COVID19 Maryland Business Updates

COVID19 Maryland Business Updates

April 01, 2021

Reminder: Maryland Department of Commerce will accept applications starting March 30 at 9 am EST through April 6 at 11:59 pm EST. Funding is extremely limited and may ultimately result in approval on a first-come, first-served basis.

To apply, a business must first create an account here. Once you have an account, you will receive an email with a link to the application and be asked to login. For grant terms and conditions and application requirements, go here.

Bi-Partisan Agreement for American Rescue Plan Funding: Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones yesterday announced a bipartisan budget agreement to allocate the $3.9 billion in federal funding that the State of Maryland expects to receive through the American Rescue Plan Act. The agreement includes:

$1.1 billion to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to help stabilize unemployment insurance tax rates for businesses for calendar years 2022 and 2023.

$800 million will be dedicated to supporting existing state efforts to provide pandemic relief, including the RELIEF Act of 2021 and the Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative.

More than $600 million will be dedicated to supporting the safe reopening of Maryland schools.

$500 million will be dedicated to supporting the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transportation Authority in improving services and infrastructure.

$300 million will be dedicated to major investments in broadband technology.

$300 million will be dedicated to supporting critical lifelines for Marylanders in need.

$75 million will be dedicated to a variety of apprenticeships and employment training programs, and

$15 million will be dedicated to promoting teleworking in the public and private sectors.

$100 million will be dedicated to supporting state employees providing essential services.

Paycheck Protection Program Extended to May 31: President Biden signed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law today, extending the Paycheck Protection Program an additional two months to May 31, 2021, and then providing an additional 30-day period for the SBA to process applications that are still pending. Learn more here.

COVID-19 EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) Deferment Extended and Loan Limits Increased: SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. The new loan limits will begin the week of April 6, 2021. SBA has announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022. More information here.

March 30, 2021

Maryland Small Business COVID Relief Grant Applications Go Live: Maryland Department of Commerce will accept applications starting March 30 at 9 am EST through April 6 at 11:59 pm EST. Funding is extremely limited and may ultimately result in approval on a first-come, first-served basis.

To apply, a business must first create an account here. Once you have an account, you will receive an email with a link to the application and be asked to login. For grant terms and conditions and application requirements, go here.

Small, Minority and Women Owned Business Account COVID-19 RELIEF Program: The Maryland Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Account COVID-19 RELIEF Program funds will be disbursed through MD Commerce’s existing Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Business Account, also known as the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) program.

The $10 million in Relief Act funds will be administered by the eight fund managers who operate this program on behalf of the Department of Commerce.  Applications will be available through each fund manager, who are located in various regions of the state. Go here to find a list of fund managers and contact information.

March 12, 2021

Comptroller Franchot Extends State Income Tax Filing Deadline to July 15, 2021

Comptroller Peter Franchot is extending the state income tax filing deadline by three months, until July 15, 2021. No interest or penalties will be assessed if returns are filed and taxes owed are paid by the new deadline.

The extension, which applies to individual, pass through, fiduciary, and corporate income tax returns, including first and second quarter estimated payments, is due to recent and pending legislation at the state and federal levels that impact 2020 tax filings and provide economic relief for taxpayers harmed by the pandemic.

In Maryland, passage of the RELIEF Act in February required extensive revisions to previously released forms and software programs used by tax filers and tax software vendors. Legislative veto overrides that took place later than usual prompted additional changes. At the federal level, the passage of a third stimulus package this week necessitates more changes to federal and state forms even as the traditional April 15 tax filing deadline approaches.

As of now, the Internal Revenue Service has kept its filing and payment deadline at April 15. The Comptroller’s Office will notify taxpayers if the IRS makes any adjustments.

Taxpayers who already have filed their state returns and are awaiting the revision of forms to amend their taxes to take advantage of an Unemployment Insurance subtraction should remain patient. The third federal stimulus bill provides additional Unemployment Insurance tax benefits, which requires more updates to both state and federal forms. Taxpayers who intend to take advantage of the UI subtractions are advised to wait until April 15, when all state forms will be ready with federal and state legislative changes.

The deadline for Sales and Use Tax returns also has been revised. Any SUT returns for sales taking place in March, April and May of 2021 will now be due on July 15, 2021.
Affected tax filers will automatically receive this extension and no interest or penalties will be assessed if returns are filed and taxes owed are paid by July 15.

One key provision of the RELIEF Act expanded the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for the next three years so that claimants get a larger refund, and separate legislation extends eligibility to taxpayers using Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs).  On April 1st, the Comptroller’s website will launch a new EITC calculator tool for eligible taxpayers to determine how much they can expect to receive from this enhanced benefit.

Those who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is designed to benefit low-to-moderate income working taxpayers, will have the adjustments automatically made to their filings. For taxpayers who already have submitted their returns, those refunds will begin to be processed on April 15 with no further action required by the taxpayer.

The Comptroller’s Office will notify the public about the availability of revised and new tax forms on its website and social media accounts. Additional information on tax forms and other RELIEF Act updates can be found here.  Taxpayers with questions about RELIEF Act provisions should email reliefact@marylandtaxes.gov

Those with general tax inquiries should email taxhelp@marylandtaxes.gov.

March 10, 2021

Governor Hogan Announces Lifting of Capacity Limits, Masking and Distancing Protocols Maintained

At yesterday’s press conference, the Governor announced new actions to further ease the COVID-19 mitigation measures currently in place:

EFFECTIVE FRIDAY, MARCH 12 AT 5:00 PM:

CAPACITY LIMITS LIFTED, MASKING AND DISTANCING PROTOCOLS MAINTAINED: Capacity limits will be lifted on outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants and bars, retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments. Bars and restaurants will be open for seated and distanced service only—patrons may not stand at a crowded bar. Masking, physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place. Read the Governor’s order here.

LARGE OUTDOOR AND INDOOR VENUES MAY OPERATE AT 50% CAPACITY: Large outdoor and indoor venues may begin operating at 50% capacity. This includes theaters; concert, convention, and wedding venues; racing facilities, and outdoor entertainment and sporting venues. Masking, physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place.

MEDICAL ADULT DAY CARE CENTERS TO REOPEN: Medical adult day care centers may reopen, with facilities able to set appropriate restrictions and safety measures. Read the Governor’s order here.

QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS LIFTED; TRAVEL ADVISORY REMAINS IN PLACE: Quarantine requirements and other restrictions on out-of-state travel will be lifted. A Maryland Department of Health (MDH) travel advisory will remain in place, and Marylanders continue to be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 upon their return from out-of-state travel.

Read the updated MD Department of Health directives here.

ADDITIONAL ORDERS AND GUIDANCE:

STATEWIDE MASKING ORDER REMAINS IN EFFECT: Maryland’s statewide masking order remains in full force and effect. This requires the wearing of masks or face coverings at any public indoor facility, including retail establishments, fitness centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, personal service establishments, in the public spaces of all public and private businesses across the state, and when using public transportation. Masks are still required in all outdoor public areas whenever it is not possible to maintain physical distancing.

TELEWORK: With contact tracing continuing to show some transmission among individuals who are working outside the home, particularly in office settings, the state continues to encourage employers to support telework whenever possible.

LICENSING AND PERMITTING: The Governor’s order authorizing the suspension of license and permitting expirations will sunset on June 30, 2021. Time frame suspensions made before this order will remain in effect until June 30, though agencies may terminate them earlier. Agencies are explicitly authorized to conduct virtual hearings and meetings. Read the order.

COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE:

WESTERN MARYLAND MASS VACCINATION SITE. The Governor announced that the Western Maryland mass vaccination site in Hagerstown will open one week early on Thursday, March 25. This will give the state at least one mass vaccination site in each region. The state is in active discussions with jurisdictions that have expressed an interest in hosting a mass vaccination site.

March 02, 2021

Governor Hogan Press Conference Today at 1:00 pm:  Governor Hogan will provide a COVID-19 update. Watch on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.

Targeted EIDL Advance Mapping Tool:  A new mapping tool is available to assist businesses in determining if they are located in an eligible area to qualify for a Targeted EIDL Advance.  Learn more here and visit the updated FAQs for more information.

Fraud Alert from SBA:  Bad actors are sending phishing emails posing as SBA, World Trade Finance company, and various companies. They are asking business owners to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan. Some email links lead to data collection sites related to “PPP 2021 Data Collection Form” or “PPP 2021 Approved”. Disclosing personal information on these sites could lead to information loss and identity theft.

Any email from SBA will use the @sba.gov handle. Loan applicants who receive email correspondence asking for sensitive information are cautioned to verify that any application numbers referenced in the email are consistent with recipient’s actual application number.

Hogan Administration Launches New “SpeedSurvey” Website: Governor Hogan today announced significant progress being made by the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband to expand high-speed broadband access for students and to improve data collection of Marylanders’ internet speeds, which will be used to direct future funding and projects.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that access to high-speed internet is essential for all Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “My administration has been proactive and continues to build upon our successes to bring broadband to underserved communities including students who need it most.”

As part of today’s announcement, the state of Maryland has launched the “SpeedSurvey” website. Residents can visit https://maryland.speedsurvey.org to test the speed of their internet connection on computers, tablets and smartphones or to report an address that does not have service.

Senator Cardin Small Business Roundtable Discussion this Friday at 1 PM:  This week the U.S. Senate is taking up a comprehensive package of legislation that includes help for struggling small businesses, states, and communities. The American Rescue Plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks to individuals, an extension of unemployment insurance, and tens of billions in aid for small businesses and not-for-profits, as well as $350 billion for state, local, and Tribal governments, many of which have experienced increased costs and lower tax revenues due to the pandemic.

With the American Rescue Plan expected to become law within the next two weeks, Senator Cardin would like to host a virtual meeting with small business and economic development leaders from Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick, and Carroll Counties to discuss provisions for relief and aid to small businesses included in the package.

Plan to join him this Friday, March 5th at 1:00 pm. Details and a link will be forwarded when they are available. For more information contact Robin Summerfield at Robin_Summerfield@cardin.senate.gov

February 24, 2021

Changes in the PPP Program to Prioritize Smallest of Small Businesses:

    • A 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees. The 14-day exclusivity period will start on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 9 a.m. and end on March 9, 2021 at 5:00 pm. The program will be open to all eligible entities March 10 through March 31, 2021.
    • Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals may receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants
    • Elimination of an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal.
    • Elimination of PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP; and
    • Ensuring access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.

Borrowers can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program by downloading the First Draw PPP Loan Application or the Second Draw PPP Loan Application and working with a participating PPP lender through the SBA Lender Match tool. Updated PPP information, including forms, guidance, and resources is available here and here.

February 23, 2021

Governor Hogan Press Conference Today: Governor Hogan will provide a COVID-19 update at 2:30 pm. The press conference may be streamed on FacebookYouTube, or Twitter.

Unemployment Fraud: States across the country have seen a spike in fraudsters targeting their UI programs.
Bad actors and fraudsters have been using illegally obtained data to file fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. There has been NO breach in the State of Maryland’s BEACON system. With aggressive and heightened security measures in place, Labor continues to investigate and manually review documentation for potentially fraudulent in-state and out-of-state claims.

Report Unemployment Fraud: If you believe that your information has been used to fraudulently file an unemployment insurance claim, complete a Request for Investigation of Unemployment Insurance Fraud form and e-mail to ui.fraud@maryland.gov

If you believe funds have been fraudulently withdrawn from your Bank of America unemployment insurance debit card, call Bank of America directly at 1-855-847-2029.

If you received a 1099-G tax form, but did not apply for or receive unemployment insurance benefits in Maryland in 2020, complete this Affidavit and submit it along with picture ID to the Benefit Payment Control Unit by emailing dlui1099-labor@maryland.gov.

    • If you are an employer and believe a fraudulent claim has been charged to your account, file a benefit charge protest through your employer portal at employer.beacon.labor.md.gov.

Maryland RELIEF Act Information from the Office of the Comptroller: summary of key provisions.

    • RELIEF Act Grant and Loan FAQs.
    • RELIEF Act Unemployment Assistance FAQs
    • RELIEF Act Sales and Use Tax Credit FAQs
    • RELIEF Act Economic Impact Payment FAQs

Business COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

Fact Sheet on Federal Extension of COVID-19 Forbearance and Foreclosure Protections for Homeowners. 

February 16, 2021

Governor Larry Hogan yesterday signed the bipartisan RELIEF Act of 2021, which delivers more than $1 billion in tax relief and economic stimulus for struggling Maryland families and small businesses that are suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Review the Relief Act one pager here.

Legislative Highlights:

    • Direct stimulus payments for low to moderate income Marylanders.
    • Enhancements of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
    • Repeal of all state and local income taxes on unemployment benefits for tax years 2020 and 2021.
    • Sales tax credit of up to $3,000 per month, for three months, to small businesses.
    • Unemployment tax relief for small businesses.
    • Additional $500 million in new funding for businesses and non-profits, housing, health, unemployment insurance, energy assistance, education, and human services.

$60 Million Pandemic Relief Grant Program for Child Care Providers:

Licensed child care centers and registered family child care providers are eligible to apply for Child Care Pandemic Relief Fund grants to help meet increased operation costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, Maryland received additional federal funding to support child care for children and families. Applications open today, February 16th. For more information and to apply go here.

January 26, 2021

Press Conference Today: Governor Hogan will hold a press conference today at 2:00 pm to provide an update on vaccine distribution. The press conference may be streamed on FacebookYouTube, or Twitter.

Maryland Enters Vaccination Phase 1c: Beginning yesterday, Marylander’s eligible in Phase 1c may begin receiving vaccines. Read the MD Department of Health’s updates on Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccine Plan, including a list of eligible Phase 1c groups, here.

Every county has devised its own process for vaccine distribution. Vaccination information for Carroll County here.

For additional information on the state’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, go to covidLINK.

January 08, 2021

Paycheck Protection Program Reopens January 11: On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Department of Treasury, announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11, 2021 for new borrowers and some existing PPP borrowers. The initial wave of loans issued on Monday, January 11, and Wednesday, January 13, will only be available to community financial institutions, but the PPP will open up to all eligible lenders shortly after.

    • PPP borrowers can set their loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks.
    • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations, property damage, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures;
    • The Program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, and direct marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
    • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
    • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount; and
    • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.

SBA has provided information for small business owners looking for a PPP loan, which can be found here. Additional information from SBA and the Department of the Treasury can be found at the below links.

Extension of  State Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines: Comptroller Franchot has announced that his agency has extended filing and payment deadlines for certain Maryland business taxes and quarterly estimated income tax returns and payments that would be due in January, February and March 2021 until April 15, 2021. No interest or penalties will be assessed and there is no need to file a request for extension.

These extensions apply only to tax filings under the authority of the Comptroller of Maryland. Taxpayers may need to consult other state agencies regarding the deadlines for other tax filings, such as personal property or unemployment insurance. For full details on the extensions, go here.

January 05, 2021

SBA Extends COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Application Deadline:  Under the provisions of the recently passed COVID-19 relief bill, the nation-wide pandemic disaster declaration has been extended to December 31, 2021, making EIDL available to borrowers through this year. Loans may be used for working capital, and operating expenses (i.e. continuation of health care benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments). Collateral is required for loans over $25,000.

EIDL loan applications will continue to be accepted through December 2021, pending availability of funds. Loans are available at 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75%  for nonprofit organizations, with a 30-year term and automatic deferment of one year before repayment begins. Apply here. (The new law also reopens the EIDL grant; the SBA’s website has not been updated.)

Reminder: SBA Express Bridge Loans and Debt Relief for SBA 7a, 504, and Micro-loans also available.

New Special Health Coverage Enrollment Period:  Governor Larry Hogan announced a new special enrollment period in which all uninsured Maryland residents have the opportunity to enroll in health coverage now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent rise in the positivity rate throughout the state. The enrollment period begins immediately and will run until March 15.

Health coverage through Maryland Health Connection, including private health plans and Medicaid, covers costs for coronavirus tests at doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, or emergency rooms. Individuals can enroll now through Monday, March 15. Coverage dates are based on enrollment:

    • Enroll Jan. 4–Jan. 15, coverage starts Jan. 1.
    • Enroll Jan. 16–Feb. 15, coverage starts Feb. 1.
    • Enroll Feb. 16–March 15, coverage starts March 1.

January 04, 2021

Governor Hogan will hold a press conference tomorrow, January 5th, at 5:00 pm to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution: The press conference may be streamed on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

Community Development and Housing Provisions – COVID-19 Economic Relief bill: $25 billion for past and future rent and utility payments. Assistance can be provided for 12 months. States and localities can add three months of assistance. Cities and states can make payments directly to landlords or utility companies on behalf of renters. If a landlord refuses to accept the rental assistance, cities and states can give assistance directly to the renter, who can then make payments to the landlord or utility provider.

Extends the CDC eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.

Extends the deadline to December 31, 2021 for funds in the CARES Act through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Capital Investments: Establishes a $9 billion Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP), administered by the Treasury Department, to provide low-cost, long-term capital investments to minority depository institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that are depository institutions. Provides $3 billion to the CDFI Fund for grants and other financial assistance to CDFIs, including CDFI loan funds.

Internet Access: $7 billion  to help lower-income Americans connect to the internet and pay their monthly internet bills and about $3 billion for monthly rebates on internet bills, providing up to $50 per month for low-income families. The bill will also focus on longer term efforts to support internet access, such as allocating funding to determine which regions lack access to high speed internet and improving infrastructure.