COVID-19 Information for Small Business Owners

COVID-19 SBA & Government Info & Resources for Small Business:

Updated 9/5/2020

On this page we have attempted to gather the latest information about the different programs and resources available to small business owners as we deal with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis.

IMPORTANT: As our government agencies release new and sometimes conflicting guidance, it’s important to understand that each business owner must assume the responsibility of interpreting the guidance applicable to their marketplace, state, and individual business circumstances and respond accordingly. The information we are sharing here and on our podcast is just our current understanding of these different assistance programs and we are not experts on this subject. You must consult with your CPA, attorney and other professionals for additional guidance before making any decisions based on the information we are sharing with you.

We have tried to organize the information by major topic or program. If you have any questions, comments, or additional information to share, please leave a comment on this page. Thanks!


Best Sources of COVID-19 Information:


What’s New:

9/5/20: Paycheck Protection Plan Flexibility Act – This new act, and the clarifications released by the SBA on August 11th, provide significant changes to the PPP forgiveness rules, including:

  • Most banks are not yet accepting forgiveness applications, so it’s advisable to wait. You should, however, begin gathering your required documentation (visit your lenders website).
  • The deadline to apply for forgiveness is 10 months after your loan funding.
  • The time period to use the funds has been extended to 24 weeks (previously 8 weeks).
  • The amount of the loan that must be spent on payroll has been reduced to 60% (previously 75%).
  • The term of the loan for loans taken in the second round- for the amount not forgiven – is extended to 5 years (2 years if you got a loan during the first round).
  • The date by which you need to return to pre-COVID-19 payroll levels is extended to December 31, 2020 (previously June 30, 2020).
  • Your business will not lose any loan forgiveness eligibility if you can show that some employees declined to return to their jobs or the pre-pandemic headcount is no longer required.
  • You can continue deferring payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax through December 31, 2020 (previously could no longer defer tax payments once your PPP loan was forgiven.) Deferred payroll taxes must be paid over the next two years.
Be aware of scams! These scams include asking you for a fee to process or expedite your EIDL or PPP loans or forgiveness applications. There are NO FEES associated with either of these programs. There may be other lenders claiming to be offering some type of disaster relief loans – while these may be legitimate loans, they are likely NOT associated with any of the federal relief programs. Be careful to clearly understand the terms of any loans before signing any document.

 


Top Action Items:

  • Familiarize yourself with Paycheck Protection Loan (PPL) Forgiveness Application, and begin gathering your required documentation.
  • Consult (check their website) with your lender to find out when they will start accepting forgiveness applications.
  • Consult with your CPA, Accountant or Tax Attorney.
  • Understand and begin preparing your supporting documents if you are planning to file for PPP Loan forgiveness. Consult with your bank for their specific requirements for supporting documents.
  • Spend the PPL funds on approved expenses by the 24 week deadline (starts the day your loan funded).

Related Podcast Episodes:

Episode 329: Gerri Detweiler – PPP Loan Forgiveness

Episode 308 – COVID-19 Loan Programs with Gerri Detweiler

Episode 304 – COVID-19 Information for Small Business Owners

Episode 301: COVID-19 Info for Small Business Owners


SBA Debt Relief – for existing SBA loans:

The SBA Debt Relief program will provide a reprieve to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.
Under this program:

  • The SBA will PAY the principal and interest on 7(a) loans for six months.
  • Borrowers who are still paying back SBA loans from a previous disaster can defer payments through December 31, 2020. This will be automatic. Borrowers of home and business disaster loans do not have to contact SBA to request deferment.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (Initial Act):

Download the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coronovirus Paid Leave Programs Employer Guide here.

Here is the employee information poster you should post at your workplace immediately: Employee Rights Poster

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is the initial coronavirus relief bill. This new law requires small employers — those with fewer than 500 employees — to provide limited paid-leave benefits to employees who are affected by the coronavirus emergency. Small employers are given new tax credits and federal payroll-tax relief to pay for the new mandatory benefits.

Mandatory employee paid leave (Paid Sick Leave – 2 weeks)
The Act requires emergency paid sick leave. It is limited to $511 per day for up to 10 days (80 hours for full-time, less for part-time) (up to $5,110 in total) for an eligible employee in coronavirus quarantine or seeking a coronavirus diagnosis. An employee can also receive emergency paid sick leave of up to $200 per day for up to 10 days (up to $2,000 in total) to care for a quarantined family member or a child whose school or child-care location has been closed due to the pandemic.

  • Starts April 1st, 2020.
  • This is in addition to any PTO employee may have accrued.
  • All employees qualify, regardless of how long they have been employed.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (eFMLA) (10 weeks)
The Act also requires that small-business employees be given the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected family leave if the employee or a family member is in coronavirus quarantine or if the school or child-care location of the employee’s child is closed due to the coronavirus. The employer must pay at least two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day, subject to an overall per-employee maximum of $10,000 in total family-leave payments.

  • We are not clear how this is interpreted for those impacted by shelter-in-place orders.
  • There may be an exception for small businesses with less than 50 employees, but this is not yet clear.
  • Employers must post a notice regarding paid sick leave in the workplace.
  • Employers of health care providers or emergency responders are exempt from this type of leave.
  • Must be employed for 30 days to be eligible.

Termination of Employees – Points to Consider:

During the COVID-19 crisis, small business employers have various options regarding their employees:

  • Continue paying employees
  • Furlough employees
  • Terminate employees

Continue paying employees: If you continue to operate your small business, then of course you must continue to pay your employees for their work. You do have the option to reduce hours and wages to lower your costs. Also, even if you decide to or must close your small business, you can optionally decide to continue paying your employees.

Furlough: Furloughed employees remain employees but temporarily perform no work for your small business. These furloughed employees receive no pay while they are not working. The may, however, remain eligible for benefits such as health insurance coverage and paid leave under the Families First Coronovirus Response Act (FFCRA). At the end of the furlough, the employee returns to work for your small business.

Terminate: When you terminate, employees are fully separated from your small business and are no longer eligible for any benefits. Former employees are not eligible for FFCRA paid leave. It’s important to understand and consider, however, that terminating employees always carries inherent risk. Any termination should be based on economic uncertainty, such as declining revenue, and not the COVID-19 outbreak. Offering severance pay in return for a release of claims may help to reduce this risk (you must consult with you attorney on this point).

Before deciding to terminate your small business employees, you should consider these points and we also advise that you consult with an attorney:

  • You should issue a written termination to the affected employees individually.
  • Any termination should be based on economic uncertainty, such as declining revenue, and not the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Your reasons for terminating the employee should be because of “uncertainty about the future of the business…” or “due to the economic uncertainty…”, or “there is no work currently available or in the foreseeable future due to economic conditions …” depending on the actual impact on your small business.
  • Your reason for terminating an employee should NOT be solely because of COVID or any illness an employee may or may not have.
  • Offering severance pay in return for a release of claims may help to reduce this risk (you must consult with you attorney on this point).
  • Upon termination, you must pay all accrued benefits including any PTO, Vacation, or Sick Pay.
  • And remember that an employees health details, including if they may have or have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, is confidential and CAN’T be shared or disclosed with others.

Business Insurance:

It’s possible that your commercial insurance policy for your small business may provide some level of business interruption benefits. You should contact your Insurance Agent or Broker to get more information about what your policy may cover in this situation.

You may also want to consider filing a claim for Business Interruption coverage, even if there is a likelihood that it will be denied. This way, if the government intervenes and requires insurance companies to cover these claims or provides some other type of related relief, you have already filed and may be eligible for further consideration.


Retirement Accounts (IRA and 401k):

The new CARES Act temporarily loosens the rules on hardship distributions from retirement accounts, allowing individuals affected by the coronavirus crisis to access up to $100,000 of their retirement savings without the usual 10% penalty.

The CARES Act also doubles the amount 401(k) participants can take in loans from their retirement account for the next six months to the lower of $100,000 or 100% of the account balance, except for IRAs which don’t permit loans.

It’s important to consider that just because you can get this money from your retirement accounts doesn’t mean you necessarily should, since doing so could have long-term negative consequences for your retirement planning.

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