COVID-19 Relief: Business Overview of the New American Rescue Plan Act

Kirsch CPA Group

Mar 17, 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021. The new law will provide roughly $1.9 trillion in much-needed financial relief to individuals, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and state and local governments during the pandemic. Here are some of the key ARPA provisions that will affect federal income taxes for some people in 2020 and 2021.


Key Changes for Businesses

The new law includes the following tax-related provisions for businesses and self-employed individuals:

Expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit. This credit has been extended through the end of 2021 (before the law, it had been scheduled to end on June 30). It’s also been expanded to apply to recovery startup businesses that launched after February 15, 2020, and have average annual gross receipts under $1 million.

Increased exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance. The exclusion for assistance provided under a qualified dependent care assistance program has been increased to $10,500 ($5,250 for married people who filed separate returns) for 2021.

Exclusion for EIDL advances. Eligible small businesses that receive targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advances may exclude the amounts received from gross income for federal tax purposes. Because these advances are treated as tax-exempt income, they will be allocated to partners or shareholders and increase their bases in their own interests.

Exclusion for restaurant revitalization grants. Businesses that provide food or drinks — such as restaurants, food trucks, and bars — may receive restaurant revitalization grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration. These grants are excluded from gross income for federal tax purposes. Because these amounts are treated as tax-exempt income, they will be allocated to partners or shareholders and increase their bases in their own interests.

Expanded limit on compensation for public companies. A public company’s compensation deduction is limited to $1 million per year for compensation paid to any covered employee. Under the new law, for tax years that begin after December 31, 2026, the definition of “covered employee” only includes the corporation’s principal executive officer, principal financial officer, the eight other highest-paid employees. (Previously, the definition included only the three other highest-paid employees.)

Extension of limitation on excess business losses. Noncorporate taxpayers are currently subject to a limit on excess business losses of $250,000 ($500,000 for a married joint-filing couple). These limits are adjusted annually for inflation. Losses that are disallowed under this rule are carried forward to later tax years, then they can be deducted under the rules that apply to net operating losses.

Previously, the CARES Act temporarily suspended the excess business loss rule for losses arising in tax years beginning in 2018 through 2020. This limitation comes back into play for 2021 and was scheduled to expire at the end of 2025. The ARPA pushes back the expiration date by one year to the end of 2026.


Need Help?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every household and business in some way. This article only covers some of the provisions in the 628-page new law. If you or your business have suffered financial losses, contact Kirsch CPA Group to discuss resources under the ARPA that may be available to help you with recovery.


We can help you tackle business challenges like these – schedule an appointment today.


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Kirsch CPA Group is a full service CPA and business advisory firm helping businesses and organizations with accounting,…

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