What Does the Federal Tax Deadline Extension Mean for the Cannabis Industry?
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What Does the Federal Tax Deadline Extension Mean for the Cannabis Industry?

CPA Dean Guske shares what businesses should be aware of in the wake of the government’s announcement that tax payments can be delayed until July 15 amid coronavirus concerns.

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March 20, 2020

Earlier this week, the federal government announced that it would extend the deadline for tax payments until July 15 amid coronavirus concerns. Dean Guske, CPA with Guske & Company, is advising his cannabis clients to take advantage of this delay, while keeping adequate capital on hand to cover their tax bills.

“If a government agency gives you a deferral to pay your taxes, take it,” Guske tells Cannabis Business Times. “You’re being given an opportunity to hold on to cash for a longer period of time, and I would take it. It’s like they’re allowing you to borrow from them. It’s an interest-free loan, basically.”

Cannabis companies should still hold on to as much capital as they can to meet their tax obligations, however.

“I would be just trying to keep that in the bank, keeping your capital as long as you possibly can,” Guske says.

The deadline extension allows individuals to delay tax payment of up to $1 million until July 15, while corporations can delay payment of up to $10 million. Federal tax returns should still be filed by April 15, however, unless an extension is filed.

While the deadline extension only applies to federal tax returns, Guske is encouraging his clients to keep an eye on state and local policies, as some states and municipalities could also extend their deadlines for tax payments in the coming weeks.

“What I would tell people is check with your CPA,” he says. “That’s what we’re in the process of doing right now. We sent out the federal [update via email] the other day, and then, depending on where our clients are, we’re sending them a state-by-state update.”

It remains to be seen how states will handle cannabis excise taxes, Guske adds. “I expect that the state agencies are going to have to give some leeway for making those payments.”

In the meantime, businesses should be taking steps to keep employees and customers safe during the coronavirus outbreak, he says, especially as some states are designating medical cannabis dispensaries as essential businesses during a time when many other businesses are being forced to shut down indefinitely.

Cannabis operators should also be aware of developments in federal law regarding paid sick leave for employees and other changes in employment law, Guske says.

“This is still early days for government action, so I think you just have to keep your ears open for what’s going on and available to you state-by-state,” he says. “I think things are going to be fluid, and we’re trying to communicate with our clients on a pretty regular basis to make sure they’re informed of all these changes."