsel, but employers who are considering filing for or have filed for ERC should be aware of IRS Counsel’s position. Likewise, tax professionals involved in ERC should also take note of IRS Counsel’s position. In addition, this GLAM is a reminder to ERC eligible employers to have their supporting documents and information in place in case the IRS comes calling.
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