April Newsletter

Happy March 34th, dudes!

Are you taking it easy at home and channeling your inner Dude? (Big Lebowski reference, anyone?). Maybe you’re the opposite and have been trying to keep up with working remotely, homeschooling the kids, wearing pants, etc. 

Seriously, why did last month feel like 3 months? Everyone is feeling the challenges of COVID-19 right now, so we’ve put everything you need to know about your financial options as a small business (whether a sole proprietor, independent contractor, freelancer, LLC/corporation owner or otherwise!) during this health crisis.

The Stimulus package is 883 pages and worth $2 Trillion. Yikes. 

We haven’t read it all, but we DID compile a complete small business resource guide for you below. Additionally, check out the links under each topic for more information. If you think this is helpful for others in your network, please feel free to pass it on. We’re all in this together!

If you don’t understand the .GIF references, we strongly recommend adding The Big Lebowski to your stay-at-home entertainment list – I just watched it myself for the very first time last Sunday and now understand how it’s a cult classic!

This is what you need to know:

The CARES Act supports small businesses. Here’s how:
Stimulus Package for Small Businesses


SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan & Loan Advance
 is something every small business should apply for IMMEDIATELY. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds of up to $10,000 will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaidSeriously guys, go apply RIGHT NOW. 

The Paycheck Protection Program will provide small businesses with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits. These funds can also be used for necessary bills such as mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. These loans will be fully forgiven (woohoo!) when used for payroll costs and necessary expenses with some restrictionsApplications open TOMORROW, April 3rd, for small businesses and sole proprietorships. You read that right – sole proprietors can apply, too. This program will be administered by 3rd party lending partners and will be available through June 30, 2020. Find a lender near you.

Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund
This fund is designed to compliment the federal Paycheck Protection Program. This money is intended to bolster small businesses and nonprofits with cash flow during the health crisis. These low-interest loans will be administered by 3rd party lending partners. Applications for this money are now openThis is only available to Chicago based businesses. 

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
Low-interest loans of up to $50,000 are available for small businesses in every industry. Businesses with less than 50 employees and less than $3 million in revenue will be eligible to apply. All payments will be deferred for six months, then fixed payments at 3% interest will be due for a five-year term. Forms and additional information can be found hereThis is available to small businesses not based in Chicago.

More on the personal impact:

Unemployment
You might be asking yourself, “I’m self-employed. Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?” Under regular unemployment rules, the incomes of self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are not subject to unemployment taxes and so typically these individuals are not eligible for unemployment benefits. The stimulus package creates a new, temporary program to help people who lose this type of work as a direct result of the current public health emergency. IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) will provide information about how to apply for this benefit as soon as it is finalized. As of 3-31-20 they have advised that self-employed folks should not apply at this time; wait to apply until further details are available. If you do not work or own a business in Illinois, please check your state’s unemployment website for details pertaining to your area.
 

Taxes
As I mentioned previously, the filing date was extended to July 15th and is automatic for all taxpayers. You don’t have to file additional forms or qualify in any way to get an extension. However, if you want your refund and/or stimulus check, you must have filed your 2018 and/or 2019 tax return.

Stimulus Checks for Individuals
If you are eligible for the Economic Impact Payment, the IRS will automatically dispense the money to you permitting that you have filed your 2018 or 2019 tax returns. The Treasury plans to develop an online portal to provide your banking information to the IRS online. If you’ve never used direct deposit for a refund before, they will need your bank info so they can directly deposit the funds to each individual. 

Student Loan Relief
A lot has happened with student loans in the last couple of weeks. If you have loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education, then your payments may be automatically suspended through September 30th. No interest is being accrued on student loans until September 30th. There is also a tax benefit for student loan borrowers whose employers help them pay off their debt. Under the bill, a company could pay up to $5,250 of an employee’s student loan payments each year on a tax-free basis.

Pausing Your Bills
Many companies are allowing customers to defer their bills. This includes everything from gym memberships to credit card payments.Before you defer a debt payment, be sure to ask the company to be sure that it will not impact your credit score or financial situation long-term. Here is information on what to do if you can’t make your mortgage or rent payment

Watch Out for Scams
It’s important to note that nobody from the IRS or Treasury will call you. Do not reply to emails, calls, or other communications claiming to be from government institutions. There are no advance fees required for any of the services listed above. If you believe you are being scammed, report it to the FBI here so they can be tracked and stopped. 

Other valuable resources:

One Last Thing:

  • #TeamFollowBack: We are growing our social profiles and also LOVE seeing what you’re up to! Click on these links to follow our InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, accounts and we will follow you back. We will be posting updates on the latest & greatest information affecting small businesses as it’s released – in addition to the usual sleep-deprived, overly caffeinated tax season nonsense (sometimes you just have to goof around a little to lighten up the mood, you know?).

That rug really tied the room together, did it not?

Stephanie & Team ZP