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New York Forward & COVID-19 Resources for Business

Governor Cuomo Announces COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted as 70% of Adult New Yorkers Have Received First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program

  • Provides grant funding to eligible small and micro businesses and for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations impacted by the pandemic.
  • Grants will be flexible and can be used for a number of different business operating expenses, including payroll, rent or mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, PPE or other business expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021.
  • Grant awards will generally range between $5,000 - $50,000 depending on 2019 annual gross receipts.
  • For more information about the grant program, including eligibility criteria, a list of documentation required in the application, and an FAQ, visit nysmallbusinessrecovery.com. Website and materials are available in 13 languages.

DOL Issues Guidance on Leave for Vaccine Side Effects

Employers would be required to provide paid time off to employees who get the COVID-19 vaccination and then are unable to work due to side effects of the vaccine. Fear of these side effects and the resulting possible loss of pay has been determined to be a factor in vaccine avoidance.

The New York State Department of Labor issued guidance clarifying that this is not a new leave mandate. In fact, the guidance clarifies that any time off required by an employee who suffers the side effects of the vaccine would be paid from the employee’s paid sick leave balance. That is, leave as required under NYS’s new paid sick leave law (Labor Law §196-b). This is not an additional COVID sick leave benefit and does not come out of any NYS COVID paid sick leave bank.

Effective May 19, New York has adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.

Businesses are authorized to require masks and six feet of social distancing for employees and/or patrons within their establishments OR adhere to CDC guidance, which advises that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks or be socially distanced, but unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks and be socially distanced in most settings.*

  • The Department of Health strongly recommends masks and six feet of social distancing in indoor settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown.​ Any mask requirements that businesses choose to implement must adhere to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • *This provision applies across most commercial settings, including but not limited to retail, food services, offices, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services, among other settings. However, Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings are exempt and must continue to follow the State's existing COVID-19 health guidelines until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND

SBA has announced the official Restaurant Revitalization Fund Application and Guide.

Registration for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will begin on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 a.m. EDT and open applications on Monday, May 3, 2021, at noon EDT. The online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

3 Things to Know about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF)

1. Get the program details.
Get the program details such as eligibility, funding amount, allowable use of funds and more. If you haven’t already, sign up for RRF email updates.

2. How to prepare.
You can prepare your application by reviewing the sample application, program guide and cross-program eligibility chart on SBA COVID-19 relief options. You will be able to apply through SBA-recognized Point of Sale Restaurant Partners or directly via SBA in a forthcoming online application portal. Registration with SAM.gov is not required. DUNS or CAGE identifiers are also not required.

3. When to apply.
Register for an account in advance at restaurants.sba.gov starting Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 a.m. EDT. Ahead of the application launch the SBA will establish a seven-day pilot period for the RRF application portal and conduct extensive outreach and training on how to apply, application requirements and where to apply. Participants in this pilot will be randomly selected from existing PPP borrowers in priority groups for RRF and will not receive funds until the application portal is open to the public.

Following the pilot, the application portal will be opened to the public. For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the 21-day period, all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications.

If you would like to prepare your application, view the sample application form by clicking on below button. You will be able to complete this form online.

SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program

The SBA has completed a rigorous testing and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal will reopen April 24, 2021.

Interested applicants should register for an account in advance here at the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

IRS: Employer Tax Credits Updates

As the country moves into a new phase of the vaccination effort – one where all adults are eligible for vaccinations – we want to ensure that you are aware of a new tax credit that President Biden announced. The new paid leave tax credit will offset the cost for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide full pay for when their employees get a COVID-19 vaccination or recover from that vaccination.

This tax credit will apply to nearly half of all private sector employees in America. The Internal Revenue Service posted a fact sheet to educate employers on how to claim the paid sick leave credit on their quarterly tax filings.

For more details on how the paid leave tax credits from the American Rescue Plan will work for employers to enable employees to get vaccinated and recover from after-effects of vaccination, as well as for other purposes, please review additional information from the Department of the Treasury.

Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of Excelsior Pass to Help Fast-Track Reopening of Businesses and Entertainment Venues Statewide

Excelsior Pass for Business

Excelsior Pass is a free, fast, and secure way to accept proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test result.

The American Rescue Plan Act’s Small Business Assistance and Support
The American Rescue Plan Act provides additional relief for the nation’s small businesses and hard-hit industries for programs the SBA is currently administering and adds new efforts, including:
  • $7.25 billion additional for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including to expand eligibility to additional nonprofits and digital news services
  • Additional funds are allocated for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, and now allows businesses to apply for both a PPP loan after Dec. 27, 2020, and the SVOG
  • $15 billion additional for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance (EIDL) payments, including NEW $5 billion for Supplemental Targeted EIDL Advance payments for those hardest hit
  • NEW: $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund for industry-focused grants
  • NEW: $100 million to establish a Community Navigator pilot program; grants will go to eligible organizations supporting efforts to improve access to COVID–19 pandemic assistance programs and resources.

SBA Extends Deferment Period for all COVID-19 EIDL and Other Disaster Loans until 2022

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022.

  1. All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.
  2. All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.

Existing SBA disaster loans approved prior to 2020 in regular servicing status as of March 1, 2020, received an automatic deferment of principal and interest payments through December 31, 2020. This initial deferment period was subsequently extended through March 31, 2021. An additional 12-month deferment of principal and interest payments will be automatically granted to these borrowers. Borrowers will resume their regular payment schedule with the payment immediately preceding March 31, 2022, unless the borrower voluntarily continues to make payments while on deferment. It is important to note that the interest will continue to accrue on the outstanding balance of the loan throughout the duration of the deferment.

Biden-Harris Administration Increases Lending to Small Businesses in Need

Empire State Digital Initiative

New York State has partnered for a first-in-the-nation program with leading global e-commerce partners–Ritual ONE & PayPal, Shopify, Square, and Clearbanc–to accelerate New York State-based small businesses’ ability to grow their online presence.

SBA Re-Opening Paycheck Protection Program to Small Lenders on Friday, January 15 and All Lenders on Tuesday, January 19

Lenders with $1 Billion or Less in Assets Will be Able to Submit First and Second Draw PPP Applications on Friday – Continuing Dedicated Access for Community-Based Lenders 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 9 a.m. EST. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.

First Draw PPP Loans are for those borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020. The first round of the PPP, which ran from March to August 2020, was a historic success helping 5.2 million small businesses keep 51 million American workers employed.

Second Draw PPP Loans are for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less, that previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will use or have used the full amount only for authorized uses, and that can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a Second Draw PPP loan is $2 million.

SBA, in consultation with the Treasury Department, has recently released additional PPP guidance and resources:

The Ulster County virtual COVID-19 Vaccination Resource Center

New York State Phased Distribution of the Vaccine

IFR: Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as Amended by the Economic Aid Act

Empire State Development Announces “Raising The Bar” Restaurant Recovery Fund

More Than $3 Million in Grant Funding Available through Financial Support Led by Diageo North America and Supported by Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits, and implemented by the National Development Council. Eligible Restaurants Can Receive up to $5,000 to Assist with COVID-19 Safety Measures.

SBA Assistance Update: EIDL Extended Through Dec 31, 2021

SBA Assistance update: PPP Second Draw Loan Update

SBA Guidance on Accessing Capital for Minority, Underserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Business Concerns

COVID Legislation / Key Provisions for Employers

Mandatory FFCRA Leave Ends on December 31, 2020

There is no extension of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) paid sick leave/paid FMLA benefits. Employees are not entitled to additional FFCRA leave after December 31, 2020. As of January 1, 2021, covered private-sector employers may voluntarily provide paid leave that otherwise would have qualified for FFCRA if the FFCRA had not expired, and if they do, they may take the tax credit associated with this leave. The tax credit may only be taken for leave through March 31, 2021. Learn More

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

An additional $284 billion is allocated for the PPP. In addition, PPP eligibility is expanded to include all nonprofits, including 501(c)(6) organizations, with some limitations based on employment (under 300) and lobbying activity (less than 15% of expenditures). Businesses that already received a PPP loan will be eligible to get a second one under the new terms. Some of the PPP funds will be set aside for the smallest businesses and community-based lenders and provides $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans grants for smaller businesses. A summary of the PPP provisions can be found here.

EIDL Grants

The new law reopens the $10,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Grant program. Priority for the full amount of the EIDL grant will be given to businesses with less than 300 employees, located in low-income neighborhoods, who have experienced a 30 percent reduction in gross receipts during any 8-week period between March 2, and December 31, 2020 compared to a comparable 8-week period before March 2. If you meet this description and received a grant that is less than $10,000 you can reapply to receive the difference.

Extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit

The bill extends (through June 30, 2021) and expands the refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), which was established in the CARES Act. The credit rate is increased from 50 percent to 70 percent of qualified wages; expands eligibility for the credit by reducing the required year-over year gross receipts decline from 50 percent to 20 percent and provides a safe harbor allowing employers to use prior quarter gross receipts to determine eligibility; increases the 100-employee delineation for determining the relevant qualified wage base to employers with 500 or fewer employees, and allows businesses with PPP loans to qualify, among other changes.

Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangements

The bill allows taxpayers to rollover unused amounts in their health and dependent care flexible spending arrangements from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022. This provision also permits employers to allow employees to make a 2021 mid-year prospective change in contribution amounts.

Employer-provided Student Loan Repayment

The CARES Act temporarily allowed employers to provide student loan repayment as a benefit to employees through December 31, 2020. Under this provision, an employer may contribute up to $5,250 annually toward an employee’s student loans, and such payment would be excluded from the employee’s income. The $5,250 cap applies to both the new student loan repayment.

An Extension of Expanded Unemployment Insurance

The bill extends two Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) unemployment programs for 11 weeks. Specifically, the bill provides $300 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits, through March 14, 2021. The bill also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, with expanded coverage to the self-employed, gig workers, and others in non-traditional employment, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides additional weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits to individuals who exhaust their regular state benefits. Additionally, the bill increases the maximum number of weeks an individual may claim benefits through the combination of regular state unemployment plus the PEUC program, or through the PUA program, to 50 weeks. The bill also provides an extra benefit of $100 per week for certain workers who have both wage and self-employment income but whose base UI benefit calculation does not take their self-employment into account.

Payroll Protection Program Tax Issues Clarified

The federal COVID legislation also includes provisions clarifying the tax treatment of expenses paid for with the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan. The bill specifies that forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans will not be included in taxable income, and further clarifies that deductions are allowed for expenses paid with proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, effective as of the date of enactment of the CARES Act and applicable to subsequent PPP loans. This same tax treatment also applies to EIDL grants and certain loans and loan repayment assistance. Earlier IRS guidance had established that expenses funded with PPP proceeds could not be deducted as business expenses. At this point, this treatment of PPP loan proceeds should flow through to state business and personal income tax returns of New York State taxpayers as well.

Guide to Small Businesses COVID-19 Federal Assistance

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill (December 2020)

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