The new COVID-19 Economic Relief Package significantly expands the employee retention tax credit beginning on January 1, 2021. The credit expires on June 30, 2021. The prior credit was 50% on $10,000 in qualified wages for the whole year (or a maximum of $5,000 per employee). The new credit is 70% on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $14,000 per employee through June 30th).
The new law also expands which employers are eligible. Prior to the new law, the employee retention tax credit applied only to an employer who experienced a decline in gross receipts of more than 50% in a quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. Eligibility is now expanded to include employers who experienced a decline of more than 20%.
In addition, the employee cap under which it is easier to claim the tax credit has been raised to 500 employees from 100 employees. Now, employers with 500 or fewer employees can claim the credit for wages to paid to employees irrespective of whether the employee is providing services.
Employers can now also receive both the Employee Retention Tax Credit and a PPP loan, just not to cover the same payroll expenses.
A newly-launched Family Forward NC COVID-19 Rapid Response program is providing employers with HR experts, resources and support as they face family workplace issues as they return to work or retool their business.
Family-friendly business practices such as support for child care, along with paid leave, flexible work options, and other policies and practices are more important than ever to help employers return to business (and employees to return to work) in a way that allows for continued viability for business and continued health and well-being for the families of all workers.
Through Family Forward NC’s Rapid Response program, employers can access:
Learn more about Rapid Response.
Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security, and health of the American people. Small businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
For updates from the CDC for business and employers, see the following:
Unemployment insurance tax is a tax on employer payrolls paid by employers from which unemployment benefits are paid to qualified unemployed workers. In accordance with Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order 118, employers’ accounts will not be charged for individuals who are paid benefits for reasons related to COVID-19. Visit www.des.nc.gov for more details or contact their call center at 919-707-1150 for assistance.
Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order 118 lifts some restrictions on unemployment benefits to help workers unemployed due to Covid-19 and those who are employed but will not receive a paycheck. Additionally, it adds benefit eligibility for those out of work because they have the virus or must care for someone who is sick.
It directly aids workers who may have lost wages in restaurants and meeting places due to mass gathering restrictions. Among other changes:
Employees can apply for benefits online at www.des.nc.gov 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or by calling the Customer Call Center at 888-737-0259 on Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. An account must be created to file an application for Unemployment Insurance online. To create your online account, you will need your Social Security Number and a valid email address.
The NC Division of Employment Security (DES) has received official guidance from the US Department of Labor on implementing the three unemployment programs under the CARES Act. DES is working to modify their systems to make sure people receive accurate payments.
DES is implementing the programs in the following order:
Individuals due any benefits prior to the full implementation of these programs, you will be paid retroactively. For additional information, visit the DES website.
To help everyone check the status of their Economic Impact (or Stimulus) Payment, the IRS is launching a tool that will provide the status of a payment, including the date it’s scheduled to be deposited or mailed. The "Get My Payment" application (coming mid-April) will also allow individuals to confirm the payment type (direct deposit or check), and enter bank account information for direct deposit if needed. For more information, see www.irs.gov/eip or #COVIDreliefIRS.
On March 18, 2020, the COVID-19 Response Act was signed by the President. The recently passed Act includes separate sections that directly affect employers and employees. Three of the COVID-19 Response Act sections are:
The Act provides a series of refundable tax credits for employers paying paid sick leave or family medical leave including tax relief for self-employed individuals. These tax credits will apply against the employer portion of Social Security taxes.
The imposed pay limits may impact the amount of the tax credit. However, employers will receive a refund if their costs for qualified sick leave or qualified family leave wages exceed the taxes they would owe.
The IRS and DOL recently issued joint guidance enabling small and midsize employers to begin taking advantage of the two new refundable payroll tax credits designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
Click here to review a summary provided by JDSupra.
The US Department of Labor has issued additional guidance explaining the paid sick leave and Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) provisions under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It includes links to a Fact Sheet for Employers, Fact Sheet for Employees, and a Q&A document. Click here for their news release.
Do you feel hopeless or lack initiative? Are you sleeping less and drinking more? Maybe you feel anxious or are worried about the health of your family or your employees’ families. Those are just a few of the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression that might manifest during a prolonged or unexpected crisis like COVID-19. And, these feelings don’t discriminate. Your family, friends, neighbors, and employees are likely struggling with the same pressures. Click here to view the infographic with tips for managing your mental health during COVID-19.
Just a few weeks ago, only 5.2% of US employees reported working from home all of the time and another 43% said they did so occassionally. By now, that figure has skyrocketed. Most of us are probably juggling cats on keyboards, sharing office hours (and bandwidth) with our spouses and children, and coordinating Zoom meetings rather than carpools. (In fact, Zoom reports their usage is up 649% in the last month!) For some people, this has been a rude awakening. Others are hoping this is a sign of things to come. Click here to view the infographic with tips on how to manage your virtual office.