**Updated March 30, 2020**
Please note that as our nation and state take the necessary steps to address COVID-19 in Louisiana, the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce will do the same. All scheduled meetings are on hold, and our staff will be working remotely as much as possible as we all work together to prevent the spread of the virus.
While our staff may be operating from different locations than usual, rest assured that we will continue to keep you informed of resources and information to support your operations. We stand ready to aid our local, state and federal partners in helping Acadia Parish’s employers and workers during this challenging time.
CARES ACT SIGNED BY PRESIDENT
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is a law meant to address the economic fallout of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United States. President Donald Trump on Friday signed the $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill, dispersing much-needed financial relief for millions of Americans set back by the pandemic.
Trump signed the bill hours after the U.S. House of Representatives passed it with a bipartisan vote.
The legislation, which was passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday, will provide billions of dollars in relief for struggling industries, a significant boost to unemployment insurance and direct cash payments to Americans, many of whom have been financially crippled by the outbreak.
Acadiana Business Resource Webinars
The Acadia Parish Chamber partnered with One Acadiana, local, regional, and state organizations to host a two-part webinar to discuss the tools available to small businesses during the coronavirus crisis. Topics include Business Resources with SBDC, Federal Stimulus Package and Digital Transition for businesses. The next webinars are taking place on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application is Now Open for Louisiana Businesses
The SBA issued the official disaster declaration for Louisiana small businesses, adding a link to their website to begin receiving applications to address revenue losses related to COVID-19. Low-interest loans with long-term repayment programs are available up to $2 million. These loans also include a $10,000 cash advance to be distributed within 3 days. SBA staff advise the process will take approximately 30-45 days to begin receiving funds and are encouraging applications immediately. Apply HERE.
Small businesses are also advised to call your lenders. Your current bank may already be able to offer immediate bridge loan assistance or defer existing loan payments.
Louisiana Economic Development Launches Business Hotline
Louisiana Economic Development has launched a hotline to answer questions from the state’s business community during the Coronavirus crisis. LED staff will be answering the phones and will be able field inquiries from businesses and stakeholders from across the state. The current hotline number is (225) 342-4321. A toll-free hotline number is coming soon.
For more information, you can visit LED’s COVID-19 webpage.
Additional Guidance on New Federal Paid Leave Mandates
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy’s office has shared a summary of the new law that passed, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In short, most employers are now required to provide sick leave to workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and federal tax credits will be offered in an attempt to reimburse employers. Read HERE.
Experts at Forbes have offered this breakdown of the new mandates, which you may also find helpful. Read HERE.
The US Department of Labor is authorized to waive the mandate for some small businesses, and state officials expect that guidance by next week.
Louisiana Department of Revenue Extends Sales Tax Filing Deadline
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Louisiana Department of Revenue has issued a two month extension, to May 20, for businesses to file returns for their sales and excise taxes.
According to LDR’s official announcement, the extension will apply to sales, beer, and wine excise tax returns and payments for the February 2020 period. In addition, the Department will be waiving penalties and interest for returns and payments received by the extended deadline.
IRS & LDR Delay Income Tax Payments to July 15
As part of the federal government’s response to the Coronavirus crisis, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance allowing all individual tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments originally due on April 15 until July 15 without penalties or interest. Similarly, the new deadline for corporate tax payments up to $10 million is also July 15.
The IRS encourages filers to meet the April 15 deadline so they can receive refunds sooner.
The state filing extension follows the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to move the federal income tax deadline from April 15 to July 15. The state filing extension is automatic for eligible taxes and no extension request is necessary.
For more tax information, visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief website.
Utilities Suspend Disconnections
In response to the COVID 19 crisis, Entergy Louisiana has announced that they will suspend all electric and natural gas service disconnections for at least 30 days, effective March 13.
Cleco has announced the suspension of disconnects and late fees until further notice.
Slemco disconnections for non-payment are being temporarily suspended. Meters will continue to be read and bills will continue to be sent out. Once the Coronavirus crisis is over, our normal procedures for bills that aren’t paid will resume.
Information on Unemployment Compensation
While coronavirus cases move across the 64 parishes, the impact will be felt statewide. The Louisiana Workforce Commission has provided guidelines and information regarding unemployment insurance for employers and workers affected by the crisis.
Under new guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, the state is now permitted to pay benefits to workers when:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
These new provisions do not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19, nor will employees have to conduct the usual job search required of Unemployment Compensation recipients.
Visit LWC’s website for more information.
IRS Implements Tax Credits for Paid Leave Program
Today the US Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the US Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.
To see the IRS official announcement and guidance, click HERE.
Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the Act. Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the Act.
- Health insurance costs are also included in the credit.
- Employers face no payroll tax liability.
- Self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirements to provide leave to care for a child whose school is closed, or child care is unavailable in cases where the viability of the business is threatened.
For more tax information, visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief website.
Information from the Louisiana Department of Health
Louisiana Department of Health has resources available for the state’s business community.
- To see LDH’s Guidance for Business and Employers, click HERE
In addition, LDH has also made printable items available that can be placed around your place of business and company facilities.
- How to Keep Illness from Spreading
- Coronavirus Symptoms and Travel Considerations
- LDH’s Guidance for Family Preparedness
For more information, visit LDH’s coronavirus website or you can call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. In addition, you can text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for regular text updates from LDH on the coronavirus in our state.
Recommendations for Louisiana Businesses
As you look to pass accurate information to your workers and make important decisions regarding business operations, a good place to start is with the CDC’s recommended business strategies, which include:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Separate sick employees.
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps.
Resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Given the national scope of the Coronavirus challenge, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. has made resources, guidance, and information available for American businesses and workers.
- To access the U.S. Chamber’s Coronavirus Response Toolkit, click HERE.
- To access the U.S. Chamber’s Resilience in a Box portal, offering preparedness tips and information about best practices for small business, click HERE.
- To see the U.S. Chamber’s Coronavirus Guidance for Employers, click HERE.
- To see the U.S. Chamber’s Workplace Tips for Employees, click HERE.
In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has also created a Disaster Help Desk for Business – an information concierge to assist small businesses with disaster readiness, relief and long-term recovery. You can reach the help desk either ONLINE or by dialing 888-MY-BIZ-HELP or sending a message to [email protected].
For additional information, including updates on the U.S. Chamber’s Congressional advocacy during this time, visit their Coronavirus website.
COVID-19 Cyber Alert
On March 6, 2020 the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an alert reminding individuals to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.
Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.
CISA encourages individuals to remain vigilant and take the following precautions.
Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. See Using Caution with Email Attachments and Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Scams for more information.
- Use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
- Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.
- Review CISA Insights on Risk Management for COVID-19 for more information.
BUSINESS ASSISTANCE RESOURCES:
- SBA’s COVID-19 Disaster Relief Lending
- SBA Declaration Details and Information
- Handout-SBA Disaster Assistance Resources for Business
- SBA Louisiana District Office, 504-589-6685
- Military Reservists Economic Injury Loans
- US Chamber of Commerce
- US Chamber of Commerce Corporate Aid Tracker Form
- Facebook Small Business Grant Program
- USDA Rural Business Development Grants
- CDC Interim Guidance for Business and Employers
- International Economic Development Council
- Louisiana Bankers Association (LBA)
- Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LABEOC)
- Louisiana Workforce Commission
- National Governors Association
- OSHA Guidance
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCS)
About the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce
The Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce, serving as both the chamber of commerce and economic development agency for Acadia Parish. The Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce exists to be a catalyst for business growth, a convener for leaders and influencers, and a champion for stronger communities. Find out more information at AcadiaParishChamber.org.