expanded family and medical leave procedure

As a self-employed worker, you may wonder if you’re eligible for expanded family and medical leave benefits that employees of larger companies can access. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting businesses of all sizes, independent contractors and self-employed individuals need support too.

This comprehensive guide will explain how to qualify for expanded family and medical leave as self-employed, the benefits included, eligibility criteria, and how to file a claim. Read everything you need to know to take advantage of expanded leave protections.

What Is Expanded Family and Medical Leave?

Expanded family and medical leave refers to extended job-protected leave beyond typical company policies and state laws. It allows workers to take time off for reasons like caring for a new child, managing a serious health condition, or dealing with a family health emergency.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Expanded family and medical leave provisions primarily come from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) passed by Congress in 2020. This landmark law provides American workers impacted by COVID-19 access to emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave.

It requires covered employers to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of expanded leave for childcare issues related to the pandemic, like school closures. At least ten weeks must be paid at two-thirds regular earnings up to $200/day.

Consolidated Appropriations Act

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) extended and modified FFCRA voluntary leave through March 31, 2021. Employers could opt-in to offer expanded leave and receive tax credits.

The CAA also reduced the 10-week leave requirement to $12,000. This provided more flexibility for employers and employees.

Do Self-Employed Workers Qualify for Expanded Leave?

Originally, FFCRA expanded leave, which applied only to company employees. Self-employed individuals, including contractors, gig workers, and sole proprietors, were not eligible.

However, the CAA authorized similar tax credits so the self-employed could claim qualified leave benefits for the same COVID-19 related reasons:

By filing Form 7202, eligible self-employed individuals can now claim a refundable tax credit equivalent to FFCRA emergency leave.


Claiming the Self-Employed Tax Credit

The process to claim the self-employed leave tax credit contains a few key steps:

Check Your Eligibility

To qualify, you must:

Calculate Your Average Daily Earnings

This is done by:

Claim the Credit on Form 7202

Save all documentation since the IRS may request it for verification.

Maximum Leave Credit Amounts

For the 2021 tax year, the maximum refundable tax credits available are:

The higher family care leave amount accounts for ten weeks at 2/3 of regular earnings.

Tax Forms Required

To claim the credits as a self-employed individual, you must submit:

Keep copies of all forms and eligibility documentation should the IRS require verification.

Leave Reasons Covered

For self-employed workers, the following COVID-19 related situations allow you to qualify for tax credits under expanded family and medical leave:

Unable to Work Due to Quarantine

Leave can be claimed if unable to perform services because of quarantine or isolation order.

Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms

Leave applies if unable to work because of COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis.

Caring for an Individual in Quarantine

Leave can be taken to care for someone in quarantine on the advice of a health care provider.

Care for a Child Due to School or Daycare Closures

Leave qualifies when unable to work owing to lack of childcare due to pandemic-related closures.

Claiming Leave Retroactively

The COVID-19 related leave credits can be claimed retroactively as needed.

Self-employed individuals can claim:

So if you missed claiming expanded leave for past COVID-19 related situations, you can still recover those tax credits.

Can Leave Be Taken Intermittently?

Yes, self-employed individuals do not have to take expanded family and medical leave consecutively.

You can take the leave intermittently in separate blocks of time as needed. For example:

This provides greater flexibility to take leave to address evolving COVID-19 impacts.

Expanded Leave Provides Vital Income Stability

Accessing tax credits for COVID-19 related leave through provisions like FFCRA empowers self-employed individuals to prioritize health and family care needs. Claiming an amount equivalent to most typical employees enables you to maintain income stability when unable to work for covered reasons.

Understanding eligibility requirements, documents needed, and how to calculate and claim credits ensures you tap into this vital benefit. With proper planning, self-employed workers can access expanded family and medical leave tax credits as an economic lifeline throughout ongoing pandemic impacts.

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FAQs for Expanded Family and Medical Leave

Who qualifies as a self-employed worker for expanded leave?

Independent contractors, gig workers, sole proprietors, freelancers, and business partners qualify as self-employed individuals eligible for the tax credits. You must have documentation of your self-employment income and status.

Can I claim the tax credit for past leave taken?

Yes, the credit can be claimed retroactively for COVID-19 related leave in 2020 and 2021 when you file taxes for those years. So if you missed claiming for past leave, you can still get those credits.

What if I need to take leave intermittently?

The tax credit allows self-employed workers to take expanded leave intermittently in separate blocks of time as needed rather than consecutively. This allows more flexibility.

What records should I keep when claiming the credit?

A: Keep copies of all tax forms filed, including Schedule C, Form 7202, and Form 1040. Also, retain eligibility documentation and proof that you met the requirements for the leave taken. This aids in verification.

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