Resources for Small Businesses in Response to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

Updated June 10, 2020, 12:30pm ET

The Office of Advocacy will share small business resources and information related to the coronavirus pandemic as we receive them.

Department of Commerce

On June 4, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) are temporarily reducing or eliminating the costs of several of their export services, providing relief to U.S. businesses affected by COVID-19. These efforts are intended to encourage the export of non-COVID-19-treatment-related “Made in the USA” products around the world in this moment of economic transition and recovery. See more HERE.

Department of Agriculture

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.

USDA Now Accepting Applications For Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, Seeks Comments On Additional Entities To Include

Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. See more here.

USDA is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

USDA announced the expanded B&I CARES Act Program authorities in a notice published in the May 21 Federal Register (PDF, 217 KB). Program funding expires Sept. 30, 2021. Eligible applicants may contact their local USDA Rural Development State Office in the state where the project is located.

USDA is developing application guides for lenders and borrowers on the B&I CARES Act Program. The Agency also will host two webinars to provide an overview of program requirements. To register for the webinar on Wednesday, May 27 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, visit HERE. To register for the webinar on Wednesday, June 3 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, visit HERE.

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS is providing questions and answers about net operating loss carrybacks of C corporations to taxable years in which the alternative minimum tax applies. See more here.

On May 12, the IRS announced tax relief through increased flexibility in section 125 cafeteria plans. Notice 2020-29 provides guidance on mid-year elections made under a § 125 cafeteria plan during calendar year 2020 related to employer-sponsored health coverage, health Flexible Spending Arrangements (health FSAs), and dependent care assistance programs. Notice 2020-33 increases the $500 limit for unused amounts remaining in a health FSA that may be carried over into the following year by making the carryover amount 20 percent of the maximum salary reduction amount under § 125(i), which is indexed for inflation.

Three new credits are available to many businesses hit by COVID-19: the employee retention, paid sick leave, and family leave credits. On May 7, the IRS published more information and FAQs on these.

On May 4, the IRS released FAQs on CARES Act relief for special distribution options and rollover rules for retirement plans and IRAs. The FAQs also cover the expanded permissible loans from certain retirement plans.

On April 17, the IRS posted new FAQs regarding COVID-19-related tax credits for required paid leave (sick and family) provided by small and midsize businesses.

The IRS provides guidance under the CARES Act to taxpayers with net operating losses. See more here. These FAQs apply to taxpayers with net operating losses and section 965 inclusions.

Rev. Proc. 2020-23 allows eligible partnerships to file amended partnership returns for tax years beginning in 2018 and 2019 to take advantage of CARES Act relief.

Rev. Proc. 2020-25 allows taxpayers to change their depreciation under sec. 168 for qualified improved property placed into service after December 31, 2017, for tax years ending in 2018, 2019, or 2020 per provisions of the CARES Act.

The IRS coronavirus webpage has ongoing updates on important small business topics.

Here are other relevant announcements from the IRS:

  • IR-2020-64: IRS issues warning about coronavirus-related scams; schemes tied to economic impact payments.
  • Treasury News Release: Social Security recipients will automatically receive economic impact payments.
  • IR-2020-62: Employee retention credit available for many businesses financially impacted by COVID-19.
  • IR 2020-61: Economic impact payments: What you need to know.
  • IR-2020-59: IRS unveils People First Initiative, adjusting or suspending key compliance program.
  • IR-2020-58: Tax Day now July 15: Treasury, IRS extend deadlines for federal tax filing and payment regardless of amount.
  • IR-2020-54, IRS: High-deductible health plans can cover coronavirus costs.

To receive updates directly from the IRS, visit  https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/e-news-subscriptions.

Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has published information related to health insurance coverage, including for those who have lost employment-related coverage.

Tip sheet on health coverage options for employers helping their employees during the Covid-19 national emergency. CMS has provided information for employers, so they can help Americans who are experiencing major changes in their lives, such as loss of job or a change in income.

CMS has also provided detailed Marketplace coverage information for businesses and individuals affected by Covid-19. This FAQ applies to those who reside in a Federally Facilitated Exchange (FFE) state, or in a state with a State-Based Exchange on the Federal Platform (SBE-FP).

CMS Publishes Interim Final Rule Making It Easier For Healthcare Professionals To Order, and Receive Payment for Ordering, COVID-19 Tests

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor invites small business and workers to participate in “Opening America’s Workplaces Again National Online Dialogue.” Ideas and feedback collected during the dialogue will be used by the DOL to develop materials and guidance for employers and employees. Comment deadline: May 7, 2020. See more here.

U.S. Department Of Labor Announces New Paid Sick Leave And Expanded Family And Medical Leave Implementation. See more here.

What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Coronavirus from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Center.

Small Business Administration

On June 10, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement following the enactment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act.

On June 5, 2020 – SBA, in consultation with Treasury, will promptly issue rules and guidance, a modified borrower application form, and a modified loan forgiveness application implementing these legislative amendments to the PPP.  These modifications will implement the following important changes:

Extend the covered period for loan forgiveness from eight weeks after the date of loan disbursement to 24 weeks after the date of loan disbursement, providing substantially greater flexibility for borrowers to qualify for loan forgiveness.  Borrowers who have already received PPP loans retain the option to use an eight-week covered period.

  • Lower the requirements that 75 percent of a borrower’s loan proceeds must be used for payroll costs and that 75 percent of the loan forgiveness amount must have been spent on payroll costs during the 24-week loan forgiveness covered period to 60 percent for each of these requirements. If a borrower uses less than 60 percent of the loan amount for payroll costs during the forgiveness covered period, the borrower will continue to be eligible for partial loan forgiveness, subject to at least 60 percent of the loan forgiveness amount having been used for payroll costs.
  • Provide a safe harbor from reductions in loan forgiveness based on reductions in full-time equivalent employees for borrowers that are unable to return to the same level of business activity the business was operating at before February 15, 2020, due to compliance with requirements or guidance issued between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, related to worker or customer safety requirements related to COVID–19.
  • Provide a safe harbor from reductions in loan forgiveness based on reductions in full-time equivalent employees, to provide protections for borrowers that are both unable to rehire individuals who were employees of the borrower on February 15, 2020, and unable to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions by December 31, 2020.
  • Increase to five years the maturity of PPP loans that are approved by SBA (based on the date SBA assigns a loan number) on or after June 5, 2020.
  • Extend the deferral period for borrower payments of principal, interest, and fees on PPP loans to the date that SBA remits the borrower’s loan forgiveness amount to the lender (or, if the borrower does not apply for loan forgiveness, 10 months after the end of the borrower’s loan forgiveness covered period).
  • In addition, the new rules will confirm that June 30, 2020, remains the last date on which a PPP loan application can be approved.

SBA and Treasury released the following guidance regarding the Paycheck Protection Program on April 28:

Payroll Protection Program Restarts April 27 SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement on April 23, 2020, on the resumption of the PPP:

  • “We are pleased that President Trump has signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provides critical additional funding for American workers and small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  We want to thank Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy for working with us on a bipartisan basis to ensure that the Paycheck Protection Program is funded so that small businesses can keep hardworking Americans on the payroll.
  • “The Small Business Administration will resume accepting PPP loan applications on Monday, April 27 at 10:30am EDT from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower.  This will ensure that SBA has properly coded the system to account for changes made by the legislation.

To learn more about SBA’s relief options available for your business, click here.

SBA Debt Relief The SBA Debt Relief program 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 of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months. The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.

The SBA has published information on loan approvals under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through April 16. Information on loan size, states, and industries is here.

Other key links on SBA’s webpage include:

Department of the Treasury

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s COVID-19 webpage is also a resource, as it includes summary information on Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Treasury also includes links to borrower and lender applications, FAQs, and the SBA’s interim final rule and affiliation rules.

Waiver of hand sanitizer production approval. The Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is allowing distilleries to produce hand sanitizer without first seeking TTB approval to do so. How it is taxed depends on whether the hand sanitizer is made with denatured ethanol (not subject to federal excise tax) or undenatured ethanol (subject to federal excise tax).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC Business Guidance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to help businesses prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19 in non-healthcare settings. Information on how to reduce transmission among employees and maintain healthy business operations is available on the CDC webpage here.

Department of Defense

DOD Allows Payments To Contractors Who Cannot Work Due To COVID-19 Facility Closures Or Other Restrictions. See more here.

Federal Communications Commission

FCC telehealth initiative – The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to help health care providers furnish connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

The FCC’s Equal Employment Opportunity rules ordinarily require broadcast stations employing five or more full-time employees and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) employing six or more full-time employees to engage in broad recruitment outreach for all full-time job vacancies.  The FCC is waiving this requirement to allow affected broadcast licensees and MVPDs to return operations to full strength once circumstances permit the re-hiring of released employees. See more here.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA’s webpage on COVID-19 where they have consolidated all of their various guidance on safety, health, and enforcement issues. See it here.

Mine Safety and Health Administration

MSHA’s webpage on COVID-19 where they have consolidated all of their various guidance on safety, health, and enforcement issues. See it here.

Department of Veterans Affairs

VA call centers and some VA health facilities are currently experiencing very high numbers of calls. To help the VA address the most urgent needs first, please use the online tools and frequently asked questions (FAQs) for routine or non-urgent questions. See the FAQ here.

See the VA Public Health website here.

Securities and Exchange Commission

On May 4, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it is providing temporary, conditional relief for companies to raise capital via Regulation Crowdfunding.  The temporary rules are intended to expedite the offering process for smaller, previously established companies directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19 that are seeking to meet their funding needs through a crowdfunding offering. 

Additionally, the SEC’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation is hosting a series of virtual coffee breaks to engage with the public to discuss updates, trends, and perspectives on how COVID-19 is impacting raising capital. Each virtual coffee break will spotlight what’s happening in a particular area of the market, incorporating feedback from entrepreneurs, investors, and other market participants.

This post will be updated as information becomes available. Originally posted March 19 at 10:19am ET.

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