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IRS Restores Capital Gains Tax (To Form 1040) And Other Tax Return Changes For 2020


Ready or not, tax return reporting has changed yet again for the 2020 tax season. In 2018, the IRS condensed Form 1040 significantly, completely revamping the prior traditional version, and introduced additional schedules that funnel information to Form 1040. While the IRS did not modify the 2019 Form 1040 as drastically, there are key differences, especially in the way capital gains are reported.


Below I explain key tax return points for executives and employees who have income from stock compensation—such as stock options, restricted stock units, or an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP)—or who have gains from sales of company stock. Remember to file by April 15, 2020.


General Changes


The numbered schedules (supplementary forms) of Form 1040 have been reduced to three (Schedules 1, 2, 3).A new tax return, IRS Form 1040-SR ("US Tax Return For Seniors"), is available for taxpayers born before January 2, 1955. It has a large, easy-to-read font and includes a standard-deduction chart so that these taxpayers don't need to access the instructions, though Schedule A is still available for itemizing deductions. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, the major tax legislation that took effect in 2018, continues to affect tax rates and rules, including itemized deduction limits. However, for anyone paying the kiddie tax, the SECURE Act (passed at year-end 2019) changed the tax rates that apply for a child’s unearned income over $2,200.


Reporting Compensation Income On Your Tax Return

The 2019 IRS Form 1040 has 24 lines. Stock compensation, such as from the exercise of nonqualified stock options (NQSO) or the vesting of restricted stock units, along with salary income and cash bonuses, is entered on Line 1 of Form 1040.


Income Omitted From Form W-2

Employee compensation income from all sources is aggregated in Box 1 of your W-2. If it’s uncertain what portions of your W-2 income come from stock comp, your company may voluntary specify that in Box 14; for nonqualified stock options and nonqualified ESPPs, your company is required to do so in Box 12. This compensation income will also appear in Box 5 for Medicare Wages, and in Box 3 for Social Security Wages up to the yearly maximum ($132,900 in 2019; this maximum was raised to $137,700 for 2020).


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Story courtesy of Forbes

Bruce Brumberg Contributor

February 3, 2020

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