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The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act

Relief for small businesses may now be available under the CARES Act, but many small business owners still have questions about eligibility requirements, how the loan size will be determined and the circumstances under which it can be forgiven. The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship offers a very comprehensive guide to help answer these questions, and more. 

Quoting from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship report, “The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act"

The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

Struggling to get started?

The following questions might help point you in the right direction. Do you need:

Contracting

If you are a government contractor, there are a number of ways that Congress has provided relief and protection for your business. Agencies will be able to modify terms and conditions of a contract and to reimburse contractors at a billing rate of up to 40 hours per week of any paid leave, including sick leave. The contractors eligible are those whose employees or subcontractors cannot perform work on site and cannot telework due to federal facilities closing because of COVID-19.

If you need additional assistance, please reach out to your local Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, SCORE chapter, or SBA District Office. You should also work with your agency’s contracting officer, as well as the agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU).

Small Business Tax Provisions

Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closure or Experiencing Economic Hardship

This provision would provide a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. The credit is also provided to employers who have experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis.

Wages of employees who are furloughed or face reduced hours as a result of their employer’s closure or economic hardship are eligible for the credit. For employers with 100 or fewer fulltime employees, all employee wages are eligible, regardless of whether an employee is furloughed. The credit is provided for wages and compensation, including health benefits, and is provided for the first $10,000 in wages and compensation paid by the employer to an eligible employee. Wages do not include those taken into account for purposes of the payroll credits for required paid sick leave or required paid family leave, nor for wages taken into account for the employer credit for paid family and medical leave (IRC sec. 45S).

  • The credit is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. The credit is provided through December 31, 2020.

Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes

This provision would allow taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022. Payroll taxes that can be deferred include the employer portion of FICA taxes, the employer and employee representative portion of Railroad Retirement taxes (that are attributable to the employer FICA rate), and half of SECA tax liability.

  • Deferral is not provided to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.