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How to keep your company solvent during COVID-19

May 11, 2020 -  By
Crews working despite pandemic (Photo: LM Staff)

Working with our many lawn care clients, we are hearing that the green industry is faring better than many others. Most customers are accepting their first round of treatment.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) is working hard to ensure state and federal governments recognize lawn care as essential. Our clients report that many people are staying home, so there are many homeowners to speak to, making new sales strong.

That said, if widespread stay-home orders persist, things can and will change, making for an ugly spring. The need for a sound financial strategy has never been greater. Rewriting budgets with a few different “what if” scenarios is prudent. We don’t think it’s time to hold on to original plans for the year. Our recommendation is to work on liquidity and cost control.

Here’s a look at what assistance is available for small businesses during this unprecedented time.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

  • Provides eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency.
  • If the employer maintains payroll, a portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent and utilities would be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to recover quickly from this crisis.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

  • Includes $10,000 advance. (If applying for the PPP, the advance will be subtracted from PPP proceeds.)
  • Provides up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue.
  • May be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
  • The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses.
  • The Small Business Administration offers loans with long-term repayments to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years.
  • Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

Extension of tax payment

Taxpayers are now eligible for the deferral of federal income tax payments due on April 15 until July 15 without the imposition of penalty or interest, subject to certain caps. The IRS clarified that estimated tax payments due on April 15 are covered under this deferred payment rule. However, the second estimated tax payment due on June 15 is not covered, unless the U.S. Treasury changes its position, so as of this writing, the second estimated payment is due prior to the first.

Unemployment benefits

The CARES Act expands unemployment benefits through larger federal grants to the states to process and pay claims. The federal government will increase unemployment benefits by an additional $600 per week.

Paid sick time

There is a requirement that employers with 500 or fewer employees and government employers provide emergency paid sick leave to employees due to any of the following reasons:

  • To quarantine because the employee is diagnosed with the
    coronavirus;
  • To seek a diagnosis or preventive care for the coronavirus;
  • To comply with a recommendation or order by a public official with jurisdiction or health care provider on the basis that the physical presence of the employee would jeopardize the health of others due to exposure of the employee to the coronavirus or exhibition of symptoms by the employee; or
  • To care for a family member for such purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable, due to the coronavirus.

Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of sick leave, and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours that they work in a typical two-week period, paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate.

These situations are complicated and ever-changing, and we’re here to help. Our firm remains open and fully operational for business, and we are available to support you any way we can.

About the Author:

Gordon is a New Jersey-based CPA and owner of Turfbooks, an accounting firm that caters to land care professionals throughout the U.S. Reach him at dan@turfbooks.com.

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