Help for Small Businesses, Workers During COVID-19

March 16, 2020

Assistance for Workers

The Department of Labor is also suspending the requirement that workers applying for new unemployment benefits directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic be actively searching for work.

The CT Department of Labor now has important information on unemployment benefits and frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 on their website at www.ctdol.state.ct.us/DOLCOVIDFAQ.PDF.

More help available on filing for unemployment benefits here: filectui.com.

APRIL 2, 2020 UPDATE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: What you need to know if you are filing or have filed for unemployment.

FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT

On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which includes the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave ActThese two 2 Acts will become effective on April 2, 2020, and expire on December 31, 2020.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Expansion Act, which amends the federal FMLA law only, is applicable to employers with fewer than 500 employees. This Act requires covered employers to provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave to eligible employees. Leave may be taken when an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to various COVID-19 related circumstances.  In addition, the federal Paid Sick Leave provision is new and distinct from the CT Paid Sick Leave law which remains unchanged. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave, at the employee’s regular rate, in six specific circumstances related to the COVID-19 crisis. More information: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-and-labor-announce-plan-to-implement-coronavirus-related-paid-leave-for-workers-and-tax-credits-for-small-and-midsize-businesses-to-swiftly-recover-the-cost-of-providing-coronavirus

 

Help for Small Businesses

 

SMALL BUSINESS REOPENING RESOURCE GUIDE

This guide from the State Department of Economic and Community Development includes information on financial assistance, training resources and supplier information.

 

REOPENING GUIDELINES FOR MAY 20

The governor has released documents containing rules that eligible businesses falling under phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening plans must follow amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The first phase – which includes restaurants (outdoor dining only); offices; hair salons and barbershops; retail stores; and outdoor museums and zoos – is currently planned to take effect beginning May 20.

The governor stressed that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner – they are not required to open if they do not choose, however if they do they must follow the rules as prescribed.

Documents containing the rules for the first phase of reopening have been published on the state’s coronavirus website –ct.gov/coronavirus – and are available to download directly at these links:

FEDERAL ASSISTANCE

Details on federal assistance contained in the CARES Act can be found here.

The SBA has released an 11 page business guide to help answer questions from businesses on how the federal CARES Act impacts available assistance.

For frequently asked questions view our web tool: The CARES Act passed, what do I do now?

 

Federal programs include:

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The law includes nearly $350 billion to create a Paycheck Protection Program that will provide small businesses, nonprofits, and other entities with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million based on average monthly payroll costs. Up to eight weeks of average payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments can be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. Principal and interest payments can be deferred for up to a year, and all SBA borrower fees are waived. This temporary emergency assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury can be used in coordination with other COVID-financing assistance established in the law or any other existing SBA loan program. Small businesses must contact their business lender at a bank to access the PPP program. The banks have been given power to make loans under the CARES act. View a list of SBA Connecticut participating lenders here (ONLY THE BANKS with “GP” Classification).

 

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: The law also includes $17 billion to further ease the burden on small businesses that use SBA loan products.  Under the law, the SBA will cover all loan payments for existing SBA borrowers, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. The loan amount is based on average total monthly payments for payroll for the 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019, or at the election of the eligible recipient, March 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2019.

 

Emergency Economic Injury Grants: The law includes $10 billion in funding for a provision to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) within three days of applying for the loan. EIDLs are loans of up to $2 million that carry interest rates up to 3.75% for companies and up to 2.75% for nonprofits, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years. The loans may be used to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses.

The EIDL grant does not need to be repaid, even if the grantee is subsequently denied an EIDL, and may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintaining payroll, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.

Go to the SBA website to apply for EIDL grants.

 

Refundable tax credits: IRS will be posting information soon on these credits on its website (www.irs.gov), including information on how to obtain advance payment of these credits.

 

Payroll taxes: The law defers payroll through the end of 2020. Deferred taxes will not become due until end of 2021 and end of 2022, with 50% of the liability being paid at each date.

 

Employee retention tax credit: available for struggling businesses that are not eligible or choose not to participate in the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program.

 

MORE ON DISASTER LOANS

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved CT’s request asking the federal agency to issue a declaration that will enable Connecticut’s small business owners to receive economic injury disaster loans. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Connecticut that have been negatively impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak are now eligible for disaster relief loans of up to $2 million from the SBA.

Small businesses can learn more about the program and apply for financial assistance at www.sba.gov/disaster or call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955.

The SBA has released an 11 page business guide to help answer questions from businesses on how the federal CARE Act impacts available assistance.

Small businesses with questions about this SBA loan program or other assistance provided at the state-level can call 860-500-2333 to speak directly with a Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) representative.

 

STATE NO-INTEREST RECOVERY BRIDGE LOANS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS

CURRENTLY CLOSED TO NEW APPLICANTS

To provide emergency cash flow relief to small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the coronavirus, Connecticut established a program to offer qualifying organizations with 100 or fewer employees access to no-interest loans.

Under the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program, a qualifying business or nonprofit organization can apply for a loan of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser).

This short-term emergency loan program was originally $25 million, but was increased to $50 million. It is managed by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). It will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. This program is currently closed to new applicants.

All details on this program can be found on DECD’s website.

If you have questions about your already submitted application contact DECD by emailing [email protected]. DECD’s Hotline at (860) 500-2333

 

TAX FILING DEADLINES

The federal government is giving taxpayers a three-month reprieve to pay the income taxes they owe for 2019. Filers will get another 90 days to pay income taxes due on up to $1 million in tax owed. The reprieve on that amount will also cover pass-through entities and small businesses.

The CT Department of Revenue Services has extended filing deadlines for certain annual state business tax returns. More information here.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is extending the filing and payment deadline for personal income tax returns 90 days, to July 15, 2020. The extension also applies to Connecticut estimated income tax payments for the first and second quarters of 2020. Connecticut taxpayers who are owed a refund may still file with DRS. More information here.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is extending the filing and payment deadlines of certain returns until July 15, 2020. These extensions align Connecticut tax filing and payment dates with filing and payment extensions recently announced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). More information here.

 

STATE BUSINESS RESPONSE UNIT

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is launching the COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit, which will be dedicated to helping businesses in Connecticut navigate the resources available to them during this crisis. Small businesses seeking guidance can reach this unit by calling 860-500-2333.

In addition, DECD and Advance CT, a nonprofit organization that works to advance economic competitiveness in Connecticut, today began distributing a comprehensive survey to businesses to get information on what types of resources they need throughout the duration of this pandemic. This will help the state gather important information on the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses interested in participating in this survey can access it here.

 

REIMBURSEMENT FOR COVID-19 MEDICAL LEAVE COSTS

The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) announced in IR-2020-57 that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act). For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.

Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the Act. View more information here.

 

For the most up to date information on Connecticut’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and resources visit ct.gov/coronavirus.