New Funding Opportunities from the American Rescue Plan
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) just announced two new funding opportunities to rapidly distribute American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funding to cultural organizations and educational institutions adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These funding opportunities will provide direct grants to individual humanities institutions and grantmaking organizations to distribute as competitive subawards to affected organizations and individuals. These two grant programs aim to help the humanities community recover from the economic burdens of the pandemic, enable the reopening of humanities institutions and programs, and support the retention of the humanities workforce.
Below are details of the two new American Rescue Plan funding opportunities:
- American Rescue Plan: Humanities Organizations emergency relief grants provide up to $500,000 to cultural organizations and educational institutions to support humanities projects across the fields of education, preservation and access, public programming, digital humanities, and scholarly research for one year. Applicants may propose new humanities projects or focus on sustaining core humanities programs and activities. Relief funding may be used for activities that emphasize retaining or hiring humanities staff at cultural organizations across the country. Applicants may propose new humanities projects or focus on sustaining core humanities programs and activities. The deadline to apply is May 14, 2021. The Notice of Funding Opportunity for the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Organizations program is available on the NEH website. Questions about this grant program should be directed to ARPorganizations@neh.gov.
- American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grantmaking is directed at experienced grantmaking organizations to administer competitive grantmaking programs to support humanities activities undertaken by organizations or individuals. Applicants proposing grantmaking programs for organizations may request up to $5 million; those aimed at individual humanities professionals may request up to $2 million. Funding may be used to establish new grantmaking programs or expand or adapt existing programs to support recovery within the humanities sector. The deadline to apply is May 13, 2021. The Notice of Funding Opportunity for the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grantmaking is available on the NEH website. Questions about this program should be directed to ARPgrantmaking@neh.gov.
These two new funding opportunities are supported by $135 million in supplemental funding allocated to NEH by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. NEH will distribute $54 million of ARP funding to 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils and interim partners to support local cultural groups and public and educational humanities programming.
These new ARP funding opportunities build upon NEH’s distribution of CARES Act funding in 2020, when NEH awarded direct grants to 317 humanities organizations across all 50 states, and distributed awards to the state and jurisdictional humanities councils that serve the needs of states and local communities. NEH CARES grants allowed museums, historic sites, archives, and colleges and universities to retain humanities jobs, continue operations, and shift programs and resources online at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Relief Act of 2021: Economic Relief Funding
The Maryland Department of Commerce has additional details about the new economic relief funding made available through the bipartisan RELIEF Act of 2021. This information is also available on the Commerce website.
Commerce will provide funding through six new programs targeting specific groups of businesses. Three of these programs will be administered by Commerce, which expects to accept applications from March 30, 2021 to April 6, 2021.
Programs Administered through Commerce
Small Business COVID RELIEF Grant Program
To support Maryland’s small businesses that face continued financial impacts from the Coronavirus, the state established the new Maryland Small Business Covid RELIEF Grant Program in 2021, through bipartisan legislation, with $10 million in state Relief Act funding.Small, Minority and Women Owned Business Administration COVID RELIEF Program
To support Maryland’s small businesses that face continued financial impacts from the Coronavirus, the state established the Maryland Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Administration COVID RELIEF Program in 2021, through bipartisan legislation, with $10 million in state Relief Act funding.
Commuter and Shuttle Bus COVID RELIEF Grant Program
To support Maryland commuter and shuttle bus companies facing continued financial impacts from the Coronavirus, the state established the Maryland Commuter and Shuttle Bus COVID RELIEF Grant Program in 2021, through bipartisan legislation, with $8 million in state Relief Act funding. The grant is directed to those companies that were impacted by reduction of routes by the Maryland Transit Administration.
A note on funding for all Commerce-Administered COVID RELIEF Programs: Funding is extremely limited and may ultimately result in approval on a first-come, first-served basis. The application process will be open for a limited period, and Commerce anticipates substantial interest in these programs. We encourage you to apply as soon as applications become available.
Programs Administered Through Counties and Baltimore City
The following programs will be administered by each county and Baltimore City.
As available, links to county websites with details for applying for these programs will be posted to the Maryland COVID-19 Information for Business website (under “local programs”).
Online Sales and Telework Assistance COVID RELIEF Grant Program
To support Maryland small businesses seeking to expand online sales and teleworking capabilities for their employees due to the continued financial impacts from the novel coronavirus, the state established through bipartisan legislation the Maryland Online Sales and Telework Assistance COVID RELIEF Grant Program with $500,000 million in state Relief Act funding. Applications will be available through each county and Baltimore City.
Restaurant and Caterers COVID RELIEF Grant Program
To support Maryland restaurants facing continued financial impacts from the novel coronavirus, the state established through bipartisan legislation the Maryland Restaurants and Caterers COVID Relief Grant Program. Commerce is providing $22 million to the local jurisdictions to provide relief for economically disadvantaged restaurants in their areas. Applications will be available through each county and Baltimore City.
Lodging and Accommodations COVID RELIEF Grant Program
To support Maryland hotel, lodging and accommodation businesses facing continued financial impacts from the novel coronavirus, the state established through bipartisan legislation the Maryland Lodging and Accommodations COVID Relief Grant Program. Commerce is providing $10 million to the local jurisdictions to provide relief for economically disadvantaged lodging and accommodation businesses in their areas. Applications will be available through each county and Baltimore City.
COVID-19 Disaster Assistance Programs
Hotel Relief Grant Program
Garrett County received funds from the Maryland Department of Commerce for a Hotel Relief Grant Program.
The deadline for applications is Friday, February 5, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. No applications will be received after that date. All applications received will be reviewed the week of February 8, 2021, and grant awardees will be notified after review.
Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
Grant funds must be counted as income for calendar year 2021, and you will receive a 1099-MISC detailing the grant award.
Eligible applicants include:
- A “Hotel,” which is defined as an inn, motel, club, or apartment hotel that contains at least ten (10) sleeping rooms for hire and is used primarily by transients who are lodged with or without meals.
- A “Bed and Breakfast,” which is defined as a building in which separate sleeping rooms are rented and that provides sleeping accommodations for 16 or fewer individuals on either a transient or permanent basis, with or without meals, but without individual cooking facilities.
Restaurant Relief Grant - Round 2
Garrett County Government has received funding from the Maryland Department of Commerce for Round 2 of the Restaurant Relief Grant Fund. Businesses that received funding in Round 1 are not eligible to apply in Round 2. Grants will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis.
Shuttered Venues Operator Grant
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program is Section 324 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act) signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. Eligible entities may be live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theatre operators, and talent representatives, per the Economic Aid Act. Additionally, entities of these types owned by state or local governments (for example, museums or historic homes) are eligible to apply if the governmentally-owned entity also acts solely as a venue operator, museum, etc. and not also include other types of entities. For example, a city parks and recreation department that operated a bandstand in a public square along with running various nature parks would not qualify as an eligible entity for an SVOG. Finally, each subsidiary business owned by an eligible entity that also meets the eligibility requirements on its own rights will qualify as an eligible entity.
President Trump Signed Into Law a $900 Billion Pandemic Relief Package
Yesterday, President Trump signed into law a $900 billion pandemic relief package to deliver critical resources to American families and businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes reforms to the PPP program and additional funding for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Below are links to resources to help you understand how the changes will impact your business.
SPECIAL WEBINAR ON NEW CORONAVIRUS RELIEF – Details on Business Relief Programs
Summary of PPP Expansion
Pandemic Relief Federation Briefing Recording 12/21
More on PPP Loans and Employee Retention Tax Credit Recording 1/5/21
New U.S. Chamber Small Business Resource Guide
State of Maryland Offers Neighborhood BusinessWorks Opportunity Zone Microgrant
The State of Maryland is offering microgrants to support business investment in Maryland’s designated Opportunity Zones. Administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Neighborhood BusinessWorks Program will be offering "Opportunity Zone Microgrants" ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to start-up and expanding businesses located within an Opportunity Zone.
To apply for the microgrant, a for-profit business must be located in an Opportunity Zone in Allegany County, Garrett County, Somerset County, or Wicomico County; or in an Opportunity Zone that overlaps with a priority funding area in one of Maryland’s 20 remaining jurisdictions. The business must demonstrate plans for growth; have a matching contribution equal to or greater than the grant request amount; have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and an annual revenue of less than $5 million, and; be in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
The Opportunity Zones in Garrett County are Census Tracts 2, 6 & 7. Census Tract 2 is located in Northern Garrett County and includes the County's Northern Garrett Industrial Park and Keyser's Ridge Business Park. Census Tracts 6 and 7 are located in Southern Garrett County. Census Tract 7 includes the County's Southern Garrett Industrial Park and Southern Garrett Business and Technology Park, as well as County-owned property located along Francis Sanders Drive in Mountain Lake Park.
Applications will be accepted beginning November 17, 2020, and funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more eligibility details and application information, visit https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Business/Pages/OZ-Microgrant.aspx.MARYLAND Business Relief Wizard: There are numerous local and national programs for businesses in need of emergency support, but understanding which options are relevant for your organization can be a challenge. The Maryland Business Relief Wizard is a tool that helps connect businesses with the resources and programming for which they’re eligible, streamlining the process of finding support.Paycheck Protection ProgramAdditionally, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued additional guidance regarding the Paycheck Protection Program. Links to the resources provided by Treasury can be found below, or on their webpage.- Changes to PPP can be found here.- FAQs on the program can be found here.- A top-line overview of the program can be found here.- If you’re a lender, more information can be found here.- If you’re a borrower, more information can be found here.- The application for borrowers can be found here.- Loan Forgiveness Application can be found here.- Loan Forgiveness EZ Application can be found herePPP Loan Forgiveness: A Step-By-Step Video ExplanationThe U.S. Chamber released a new video which provides a step-by-step explanation of the Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness process. In the video, U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley walks you through the essential steps of the loan forgiveness process, including calculations and repayment terms.SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
In order to be eligible for a Main Street Lending Program loan, a business must:
- Guide to SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
- Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
- Sandy Mehalko, Director of SBDC at Frostburg State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Employee Retention Tax CreditWORK SHARE UNEMPLOYMENT PROGRAMWork Sharing is a Short-time Compensation (STC) program. STC programs are an alternative to layoffs for employers experiencing a reduction in available work.The program allows employers to apply for state approval to administer a plan that reduces the wages and hours for affected employees, while allowing those employees to receive partial unemployment benefits from the state.Under the CARES Act, the federal government will cover 100% of the unemployment compensation paid under existing state STC programs, including Maryland’s Work Share. Also under the CARES Act, individuals receiving STC payments will receive the additional $600 of Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC).Please contact email@example.com for additional information.Example:
- Have been established before March 13, 2020
- Not be an ineligible business according to Small Business Administration (SBA) regulations
- Have no more than 15,000 employees or 2019 annual revenues of no more than $5 billion
- The SBA’s affiliation rules apply in determining the employee and revenue coun
- In counting employees, the Main Street Lending Program advises businesses to refer to SBA regulations by counting all full-time, part- time, seasonal, or otherwise employed persons, excluding volunteers and independent contractors
- Have been created or organized in the U.S. with significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the U.S.
- Not also participate in one of the other Main Street loan facilities, as well as the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility
- Note: Businesses that received support through the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are eligible to receive a Main Street loan
- Not have received specific support pursuant to the CARES Act (Subtitle A of Title IV for air carriers, air cargo, and businesses critical to national security)
MD Emergency Relief Loan Fund (CLOSED)MD Emergency Relief Grant Fund (CLOSED)MD COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund (CLOSED)Garrett County Kick-Start Small Business Grant Program
- An employer has 20 full-time employees in a unit, each of whom works 40 hours per week.
- Due to an unexpected reduction in business, the employer must reduce payroll by 25 percent.
- Instead of laying off 25 percent of the employees, the employer may apply for Work Sharing.
- If the Work Sharing Plan is approved, affected employees would receive 25 percent of their UI benefits while being paid for hours worked at the Work Sharing employer.
- When business improves, the employer has retained its trained workforce and may resume normal operations.
- Garrett County Department of Economic Development (grant application available Monday, May 11, 2020, at 8:30 a.m)
- Garrett County Development Corporation (grant application available Monday, May 11, 2020, at 8:30 a.m)
U.S. Chamber Summary of IRS Payroll Tax Deferral Guidance
Earlier this month, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) authorizing a temporary payroll tax deferral for American workers which—under current law—would create a substantial tax liability for employees at the end of the deferral period.
Last Friday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its official guidance on the implementation of the EO, of which a U.S. Chamber summary for you and your members can be read below...
On Friday evening, August 28, the IRS released its first notice regarding implementation of the president’s executive order on payroll tax deferral. The document, which is just over two pages, can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-20-65.pdf.
While the guidance leaves more questions unanswered than it answers, here is what we now know:
As expected, employers may suspend the withholding of the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax normally deducted from an employee’s pay.
The deferral only applies if the biweekly compensation (or equivalent amount for other pay periods) is less than $4,000. The determination of whether the deferral applies is made on a paycheck to paycheck basis.
The deferral only applies to wages paid during the period beginning on September 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020.
Employers are responsible for withholding and paying any deferred taxes. Specifically, employers “must withhold and pay the total Applicable Taxes that the [employer] deferred under this notice ratably from wages and compensation paid between January 1, 2021 and April 30, 2021 or interest, penalties, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on May 1, 2021, with respect to any unpaid Applicable Taxes.”
Is the payroll tax deferral voluntary for the employer or employee?
The notice makes clear that the employer is the affected taxpayer.
While the notice does not explicitly say it is voluntary for the employer, it also does not make it mandatory. Based on our read and the analysis of others, it appears that it is voluntary for the employer. The notice makes no mention of nor seems to contemplate the employee making the election to defer. Therefore, this would appear to be a decision left to the employer.
What happens if an employee’s pay exceeds $4,000 for one biweekly pay period, but is below it for another?
The notice makes clear that the deferral is made on a paycheck to paycheck basis. So, the full payroll tax would be withheld in any bi-week pay period where pay exceeds $4,000 and would be deferred in any other pay period where it is below $4,000.
What happens if an employee no longer works for an employer once the deferral is over? Is the employer responsible for the unpaid taxes?
This is murky. The notice implies that the employer is responsible for the deferred taxes but provides that the deferred taxes are to be withheld from employees beginning in January. The notice goes on to state, “If necessary, the [employer] may make arrangements to otherwise collect the total Applicable Taxes from the employee.” But the notice provides no further guidance as to what this might mean. It also provides no guidance on what happens if the person is no longer an employee and the employer is unable to collect the unpaid taxes.
Must an employer decide by September 1 whether to defer withholding or not?
The notice is silent on whether an employer must defer the withholding for the entire deferral period (September 1 to December 31) or whether an employer can start deferring at any point during the deferral period. Presumably an employer could elect to implement the deferral after September 1. Can an employer continue to withhold the tax, but suspend depositing it with the Treasury? No, the notice indicates that the deposit obligation is linked to when the tax is withheld.
What might happen next?
Employers will have to make their own decision about how to proceed. But it seems like two possible scenarios might play out:
Scenario 1: Congress takes no action and events unfold as contemplated in the notice. Employers that suspend withholding payroll taxes this year will have to increase withholding (doubling the withholding to 12.4%) beginning in January to recoup and remit the deferred taxes. (It is unclear if employers would be responsible for any unpaid taxes they were unable to recoup from former employees.) Employers who do not suspend the withholding of taxes this year will operate as normal this year and next.
Scenario 2: Congress acts to forgive the deferred taxes or provides a substitute policy. It is possible that Congress could act to simply forgive the deferred taxes though that would create an inequity for employees whose employer elected to not suspend withholding (or didn’t suspend withholding for the whole period). Congress might attempt to address this through some substitute policy (e.g. eliminating the tax for a four-month period but giving the employer the ability to decide when to begin that fourmonth period).
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.
Maryland Nonprofit Recovery Initiative (NORI) Application Deadline Extended to September 1, 2020
The State of Maryland has extended the application deadline for the second round of the Maryland Nonprofit Recovery Initiative (NORI) and will accept applications until Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 5:00 PM.
Eligible nonprofit organizations can receive up to $50,000 in grant assistance for operational support. For more information, including eligibility requirements and application guidelines, visit https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Communities/Pages/DHCD-NOFA.aspx.
The deadline has also been extended to September 1 for licensees of the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) and Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) applying for NORI assistance. For specific BHA/DDA requirements and guidelines, visit https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Communities/Pages/BHA-DDA-NOFA.aspx.
Governor Larry Hogan Announces $190 million in ReliefANNAPOLIS, MD-Governor Larry Hogan yesterday announced $190 million in relief to help colleges, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, over the last week, the governor has announced $475 million in new investments through the federal CARES Act."As Maryland continues to grapple with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, we are directing more than $475 million in federal resources to critical sectors of our economy," said Governor Hogan. "These resources will help make a difference in areas where they are needed most."$50 Million in Additional Assistance for Small Businesses• $45 million will be allocated to expand the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund. This program, which awards grants of up to $10,000 to businesses of 50 or fewer employees, has provided more than $40 million in funds to 4,073 applicants. These additional resources will be used to help pending applicants. Frequently Asked Questions for more information.• $5 million will be allocated to the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority to provide financing to businesses owned by economically and socially disadvantaged entrepreneurs. MSBDFA uses include working capital, supplies and materials, machinery and equipment acquisition, land acquisition, or real estate improvements.Posted 7/2/2020
New Employer Tool for Updating Return to Work Dates and Reporting Job Refusals OnlineGovernor Larry Hogan recently announced the next round of safe and phased reopenings in conjunction with stage two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery’ plan.In light of these reopenings, the Maryland Department of Labor has notified all unemployment claimants who are on temporary layoff or are furloughed due to COVID-19 that they are required to return to work if called back by their employer. If a claimant refuses an offer of work, it may result in the delay or denial of the claimant’s benefits.Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance requires employers to report the following information within 15 days of when they offer work and it is refused by the employee:• Employee’s full name and social security number• The date the employee was offered work• The date the employee refused the offer of workEmployers who have a valid Maryland account number and FEIN may easily report job refusals and update return to work dates by utilizing the Division’s new online application available at https://secure-2.dllr.state.md.us/net207/welcome.aspx. The application will accept an updated return to work date up to 30 days in the past and up to 12 months in the future.Employers without a valid Maryland account number, such as federal employers and those who are out-of-state, may report job refusals and update return to work dates by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.However, please note there are circumstances where a claimant has “good cause” to refuse an offer of work, including:• Being sick or still isolated as the result of COVID-19• An unreasonable risk of exposure at place of employment• Caring for a family member who is sick or isolated as the result of COVID-19• Caring for a child who is unable to attend school or a childcare facility• The work is not “suitable.” In the context of an individual returning to work with the same employer in which the individual had been laid off or furloughed as a direct result of COVID-19, suitable employment means employment that the claimant is qualified for based on their customary occupation, experience, education level, and/or training.Upon receipt of this information from the employer, Labor will schedule a telephone fact-finding appointment with the claimant where the claimant will be able to address the failure to return-to-work/job refusal issue. The employer will also be contacted to provide the circumstances of the job offer. After the Division has collected the available facts surrounding the job offer, a determination will be made.Posted 6/23/2020
PPP Updates, Loan Forgiveness & What's Next in Coronavirus Legislation
Stephen P. McAllister, Executive Director, Eastern Region of Congressional & Public Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will be discusses the changes to the PPP program through the Flexibility Act of 2020 and the process for loan forgiveness including calculations and repayment terms. Steve also discusses the next phases of federal coronavirus legislation including liability reform, what will be included in phase 4 of the legislation and when we can expect to see phase 4. If you have a PPP loan or are still considering applying by the June 30 deadline, this is a must view video. This webinar was sponsored by First United Bank & Trust.
Two Local Small Business Grant Programs Now Available
June 16, 2020, Oakland, MD – An existing grant program has been modified and a new grant program has been created to continue to assist Garrett County’s small businesses and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Formerly known as the Garrett County Kick-Start Grant program, the modified grant will now be known as the Garrett County COVID-19 Business Assistance Grant. In addition, a new grant program known as the Garrett County Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Grant has been developed.
Garrett County Economic Development and the Garrett County Development Corporation are proud to offer both programs to meet the specific needs of the local businesses.
For additional information you can read the full press release HERE.
Thanks to a $5 million grant from Truist, LISC will address the evolving needs of small businesses, nonprofit organizations and families impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn. This partnership will help hundreds of businesses and nonprofits sustain operations as well as bridge the digital divide that prevents millions of people from accessing quality job and educational opportunities. These efforts will promote sustained relief and recovery in urban and rural communities across America.
Grants of up to $10,000 each to small business owners, especially in rural communities and to enterprises owned by women and minorities, to help meet their most immediate needs. Eligible expenses include:
- Rent and utilities
- Outstanding debt to vendors
- Technology infrastructure upgrades
- Other immediate operational costs
The next round of small business grant applications will open the first week of June. Please register here to get information on the application process.
For additional information click HERE.
On May 4, 2020, the DOL and the IRS jointly issued a new rule that temporarily extends certain timeframes impacting COBRA deadlines for a period of time referred to as the Outbreak Period. The Outbreak Period extends from March 1, 2020 thru 60 days following the declared end of the COVID-19 national emergency. At this time, the declared end date of the national emergency remains unknown.Guidance may continue to be forthcoming regarding the administration of the new rule, but in the interim here is what is known to date: All group health plans, disability, and other employee welfare benefit plans, including employee pension benefit plans that are subject to ERISA or Code section 7508A, must disregard the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency for all plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries or claimants in determining numerous key dates. With respect to COBRA, the new rule applies to:• The 60 day election period for COBRA coverage• The date for making COBRA premium payments• The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability under ERISANormally, those who lose coverage due to a qualifying event have 60 days to elect continuation of coverage after receiving a COBRA election notice. With this new rule, the 60 day time period will not begin until after the end of the Outbreak Period.
The new rule creates the same extended deadline for COBRA premium payments. Typically, COBRA beneficiaries have 45 days from making their election to make the first premium payment. Subsequent monthly payments are due within 30 days of each new coverage month. The new rule delays the initial and any subsequent payment deadlines by deferring the due dates to beyond the Outbreak Period where the normal deadlines will once again take effect.
Individuals will now have additional time beyond the Outbreak Period to provide notification of a qualifying event. Typically, plans must allow at least 60 days for individuals to provide notice of a qualifying event. With this new rule, those 60 days do not begin until the Outbreak Period has ended.
With respect to group health plans, disability and other welfare benefit plans, including employee pension benefit plans subject to ERISA, the new rule applies to the date within which individuals may file a benefit claim.
For the 2020 plan year or for plans with a runout or grace period that ends on or after March 1, 2020, this provision will allow participants of employee health plans, FSAs or HRAs with an extension of time to submit claims. The Outbreak Period should be disregarded in determining whether a claim is filed timely or not. For instance, if a participant had 15 days remaining to file an FSA claim for a 2019 plan with a runout that ended on March 15, 2020 and the Outbreak Period lasts until June 30, 2020, the participant could file a claim by July 15, 2020 for the 2019 plan year and it will be considered timely.
Relief for Cafeteria Plans & Other Account Based Plans
On May 12, 2020, new COVID-19 related guidance was released by the IRS and the Treasury. IRS Notices 2020-29 and 2020-33 provide significant new optional relief provisions pertaining to Section 125 cafeteria plans. There are several key provision changes.
Mid-Year Election Changes
Among other provisions for mid-year elections during calendar year 2020, the guidance now makes it optional for plans to allow participants within a health FSA, a limited purpose FSA or a dependent care assistance plan (DCAP) the ability to revoke elections, make new elections or change an existing election on a prospective basis.
Extended Claims Period
Plans may choose to allow employees to use amounts remaining in a health FSA or a DCAP as of the end of a grace period for plan years ending in 2020. Amounts available may be used for qualified expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.
FSA Carryover Notice
IRS Notice 2020-33 ties the current $500 carryover amount to a cost of living adjustment based on 20% of the FSA salary reduction limit which is currently $2,750. This results in a maximum carryover of $550 for the 2020 plan year which can be carried over to the following plan year. This is a permanent change in the law. The carryover provision change can be adopted for 2020 as long as a plan amendment is in place by December 31, 2021.
Understanding the Employee Retention Tax Credit & Work Share Unemployment Program
Learn about the Employee Retention Tax Credit and Work Share program that may provide financial assistance for your business. Hear from Bryan Moore of the Maryland Department of Labor. Most of the loan and grant programs are maxed out but these two programs could provide additional budgetary help for your business. The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. Work sharing, or short-time compensation (STC), is an Unemployment Insurance (UI) program that allows an employer to reduce the number of hours an employee works during a week while unemployment compensation makes up some of the difference in income, including the $600 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Featured speakers include: Ashley Wilson with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Jennifer Gray with KPMG and a representative from the Maryland Department of Labor.
SBA and Treasury Department Release PPP Loan Forgiveness Application
Last Friday, May 15, the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department released the application that borrowers must complete in order to have their Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiven. The form includes detailed information about the costs that are eligible for forgiveness and how to calculate those costs.
To apply for forgiveness of your Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, you must complete the application and submit it to your lender (or the lender that is servicing your loan). Borrowers may also complete this application electronically through their lender.
According to the Treasury Department's press release, the application and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:
· Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles
· Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan
· Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness
· Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
· Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined
You can access the loan forgiveness application here.
Small businesses with questions about PPP loan forgiveness should talk to their lender and also review the FAQs on the SBA website.
To read the Treasury Department press release, please click here.
For more information on the CARES Act and how the Treasury Department has expanded the allowable use of funds to several areas of importance to the business community, please see this document from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
On March 18, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. Effective April 2, 2020, FFCRA included the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and emergency paid sick leave and family medical leave for employees. It applies only to employers with less than 500 employees and is limited to the coronavirus pandemic. It mandates covered employers provide paid leave for employees affected by COVID-19 if those employees are unable to work or telework. Tax credits are allowed to offset the costs. It expires December 31, 2020.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program Reopens for Agriculture
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has JUST reopened on the SBA's website. At this time, they are only accepting applications from the Agriculture sector (and they are processing the applications they received prior to losing funding the first time around).
Updated CARES Act & Return to Work Webinar 4-29-20
Navigating Uncharted Waters During a Period of Hyper-Change – Impact on Financial Health and Continuity
Presented by A. Michael Gellman, CPA, CGMA, Founding Principal/Shareholder of Fiscal Strategies 4 Nonprofits, LLC and Sustainability Education 4 Nonprofits
MSAC Opens Emergency Grants for Arts Organizations and Independent Artists
In response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) has created special grant opportunities that provide emergency funding to arts organizations and artists in Maryland as they adjust to losses sustained because of programming, operations, and events that have been modified or cancelled.. More information can be found by clicking HERE.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Save Small Business Fund
Keeping your distance is good for public health, but many of America’s small businesses are struggling. The U.S. Chamber Foundation is working to help as many employers as possible stay afloat during the worst of the crisis. Through their new Save Small Business Fund, qualifying businesses in the United States and its territories can apply for $5,000 emergency grants. The application will go live April 20 at 3PM ET.
To qualify you must:
- Employ between 3 and 20 people
- Be located in an economically vulnerable community (all businesses in Garrett County zip codes qualify)
- Have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic
Learn more and sign up for an email notification when the application goes live at savesmallbusiness.com.
COVID-19 MHAA Emergency Grant Guidelines
The Maryland Heritage Areas Program is now accepting applications for COVID-19 Emergency Operating Grants from non-profits.
Nonprofit heritage tourism organizations located within the boundaries of a certified heritage area that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are eligible to apply for grants of up to $20,000.
Read more in our Guidelines document HERE.
Unity Matching Grant Fund - Advertising Grant Program for Local Businesses
WV News/The Garrett County Republican has announced the creation of The Unity Grant Program to provide $500,000 in matching funds from $100 to $5,000 per month for approved, qualified applicants to assist with marketing your business in May, June and July. Please see the attached flyer for more information.
It doesn't matter whether you have advertised with The Garrett County Republican before or not, small businesses located in the communities the paper servces across Garrett County, Maryland and North Central West Virginia are eligible.
To qualify, all applicants need to go to wvnews.com/grants and fill out the simple on-line form. WV News/The Garrett County Republican will review your application and you will be notified within 48 hours of your approval.
If you have any questions please contact Lisa Rook at email@example.com.
Checking the Status of Your MD Loan/Grant Application
Due to the high volume of demand for the Maryland Small Business Emergency Relief Loan and/or Grant programs, applications are being processed as quickly as possible on a first-come, first-served basis.
Checking on Successfully Submitted Applications:
All applications for these programs are tracked in a system called Maryland One-Stop. Applications successfully sent prior to April 3rd have received an email and were instructed to set up a Maryland One-Stop account. Applications received after the 3rd were automatically received through the Maryland One-Stop platform. In either case, successful applications were confirmed via email to the address provided in the application. A business can log in to their Maryland One-Stop account and check the status of their application(s).
If a business submitted an application prior to April 3rd and has not set up a Maryland One-Stop account, they should do so immediately by visiting this site. When registering, they should make sure to use the email address they provided in their original application. If their original application was received correctly, it will automatically be added to their Maryland One-Stop account and the status can be checked by logging in. If they do not eventually see their original application on their account, they can send an inquiry email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there are issues with the Maryland One-Stop system in general, a business can send an inquiry to: email@example.com.
CARES Act & Business Assistance Webinar - April 7, 2020
This Families First Coronavirus Response Act poster must be posted at your place of business (if accessible) or emailed to teleworking employees by Thursday, April 1, 2020.
Maryland Department of Labor - The site includes an Updated Process for Filing A Claim and if your employment or business has been impacted - COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Restaurant Employee Relief Fund - Restaurant workers can apply for a grant paid for by the NRAEF fund starting Thursday, April 2, and will receive a one-time $500 check within three weeks to use toward housing, medical bills, student loans, groceries, and other expenses. The NRAEF stipulated that these grants would be administered on a “first-come, first-serve basis.” To apply or to donate click HERE.
CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act
On March 27, the President signed phase 3 of the coronavirus response legislation into law. The bill, also known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn.
The stimulus bill includes the “Paycheck Protection Program,” providing 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. The stimulus also includes expansion of the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and 6-months forbearance for existing or new 7A or 504 loans, employee retention tax credit, deferral of payroll taxes for the remainder of the year, economic stabilization loans through the U.S. Treasury for severely distressed sectors, and federal enhancement of unemployment benefits that provides additional $600 weekly to those approved for unemployment and 13 month extension of benefits.
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and amidst government-mandated shutdowns, many businesses are finding teleworking an appealing option to keep daily operations moving but are uncertain where to get started. If your business or organization is interested in switching to this model in the interim consider checking out these Chamber members to meet your teleworking needs:
If you are a Chamber member and would like to be added to this list or if your business is listed here but your available services have changed please contact Nick Sharps at (301) 387-5237 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the flyer HERE.
Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses
From the Maryland Department of Commerce...
Maryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This emergency assistance provides interim relief and proceeds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs.
If you are a Maryland-based business impacted by the Coronavirus with under 50 full- and part-time employees, or a Maryland manufacturer, check out the programs below to see if you qualify for assistance.
Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund - This $75 million loan fund (for for-profit businesses only) offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Learn more.
Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund - This $50 million grant program for businesses and non-profits offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Learn more.
Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund - This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More details are expected to be announced by Friday, March 27, 2020.
Manufacturing Help Hotline
From the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership...
HOW CAN WE HELP YOU: We understand that the current continues to be challenging to manufacturers of all sizes including supply chain disruptions, lost contracts or sales, workforce, access to capital and more. If you are being impacted by these disruptions please let us know how we can help. The MD MEP team will be collecting this information to share with State and Federal stakeholders the impact on the manufacturing community. Additionally, MD MEP stands ready to provide information, resources and both direct assistance and referrals to other stakeholders to help your organization. Use our Maryland Manufacturing Helpline to let us know how we can assist you and how you are being impacted. Access the Maryland Manufacturing Helpline here.
EXECUTIVE ORDER - March 19, 2020 - Expanding Alcoholic Beverage Delivery and Carryout Services / Renewal Application Extension
Addressing Governor Hogan’s Executive Order today on Thursday, March 19, 2020 in regards to expanding alcoholic beverage delivery and carryout services:
The Garrett County Board of License Commissioners approved the attached Resolution dated March 19, 2020. This resolution will allow all Class A, Class B and Class D licensed establishments to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption in addition to permitting businesses to delivery alcoholic beverages to individuals at least 21 years of age in Garrett County. Special forms, rules and regulations apply in accordance with the Alcoholic Beverages Article§ 21-1903.
At least one of the licensees must complete the Delivery Registration Form to be approved for the delivery of alcoholic beverages. The form will be approved and you will receive a copy back as proof of permission to deliver alcoholic beverages.
Maryland State Police, Garrett County Sheriff’s Office, Oakland Town Police and the Comptroller’s Office will be made aware of the Resolution and requirements.
During this emergency Executive Order the Delivery Option fee will be waived. This permission expires when the emergency order to close restaurants and bars is lifted.
Please email scanned copies of your request to add the Delivery Option for approval.
Also, until further notice the LCB office at the Garrett County Courthouse is closed to the public. I will be teleworking during this closure and will do my best to respond to your calls and emails.
In addition, the Board of License Commissioners have extended the deadline for renewal applications until June 1, 2020. Should the state of emergency still be in effect at that time, the applications will be due back 30 days after the State of Emergency has been lifted by the Governor. Licensees will be informed once new deadlines have been established. Please do your best to complete your applications and mail to the office prior to June 1, 2020. We do understand that your Trader’s License will be impacted and not issued on time, but still send your signed alcoholic beverage renewal applications and paperwork.
Should you have any questions or concerns about the Resolution or any of the Executive Orders, please call me or email.
Take care & stay healthy
Deborah R. Owston
Garrett County Government
Liquor Control Board - Administrator
203 South Fourth Street, Room 208
Oakland, Maryland 21550
Chamber Blog - How to Write an Effective Coronavirus (COVID-19) Message for Your Business
If you have had time to look in your email inbox recently, it's likely cluttered with messages from big brands telling you what they’re doing as we're facing the global pandemic of COVID-19. The point behind these communications is to quell fear and reassure people that it’s safe to patronize these businesses. If you have a physical location, it's likely you need to write one too. People are scared and when fear is a motivator, logic goes out the window. Business owners must convey important messaging to customers or risk losing them. For more information on how to write an effective message for your business check out this recent Chamber Blog post.
Maryland Insurance Administration Advisory on Business Interruption Insurance
BALTIMORE – The Maryland Insurance Administration is receiving a high volume of inquiries about Business Interruption insurance.
Business Interruption coverage is typically triggered under a commercial insurance policy when a covered risk / peril causes physical damage to the insured premises resulting in the need to shut down business operations. For example, if a fire damages a business and the business cannot operate during repairs, business interruption coverage would be available subject to the terms and limits in the policy.
Most policies require a waiting period of 24 to 72 hours before coverage begins and coverage continues for the reasonable period of time to restore the property and reopen, subject to the coverage limit of liability. Some commercial policies provide Business Interruption coverage when a business is shut down due to an Order by a civil authority. However, the policy still typically requires a physical loss from a covered peril as the underlying cause of the business shut down to apply.
All insurance policies have exclusions of coverage for risks that are too great to be underwritten at an affordable price. For example, commercial and personal property insurance policies typically contain specific exclusions for loss or damage caused by war, nuclear action and radiation. The potential loss costs from such perils are so extreme that providing coverage would jeopardize the financial solvency of property insurers. Global pandemics like COVID-19 usually fall into this category. However, policies can be different. We recommend that businesses review their policies and reach out to their insurance professionals with any questions.
The Maryland Insurance Administration would like to reassure Maryland businesses that we are closely monitoring insurance issues related to COVID-19. Our core mission is making sure insurance companies treat customers fairly and follow the provisions in their policy and applicable state laws. We are monitoring relief activity efforts aimed at assisting individuals and businesses at the local, state and federal levels. As information regarding relief programs becomes available, it will be posted on our website: www.insurance.maryland.gov.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Businesses
The Maryland Department of Commerce in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Labor, the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, and several other state agencies launched a new webpage dedicated to business resources during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The webpage, available on the Maryland Business Express portal, features several resources available for business throughout the state, including guidelines for employers, fair labor standards, information on insurance claims, opportunities for financial assistance, tax questions, and more.
To find resources or learn more about how to keep yourself, your families, and your workers safe, please visit businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus.
Customizable Coronavirus Flyer
To help you communicate the measures you are taking to ensure the safety of your community, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce created a customizable flyer to display in your place of business. You may access it by clicking here using Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download available at this link). Please open this file in the latest version of Chrome or Edge browser, or Adobe software, to customize. This customizable document offers suggested actions in the drop-down boxes, or you can enter your own information in the text fields. We encourage you to share this flyer with your members as well.
Limiting Exposure/Spread of Coronavirus and Sample Teleworking Agreement
U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Combating the Coronavirus Toolkit