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COVID-19 daily policy updates

The COVID-19 crisis brings many challenges for Minnesota businesses. One such challenge is keeping abreast of countless policy changes at the federal and state levels. Check back for this page as we recap the biggest policy changes and how they might impact your business during this difficult time. 

Friday, April 3

Earlier today, the Chamber’s Laura Bordelon testified in a teleconference of the Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group to advocate for ways the state can help Minnesota businesses navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

A main suggestion from the Chamber is to delay certain tax payments on all businesses in order to free up cash now until federal or state dollars become available.

“I just want to be clear, we’re not asking for payments not to be made,” said Bordelon. “We’re asking for time for business to be able to continue to have cash to pay employees, to pay benefits, to pay operating costs and then access federal dollars.” 

Bordelon also relayed stories from real Minnesota business owners on how a tax extension could be a major help for businesses. 

“We need time to figure out longer term impacts of COVID-19. Delaying tax payments gives us some more time to figure this out. Not delaying tax payments would require us to make worst case assumptions now,” said one business owner. 

Would a delay in business tax payments help your business during the COVID-19 crisis? Tell your story to your legislators by click here. Your voice can make a difference. 
 

Tuesday, March 31

Federal and state lawmakers have passed legislation to speed critical resources to businesses throughout Minnesota. While much of this assistance is helpful, more can be done to ease the tax burden and keep cash in businesses to continue payroll and other financial obligations.

Today, we sent a survey to businesses around the state to ask how tax extensions might help their business during the COVID-19 crisis. Would it help your business if policymakers delayed the April 15 tax payments on income for businesses and the first half of the May 15 property tax payment? What would your business be able to do if these payments were delayed or what would happen in your business if they continued on their current timeline? You can take the survey here.

Currently:

  • The federal government has allowed for a 90-day extension of the April 15 tax payments for all taxpayers and for delay in first quarter estimated tax payment. Minnesota’s 90-day extension of the income tax payment applies to individual taxpayers including those paying business income taxes through Minnesota individual income tax. Businesses that pay taxes at the entity level do NOT have a payment delay but should have a filing delay. Minnesota did NOT delay the first quarter estimated tax. 
  • The first half payment for property taxes is due on May 15. The Chamber recommends this payment be delayed for 60 days without incurring penalties and interest for business property taxpayers.

 

Monday, March 30

With record unemployment insurance applications, DEED is asking Minnesotans to only apply online on certain days. See the chart below and use the final digit of your Social Security number to see when to apply. Click here for more information on unemployment insurance.

UI DEED

 


Friday, March 27

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or “CARES” Act was signed today and includes:

  • Emergency grants for small businesses to cover immediate operating costs. 
  • Forgivable loans for small businesses, up to $10 million per business, administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
  • Relief for small businesses on existing SBA loans. 
  • A refundable tax credit for businesses of any size that are impacted by COVID-19. The credit covers up to 50 percent of payroll on the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, for each employee.
  • An additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance, as well as increased unemployment benefits, and broadened eligibility. 
     

Thursday, March 26

On Thursday, the Minnesota House and Senate passed legislation to provide $332 million for COVID-19-related needs in the state. This assistance is in addition to the $251 million that was passed earlier in session for COVID-19 and natural disasters. The bill codifies some of the governor’s executive orders and supplemental budget requests to provide additional funding for small business loans, childcare grants, homeless, food shelves and other COVID-19 resources. The only tax change is an extension of the timeline for property tax valuation appeals so taxpayers will not miss the ability to dispute/appeal their market valuation assessment. 

Two small business assistance programs were included in the bill. The small business loan guarantee program is a new resource of $10 million to provide an 80% loan guarantee for businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and are unable to access SBA disaster loan assistance. This would be another way to help businesses across the state secure private funding to provide state guarantees of loans to small businesses.   

The other program was codifying the governor’s Executive Order 20-15 providing $30 million for the Small Business Emergency Loan program for emergency loans to small businesses during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.   

The bill also relaxes the identification requirements necessary to apply for a REAL ID and provides funding to increase staffing to shorten the timeframe for getting a REAL ID. This, along with the REAL ID extension from the federal government, will make it easier for businesses and individuals to become REAL ID-compliant before the October 2021 deadline. 

It also extends the expiration date for driver’s licenses until two months after the emergency is over. Despite the “stay at home” order, many employers need their employees out on the road and this allows time to receive a new, valid driver’s license.  

The bill allows for commissioner of commerce to delay or waive licensing, investigative, or other deadlines that will provide the needed flexibility during the COVID-19 crisis so that professional licenses do not lapse.

The legislation also contains language on emergency purchasing and workforce and equal pay certificates. Under normal circumstances, the state requires vendors to provide workforce affirmative action and equal pay certificates in order to contract with the state at certain financing levels. This might have prevented your organization from contracting with the state in the past. For the duration of the peacetime emergency, this new law temporarily exempts state contracts for certain emergency purchases from this existing requirement.  
 

Wednesday, March 25

Governor Walz has issued Executive Order 20-20, directing Minnesotans to limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs from March 27 at 11:59 p.m. to April 10 at 5:00 p.m. See below for resources on what this means for Minnesota businesses. 

The Minnesota Department of Revenue updated their website with additional guidance on what taxpayers will receive the 90-day payment delay for the filing and payment of the April 15, 2019 income tax. Minnesota does not fully conform to the federal extensions as Minnesota’s extension only applies to individual taxpayers for 2019 tax year and does not allow an extension of estimated 2020 taxes for any taxpayer. The Minnesota Department of Revenue clarified that pass-through entities paying their business income taxes through their Minnesota individual income tax will receive the 90-day payment and filing delay for the 2019 income taxes due on April 15, 2019. Businesses that pay taxes at the entity level do NOT have a payment delay but should have a filing delay. 


Monday, March 23

Governor Walz issued four new Executive Orders on Monday. The most impactful for Minnesota businesses was the announcement of emergency loans for small businesses and independent contractors. These interest-free loans range from $2,500 to $35,000 based on the firm’s economic injury and the financial need. Click here to more details on terms, eligibility and an application.

Another Executive Order asks businesses, nonprofits or non-hospital health care facilities with inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) to take inventory of these products in case hospitals face a shortage during the crisis. Click here to learn more or donate needed PPE.

More guidance was issued by the Minnesota Department of Revenue on the April 15 tax payment extension. We were disappointed the Minnesota Department of Revenue did not fully conform to the IRS extension of the April 15 payment and filing deadlines for all taxpayers. It is positive news that Minnesota did partial conformity by providing a payment and filing extension to July 15 for individual taxpayers for the 2019 tax year. However, it is unfortunate that Minnesota did not provide the same payment deferral for businesses that are struggling with cash flow issues and lost business from COVID 19 impacts.

Two  more extensions were also announced. The Minnesota Department of Revenue is granting a 60-day extension for MinnesotaCare tax returns for organizations that request an extension for their March 16 return. And the Minnesota Department of Revenue is granting a 30-day grace period for Lawful Gambling Tax payments for organizations that request an extension for their March 20 payment. These extensions help businesses and nonprofits that may be experiencing cash-flow issues and issues with processing and remitting sales tax while employees are not able to be at their workplace. Find more information on business and individual tax filing updates by clicking here.

President Trump announced a suspension of the October 1, 2020 REAL ID compliance deadline. This is especially important for Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses as there is a current backlog and lengthy waiting period to receive a REAL ID. No specifics were provided but we’ll continue to track this development. 
 

Friday, March 20

The federal government announced that Tax Day will move from April 15 to July 15. Governor Walz announced the state will work to follow suit for state taxes, including no interest or penalties.This has yet to be finalized and still needs to be coordinated with the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Moving Tax Day is critical to help provide cash flow and liquidity for business taxpayers including over 90% of businesses file their business taxes as pass-through entities through their individual income tax returns.

The governor also announced a MNsure special enrollment period from March 23 until April 21. We encourage employers to bring this to the attention of employees who may need to purchase for themselves in the individual market. 

Governor Walz announced three new Executive Orders today. The most impactful for Minnesota businesses is Executive Order 20-10 which prohibits price gouging during the peacetime emergency on essential goods for public health and safety.

The Minnesota Chamber, along with dozens of local chambers and other business trade associations, sent a letter to Governor Walz and legislative leaders urging timely action on a number of policy and regulatory changes to support businesses struggling to maintain their operations in these difficult times.
 

Wednesday, March 18

The Minnesota sales tax remittance due on March 20 has been delayed for 30 days for businesses that are required to close like restaurants, bars, theaters and other entertainment venues. This is a big help for businesses impacted by the temporary closures in Executive Order 20-04. 

A new Executive Order added hair and nail salons to the list of temporary business closures throughout the state. 
 

Tuesday, March 17

Governor Walz issued two Executive Orders today. The first, Executive Order 20-06, provides for emergency relief from various trucking regulations in Minnesota. This means trucks carrying supplies and materials to respond to COVID-19 won’t be subject to certain hours of service and weight restriction regulations, ensuring the businesses who are moving and receiving critical supplies can do so more quickly and efficiently. 

The Senate passed a bill to provide a total of $200 million in additional emergency funding to respond to COVID-19. Much of the funding is in the form of grants to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. for response needs. 
 

Monday, March 16

Governor Walz issued an executive order today temporarily closing all Minnesota restaurants, bars, food courts, coffeehouses, theaters, fitness centers, golf clubs, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues. Businesses who provide food are encouraged to offer food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, or drive-up service, and to use precautions in doing so to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19. 

In response to the previous Executive Order, Governor Walz issued another extending Minnesota unemployment benefits to applicants if: 

  • A health care professional or health authority recommended or ordered them to avoid contact with others.
  • They have been ordered not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of a communicable disease.
  • They have received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either classes are canceled or the applicant’s ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off or other accommodation from the employer and no reasonable accommodation was available.
  • The one-week waiting period to receive benefits was also waived. 

If you or your employees are eligible and would like to apply, visit https://www.uimn.org/


Tuesday, March 10

Governor Walz signed legislation to add $21 million in funding to the Public Health Response Contingency Account to help fund the state’s response to the outbreak of COVID-19. These funds will be used help fund statewide monitoring and response to the crisis, staffing at the Minnesota Department of Health and local public health agencies to respond to the growing outbreak, more COVID-19 testing, and the acquisition of more personal protective equipment for health care workers and first responders who are on the front lines of working to contain the virus.