The Chamber will continue to provide you with the most up to date state and federal information that you can use for your business and your employees. We know you are being inundated with emails and it becomes quite confusing for us all. Our Public Policy team is focused on providing the most important resources available at this time to you, our members.
All of our Public Policy updates can be found here.
Please contact us with any questions you may have. Our contact information is below.
NEW:The Biden Administration announcedmajor changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with the goal of reaching more minority-owned and small businesses. The Small Business Administration is making the following changes:
Establishing a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees
Allowing sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants
Eliminating an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal
Eliminating PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP; and
Ensuring access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP
The 14-day exclusivity period has begun, while the other four changes will be implemented by the first week of March.
Unless Congress passes an extension, the last day to apply for a PPP loan is March 31, 2021.
𝗞𝗲𝘆 𝗣𝗣𝗣 𝘂𝗽𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝗱𝗲: • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs; • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures; • The Program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, direct marketing organizations, among other types of organizations; • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees; • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount; and • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan. LEARN MORE
𝗔 𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗿𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝘀 𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝗦𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝘄 𝗣𝗣𝗣 𝗟𝗼𝗮𝗻 𝗶𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗿𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿: • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses; • Has no more than 300 employees; and • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.
Updated guidance to assist businesses in calculating their payroll costs for purposes of determining the maximum amount of a First Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for each type of business.
1) The Employee Retention Tax Credit has been enhanced and extended through June 30. To qualify for the credit, your business must have fewer than 500 employees (it was previously 100). You also must have been forced to at least partially suspend business operations due to a COVID or had a 20% revenue decline in any quarter versus last year.
If that’s the case, then you’re entitled to a tax credit equal to 70% of each employee’s wages (which now includes health insurance payments), up to $10,000 per worker per quarter. You use the credit to cut the employer’s portion of social security taxes (FICA). The credit is refundable — if the credit is larger than your tax debt, you get the difference back in cash.
You can also take score this credit even if you’re getting money from the Payroll Protection Program, provided you don’t use the same wages in both the credit and forgiveness calculations. In short, no double-dipping. The credit is available for both the first and second quarters of 2021.
Some employers might be able to go back to 2020 and retroactively claim this credit. Talk to a tax professional about this.
2) The Families First virus tax credit has been extended through March 31. This had required employers to keep paying employees forced to miss work due to COVID (such as staying home with children while schools are closed), but offered a tax credit to help cover the cost. Employers no longer must pay such workers. But the new stimulus bill extended the refundable tax credit through the first quarter for those bosses that voluntarily choose to continue paying such employees.
3)The Work Opportunity Tax Credit has been extended through 2025. This is a credit for hiring an individual from a selected categories - veterans, ex-felons, welfare recipients -but most importantly, people who have been jobless for more than six months. The credit, which is calculated per employee and ranges from $1,200 from $9,600, is taken on your company’s tax return and is also available for pass-through (i.e. S-Corps, Partnerships) organizations. Considering today’s massive unemployment and he hope that many will returning to the workforce, this credit may prove an enormous financial benefit to employers who hire this year. 4)Nonprofits will get a revenue boost because of extended tax deductions. The new legislation extends the increased deductions for charitable contributions through the end of 2021. That means that individuals can take a $300 ($600 for joint tax returns) deduction on this year’s taxes above the standard deduction for charitable donations. Corporations will also be allowed to deduct up to 25% of their taxable income for charitable contributions, an increase from the normal 10% allowed.
5) The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program is Section 324 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act) signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, and was part of H.R. 133 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
The U.S. Department of Labor revised forms of its model Notice of Rights, Certification, and Designation forms for administration of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Revised forms are meant to be “simpler and easier for employees, employers, leave administrators, and healthcare providers to understand and use.” Employers are not required to use the DOL’s model forms (as opposed to FMLA forms they have created themselves), many employers find the DOL’s forms useful in navigating the process. You can find the formshere. Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCRA) Act: Emergency relief package providing funding and other changes to law to assist the Nation responding to COVID-19. Key elements of the $100 billion, bi-partisan bill are: paid emergency leave to workers, provisions for free coronavirus testing and bolstered unemployment benefits.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Congress has approved $350 billion in emergency loans for small businesses to help keep their workers employed. In fact, if small businesses maintain or later restore their payrolls, they may not have to repay some — or possibly any — of the loan.
Here are resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):
SBA has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants. SBA’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit. These loans can provide vital economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue. EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses. Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are low-interest loans of up to $2 million to be used toward expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, such as payroll and other operating expenses. Eligible businesses must have 500 or fewer employees. The grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits harmed by COVID-19. The advance does not need to be repaid and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments
SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program: Enables small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. The funding may be used as a term loan or to bridge the gap while applying for a direct Economic Injury Disaster Loan
SBA Debt Relief:Provides a financial reprieve to small businesses by automatically paying the principal, interest and fees of some current loans and microloans
Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act: The IRS has posted updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to IRS.gov providing answers regarding the Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act. The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. More information can be found here
Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program: provides loans to businesses, with interest rates ranging from 2.5% to 4%. Unlike the PPP, the repayment term for a Main Street loan is four years and the loan can’t be forgiven. There are two loans available through the lending program: the Main Street New Loan Facility for new loans and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility for borrowers who have an existing small business loan from before April 8. Loans vary between $1 million and $25 million. The program is considering applications from businesses that made less than $2.5 billion last year and employs less than 10,000 employees. Businesses that are interested in the program should contact their banker Other Federal Resources:
Starting March 15, businesses can begin applying for grants through your county's Certified Economic Development Organizations or Community Development Financial Institutions. Grants will be awarded in $5,000 increments with a $50,000 maximum
Eligible applicants will have to meet these criteria:
A for-profit entity which also:
Is not publicly traded.
Experienced a 25% reduction in revenue in calendar year 2020, measured using similar requirements to the Federal PPP loan program.
Was in operation as of February 15, 2020.
Operates a place of business within this Commonwealth having a NAICS designation within the Accommodation subsector (721) or Food Services and Drinking Places subsector (722) and where accommodations, food or drink are served to or provided for the public, with or without charge.
Has fewer than 500 full-time equivalent employees. For purposes of determining the number of full-time equivalent employees under this paragraph, the calculation shall include each employee of the eligible applicant notwithstanding whether the eligible applicant has employees at multiple locations.
Has a maximum tangible net worth of not more than $15,000,000 computed in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
Grants must be used by the recipient business for alleviating revenue loss and for payment of eligible operating expense, including payroll, mortgage obligation, rent and utility costs. Operating expenses must have occurred between March 1, 2020 and June 15, 2021 and before the submission of an application. Awards shall not exceed $50,000 per applicant.
Under the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants. Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.
If you can’t find what you need there, the department asks that you email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to avoid a long wait on the phone
Employee Refusal of Work:
Unemployment Compensation is temporary income support for those whose jobs are reduced or lost through no fault of their own. To be unemployed, a person must have a loss in bothwork hours and pay or “earnings.”
As an employer, if you are continuing to pay your employees through the COVID-19 social distancing period, either in full or in part, an email can be sent to RefusalofWork@PA.gov to notify the department of such payments.
Spreadsheets can be attached to your email in order to notify the department of all employees that are contining to receive pay during this time. If you create a spreadsheet, it should include the full names of the employees, the last four digits of their social security numbers and details regarding the wages the employee received, as well as the weeks the compensation covered.
If you have employees who have refused to return to work after being recalled, or if you have offered work to an individual who has refused your offer, notifications can be sent to the email address above. In addition, form UC-1921Wis available to report these situations. Reports of refusal of work or recall are not limited to the COVID-19 emergency, and may be submitted at any time.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides additional benefit weeks to qualified individuals who have exhausted their regular Unemployment Compensation benefits.
Claimants can receive an additional 11 weeks due to the extension of the program.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) unemployment compensation benefits for self-employed workers, independent contractors and others not typically eligible for benefits is NOW AVAILABLE on the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation system website, here's the link.
For questions about program eligibility and information about the documents you will need to provide when applying, click here.
For questions specific to applying for PUA, please emailUCPUA@pa.gov or call 855-284-8545 if you have issues with your PUA claim - Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
State Legislation on Our Watch-List for the 2021–2022 Session: Restaurant Pandemic Sales Tax Suspension - would allow restaurants to continue collecting sales tax for the sale of food and beverages within their establishments but not require remittance of this amount to the state until restrictions are removed, and they are able to operate at 100% capacity. A restaurant would be required to submit an application to the Department of Revenue and, if approved, would convert the amount of sales tax collected into a grant. The Chamber is proud to partner with Representatives Day and Mackenzie to bring this legislation to life
COVID19: Emergency Liquor Licensee Discount - would increase the discount that bars and restaurants receive when they purchase from the PLCB Fine Wine and Good Spirits Stores from 10% to 15% for a period of one year
Pandemic Liability Protections - would provide for limited, temporary and targeted COVID-19-related liability for those who have attempted to comply with confusing and ever changing state and federal COVID guidelines, including (i) schools and universities, (ii) manufacturers and others who provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), (iii) those who provide certain critical medical services, and (iv) those who have been permitted to open up their businesses or have provided our citizens critical governmental services
Protected Business Operations during COVID-19 - would provide security for individuals and licensees by ensuring immunity from civil and criminal liability and from imposition of administrative sanctions, including those by a professional or occupational licensing board or commission, if an individual is engaged in a protected business operation during a declared disaster emergency and does not cause any actual harm
Prevailing Wage Opt-Out due to COVID-19 - would grant Commonwealth school entities, municipalities, and government authorities the option to choose whether they wish to pursue a moratorium on the existing Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act requirements due to a significant decline in tax revenue from COVID-19
Tax Credit for Manufacturers to Manufacture Personal Protective Equipment - would create a tax credit program for manufacturers who convert or retrofit their existing facilities and operations in order to produce personal protective equipment or who produce equipment necessary for the production of personal protective equipment to help with the Commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The manufacturer would be able to get a tax credit equal to 100% of the costs associated with the conversion or retrofit. The program is capped at $50 million annually.
Lehigh County Tourism CARES Act Grant Program In partnership with Lehigh County Government Officials, Discover Lehigh Valley (DLV) is pleased to announce that Lehigh & Northampton County tourism businesses (especially those serving Lehigh Valley) are eligible to apply for block grants available through the CARES ACT.
Northampton County COVID-19 Risk Management & Recovery Free and safe COVID-19 awareness, risk management and recovery training to Northampton County businesses. Instructor led (live) training and independent (prerecorded) training options are available to accommodate the busy schedules of County businesses.
Need Help Finding Workers? PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley is here to help provide you with skilled workers. The employment, training, and labor market services you receive through their workforce delivery system are professional, comprehensive, and on-target. These services come at no cost to you.To learn more about employment and training programs, call 610-437-5627, extension 136, or emailBEST@careerlinklv.org.