PPP and More
As we continue to navigate through difficult times, our government is working to help reduce financial stress.
By now, you should have received a direct payment of $600 to aid in COVID-19 relief funding as part of the new Consolidated Appropriations Act. If you earn less than $75,000 per year and did not receive a check, you may claim a credit when you file your tax return for 2020. The incoming administration has promised an additional check for $1,400 per person, subject to congressional approval. If you experience any delays in receiving the funds, you may check your status at irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.
In a response to the pandemic, our government has also set up a number of helpful programs to meet the financial needs of businesses and individuals who are suffering due to the virus-related shutdowns.
One program that stands out to local groups is the Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program. For local live music venues, theatres and theatre groups, real money is available to replace income that was missed during the shutdown.
If you or someone you know is involved in theatre or live performance, the U.S. government is providing direct grants through the Small Business Administration. This is a first come first served program, so if you are eligible, apply now on sba.gov.
Also, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was extended for a second round. For this round, the forgivable loan program is available for amounts up to $2 million for businesses that experienced a 25% drop in volume for any quarter between 2019 and 2020. After receiving a lot of bad press, the program was redesigned to meet the needs of small businesses. For instance, the program has granted the restaurant and hospitality sector eligibility for a loan 3.5 times their monthly payroll. As long as the business uses the funds for the proper purposes to pay rent and payroll, the best part about this program is that the amount is totally forgivable, and the expenses paid are still tax deductible.
The PPP forgivable loan program application forms can be found on sba.gov. Once complete, you can send these to a participating bank to access funding. The funding may be a touch slower than last round due to the extra anti-fraud scrutiny that the government mandated, but the forgivable loan is definitely worth the wait.
Additionally, rental assistance was also included in the act. If you are a property owner or a tenant struggling to pay the rent, you can register at the Louisiana Housing Corporation, www.lhc.la.gov/larenthelp, to be notified when the application period reopens as funding is temporarily suspended due to overwhelming response. The requirements are that you make less than $40,000 for a household of a least four people.
If you are eligible for any of these programs, do not hesitate to apply. After all, you pay for them through your federal tax payments.
As the vaccine rolls out in our region, we are very optimistic that our country can return to normal in the near future. In the meantime, please feel free to check with your local bank to see what sort of help might be available to meet your needs.