Industry Pros Share Insight on COVID-19 Relief Options

The Federal Government sent a message to America’s corporations and small businesses by enacting a $2 trillion stimulus package. As window film companies and their employees struggle with the effects of the coronavirus, lawmakers assured that help is on the way. But figuring out what that help consists of isn’t easy.

“I have tried to follow all the news regarding the stimulus package and all it has to offer. I’ve found much of it to be overlapping and hard to figure out,” said Steve Pesce, New York Window Film Co. president. “At first even my payroll company wasn’t sure of the exact way to classify employees or how payroll taxes would be dealt with. I believe all were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the small business relief package that Congress has signed.”

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The CARES Act was signed into law, appropriating $377 billion for companies with 500 employees or less. The program is designed to provide immediate relief through grants, while allowing the Small Business Administration (SBA) to administer loans of up to $10 million per small business—portions of which are labeled as forgivable.

According to the terms in the CARES Act, Americans will receive a one-time direct deposit of up to $1,200, and married couples will get $2,400, plus an additional $500 per child. The payments will be available for incomes up to $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples. Some of that fine print is yet to be provided, as government officials establish specific guidelines for emergency lending. At the discretion of SBA officials, those requirements could be loosened on a case-by-case basis.

“Speed is the operative word,” says SBA administrator Jovita Carranza. “Applications for the emergency capital can begin, with lenders using their own systems and processes to make these loans. We remain committed to supporting our nation’s more than 30 million small businesses and their employees, so that they can continue to be the fuel for our nation’s economic engine.”

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The PPP is a part of the CARES Act, which has up to $349 billion designated for forgivable loans to small businesses, so that they can pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone, according to the SBA.

“Every small business should do this,” said Ty Sullivan, SPF Window Tinting vice president.

The PPP is designed to carry small businesses through uncertain and unprecedented times due to COVID-19. The loan amounts under PPP will be forgiven as long as the following terms are met, according to the SBA:

  • The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the eight week period after the loan is made; and
  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

It is important to note that payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

“I settled on the PPP as the best way to help my company. I applied for the payroll protection program on the first day it was available, which was April, 3, 2020,” said Pesce. “The initial form I filled out was very simple to do. It asked the basics about my overall payroll, who owned the company, the physical address and other similar easy to answer questions. It only took a few minutes to complete and submit.”

On Sunday, just a few days after Pesce filled out the preliminary form he received “a more formal request to substantiate payroll for 2019 and January 1 through February 15, 2020 and to provide proof of it.”

“Monday April 6, 2020, I was busy with my accountant, payroll company and insurance (both health and workman’s comp) to gather information to support my answers, which was a daylong event,” Pesce recalled. “When all was ready I tried without success several times to email all the supporting documentation until finally late in the day it went through.”

“PPP is cool and it’ll cover some operating expenses, but I don’t know anyone who has successfully gotten through and received any money yet,” Sullivan said.

Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan (EIDL)

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000, according to the SBA.

This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, according to the SBA, and tis loan advance will not have to be repaid.

“Essentially they came out with EIDL, which is similar to what you would do or receive after a big storm,” said Sullivan.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The FFCRA was signed into law on March 18, 2020 and requires employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees.

Childcare is a category under the FFCRA that provides aid if you’re caring for your child because their school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons. If you’re the primary caregiver you can qualify for the up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. An important note to know for those with children: if you have a child whose school is closed and you’re the primary caregiver you get 12 weeks of paid leave if you are the only person available to take care of said child and if you are not able to continue working or telework. The paid leave for childcare is only at two thirds of your pay versus 100% of your pay.

“I believe the package signed by Congress will help small businesses through this health crisis, said Pesce. “I would tell all small business owners to definitely follow through with applying for any aid they can. It may just be the life saver they will need.”