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COVID-19 Resources

EMPLOYEES:

Effective 3/17/2020 Governor Charlie Baker announced an Emergency Order limiting gatherings to 25 individuals and prohibiting on-premises consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants effective until 4/6/2020.  With the unforeseeable turn of events for our State and Nation, we believe it is best to take advantage of the resources that are available to you.

The tax filing deadline is July 15th ,  if you are entitled to a refund, we recommend filing as soon as possible.

 

In the following pages you will find some general information, guidelines and websites on applying for unemployment.

Claimants are urged to file unemployment claims online.

For unemployment claims: 

  • All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended. 
  • Deadlines missed by employers and claimants due to effects of COVID-19 may be excused under DUA’s good cause provision. 
  • Employers whose businesses are severely impacted by COVID-19 can request extensions for filing and paying unemployment contributions. 
  • “Worksearch” requirements will be interpreted to appropriately permit claimants affected by COVID-19 to collect benefits. 
  • All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only. 

 

DUA may pay unemployment benefits if a worker is quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional, or leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. The worker need not provide medical documentation and need only be available for work when and as able. 

To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the Baker-Polito administration filed emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the 1 week waiting period for unemployment benefits. This means that DUA would be authorized to pay benefits without delay to persons who become unemployed because of lay-offs or business shutdowns taken in response to the virus, because of quarantine orders or directives or illness that prevents them from leaving their homes, or because they must care for a sick or quarantined family member. 

Temporary workplace shutdowns

Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development EOLWD and DUA also filed emergency regulations that allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment benefits if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen. This applies to all employees (full and part time) who are impacted by such shutdowns. Claimants are urged to file unemployment claims online.

The following conditions apply to temporary shutdowns: 

  • Workers must remain in contact with their employers during the shutdown. 
  • Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do. 
  • An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shutdown to 8 weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above. 
  • If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers. 

Employers who have been paying into the system for themselves (are receiving a W-2) are able to apply as well.

Self-employed individuals and contract employees

Currently self-employed individuals and 1099 contract employees are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If the President of the United States makes a disaster unemployment declaration for Massachusetts or nationwide, the self-employed and 1099 contractors would become eligible for unemployment assistance. This is already coded into the DUA system and would be available immediately upon declaration and press release announcement.  

Workers' compensation

If a person contracts the virus for any work-related reason, that person could be eligible for workers’ compensation.  If you qualify, you can receive payments to partially replace your paycheck and for medical care related to your injury. Learn more about workers' compensation.

In most cases, a claimant is not eligible for both unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation. 

Apply for benefits online

Due to the volume DUA is experiencing at this time the fastest way to process a claim is online, which remains fully operational.

To further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 all in-person services are currently unavailable at all Career Centers and unemployment walk-in centers across Massachusetts. However, those individuals requiring additional services may head here. This contact form should be used primarily by those with disabilities, special needs, and language barriers.

In addition to staffing up the remote call center capabilities, the DUA contact center will likely be extending hours and including weekends in the near future. 

 

What you need

 

To apply for unemployment, you need to provide personal information including your Social Security number, birth date, home address, email address (optional), and phone number.

You also need information about your employment history from the last 15 months, including:

  • Names of all employers, plus addresses and phone numbers
  • Reasons for leaving those jobs
  • Work start and end dates
  • Recall date (if you were laid off but have a set date to return to work)

You may need additional information in certain situations:

  • If you are not a U.S. citizen — your Alien Registration number
  • If you have children — their birth dates and Social Security numbers
  • If you’re in a union — your union name and local number
  • If you were in the military — your DD-214 Member 4 form. If you don’t have it, you can request your DD-214 online.
  • If you worked for the federal government — your SF8 form (optional).

 

To receive payments by direct deposit, you’ll also need your bank name, account number, and routing number. Otherwise, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will send you a debit card.

 

SMALL BUSINESS RECOVERY LOAN FUND:

The Baker-Polito Administration announced economic support for small businesses with a $10 million loan fund to provide financial relief to those that have been affected by COVID-19. – The loan was closed on 3/19/20 at noon we have left this info incase it is refunded.

The $10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund will provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits. Loans are immediately available to eligible businesses with no payments due for the first 6 months. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) has capitalized the fund and will administer it.

How to Apply:

Please complete the application found on MGCC’s website, EmpoweringSmallBusiness.org

Completed applications can be sent via email to mgcc@massgcc.com with the subject line “2020 small Business Recovery Loan Fund”.

MGCC can be reached by email: mgcc@massgcc.com

General Terms and Conditions

  • Open to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by the COVID-19 with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits
  • Negative impact must be verifiable
  • Loan amounts up to $75,000
  • Loan amount not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the 1st quarter of 2020
  • No payments due for first 6 months, then 30-months of principal and interest payments (direct debited)
  • Annual interest rate 3%
  • Personal guarantee required of all owners with 20% or more interest in the company
  • Personal credit score under 575 will require an exception 
  • All asset lien on business
  • No prepayment penalty
  • Ineligible businesses include companies involved in real estate investment, multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis or firearms. Companies with past due tax liabilities or tax liens or currently in bankruptcy (Corporate or Personal) are not eligible.

Approval contingent on business being profitable prior to 3/10/20 and no adverse personal credit reports 60 days past due for the last six months.

 

Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and Emergency Economic Injury Grant

  • We advise all client to apply for the EIDL and Emergency Economic Injury Grant you do not have to take the loan when and if it is offered to you!!
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Massachusetts small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available following a request from Governor Charlie Baker on March 17, 2020.
  • The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of Massachusetts; and the contiguous counties in neighboring states.
  • Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.
    • Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.
    • Any interested business needs to apply directly with the SBA. 
    • Businesses who did not fill out the initial MEMA survey remain eligible to apply for the SBA loans.
    • Businesses who did fill out the initial MEMA survey will still need to apply for the EIDL program through the SBA.
    • The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 18, 2020.
    • Businesses can learn more about the SBA’s response to COVID-19 here.

Criteria for loan approval:

  • Credit History - Applicants must have a credit history acceptable to SBA
  • Repayment - SBA must determine that the applicant business has the ability to repay the SBA loan
  • Eligibility - The applicant business must be physically located in a declared county and suffered working capital losses due to the declared disaster, not due to a downturn in the economy or other reasons

 

MA Administrative Tax Relief Measures

On Wednesday, March 18, the Baker-Polito Administration announced administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses which have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. This tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April and May so that they will instead be due on June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

  • Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.
  • The Department of Revenue is currently drafting emergency regulations to implement these administrative relief measures, and they are expected to be finalized before Friday, March 20, 2020.

 

TAX FILINGS:

Federal:

As of March 18, 2020, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns was also extended to July 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible.

This payment relief includes:

Individuals: Income tax payment deadlines for individual returns, with a due date of April 15, 2020, are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $1 million of their 2019 tax due. This payment relief applies to all individual returns, including self-employed individuals, and all entities other than C-Corporations, such as trusts or estates. IRS will automatically provide this relief to taxpayers. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this relief.

Corporations: For C Corporations, income tax payment deadlines are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $10 million of their 2019 tax due.

This relief also includes estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.

Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. If you file your tax return or request an extension of time to file by April 15, 2020, you will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.

The IRS reminds individual taxpayers the easiest and fastest way to request a filing extension is to electronically file Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses must file Form 7004.

This relief only applies to federal income tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax including payroll. Taxpayers may also need to file income tax returns in up to 42 states plus the District of Columbia. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details. More information is available at https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

Massachusetts:

Personal income tax returns and payments due April 15, 2020 will now be due July 15, 2020. Detailed guidance is forthcoming.

The DOR recognizes that taxpayers may need assistance with various tax, child support, and municipal obligations due to the impact of the coronavirus. 

In many instances, taxpayers automatically receive at least six extra months to file their tax returns, as long as they satisfy certain tax payment requirements.  See AP 604: Extensions of Time to File Tax Returns.
 

  • DOR may also waive penalties under certain circumstances if a taxpayer is late in paying their tax obligation and will work with impacted taxpayers to waive such penalties.  See AP 633:  Guidelines for the Waiver and Abatement of Penalties.
     
  • In the event mail service is delayed, you can ensure that returns, payments and refunds are received if you elect to submit them or receive them by electronic means.
     
  • In the event the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues tax relief to taxpayers with federal filing obligations, DOR is prepared to follow the IRS in offering similar relief for taxpayers with Massachusetts tax filing obligations.
     

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act   (“FFCRA”) provides certain tax relief for employers and employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act requires private sector employers with fewer than 500 workers and government entities to provide: (1) paid sick leave (two weeks for full-time employees and average hours over a two-week period for part-time employees) necessary to respond to COVID-19 issues; and (2) as many as 12 weeks of job-protected leave to employees to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed. Employers will receive a refundable payroll tax credit for these additional required wages being paid to impacted employees.

In IR-2020-57, the IRS provides an early framework of its plans to allow small and midsize employers to immediately take advantage of the two new refundable payroll tax credits, fully reimbursing them for the cost of providing COVID-19-related leave to their employees. Information regarding the process to receive an advance payment of the credit will be posted at Coronavirus Tax Relief on IRS.gov.  The framework has been laid out but the mechanics, forms and software is not yet available, we will keep you updated as information is released.  Please call our office to discuss the implementation of this option.

Please note that If, prior to the FFCRA’s effective date, your employer sent you home and stops paying you because it does not have work for you to do, you will not get paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave but you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. This is true whether your employer closes your worksite for lack of business or because it is required to close pursuant to a Federal, State, or local directive

See frequently asked questions here https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

Background

The Act provides paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19-related reasons and creates the refundable paid sick-leave credit and the paid childcare-leave credit for eligible employers. Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the Act. Eligible employers will be able to claim these credits based on qualifying leave they provide between the effective date and December 31, 2020. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances.

Paid leave

The Act provides that employees of eligible employers can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 100% of the employee's pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. An employee who is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, to care for a child whose school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds of the employee's pay. An employee who is unable to work due to a need to care for a child whose school is closed, or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, may in some instances receive up to an additional 10 weeks of expanded paid family and medical leave at two-thirds of the employee's pay.

  • Paid sick-leave credit

For an employee who is unable to work due to (1) being under coronavirus quarantine or self-quarantine or (2) having coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, eligible employers may receive a refundable sick-leave credit for sick leave at the employee's regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate, for a total of 10 days.

For an employee who is caring for someone with coronavirus or caring for a child because the child's school or childcare facility is closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus, eligible employers may claim a credit for two-thirds of the employee's regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate, for up to 10 days. Eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit, determined based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during the leave period.

  • Childcare-leave credit

In addition to the sick-leave credit, for an employee who is unable to work because of a need to care for a child whose school or childcare facility is closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus, eligible employers may receive a refundable childcare-leave credit equal to two-thirds of the employee's regular pay, capped at $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted toward the childcare-leave credit. Eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit determined based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during the leave period.

How the COVID-19-leave credit will work

When employers pay their employees, they are required to withhold from their employees' wages federal income tax and the employee share of Social Security/Medicare (FICA). Employers then are required to deposit these federal withholding taxes with the IRS, along with the employer share of FICA, and to report the wages and taxes on the federal employment tax return (Form 941 series).

Under IRS guidance anticipated this week, eligible employers that pay qualifying sick or childcare leave will be able to reduce their federal payroll tax deposit by the amount of qualifying sick and childcare leave paid.

The federal payroll taxes that employers may withhold for this purpose include federal income tax withholding, the employee share of FICA and the employer share of FICA for all employees.

If there are insufficient federal payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and childcare leave paid, employers will be able file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less. The details of this new, expedited procedure are expected to be announced this week.

IRS examples

If an eligible employer paid $5,000 in sick leave and is otherwise required to deposit $8,000 in payroll taxes, including taxes withheld from all its employees, the employer could use up to $5,000 of the $8,000 of taxes it was going to deposit for making qualified leave payments. The employer would only be required under the law to deposit the remaining $3,000 on its next regular deposit date.

If an eligible employer paid $10,000 in sick leave and was required to deposit $8,000 in taxes, the employer could use the entire $8,000 of taxes to make qualified leave payments and file a request for an accelerated credit for the remaining $2,000.

Equivalent childcare-leave and sick-leave credit amounts are available to self-employed individuals under similar circumstances. These credits will be claimed on their income tax returns and will reduce estimated tax payments.

Small business exemption

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible for an exemption from the leave requirements relating to school closings or childcare unavailability where the requirements would jeopardize the ability of the business to continue. The exemption will be available in circumstances involving jeopardy to the viability of an employer's business as a going concern. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will provide emergency guidance and rulemaking to articulate this standard.

Non-enforcement period

DOL will be issuing a temporary non-enforcement policy that provides a period of time for employers to come into compliance with the Act. Under this policy, DOL will not bring an enforcement action against any employer for violations of the Act so long as the employer has acted reasonably and in good faith to comply with the Act. DOL will instead focus on compliance assistance during this time period.