As the news of Covid-19 evolves, there are a couple of factors for the small business community to consider. Updates from the director will be made regularly and a list of resources are at the bottom of this page.
Update April 8, 2020
On Monday, the CDC officially started recommending that we wear facemasks when we leave the house and that we limit all shopping. City of Boston residents are also asked to abide by a new curfew from 9pm-6am.
On April 2nd, Mayor Walsh held a press release that included some important updates for the small business community and I wanted to make sure to share this exciting new grant available to the small business community. Grants are available for $2,500-$10,000.
Three million dollars has been allocated towards a new grant available for rent through the Department of Housing Support.
There is an expected surge in cases in the next few weeks, and both the Mayor and Governor are stressing the importance of staying at home and keeping distance.
There is also news from the Governor today that all DCR beach parking lots and drop areas will be closed starting tomorrow (April 3) at noon. Pedestrian access is still open, and people are encouraged to walk, jog and bicycle at parks in their neighborhood. People should enjoy parks and in their neighborhood and keep distance in order to prevent transmission.
Please review the email below and ask questions if you have them!
Physical Distancing Now
A surge in cases in Massachusetts is expected during the month of April, and the next few weeks will be critical in terms of physical distancing and slowing the spread of the virus as much as possible.
Residents are urged to stay home and avoid contact with others whenever they can,
stay at least 6 feet from other people at all times, and wash their hands and
clean and sanitize surfaces frequently. Mayor Walsh is asking everyone to do their part so we can mitigate the impact of the expected surge. Please help the City of Boston communicate this critical message to friends, neighbors and your networks.
If your business is open you are welcome to print and post this poster for your door.Social Distance Poster
Small Business Support
Mayor Walsh announced two new resources that will help small businesses during the public health crisis. The City of Boston has created a Small Business Relief Fund. Drawing on a combination of City, federal, and private industry contributions, it establishes $2 million in grant funding---capable of providing a lifeline to hundreds of local businesses at risk of shutting down permanently due to the crisis. It will be administered as a streamlined version of the City’s Small Business Financing program. Small businesses can begin applying on Monday, April 6.
for small businesses. It’s a resource for navigating both public and private capital programs. It puts information and guidance about all the different programs together in one place. Financial Relief Handbook
There is a new fund to help tenants who fall behind on rent in Boston because of the public health crisis.
The City of Boston has identified at least $3 million in City and federal funds that can be repurposed quickly to help tenants who can’t make their rent. This money will be targeted to households that have lost income due to the crisis, and who do not qualify for enough federal relief or unemployment benefits to make it up. The Office of Housing Stability will use its existing networks to get this help to where it’s needed, quickly and fairly. Email email@example.com to learn more.
The Mayor also expressed his support of state legislation that will put a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures throughout the state of emergency.
Homeless Services and Hospital Capacity
Construction begins at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to add 500 beds for treating homeless adults who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need care, but do not require full hospitalization.
The City has released a Request for Proposals to secure a partner organization to operate the facility. If necessary, the Convention Center beds will be opened up for hospitals to use for sub-acute COVID patients in the general population.
These 500 beds will bring Boston’s total number of new beds for homeless individuals to over 1,000. This includes Boston Medical Center’s Newton Pavilion facility, which the City and State are working to re-purpose as a medical facility for homeless residents affected by the coronavirus.
The City of Boston has been reaching out to veterans service providers and residential homes in Boston, to help them mitigate any risk and address concerns they have. Veterans and their family members can call 311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to the City’s Office of Veterans Services.
The City of Boston has also created a Pen Pal Program for veterans who may be feeling social isolation. We are working to identify those veterans now, and match them with volunteers who will check in with them periodically. If you would like to volunteer to be
a penpal, please email email@example.com.
Department of Conservation and Recreation
On April 2nd, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all coastal beach reservation parking areas managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to close effective 12 PM on Friday, April 3 to reduce large concentrations of people at beaches during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Additionally, effective 12 PM on Friday, April 3, DCR will open select seasonal state parks early and expand access at other parks to provide additional open space opportunities for residents to enjoy and alternatives to popular state parks throughout the Commonwealth.
Coastal parkways that provide access to state beaches will also be closed to both parking and dropping off passengers. State beaches will remain open and available to pedestrians for transitory use only (walking, jogging, biking, solitary fishing, etc.).
State parks and associated parking areas remain open at this time; however, the public is asked to visit state parks and other open space properties that are located near their homes to ensure social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. DCR recently developed a Massachusetts State Parks COVID-19 Updates webpage.
Extension of the Stay at Home Advisory until May 4th.
Non-essential business closures are extended
The 10-person limit on social gatherings.
All state employees performing non-core functions who are able to work remotely should continue to do so.
Essential businesses will continue to operate, as well as restaurants offering takeout/delivery that abide by social distancing/state guidelines.
Lodging Licensed Establishments
On March 31st, Governor Baker announced new guidance from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services regarding hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, lodging houses, and short-term rentals (“Lodging Units”) and in what instances Lodging Units are deemed to be providing a COVID-19 Essential Service. See here for full details.
Lodging Units include all hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, lodging houses rented for a period of 31 days or fewer, professionally-managed units rented for a period of 31 days or fewer, and short-term rentals (including AirBnB, VRBO, and similar rental properties) rented for a period of 31 days or fewer.
Lodging Units may only be offered or operated for efforts related to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the ongoing public health crisis such as providing housing for first responders and health care workers or for Massachusetts residents who have been displaced by COVID-19. Lodging Units may not be offered or operated for any purpose other than those deemed a COVID-19 Essential Service by the State of Massachusetts. This means that Lodging Units may not be offered or operated for vacation, leisure, or other similar purposes.
Update March 29,2020
Tristan CPA wrote up a helpful review of CARES that was signed into law by the president Friday night, March 27
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, H.R. 748 was just passed through the Senate late Wednesday's night March 26, 2020. This $2 Trillion economic aid package aims to stimulate the economy as it suffers from the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. This 880-page bill contains a plethora of provisions that are related to small businesses and individual taxpayers. These key measures are summarized below.
This bill still has to pass through House and sign by the President and therefore there might be additional changes.
Recovery Rebate for Individual Taxpayers
Stimulus checks in the form of a refundable tax credit up to $1,200 per individual or $2,400 for joint taxpayers.
Taxpayers with children will get an additional $500 per child
Rebate is reduced by $50 for any additional $1000 earned in excess of $75,000 AGI (adjusted gross income) for single filers and $150,000 for joint filers. The rebate is completely phased out at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for joint taxpayers with no children.
AGI will be based on 2019 return if filed, 2018 if not.
Taxpayers that are adversely affected by the coronavirus can withdraw up to $100k without early withdrawal penalties.
Charitable Deduction Limits
Allow up to $300 above the line deduction for charitable contributions in 2020 (aka taxpayers who don't normally itemize deductions can now deduct up to $300 of charitable contribution).
Expand AGI limitation on charitable contributions to allow 100% of AGI for individuals and 25% of taxable income for corporations.
Increase food contribution limits to 25%.
Income Tax Exclusion for Student Loans Payments
Up to $5,250 in student loan repayment assistance from employer can be excluded from taxable income
Paycheck Protection Program (SBA Emergency Loan Application)
Small businesses less than 500 employees are eligible for a loan up to $10M to cover payroll and other expenses.
Loans may be forgiven if the loan is used to cover payroll, interest payments on mortgage, rent, and utilities. Loan forgiveness amount would be reduced proportionally by the number of employees retained and employees that had salary reduction of 25% or more as compared to the previous year.
Expanded Unemployment Insurance (Link to Unemployment Application)
$600 per week flat as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for up to four months on top of the regular State's unemployment amount.
Extended benefits to those not usually eligible for unemployment such as those who are self-employed, independent contractors, and those with limited work history.
The federal government will fund an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020, after state UI benefits end.
Delay of Employer-Side Payroll Taxes
Employer's side payroll taxes may be delayed until January 1, 2021, by 50% with the remaining 50% due on December 31, 2022.
Employee Retention Credit
Employers are allowed a credit against employment taxes equal up to 50% of qualified wages up to $10,000 per employee.
Eligible employers are those who are forced to close by government authorities and those who had more than 50% decrease in gross receipts for the same calendar quarter last year.
Qualified wages for employers with 100 or more employees are defined as wages paid to employees who are not providing services. For employers with 100 or less, all wages paid are considered as qualified wages.
Modifications to the Following Business Tax Provisions
Temporarily increase the limitation of business interest expenses from 30% to 50% of taxable income for 2019 and 2020.
Enable business to immediately write off of qualified improvement property (this was to correct a drafting error in the 2017 tax reform bill). Would allow amending the prior-year return to take advantage of this provision.
Net operating losses for 2018, 2019, and 2020 can be carried back five years and 80% taxable income is temporarily repealed to allow NOL to fully offset taxable income.
Repeals excess loss limitations to noncorporate tax filers to allow full deduction of NOL
Update March 23,2020
Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Tuesday, April 7th at noon. These businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely.
The Baker-Polito Administration issued a list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that shall continue to operate brick and mortar facilities during this two-week time period. This list is based on federal guidance and amended to reflect the needs of Massachusetts’ unique economy. While these businesses are designated as essential, they are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health.
If your business is not listed, you can apply for essential service designation.
If you are sick, call your doctor first.
And wash, wash, wash your hands.
I will be reaching out to businesses this week and next. If you want to brainstorm or need support, call my cell phone, 617-283-0203
With care & respect,
Director, Fields Corner Main Street