July 2020 Government Affairs Update
Paycheck Protection Program Extended Through August 8
In an unexpected move, Congress passed legislation earlier this month to extend the current Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through August 8, 2020. The PPP expired on June 30 but had $130 billion in unused funds.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently told reporters that Congress will attempt to pass additional small business relief through a phase 4 stimulus bill between now and August 7 before heading out on a month-long recess.
The PPP is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. BSCAI members apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. To find a lender and apply for a PPP loan click here.
Additional information on PPP loans can be found below:
IRS Issues Guidance on Reporting Qualified Sick and Family Leave Wages
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued Notice 2020-54 which provides guidance to employers on the requirement to report qualified sick and family leave wages paid under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Employers are required to report these amounts either on Form W-2, Box 14, or on a separate statement. The guidance provides employers with optional language to use in the Form W-2 instructions for employees.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires employers with under 500 employees to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
Eligible employers are entitled to receive a tax credit in the full amount of the required sick leave and family leave, plus related health plan expenses and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the leave, for the period of April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Further information regarding the tax credits can be found here.
U.S. Agencies Offer Webinar on COVID-19 Paid Leave Benefits
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in Wisconsin, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are presenting a series of webinars on paid sick leave, and expanded family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for employers and business owners.
The webinars will provide FFCRA information including details about paid sick leave for certain reasons related to COVID-19, and paid expanded family and medical leave for child care related to the COVID-19, and will focus on eligibility, requirements for providing paid leave and tax credits for covered business owners. Additionally, SBA representatives will be available to answer questions, and provide guidance to help small business owners and entrepreneurs.
There is no cost to attend but space is limited and registration is required. Use the links below to register for the date you wish to attend. Employers do not have to reside in Wisconsin to register.
WHAT: Webinar Navigating COVID-19: A Virtual Guide for the Employment Community
WHEN: July 23, 2020: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CDT
July 30, 2020: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CDT
OSHA Issues FAQ on COVID-19 Worker Protection
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published frequently asked questions and answers to help protect workers from exposure to COVID-19.
The FAQs provide guidance to employers and employees about topics such as the best practices to prevent the spread of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers’ rights to express concerns about workplace conditions, testing for the COVID-19, worker training and returning to work.
These FAQs are the latest effort by OSHA to educate and protect America’s workers and employers during the pandemic. OSHA has also published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, and more recently, Guidance on Returning to Work to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees resuming operations and reopening workplaces during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.
Main Street Lending Program Now Fully Operational
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston recently announced that the Main Street Lending Program is now fully operational, ready to purchase participations in eligible loans that are submitted to the program by registered lenders. The Federal Reserve encourages lenders to begin submitting qualifying loans.
The Main Street Lending Program offers five-year loans to help credit flow to small- and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. A list of lenders can be found here.
As required by the program, lenders will assess a borrower for a Main Street loan based on meeting the terms of the program and also the lenders’ own underwriting standards, as part of evaluating financial condition and creditworthiness. Lenders’ loan approvals are contingent on those factors.
Lenders and borrowers can visit www.bostonfed.org/mslp to find program information, including frequently asked questions, and can subscribe for e-mail updates.
USMCA Enters into Force to Replace NAFTA
On July 1, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) officially went into effect. The USMCA, which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was ratified by all three participating counties in March of this year.
USMCA implementation information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can be found here and additional agreement details from the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) here.