Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 11/23/2020 at 3:30 p.m. Updates in bold

We appreciate the ongoing support of all of our members, including our Visionary Members: Bloomsburg University, First Columbia Bank & Trust, First Keystone Community Bank, Geisinger, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, USG, & SEKISUI KYDEX

 

Safe Practices

The Chamber urges everyone to continue to follow CDC guidelines for personal protection and safety, which includes properly wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing whenever possible. If you are exhibiting symptoms, do not go out or to work. If your child is exhibiting symptoms, do not send them to school. 

CDC guidance for wearing a mask and other safety practices, as well as identifying COVID-19 symptoms, is available here

Business Operations

All businesses must continue to follow CDC and Department of Health guidance for social distancing and cleaning.

Amended guidelines for gathering limits allow for occupancy limits to determine the number of people permitted both inside and outside for events or gatherings.

Large events and gatherings are now reduced until further notice. View the governor’s amended order hereNew limits are as follows (Updated 11/23/2020):

Maximum Occupancy Calculator for indoor events:
Maximum Occupancy     Allowable Indoor Rate
0 – 2,000 people              10% of Maximum Occupancy
2,001 – 10,000 people   5% of Maximum Occupancy
Over 10,000 people        No events over 500 people

Maximum Occupancy Calculator for outdoor events:
Maximum Occupancy     Allowable Indoor Rate
0 – 2,000 people              15% of Maximum Occupancy
2,001 – 10,000 people   10% of Maximum Occupancy
Over 10,000 people        5% of Maximum Occupancy up to 2,500 people

Restaurants may increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent if they commit to complying with all public safety guidelines and orders through a self-certification process. Click here for details.

Guidance for businesses (including restaurants) and schools is provided here. (Updated 9/23/20)

CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

A FAQ providing additional clarification on cleaning and safety is provided here.


Financial Assistance

Federal programs

The PPP program is currently closed. Another round is being considered as part of the next federal relief package. EIDL loans are being accepted and processed, though funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated. 

– The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to small businesses, including sole proprietors and self-employed individuals, as well as some non-profit organizations, that maintain their payroll during the emergency. These loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. 

  • The most up to date information, including the application and loan forgiveness forms, are available on the U.S. Treasury’s website
  • Considerations for non-profit organizations are available here.
  • A guide to PPP loan forgiveness is available here.

The Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury recently issued new guidance for small business owners with loans of $50,000 or less under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); more information is available here. Business owners who borrowed $50,000 or less can fill out a simplified one-page form and can ignore some of the calculations required of other borrowers. A link to the Form 3508S is available at sba.gov.

– The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides businesses with less than 500 employees working capital loans of up to $2 million. Click here for details about the program and to apply. 

All available funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated. Loan applications are still being accepted.

Businesses needing assistance in applying for an SBA loan can contact the Small Business Development Center network.

Columbia & Luzerne County businesses – wilkes.edu/sbdc
Montour County businesses – bucknell.edu/sbdc

Federal tax credit program

– The CARES Act also created a new employee retention tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed, or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. The Employee Retention Credit is a fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allowable qualified health plan expenses) that eligible employers pay their employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. The maximum amount of qualified wages taken into account with respect to each employee for all calendar quarters is $10,000, so that the maximum credit for an eligible employer for qualified wages paid to any employee is $5,000.

Click here for details from the IRS.

Local programs

– Grant programs provided by the County Commissioners for small businesses and non-profit organizations in Columbia and Montour counties are now closed.

– SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has created a loan program with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. For-profit businesses can apply for loans of at least $10,000 with an interest rate of 3.25%. Funds can be used for working capital and can be disbursed based on past working capital expenses. No payments are due in the first six months. 

There is a $500 underwriting fee and a $100 filing fee.

For more information, visit https://seda-cog.org/covid-19/ or contact SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department at cwca@seda-cog.org.

– The Chamber’s low-interest loan program is offering loans of up to $10,000 for members at 3% interest for 30 months, with interest only payments for the first 12 months. If you are interested in the Chamber’s loan program, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber of Commerce at 570-784-2522 as funds are limited.

Private programs

 The nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund was launched by business leaders throughout the Commonwealth. Forgivable loans of $3,000 are available.

Pennsylvania businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:

  • Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
  • Based in Pennsylvania and have been operating for at least one year;
  • Owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident.

The funds dispersed to small businesses by the Pennsylvania 30 Day fund do not need to be repaid. Click here for details and to apply.

– A growing number of companies have set up relief funds, online tools, classes, and other resources at no cost in response to the impact on small-business owners. This link contains a list that Inc. is curating and continuously updating.


 

Unemployment, Benefits & HR Issues

 

 

 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to individuals not eligible for regular benefits, including the self-employed and those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Click here for more information and to apply for PUA. Qualifying self-employed individuals will need to submit a copy of the Governor’s order closing businesses, available here

The PA Department of Labor and Industry provides additional UC guidance for employers with impacted employees.

New temporary paid sick leave and Family and Medical Leave Act programs are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. The effective date of both programs is April 1 and they expire December 31. Both programs are in addition to any leave the employer already offers. Click here for a guide for employers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Click here for details from the IRS about the tax credits for paid leave.

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a required posting and FAQ regarding the FFCRA which went into effect April 1. 

Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice – Frequently Asked Questions


Small Business Recovery Program

The Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Zeigler College of Business has established a Small Business Recovery Program (SBRP) to assist local businesses in recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know these are challenging days for small businesses throughout the region, and the Zeigler College of Business wants to be a partner to help solve those problems,” said Todd Shawver, dean of the Zeigler College of Business.”

The SBRP will assist regional small business with any aspect of their business, except for financial assistance. These services can include, but are not limited to:
• Professional sales assistance
• Social media and marketing strategy
• Business strategy redevelopment
• Cost structures and monitoring
• Tax guidance
• Open to customizing services depending on business needs.

Anyone wishing to access the services of the SBRP can do so by filling out a request form


Member News- November 25, 2020

WHLM Parade of Lights

PennDOT has approved the permit for the WHLM Parade of Lights so it will be held Friday, November 27th at 6:00 p.m. Registration is not required this year. The 2020 WHLM PARADE OF LIGHTS will illuminate Downtown Bloomsburg with classic cars, floats, boats, fire trucks, thousands of Christmas lights, and usher in the Christmas season when Santa Claus comes to the only Town in Pennsylvania! The parade route forms at 4:30 PM at the Geisinger Bloomsburg parking lot on Lightstreet Road, then moves at 6 PM down Main Street to Market Street, and ending at the Bloomsburg Firehall.

Additional details are at https://www.whlm.com/whlm-parade-of-lights


Post-Election Webinar Series: December 3, 10, and 17

McKonly & Asbury invites you to attend a three-part Post-Election Webinar Series! While we’re disappointed we can’t come together for the annual Collaborate Conference this year, we are excited to close out the year with these webinars that will discuss how the Presidential Election may impact you and your business for 2021.

This webinar series features a variety of timely topics from dynamic speakers with industry-specific knowledge to provide you with information to help you prepare for the coming year. Learn more and register for the sessions below!

DECEMBER 3, 2020 AT 2:00 PM – WHAT INVESTORS CAN EXPECT NEXT
Ed O’Gorman, MBA, CFA® is Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer of River Wealth Advisors, a Harrisburg-based wealth management firm serving individuals and small businesses across the country. Ed will be joined by Eric Wiegand, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, wealth advisor, and leader of the firm’s office in the Lehigh Valley.

In this webinar, Ed and Eric will discuss the election results, potential impacts to the economic and regulatory environment, ongoing pandemic stress on “Main Street,” and what investors can expect in the months ahead as we await results of the outstanding political races and prepare for whatever 2021 has in store for us.

Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/481548021149226255

DECEMBER 10, 2020 AT 2:00 PM – POLLING INSIGHTS
James Lee is President and Founder of Susquehanna Polling and Research, Inc. and The Bartlett Group, a Pennsylvania-based survey research and polling firm with a national reputation for expert polling for corporate, consumer, and political clients. Most recently, James and his team conducted frequent 2020 Presidential Election polls accurately calling the results in numerous states, most specifically Florida.

In this webinar, James will discuss the polling process, data gathered from the polling process, and exit polling. He will go on to provide conversation on how this information might provide insight into policies for the new presidential administration and incoming Congress.

Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2673934624516047887

DECEMBER 17, 2020 AT 2:00 PM – OUTLOOK FROM THE HILL
Dean Zerbe, National Managing Director at alliantgroup and former Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, along with Rick Lazio, alliantgroup Senior Vice President and former U.S. Congressman, join us to close out our webinar series. If you attended our previous Collaborate Conferences, you know this energetic duo offers an insider’s perspective on the IRS, Capitol Hill, and how developing legislation and tax policy will impact you and your clients in the coming year.

During this webinar, they will dive into what the political landscape looks like after election day, what the impact will be within the House and Senate, how the election results will affect the economy, and how businesses should prepare themselves going into 2021.

Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3336291424204629007


Swift Kennedy Offers Compliance Guidance

No matter what the future holds, business owners know that group health insurance regulations may change again sometime next year.  But in the meantime, employers can rely on insurance brokerage firms like Swift Kennedy & Associates to help guide them through the maze of federal and state regulations imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and other laws.

“Our job is to ease the burden of business owners so that instead of worrying about compliance with health insurance rules, they can focus on their organizations’ success,” said Jerry Calistri, Swift Kennedy’s President and CEO, who is a Certified Healthcare Reform Specialist.

Compliance Analysis and Documents
Swift Kennedy helps companies analyze their benefit plans for compliance with the ACA and ERISA in order to help them avoid time-consuming audits and stiff penalties for violations of these laws.  

For example, businesses that are plan administrators are required by federal law to maintain and distribute Wrap Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs), which wrap around the companies’ certificates of insurance and benefit plan booklets.  They must also administer their plans in accordance with a written Plan Document, which they are required to send to plan participants and beneficiaries upon request.

To help with compliance, Swift Kennedy generates these documents for clients and provides information on how and when to send them to plan participants.

The agency also generates government-mandated Benefit Notices and Distribution Guidelines for clients.

What happens when regulations change?  “We inform clients about changes and give them guidance on how to comply with the new rules,” said Calistri.

Other Services
Other services provided by Swift Kennedy include enrollments, terminations, billing support, claims assistance, COBRA administration, payroll services, and virtual open enrollment meetings.  The firm also offers clients a virtual benefits administration system and a comprehensive online HR/benefits library that provides forms and information about recruitment, hiring, absence management, performance reviews, state employment laws, and healthcare reform.

Swift Kennedy helps businesses find affordable employee benefit plans, including medical, dental, vision, life, disability, and alternative funding options.  This full-service agency, which also offers individual and senior insurance products, has offices in Scranton, Williamsport, DuBois, State College, and Virginia Beach.


NEPIRC’s Ray Kryeski and Brian Matyjevich Attain AS 9100:2016 Certification

Ray Kryeski, Mechanical Engineer

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) is pleased to announce that two of its staff members, Ray Kryeski, Mechanical Engineer, and Brian Matyjevich, Lean Enterprise Consultant, recently attained their AS 9100:2016 certifications. As a result, the pair will host NEPIRC’s AS 9100:2016 Revision D Internal Auditor Training in spring 2021. The AS 9100:2016 focuses specifically on the aerospace industry and is part of the comprehensive standards produced by the Americas Aerospace Quality Group (AAQG) and the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG).


 

Brian Matyjevich, Lean Enterprise Consultant

Ray and Brian also instruct NEPIRC’s ISO 9001:2015 Internal Auditor training course, which covers the general ISO certification standard that applies to all industries.

NEPIRC will offer AS 9100:2016 training to small and mid-sized manufacturers in response to client demand to achieve aerospace-specific standards beyond the general ISO 9001 umbrella. NEPIRC also offers individual company consultations in achieving ISO, AS 9100 and other pertinent Quality Management System certifications and registrations. Interested companies can schedule a private consultation with NEPIRC by contacting Dale Parmenteri, NEPIRC’s Vice President of Consulting Operations, at Dale@NEPIRC.com.


Tyler Bloom Received Leo Feser Award

It was just announced that Tyler Bloom has won a national award for a publication written this year from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.  More information about the Leo Feser Award can be found here

Recently, he has also struck a partnership agreement with the PGA of America to assist in Career Services focused on workforce development initiatives – executive search, apprenticeships, diversity, and inclusion.

Lastly, Tyler Bloom has started a working relationship with the University of Tennessee to create an industry-recognized apprenticeship program for the turf/landscape industries.


Scholarship Fund Honors Memory of Former Warrior Run SD Business Manager

Established in memory of a life dedicated to serving the community and bringing joy to all who knew her, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation announces the creation of the Linda McNeal Scholarship Fund under the Warrior Run Education Foundation. Mrs. McNeal was retired from the Warrior Run School District, where she served as the business manager. Known as a vibrant and joyful woman, she enjoyed supporting her community and the people around her in any way possible.

Family and friends knew that creating a scholarship fund was the perfect way to honor Mrs. McNeal’s memory and passion after her passing earlier this month. The Linda McNeal Scholarship Fund will provide an annual scholarship to a Warrior Run graduating senior who is pursuing a certification or degree at a trade school. Special consideration will be given to students who have gained confidence and motivation to pursue a fulfilling career path through the encouragement of a teacher or mentor.

“Our hearts grieve at the passing of Linda. Her work at Warrior Run, beginning in the high school library and culminating in all areas of the business office, endeared her to students, staff, administrators, and community residents,” writes Sarah Kowalski, Warrior Run Education Foundation. “Linda was caring and dedicated to meeting the needs of all the people that she encountered in her job. The establishment of this scholarship fund in her memory will continue her legacy of service to Warrior Run through future generations of students.”

Contributions can be made to the Linda McNeal Scholarship Fund online at csgiving.org (click Donate and search “McNeal”), or mail to the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, Attn: Linda McNeal Scholarship Fund, 725 West Front Street, Berwick, PA 18603.

Warrior Run Education Foundation partners with the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization which manages nearly 300 charitable funds and makes grant investments throughout the region to improve the quality of life in the Central Susquehanna area. For more information, visit csgiving.org or call the Foundation at 1-866-454-6692

Further Guidelines on PPP Loans

Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS released further guidelines on the tax treatment of expenses paid with funds from PPP loans. After IRS Notice 2020-32 (released in April 2020) provided that no deduction would be allowed for expenses paid with proceeds from forgiven loans, this week’s release of Revenue Ruling 2020-27 and Revenue Procedure 2020-51 further clarified the tax treatment and non-deductibility of expenses paid with PPP proceeds.

Revenue Ruling 2020-27 provides that expenses paid with funds from PPP loans will not be deductible if at the time of filing the return for the year in which the expenses would ordinarily be deducted, forgiveness of the loan was “reasonably expected to occur.” Thus, if a taxpayer reasonably expects that their PPP loan will be forgiven, the expenses that were paid with the PPP loan proceeds would not be deductible on the taxpayer’s 2020 tax returns. 

Nonetheless, Revenue Procedure 2020-51 provides a safe harbor that allows for taxpayers to claim a deduction if:

  1. The eligible expenses are paid or incurred during the taxpayer’s 2020 taxable year;
  2. The taxpayer received a PPP loan, and at the end of the year, the taxpayer expects the loan to be forgiven in a taxable year after 2020; and
  3. In a subsequent taxable year, the taxpayer’s request for forgiveness of the covered loan is denied, in whole or in part, or the taxpayer decides never to request forgiveness of the covered loan.

Therefore, should a taxpayer’s request for PPP forgiveness be denied, in whole or in part, in 2021, that taxpayer will have the ability to deduct those related expenses stemming from the funds received from the PPP loan in either their 2020 or 2021 tax returns.  

Despite the IRS position that permitting both tax-free forgiveness of the PPP loan and deductions would be a double benefit, there is still a possibility that Congress may pass legislation to allow for the deductibility of expenses that were paid with funds from PPP loans. The Small Business Expense Protection Act, S.3612, was one such bill. It was introduced into the Senate Committee on Finance in May 2020 but has not been acted upon. In addition, the House introduced a similar piece of legislation, the HEROES Act, in May 2020 which provides that “notwithstanding any other provision of law, any deduction and the basis of any property shall be determined without regard to whether any amount is excluded from gross income.” However, like its counterpart in the Senate, the HEROES Act has remained in Committee. With all the turmoil currently in Washington, it is not likely that any further legislative fixes will occur this year.

Closer to home, it is the position of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue that forgiven PPP loans will be treated as taxable income for Pennsylvania personal income tax purposes. This allows for businesses to deduct ordinary, necessary, and reasonable business expenses related to income derived from those loans. Should the borrower be a corporation that is subject to the Pennsylvania corporate net income tax, Pennsylvania law does not provide for an add back to, or deduction from, federal taxable income for any subsequent forgiveness of a PPP loan. As such, while Pennsylvania would not impose corporate-level tax on the amount of the forgiveness, since Pennsylvania follows the federal treatment, the expenses that were paid with the proceeds from the loan would likewise not be deductible for Pennsylvania corporate net income tax purposes. 

 

IRS Provides Instructions for Employers and Employees on the Deferral of Social Security Taxes

From McKonly & Asbury

Remember back on August 8th when President Trump issued his Presidential Memorandum stating that employees could defer their portion of Social Security taxes?  Well, the Internal Revenue Service has now posted instructions on how to account for this on Form W-2.

The memorandum that Trump signed allowed for employees to defer their 6.2 percent share of Social Security taxes from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. The keyword here is DEFER. The deferred taxes would need to be repaid by either the employees or the employer by April 30, 2021.  Pretty much pay me now or pay me later.

There were certain stipulations around the payroll tax deferral too. For instance, it only pertains to employees with the equivalent of biweekly pre-tax income of less than $4,000. The purpose of the payroll tax deferral was to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most employers waited for more information about this payroll tax deferral which didn’t come until August 28th, just days before the start date of September 1st.

If you are an employer, you will want to check out this website.  In this publication, you will find instructions for both employees and employers regarding how the deferral is to be reported on Form W-2.

Basically, employers are to report in box 3 (Social Security wages) and box 7 (Social Security tips) of 2020 Form W-2 taxable wages for which payroll taxes were deferred.  Box 4 (Social Security withheld), should only include the amount of Social Security taxes actually withheld from the employee in 2020.  In other words, do not include the amount of deferred employee Social Security tax in Box 4.

Now for the fun part, the amount of Social Security tax that was deferred in 2020 (wasn’t reported in Box 4 on the 2020 W-2) and withheld from the employee in 2021 should be reported in Box 4 (Social Security tax withheld) on Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement using the tax year of 2020.  The reporting of total Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) compensation will be handled similar to taxable wages. Report RRTA compensation in Box 14 of 2020 Form W-2, but do not report the deferred Social Security tax amount. Likewise, when the Social Security tax is withheld in 2021, complete Form W-2c and include the deferred tax that was withheld in 2021 in Box 14. Employers should file Forms W-2c and W-3c with the SSA as soon as possible after all deferred Social Security tax deferrals have been withheld in 2021.

The IRS instructs employees, with one employer during 2020 where their Form W-2c for 2020 only shows corrected amounts in Box 4 or Box 14 (RRTA), that no further steps are required. If the employee had two or more employers during 2020, the IRS provides an explanation of how to determine whether the employee had excess Social Security tax on wages paid in 2020.

In a normal year, the tax filing deadline is April 15th, but 2020 has been anything but normal. The IRS does not mention anything about the tax filing deadline of April 15th and the fact that withholding of 2020 deferred Social Security tax in 2021 will not be completed until April 30, 2021. I suppose there will be more to come on this later. For now, be aware that if you elected to defer your portion of Social Security taxes from September to December 2020, the deferred tax will be withheld from your pay for the period of January to April 2021. Employers will be preparing, and employees will be receiving, Form W-2c once the deferred 2020 taxes have been withheld.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Kellye Leitholf, Supervisor with the ESG Group at kleitholf@macpas.com or 717-972-5796.

 

Lawmakers Finalize Spending Plan for Remainder of 2020-21 Fiscal Year

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The 2020-21 budget process concluded last week with the passage of legislation that funds state government and related operations for the remaining seven months of the current fiscal year. The final bill, which Governor Wolf signed on November 23rd, does not impose any new taxes or fees on businesses – which are already facing financial hurdles operating during the COVID-19 pandemic; and does not rely on public borrowing. The legislation is balanced using $531 million transferred in available special funds, and $100 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which will have $243 million remaining. The budget also relies on about $1.3 billion in federal Coronavirus relief aid.

According to a story in Capitolwire, the Commonwealth also received unexpected news that the federal government will be continuing its enhanced matching payments for the Medicaid program. The enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage will provide nearly $2.1 billion more to Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance program than had been initial planned by the state’s budget experts.

In May, lawmakers approved a partial, stopgap budget, hoping to have a better understanding by November of how the pandemic and economic fallout would impact tax revenues. Fortunately, revenues over the last several months have been higher than anticipated. In addition to the May budget, the state’s total operating expenses through June 2021 is now $36.5 billion – a roughly 4 percent spending increase compared to the previous year – but a 9.8 percent decrease from the governor’s initial budget request in February.

Resources Available to Assist Businesses & Individuals with Substance Abuse

Area health and human service agencies are echoing national statistics that substance abuse is on the rise in the region. The COVID-19 crisis, combined with seasonal affective disorder, puts people at exceptionally high risk. The United in Recovery coalition provides resources to help employers keep their workplaces safe and employees healthy with educational and treatment information.

United in Recovery is coordinated by the United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties to end substance use disorder through education, enforcement, and treatment. The coalition meets monthly to share information and coordinate efforts in Columbia and Montour counties. The Chamber of Commerce has been a part of the coalition since it was created.

The United in Recovery webpage includes contact information for people in need of immediate help, long-term treatment, and support groups. A toolkit to help businesses develop policies and identify issues is also available. The site also includes a listing of recovery and other events, including details on a free weekly distribution of Narcan starting Wednesday, November 25th through the month of December at the United Way. Narcan is a brand name of naloxone that helps reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Details are available at https://cmcuw.org/events.