Friday September 4, 2020
Here are the latest updates and resources for businesses and employees during this uncertain time. - Onward and Be Well!
Summer is ending and our region's small businesses are heading into fall and then a potentially difficult winter. For too many -- especially many restaurants and hospitality businesses -- the name of the game continues to be SURVIVAL until we come out the other end of this pandemic and its economic impacts.

Many have survived thus far on the commitment of area residents to maximize their support for our local businesses -- something which must continue -- and federal funding assistance, especially the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) with its forgivable loan component for personnel costs.


It is now September and a fresh crisis point is at hand. Congress and the President must set the 2020 campaign aside and come to a quick agreement on a bill that, at a minimum:

  • Funds another round of PPP for small businesses, allowing them to return for a second round. This is especially crucial for restaurants, the hospitality sector and those businesses impacted by continued border crossing restrictions.
  • Further funding for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, including lifting thearbitrary $150,000 cap and allowing those who had applied for more to obtain the remainder of their needs.

We also continue to advocate for further support for county and local governments, education and health care. But what is essential is the following: IF THERE CAN'T BE AGREEMENT ON EVERYTHING, GET A BILL DONE THAT DOES WHAT MUST BE DONE WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY, including this added support for small business. We note that Congresswoman Stefanik and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand are all committed to these steps. But the urgency is in coming to some all-around deal very soon before we start to lose more of our small businesses.  
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is cosponsoring the bipartisan COVID-19 Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangement Rollover Act, legislation that will prevent working families from losing funds for child care services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dependent care assistance plans (DCAPs) allow employees to set aside pre-tax income to cover the costs of child care, however any unspent funds are lost at the end of the plan year. Since the pandemic has impacted access to child care facilities and more employees are working remotely, many workers may be at risk of losing these hard-earned funds. This bill allows working families to roll over unspent DCAP funds from 2020 to 2021.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for hardworking employees and their families alike, and I have continually been supportive of initiatives and funding to help them,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I have heard firsthand from many working parents in my district who are concerned about the costs of childcare, particularly as the pandemic has disrupted access to many care options. This bipartisan legislation allows families the important ability to rollover the dependent care funds they rely on, ensuring their hard-earned dollars are available when they need them most. I am proud to cosponsor this and other efforts that support expanding childcare options for our North Country working parents. I look forward to advancing this legislation along with my colleagues.”
More Companies Are Eligible for R&D Tax Credits
If you develop or design a new product OR process, or if you are enhancing existing products or processes, or if you are developing or improving on existing prototypes, you may be eligible for research and development tax credits.

There have been significant changes recently in what kinds of activities qualify for the R&D Tax Credit. Even if your company does not yet pay taxes, you may be eligible to use the credit to offset employee payroll tax or future tax obligations.

Tune in on Thursday, September 17 at 9:00am EST to learn the details from two experts with decades of experience claiming tax credits for companies.

  • DATE: Thursday, September 17
  • TIME: 9:00am EST
Ticonderoga Health Center Virtual Grand Opening
Join Hudson Headwaters Health Network at this virtual event, celebrating the completion of the newly constructed Ticonderoga Health Center. This virtual event allows the public to learn about the health center directly from our region’s health care leaders while adhering to social-distancing requirements.
Health care leaders from the partnership between Elizabethtown Community Hospital - Ticonderoga Campus, Hudson Headwaters Health Network and The University of Vermont Health Network will be speaking at this Facebook Live event about recent changes to health care delivery within the Ticonderoga region. They will discuss its expected impact on health care access and enhanced convenience for patients and their families.

  • Date: Tuesday September 8th
  • Time: 11am
Payroll Tax Deferral/IRS Guidance
There have been many questions about President Trump’s Executive Order on Payroll Tax Deferral, issued on August 19, 2020. That order used existing statutory authority to defer, but not cancel, the withholding of employee’s social security payroll tax for the period September 1 to December 31, 2020,. It would provide temporary relief to employees that are “generally” paid up to $4,000 biweekly, or $104,000 per year. While the order instructed the Treasury Department to consider options for cancelling these deferred withholdings, no statue, rule or order has been issued doing so.
Key points from the Executive Order and IRS guidance for consideration by employers:
  • this deferral is optional, at the election of the employer.  An employer can chose to NOT participate in this program, and no further action would be required by the employer. As example, there is no obligation for employers to post a notice or otherwise notify employees of the program and/or the employers decision to not participation.

  • this employee payroll tax liability is only deferred. The deferred amount must be withheld from employees and remitted to the IRS during the period January 1, 2021 to April 30, 2021, during which period employees may see their withholding increased to double their “normal” level. Moreover, interest and penalties will begin to accrue on May 1, 2021, with respect to any unpaid amount of deferred tax.

  • -the deferral only applies to biweekly pay periods during which an employee earns $4,000 or less, so payroll processors must be aware of pay period pay levels to correctly apply the deferral. No deferral is available for pay periods during which an employee earns over that threshold – a compliance provision that will add complexity for some employers.
2021 Paid Family Leave Benefit/Contribution Information Released
The Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services (DFS) recently announced the paid family leave benefit and employee contribution rate effective for January 1, 2021. Below you will find the 2021 benefits and rates compared to current 2020 rates. The PFL benefit is now fully implemented.

The paid family leave statute authorizes the Superintendent to delay these increases in family leave benefit levels by one or more calendar years if they so choose. In determining the community rate for 2021, DFS reviewed claims, demographic, financial and other PFL data for calendar years 2018, 2019 and the first six months of 2020. DFS also reviews available data from other states with enacted paid family leave programs. The new employee contribution rate includes an additional 0.005% Risk Adjustment related to the payment of COVID-19 claims. These new benefit amounts and contribution rates go into effect January 1, 2021.
Join the YMCA's Team of Amazing Child Care Staff!
The YMCA is looking for energetic, friendly staff to help supervise children in their Y's Time All Day Care program. Staff will facilitate and carry out activities, assist with schoolwork and help children develop through positive social interactions. Prior experience working with children is preferred but is not required. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and successfully pass a criminal background check before official hire. Staff must also have their own, reliable transportation.

Various shifts and locations are available.

Email Stephanie for more information!
Trudeau Institute Plan could Speed COVID Test Results
The region may soon get relief from lengthy — and potentially deadly — COVID testing turnaround times under a plan being developed by the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake, Essex County Supervisors Chair Shaun Gillilland told the board during a briefing to the county Ways and Means Committee.

“We need testing capacity badly,” as does the nation as a whole, Gillilland said.
Test results from suspected COVID-19 cases in Essex County have taken more than two weeks to get back from the lab in some cases, delays that health officials believe allowed a bloom of positive cases in an Essex County nursing home to get out of hand.
If the Trudeau initiative is successful, turnaround times could be reduced to 48 hours or even less, said Trudeau spokesman Ken Aaron. And the impact would extend beyond nursing homes, as the commercial sector continues to reopen and students get ready to return to school.

“The Trudeau Institute is part of a group exploring the possibility of bringing a COVID-19 testing lab to the North Country that would be able to deliver results quickly,” Aaron said in an email. “The long waits for test results add uncertainty to the process of reopening safely and sustainably; the hope is that by enabling this, the region can send kids back to school, keep businesses open and visitors coming to the area with confidence.”

  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.

  • Looking for Supplies: If your business is looking for hard to find protective products, we have created a list of businesses offering hand sanitizer, gloves, wipes, masks and other items.

  • Now Hiring: Whether you are hiring or looking for work, we have a page dedicated to helping pair potential employees with employers.

  • Webinars: Did you miss one of our webinars, you can find them all here.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
To help the North Country reopen safely and meet the state and local mandates, The North Country Chamber of Commerce has created a comprehensive list of resources to navigate state and local requirements. Check out the home page for details. There is also a series of webinars available for businesses to help educate and provide answers to common questions.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce