The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant shift in the economy. Many industries have stalled as communities entered lock down periods. Thousands of small businesses have closed temporarily or drastically reduced their hours. Luckily, several federally-backed programs are making aid available to small businesses and individuals.
The CARES, or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was designed to help keep Americans afloat during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. It’s done this in a number of ways. Many adult Americans received stimulus checks for $1200. This has been a boon to workers during a time when many are unemployed. Businesses are the beneficiaries of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance program, Paycheck Protection Program, and the ERTC.
The EIDL is a program that provides loans of up to $10,000 to businesses facing temporary shortfalls. This is a loan that does not have to be paid back. This program has been very popular, and it’s been challenging to process all the applications. Currently, only agricultural businesses with less than 500 employees are eligible to apply for more funding. These businesses include ranches, aquaculture, farms that grow plants and other agricultural enterprises.
The Paycheck Protection Program has likewise been popular. This program has also attracted some controversy, though. At first, large chain restaurants like Shake Shack applied and were approved through this program. The regulations for the PPP specify that businesses with 500 or fewer US-based employees are eligible. The rationale behind the plan is to make it possible for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll. If employers keep everyone on the payroll for eight weeks, this loan will be forgiven by the SBA.
Finally, there’s also an Employee Retention Tax Credit. Like the PPP, this is designed as an incentive to keep workers on payrolls. As a tax credit, this feature of the CARES Act can also benefit businesses that have lost money. Both for-profit and non-profit companies are eligible for the ERTC. The ERTC is designed for employers that had to shut down due to COVID-19, and expected to lose 50% of quarterly revenue compared to 2019. Businesses that claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit will not be eligible for the PPP, and vice versa.