Allison Kierman

Allison L. Kierman gives advice to clients in her office.

This is an unprecedented, unnerving and uncertain time. Small businesses in particular are struggling in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those businesses that have remained open are dealing with the fallout stemming from the fear of the spread of the disease, shrinking investments, curtailed discretionary spending and decreased consumer confidence.

As the number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States has risen, the

government has acted to try to lessen the economic impact in the following ways:

• The Federal Reserve has decreased the federal interest rate.

• The federal government and the Arizona Department of Revenue extended the tax return filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020, which also extends the time to contribute retirement savings to your IRA, SEP and HSA.

• On March 18, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, requiring businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave for employees who are sick, quarantined or unable to work because of the lack of childcare in a temporary expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

• The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was signed into law by the president on March 27. CARES includes a $2 trillion stimulus package to provide substantive assistance to taxpayers in the form of new and modified tax provisions, as well as an expanded small business loan program.

The CARES loan programs are administered through Small Business Administration loans. Many businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees qualify.

Small Business Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with cash-flow assistance to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits and interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. Funds provided in the form of loans may be partially forgiven, have a low interest rate, no prepayment penalty, and a 6-month loan repayment deferral.

The application does not require collateral, personal guarantees or an application fee. Businesses harmed by COVID-19 should apply as quickly as possible because there is a funding cap. More information, including a list of participating lenders, is available at sba.gov.

Emergency Injury Disaster Loan

The SBA’s Emergency Injury Disaster Loan provides an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits 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.

EIDL also provides loans up to $2 million, based on economic injury, with a low interest rate. Borrowing under $200,000 does not require a personal guarantee and under $25,000 does not require collateral.

The application can be found at covid19relief.sba.gov. The application requires providing gross revenues for Feb. 1, 2019, through Jan. 31, 2020, and the cost of goods sold for Feb. 1, 2019, through Jan. 31, 2020.

Keep calm and carry on

Small businesses may also be able to defer rent payments, renegotiate contracts and apply to file claims under insurance policies covering business interruptions or closures if they suffer COVID-19-related losses, depending upon the language of the policy. For those businesses feeling motivated and inspired, this can also be a time to reset goals, refocus marketing and reprioritize their business strategy.

Small business clients should reach out to their legal counsel, bankers and financial advisors to help them apply for the SBA loans, renegotiate payment terms with suppliers and lenders and seek extensions from landlords if they are having difficulty paying their rent on time.

Stay safe. Keep calm and carry on. This too shall pass. JN

Allison L. Kierman is the managing partner of Kierman Law, PLC, an Arizona estate planning and probate law firm based in Scottsdale. She serves on the board of directors for Congregation Beth Israel and the youth board of directors for the Martin Pear Jewish Community Center.

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