Liberty greeting Comfort
3/30/2020














Update on Bridge Loan Program

Applications for the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program were stopped last week due to extreme demand. In less than two days, the program has received more than 4,000 applications. To help meet that demand, DECD and partner Connecticut Innovations have added new staff to process applications and have doubled funding to $50 million. If they did not stop taking applications, they would not be able to process current ones. Leaders will continue to provide updates as they’re made available.
 
Approval of Major Disaster Declaration
 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted Connecticut’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby unlocking additional federal assistance programs for the state. The approval is for public assistance, meaning that impacted state agencies and municipalities in all eight counties will be reimbursed for 75 percent of the costs associated with their response and emergency protective measures.


 
What Exactly Did Congress Do Last Week?

Under the “Social Security and the CARES Act” passed last week by Congress, Social Security and SSI recipients are eligible for certain rebate payments:
  • The full rebate amounts are $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
  • Everyone is eligible for the full rebate payments as long as they have a Social Security number and their household income is not too high. Rebate payments start to phase out at the thresholds of $75,000 for a single filer, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for a married couple filer. This includes Social Security beneficiaries (retirement, disability, survivor) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.
  • Many people will be paid automatically by Internal Revenue Service (IRS): everyone who filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return, and all Social Security beneficiaries (whether or not they filed a return). Others – including SSI recipients, who often do not file taxes – may need to take additional action to be determined by the IRS. One possibility is that they would be asked to file some sort of abbreviated return to get the payments, like with the 2008 stimulus rebates.
  • Like other tax credits, these payments do not count as income or resources for means-tested programs. So receiving a rebate will not interfere with your eligibility for SSI, SNAP, Medicaid, ACA premium credits, TANF, housing assistance, or other income-related federal programs.
  • These rebates do not affect receipt of state or federal unemployment compensation.
  • The bill also lets employers temporarily delay payment of their share of Social Security payroll taxes. This doesn’t mean they don’t owe these taxes, but rather they will make these payments in 2021 and 2022. This effectively allows the federal government to loan these businesses funds to ensure that they can continue operating during this crisis.
  • The bill also requires the Treasury Department, in conjunction with other federal agencies, to conduct a “public awareness campaign” about the rebates, especially targeting those who don’t file tax returns.
 
CARES ACT Business Impact
 
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed by Congress last week includes several important benefits for small businesses and nonprofits in Connecticut:​
  • Paycheck Protection Program Loans: Provide cash-flow assistance through federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans will be forgiven. 
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Injury Grants: An emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Grants and loans may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
  • Small Business Debt Relief Program: Provides immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under this program, the Small Business Administraiton will cover all loan payments on previously secured SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. 
  • Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closure or Experiencing Economic Hardship: A refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes: Allows taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022.
  • Counseling and Training: Local resource partners can be found here. 
 
For more details on the CARES Act , please visit Connecticut's COVID-19  Business Resource Portal.
 
CDC Travel Advisory

This weekend, several conflicting reports arose concerning a potential quarantine of states including Connecticut. The travel advisory in Connecticut has not changed since Governor Lamont enacted “Stay Home, Stay Safe” on March 20. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued similar language on Saturday. Connecticut residents are asked to continue to avoid non-essential travel and to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days after traveling or crossing state borders as part of an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Primary Voting

Legislators are working with the Secretary of State and Governor to potentially amend voting regulations, allowing any voter to apply for an absentee ballot in the upcoming primary and general elections. Given the threat posed by the COVID-19 epidemic, we need to make voting as accessible as possible.

Reminder! Wash Your Reusable Grocery Bags

While we’re washing our hands and standing six feet away from others and wiping down pin pads and door handles and smart phones with antibacterial wipes, let’s not forget another personal item that we need to keep clean: our grocery bags!

Think about it: canvas and polypropylene grocery bags get tossed on the floor of your car, or stored in the trunk. They’re hauled around 12 months of the year and filled with everything from garlic bulbs and fresh lettuce to cereal boxes and canned goods. They get warm, damp, dirty, and they collect spills and odors.
Department of Revenue Services extends filing and payment deadlines for certain small businesses
 
At the direction of Governor Lamont to provide Connecticut small businesses with immediate administrative tax relief in recognition of the impact of COVID-19, the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) today announced that it granting a two-month extension of filing and payment deadlines for certain small businesses.


Taxpayers that have $150,000 or less in annual sales tax liability qualify for an automatic extension of time to file and pay. Similarly, those that have $150,000 or less in annual room occupancy tax also qualify for this relief. Entities that collect both sales tax and room occupancy tax must evaluate each tax separately to determine eligibility for relief.
 
To determine if it is a qualified small business, entities are required to utilize a calendar year look back period of January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2019. Any taxpayer that reported $150,000 or less in tax during that period qualified for the relief.
 
Returns covered by this extension includes:
 
·         For monthly sales tax and room occupancy tax filers: Returns and payments due March 31, 2020, and April 30, 2020, are extended to May 31, 2020.
·         For quarterly sales tax and room occupancy tax filers: Returns and payments due April 30, 2020, are extended to May, 31, 2020.
 


ACCESS HEALTH CT OPENS SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD

In light of the COVID19 situation, there is a real danger of families not seeking care because they are uninsured and afraid that they can’t afford it. 

We just announced a new Special Enrollment Period  to help uninsured residents sign up for a health insurance plan offered by either of Access Health’s two insurance carriers.

The goal is to slow the spread of the virus and reduce its cost to all Connecticut residents which means everyone who needs it should get access to covered services and be tested and treated if necessary.  
 
This new Special Enrollment period will only be open through April 2, 2020 . Those interested in finding new insurance can enroll by phone at 855-805-4325 (TTY: 1- 855-365-2428). Our call center will be helping people Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm. 
 
We are also receiving information on a large number of layoffs statewide. Individuals who lose their coverage due to unemployment are also eligible for a special enrollment window to get healthcare through AHCT as an alternative to COBRA. I've attached two flyers on this data.




The Repair Café that was scheduled for April 19, 2020 at the Estuary Council of Seniors, Old Saybrook has been  cancelled .  



The Chester Town Hall, although closed to the public, remains open Monday - Thursday, 9-12 and 1-4 and Friday from 9-12 for the time being. We are not working on Tuesday evenings at this time. Please call 860-526-0013 for an appointment.


 Be well,


Lauren