Amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, members of the San Luis Obispo business community are experiencing negative impacts. They may be wondering where to turn to for relief, information, or any other sort of support that can be offered during this time of need.

Navigating all of the available resources can be overwhelming, so we are providing an easy-to-reference guide. The following page is a resource for business owners, employers, and other interested parties.

This is an evolving situation. The following information is subject to change. Many expect further programs and efforts to provide relief to come through as federal, state, and local authorities work hard to organize an economic response.

For the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 response in California, you can always refer to the following page: https://covid19.ca.gov/

Other important sources of general information:

Small Business Relief, Support, and Stimulus Programs

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance

  • Available to most businesses with less than 500 employees, as well as sole proprietorships/independent contractors
  • Automatically deferred for 12 months
  • Loans up to $2 million, with terms up to 30 years
  • Maximum unsecured loan amount $25,000
  • Maximum advance of $10,000

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing a special category of disaster loans for businesses experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 closures, sickness, and other related issues.

You can apply for a loan quickly and see if you qualify at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/. Those who qualify may be eligible for a loan advance of up to $10,000.

These loans will be automatically deferred for 12 months, meaning the first payment you can expect to make falls on or after April 1, 2021.

Loans are low interest. Qualifying small businesses can expect a rate of 3.75% while qualifying private non-profits can expect a rate of 2.75%.

SBA COVID injury loans can be provided to individuals who already have an existing SBA disaster loan, but cannot consolidate.
SBA Paycheck Protection Program

  • Loan provided by the SBA to help continue paying employees
  • Automatic six-month deferment
  • No collateral needed
  • Program available through June 30, 2020
  • Loans forgiven if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and money is used for:
    • Payroll (must be 75% of loan expense)
    • Rent
    • Mortgage interest
    • Utilities

The SBA is also offering a special loan program designed to help employers keep their employees on the payroll. A key provision of this program is that if the loan is used for intended purposes it will have up to 100% of its balance forgiven. Forgiveness amounts are determined by compliance with the program’s goals, such as whether the business maintained its full headcount and maintained current salary/wage levels.

For paycheck protection loans that don’t qualify for forgiveness, they have a maturity of two years and an interest rate of just 1%.

Allowable loan uses include:

  • Fixed debts (rent, etc.) 
  • Payroll 
  • Accounts payable
  • Some bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred

For more information and a link to apply, visit: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp 
Small Business Debt Relief

  • The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months
  • The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020
  • The program is automatic for most SBA loan customers
  • Loans that were in “regular servicing status” as of March 1, 2020 qualify for automatic deferments through December 31, 2020

These programs are designed to automatically provide relief to current SBA loan customers.

Loans that are “deferred” instead of having payments made on them will still accrue interest.

For more information, visit: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief
California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program

  • Lending available to small businesses that don’t qualify or get enough funds through SBA 
  • 95% of loan’s value guaranteed up to seven years
  • Interests rates vary
  • Qualifications based on lender criteria
  • Loans intended for business continuance or relief of “economic injury” caused by COVID-19

This program is similar to lending already available to small businesses in the area. The primary difference is that the loans are protected (guaranteed) by a third-party, meaning qualification criteria and interest rates may be lower than a non-guaranteed loan.

The loans are provided through a partnership with California’s iBank and Small Business Finance Center (SBFC). 

For more information, visit: https://www.ibank.ca.gov/small-business-finance-center/

State and Federal Tax Filing Extensions, Deferments

State and Federal Tax Deadlines Extended

  • State and Federal Tax Deadlines Extended to July 15

Although there’s no opportune time for a crisis to hit, COVID-19’s emergence during tax season sent fear through many business owner’s hearts.

Fortunately, the IRS and California Department of Tax and Fee Administration almost immediately issued a three-month extension.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development also provides the following guidance:

 

  • Employers experiencing a hardship may request up to a 60-day extension from the Employment Development Department to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest.”

 
California Allows Temporary Deferral of Sales/Use Tax Up to $50,000

  • Allows businesses to put off paying their sales/use taxes up to a value of $50,000
  • Qualifying businesses must have less than $5 million in annual taxable sales
  • Deferment rolled into a 12-month, interest-free fixed payment plan

This program is designed to help businesses remain more liquid while putting off their tax information. However, the program maxes out at $50,000 and it’s only available to businesses with less than $5 million in taxable sales for FY 2019. Pre-payments for May and June or filings on the July return can apply.

For more information, visit: https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/services/covid19.htm

Work Sharing Programs

  • Work sharing allows several employees to share roles normally reserved for one person
  • Allows for cut hours and suspended business activities without reducing payroll size
  • Helps workers keep job and receive unemployment benefits

A work sharing program is an agreement between an employer and a provider of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, such as the CA Employment Development Department (EDD). 

These programs allow employers to retain employees while still being able to cut hours and scale back operations. The EDD will make up some of the difference in employee wages through UI benefits.

For more information, visit: https://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Work_Sharing_Program.htm

CA Regulations Suspended

WARN Act Suspended

  • Concerns the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act
  • Normally, employers must provide 60-day notice before layoffs, relocations, or termination
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has temporarily suspended the 60-day notification requirement
  • ALL OTHER ASPECTS OF WARN ARE STILL IN EFFECT
  • For more information, visit: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/WARN-FAQs.html

Guidelines for Businesses Selling Alcohol

Resources for Employees and Individuals

Individuals can refer to the COVID-19 relief chart provided by the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency to learn about available resources.

Options include:

  • Disability insurance for those currently losing wages because of sickness or quarantining
  • Paid family leave for those giving care to someone infected by COVID-19
  • Unemployment insurance and partial wage replacement for those who have reduced hours

For more information, refer to the chart linked to above as well as the following EDD link: https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/#chart

Ernst Law Group Is Here for the San Luis Obispo Community

Since 1990, Ernst Law Group has been a fixture in the San Luis Obispo community. Our heart goes out to the people, families, and businesses that are currently suffering because of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. 

We want to provide resources like the listings above to help alleviate some of the burden and let people know where they can find care and support.

If you need support because of a recent injury, elder care neglect, or wrongful business loss, we are available to provide guidance and answer your questions – free of charge. Our central goal with every client is to seek the maximum amount of compensation available for their injuries or losses, including those related to COVID-19.

Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation or case review today when you call (805) 678-0272 or contact us online. If there’s anything at all we can provide – whether that’s information, a referral, or legal representation to seek justice after a tort – do not hesitate to give us a call.

Thank you. Be well, and be safe!