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COVID-19 Coronavirus Guidance For Employers

As you know, the spread of the coronavirus is a fluid situation. We know you have questions. As your HR partner and advisor, AdvanStaff HR is here to help.


News & Updates

Today the United States Senate voted 92-7 to extend the PPP application deadline to May 31, 2021 providing an additional 60 days to apply for PPP funding. 

The additional 60 days provided by the PPP Extension Act will greatly help small businesses, non-profits and the CPAs that serve them complete existing and file new PPP loan applications. This extension gives the SBA time to update its E-Tran system and issue new guidance. In addition, we look forward to Congress also providing retroactive relief to Schedule C filers, who are the smallest of the small businesses.

This is a huge help for anyone who received unemployment in 2020 since they are now excluding the first $10,200 from taxes and the tax engines aren’t ready!  

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/payment-deadline-extended-to-july-15-2020

This filing and payment relief includes:

The 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers who file and pay their Federal income taxes on April 15, 2020, are automatically extended until July 15, 2020. This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This relief is automatic, taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify.

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. You will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.

Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses who need additional time must file Form 7004.

State tax returns

This relief only applies to federal income returns and 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. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 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.

This week, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, which provides additional relief to individuals and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. President Biden signed the bill this afternoon (March 11).

There are several provisions in this legislation of interest to employers. AdvanStaff HR will assist with many of the provisions, including:

  • An extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit through the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021.
  • An extension of the tax credits for voluntarily providing FFCRA paid sick and family leave another two quarters – through Sept. 30, 2021.
  • An increase in the exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance for 2021 from $5,000 to $10,500. This is part of the Section 125/FSA plan.
  • A temporary subsidy of 100 percent for COBRA qualified beneficiaries where the employee’s qualifying event was an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours with the subsidy paid by the employer, plan, or insurer and reimbursed by the government through a refundable payroll tax credit. AdvanStaff HR will comment on this when more information becomes available.
  • An expansion of the eligibility guidelines for the Paycheck Protection Program to allow more nonprofit entities to be eligible.

The American Rescue Plan extends several unemployment provisions in the CARES, Family First, and CAA bills, including:

  • The waiver of interest on outstanding loans to states to pay unemployment compensation.
  • 100 percent federal reimbursement of regular extended unemployment benefits.
  • Additional funding for systems and to address fraud.
  • An increase in federal reimbursement credits to reimbursing employer accounts.

The bill includes a direct subsidy of $28.6 billion set aside for restaurants to be administered by the Small Business Administration, with $5 billion of this amount set aside for restaurants with gross revenue of less than $500,000.

Finally, the bill would extend temporary federal unemployment benefits of $300 a week through August 29, 2021.

All participating lending institutions should be able to start submitting applications by the end of next week. We’re estimating Friday, January 15.

Here’s what we know about this next round of PPP:

  • Total funding for this round is $284 billion
  • It will be open to those who received PPP loan money in the first rounds if they can demonstrate a 25% reduction in sales in any quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019. You may also compare full year 2020 to full year 2019.
  • It will be open to first time borrowers as well
  • The loan amount for most borrowers will be equal to 2.5x monthly payroll expenses
  • The loan amount for restaurants and hotels will be equal to 3.5x monthly payroll expenses (Includes all NAICS 72 entities)
  • Loan forgiveness will be simplified
  • Expenses paid with PPP funds are now tax deductible.
  • Funds can be spent over a 6 month period
  • Spending restrictions will be loosened. In addition to payroll, rent and utilities, funds can now also be spent on items such as PPE and to fix property damage due to “public disturbances

Please contact your PPP Lending Bank regarding eligibility details and the application process.

President Donald Trump recently signed into law an emergency stimulus package designed to deliver approximately $900 billion in COVID-19-related aid. This infographic provides an overview of the bill and how it compares to the CARES Act passed in March 2020.

Comparing-the-Two-Major-COVID-19-Stimulus-Packages-Infographic

An appropriations bill, which was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, does not extend the leave mandates created by the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), which expire on Dec. 31, 2020. As a result, the requirement for employers to provide employee paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will end on that date.

Stimulus-Bill-Extends-FFCRA-Tax-Credits-but-Not-Leave-Mandate-

On Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law an emergency stimulus
package designed to deliver approximately $900 billion in COVID-19-related aid. This bill was
passed by Congress after months of negotiation, and was attached to a $1.4 trillion spending
package that will keep the government open for the fiscal year.

Understanding-the-900B-Stimulus-Package-010421

The Department of Labor has issued an important new guidance for the use of EFMLA when parents have a choice to send kids to class at school, but opt not to do so and to keep them at home. In that case, the parent is NOT eligible to use EFMLA for the days they choose to keep kids home and do distance learning.

On Saturday, August 8, the President signed The Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster. This executive order directs the Secretary of the Treasury to “defer the withholding, deposit, and payment” of employee OASDI tax liability from September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This deferral applies to employees whose wages are generally $4,000 or less during any biweekly pay period. The order also directs the Secretary to issue guidance to effectuate this directive as well as pursue mechanisms to forgive any deferral.

This week, the SBA updated its list of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) FAQs to include questions 50 and 51. You can view the FAQs here. You can also view the FAQs regarding PPP loan forgiveness here.

Possible Changes Coming to FFCRA

In a case brought by the New York attorney general, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has vacated portions of regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).   Vacating these regulations may impact the past and/or future administration of both Emergency Paid Sick Time and Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave.

COVID testing results are taking a long time to be processed and received through standard testing channels. Many clients have reached out to AdvanStaff HR and requested assistance with administering a solution that potentially gets employees tested and possibly back to work faster.

AdvanStaff HR has partnered with UMC to provide COVID-19 testing to our worksite clients and their employees. This is a program sponsored (paid) by the employer and produces results 48 hours from testing.

Trump Signs Small Business Loan Program Extension. Businesses now have until Aug. 8 to apply for the assistance

President Trump signed legislation Saturday extending the deadline for small businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, enacted in the weeks following the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The original deadline to apply for the PPP was this past Tuesday night. But $130 billion still remained in the fund, out of $660 billion allocated. Both houses of Congress approved the extension unanimously earlier this week. With Trump’s signature Saturday, businesses will now have until Aug. 8 to apply for the assistance.

24-week PPP Loan Program Reports Now Available in Manager Portal

The manager portal reports now support BOTH 8-week and 24-week qualified payroll expense and FTE reporting.

Managers can use the standard length default reports or may run partial period reports ad hoc. To access the reports, simply:

  1. login to the manager portal
  2. search for “covid” in the top search bar
  3. Select the “PPP Forgiveness Report”
  4. Choose:
    1. Full-time equivalent report
    2. Payroll Cost Report

The reports can be exported to MS excel or .CSV format for greater detail.

If you have any questions about this release, please let us know by submitting a ticket. We will respond right away!

Treasury/SBA Releases Revised and “EZ” PPP Loan Forgiveness Applications

Treasury and the SBA have released this morning two “borrower-friendly” updates to the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application to reflect changes made to the program by the PPP Flexibility Act.

The revised standard application can be found here

The EZ application can be found here.

In addition, a new three-page “EZ” version has been released for borrowers who

  1. are self-employed, or
  2. did not reduce wages by more than 25 percent and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees, The EZ application can be found here and instructions here.
  3. experienced reductions in business activities as a result of health directives related to COVID-19 and did not reduce wages by more than 25 percent.

The full press release from Treasury about the applications is available by clicking on this link.

Employer Social Security Tax Deferral Program

President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (“PPFA”), making certain changes to the Paycheck Protection Program enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act in March.

Section 4 of the PPFA amends Section 2302(a) of the CARES Act to delete section 2302(a)(3). Accordingly, employers who obtain forgiveness of a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan may now defer all employer social security tax deposits that would otherwise be required to be deposited before January 1, 2020.

Under Section 2302 of the CARES Act, employers may significantly defer the deposit of the employer share of social security taxes (but not Medicare taxes).

Specifically, all employer social security taxes otherwise required to be deposited between the date of enactment and December 31, 2020, are not required to be deposited on the normal deposit schedule.

  • 50% of such taxes would be required to be deposited by December 31, 2021.
  • 50% would be required to be deposited by December 31, 2022.

However, Section 2302(a)(3) of the CARES Act precluded an employer who obtains forgiveness of a PPP loan from taking advantage of the employer social security tax deferral. The IRS issued FAQs that clarified that

  • an employer that obtains a PPP loan may defer the deposit of employer social security tax up until such time as the employer is notified that some or all of the PPP loan will be forgiven.

Note:
Employer side social security taxes are deferred (not forgiven). The tax deferrals can take place until the PPP Loan is forgiven. Once loan forgiveness is, the social security tax billing rate will returned to the normal billing rate. The deferred portion will be paid back to the IRS over the following two years.

Employer Social Security Tax Deferral Program

President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (“PPFA”), making certain changes to the Paycheck Protection Program enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act in March.

Section 4 of the PPFA amends Section 2302(a) of the CARES Act to delete section 2302(a)(3). Accordingly, employers who obtain forgiveness of a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan may now defer all employer social security tax deposits that would otherwise be required to be deposited before January 1, 2020.

Under Section 2302 of the CARES Act, employers may significantly defer the deposit of the employer share of social security taxes (but not Medicare taxes).

Specifically, all employer social security taxes otherwise required to be deposited between the date of enactment and December 31, 2020, are not required to be deposited on the normal deposit schedule.

  • 50% of such taxes would be required to be deposited by December 31, 2021.
  • 50% would be required to be deposited by December 31, 2022.

However, Section 2302(a)(3) of the CARES Act precluded an employer who obtains forgiveness of a PPP loan from taking advantage of the employer social security tax deferral. The IRS issued FAQs that clarified that

  • an employer that obtains a PPP loan may defer the deposit of employer social security tax up until such time as the employer is notified that some or all of the PPP loan will be forgiven.

Note:
Employer side social security taxes are deferred (not forgiven). The tax deferrals can take place until the PPP Loan is forgiven. Once loan forgiveness is, the social security tax billing rate will returned to the normal billing rate. The deferred portion will be paid back to the IRS over the following two years.

Visit the following page Q&A for more details:

WASHINGTON—Today, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application. 

The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.

The form 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

The PPP was created by the CARES Act to provide forgivable loans to eligible small businesses to keep American workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. The documents released today will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight week covered period, which begins with the disbursement of their loans.

The IRS provided guidance on the taxability of the PPP Loan and loan forgiveness.

Visit the following page Q&A for more details:

Popular articles:

Essential Business Employee Letter

If you are included in the “essential business” list by your states governors office, you can give this letter to your employee to keep in their vehicle when they are traveling to and from work:

You will need to edit the letter to fit your business and we suggest adding it to your company letterhead.

New courses added to the AdvanStaff Learning Management System

We have enhanced the LMS course list with relevant content to help managers and employees with Coronavirus preparedness, remote working, and stress management.

New Courses:

  • Coronavirus Preparedness for Managers and Employees
  • Crisis Management and Emergency Response Planning
  • Handling Stress 
  • Managing Remote Teams 
  • Working Remotely

New courses are added continually at no additional costs.

Read about the Learning Management System

Essential Business Employee Letter

If you are included in the “essential business” list by your states governors office, you can give this letter to your employee to keep in their vehicle when they are traveling to and from work:

You will need to edit the letter to fit your business and we suggest adding it to your company letterhead.

Cares Act News:

US Treasury issues additional guidance on the CARES Act

FFCRA News:

U.S Department of Labor: Wage & Hour Division issues new additions to Q&A Resources Guide

Employee Benefit News:

  • Sierra, Health Plan of Nevada, and Blue Cross / Blue Shield has extended the open enrollment special period another week to April 16.
  • The notice and details have been posted to the Employee Guidance Page.

Important Loan Program Application Updates from Late Evening on Thursday

You should discuss your individual situation with your banker, CPA, attorney, or other trusted professional advisors regarding the recent changes to the program.

AdvanStaff HR is NOT a legal or tax advisor on any loan program and all situations are different. We are doing our best to outline various key points recently published. You must read the Paycheck Protection Program – Interim Final Rule and determine for yourself how the changes affect you.

Many banks and legal advisors are still digesting the new guidelines and application acceptance dates will vary from bank to bank based on how those banks interpret the changes.

Last Minutes Changes to the PPP Loan Program

Many changes to the CARES Act PPP Loan Program Application (and amounts) were finalized late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

  • PPP Loan Program Clarification Provided by the SBA & US Treasury
  • Loan Application Form Updated:
  • Date Range of Reporting Period Changed
    • Changed from 2019 to “Previous 12 months”
    • A new report will need to be run
    • There are other options for computing “payroll costs” for employees.
  • Allowable expenses clarified:
    • Gross Wages
    • SUTA
    • Other State Taxes
    • ER Paid Benefits
    • ER 401k Match
  • Disallowed expenses clarified. The following columns have been removed from the report.
    • FICA
    • FUTA
    • Works’s Comp
    • Admin Fees
    • 1099 Subcontractors

Loan Package Inserts

We have added and recommend an additional loan insert from the PEO Association President to assist your application. Please include BOTH inserts.

We have received several questions about the form 941 requirement with the CARES Act application and how it applies to clients of PEOs.

Please read the entire article HERE

AdvanStaff HR has been working with bankers and other lenders on clarification regarding the recently passed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the CARES Act.

Payment Protection Program Application Update

Many of you have reached out with questions about the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that is part of the CARES Act. This is what we know: The Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are working this week on promulgating regulations that will guide the program. They are expected to be done by Thursday, likely late in the day. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said yesterday, “These loans will be available starting on Friday, which will be at lightning speed.”

To be clear, no one is applying for PPP loans right now because it is not possible. The program does not yet exist, operationally. There are no forms on the SBA site. Some confusion may lie in the fact that there are Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from the SBA that have been around for years. However, EIDL loans are different from the PPP loans under the CARES Act, most notably in that EIDL loans do not have the PPP’s loan forgiveness rules.

You will be able to refinance the EIDL into the PPP for loan forgiveness purposes. However, you may not take out an EIDL and a PPP loan at the same time and for the same purposes.

AdvanStaff HR has been working with bankers and other lenders on clarification regarding the recently passed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the CARES Act.

This program designed to help small business pay for payroll, employee benefits, rent, utilities, and interest on loans. This is a FORGIVABLE loan program on all covered expenses. This is a program that should interest business owners and is worth researching.

AdvanStaff is preparing a “how to” document listing all reports and a recommended items to help you get access to the PPP loan program as quickly as possible. A key component of loan forgiveness is based on the employer NOT laying off worker.

Stay tuned, AdvanStaff HR will post more details on the Paycheck Protection Program very soon. Please visit our Q&A page for information about the CARES Act.

Updated Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Q&A from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division:


The Small Business Administration has updated its website with information about Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the additional assistance for small business owners provided in the CARES Act, including the opportunity to receive up to a $10,000 advance on an EIDL for emergency capital.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – (CARES ACT)

Legal Bulletin(s)

**All of the below is based upon the current text of the bill, which may be changed as it moves through the legislative process.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – (CARES ACT)

The legislation making its way through the Senate right now is the CARES Act

For businesses with less than 500 employees, it appears to provide some significant relief in the form of an amendment to the SBA 7(a) program to provide forgivable loans to affected businesses. 

Below please find a brief summary of how the forgivable loan amount will be calculated, along with what information we believe you will need to provide to a bank to complete the loan application.

The loan amounts to be available to a business affected by COVID-19 are based upon the following formula:

The lesser of:

  • 4 times the following:
    • Monthly payroll (as determined by the average payroll from March 1-June 30, 2019)
    • Monthly mortgage payments
    • Monthly rent payments
    • Monthly payments of other debt obligations incurred during the 1-year period before the date the loan was made
  • $10,000,000

Note:  Loan funds can be used for payroll, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and any other debt obligations that were incurred before the covered period.

Borrowers will be eligible for loan forgiveness in an amount equal to the cost of maintaining payroll continuity from March 1-June 30, 2020.  The maximum amount of loan forgiveness is calculated as the total payroll costs incurred from March 1-June 30, 2020, plus the amount of payments made on debt obligations incurred before March 1, 2020.

The amount of loan forgiveness will be reduced by any percentage reduction in payroll from March 1-June 30, 2020 measured against the same period from 2019.   

**All of the above is based upon the current text of the bill, which may be changed as it moves through the legislative process.

** EMPLOYER ACTION REQUIRED **

NEW Posting Requirement

Employers are required to post a notice of the new provisions of the FFCRA in a conspicuous place on their premises.

Employers may also satisfy the notice requirement by emailing or direct-mailing the notice to employees, or posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website.

Required Posting:

NEW Employee Benefits Special Open Enrollment Period

Our carriers (UHC/HPN/SHL) are offering a new open enrollment period for employees to make NEW benefit elections based on a life event.

Employees will log into their Employee Portal (ESS) and click on the “Life Event” tile.  They will then be launched into the benefit enrollment module. 

A posting has been added to the COVID-19 Employee Info page.

Additional Clarification on the FFCRA provided by the Federal Wage & Hour Division.

For your convenience, here are links to important information and resources from the Department of Labor on the FFCRA:

On Friday, March 20, the U.S. Treasury, IRS, and U.S. Department of Labor announced their plans for making the paid leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) less burdensome for small businesses. Key points include:

  • To take immediate advantage of the paid leave credits, businesses can retain and access funds that they would otherwise pay to the IRS in payroll taxes. If those amounts are not sufficient to cover the cost of paid leave, employers can seek an expedited advance from the IRS by submitting a streamlined claim form that will be released next week.
  • The Department of Labor will release “simple and clear” criteria for businesses with fewer than 50 employees to apply for exemptions from the leave provisions related to school and childcare closures; and
  • There will be a 30-day non-enforcement period for businesses making a reasonable effort.

We know that for many of our clients, business slowdowns related to the spread of COVID-19 have made it hard to imagine how they could bear any additional expenses. We encourage anyone with these concerns to read the linked announcement carefully.

President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on Wednesday Evening, March 18, 2020. The act is set to take effect on Wednesday, April, 1.  This new bill will provide employees access to expanded paid Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protection and paid sick leave while permitting employers to claim tax credits for such mandated compensation.

Previous Articles and News

CARES Act PPP Loan Application Inserts:

IRS provides guidance on PPP Loans:

Executive Memorandum on Employee Portion of Social Security Payroll Tax Deferral

President Trumps executive order makes temporary relief available to employees and generally applies to wages paid starting Sept. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

All situations are different. Information provided on this site is not legal advice and is intended for informational purposes only.