Duncan Hill is marketing director at Davies & Associates LLC. Duncan is not a lawyer and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.
Businesses across the United States are reeling from the economic impact of the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Furloughed employees, disrupted supply chain, cancelled purchase orders, nosediving share prices and shuttered premises are all compounding to create an unprecedented challenge.
Over the past decade, Davies & Associates has brought hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs to the United States. Our L-1 clients have expanded their existing business to America, our E-2 Clients have set up new business or purchased franchises, and our EB-5 Immigrant Investor clients have been granted the freedom to pursue their own business objectives.
Cashflow is Key
These clients come from all over the world, and what they are finding is that America is one of the best places to own a business in a global economic downturn. The country’s resilience, stemming from its diverse economy and historic commitment to business, means there are a range of options available to help businesses weather this storm.
Cashflow is always key to a business, but never more so than over the next few months. Different businesses inevitably have different amounts of cash buffers available. While some may be able to withstand a few months of this crisis, others cannot survive more than a few weeks. Since no one knows for certain how long the current shutdown will last, many businesses are going to need help. The United States now has an unprecedented array of federal and state programs in place to assist through this crisis.
Payment Protection Program
The latest and most high-profile support measure to become available is the Payment Protection Program (PPP). This is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by the president last week. The PPP is a loan scheme designed to prevent massive layoffs caused by disrupted trade and commerce.
The loans can be claimed for operating expenditures like salaries, health and retirement benefits, rent and mortgage payments, and utilities. Since funding is limited, loans to cover salaries are likely to be given preference.
Businesses claiming the loans are able to claim 100% forgiveness if they maintain headcount or rehire recently laid-off workers. You must also ensure not to reduce salaries by more than 25% for employees earning less than $100,000 a year. Those that do not comply will have to pay back some of the loan, deferred for 6-12 months, at an interest rate of 0.5%.
Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible for this scheme, and this includes self-employed contractors. The CARES Act authorized $350 billion for the program. Because of its popularity it is advisable to apply early before funding runs out. Applications through approved lenders can be submitted from Friday 3rd April.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan
The Coronavirus pandemic has also been declared a disaster under the Small Business Administration Act, which means small businesses can also apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Although businesses can apply for both EIDL and the PPP, there can be no double dipping with the PPP, so the loans must be used to cover different expenses.
Unlike the PPP, Economic Injury Disaster Loans are not new and have not been specifically introduced as a response to the Coronavirus pandemic. EIDLs include what is essentially a cash grant to businesses of $10,000. Any additional loan – up to the limit of $2 million- is subjected to repayment over three decades at low rates of interest.
State and Local Programs
Different states and municipalities are offering loans and grants of their own. For example, New York is offering grants to cover 40% of payroll and interest-free loans of up to $75,000 to businesses that can prove they have incurred losses of more than 25% because of Coronavirus.
Chicago is providing low interest loans to businesses with fewer than 50 employees and San Francisco is offering cash grants of up to $10,000 for companies with between 1 and 5 employees provided annual gross revenue is less than $2.5 million.
Most people are aware that many taxpayers are in line for a $1,200 one-time rebate and that the deadline for filing federal taxes has been pushed from April to July. Other changes include the removal of a 10% penalty on people seeking to access retirement funds early, deferral of payroll taxes, and alterations to the tax on charitable contributions. Davies & Associates has a tax team able to assist clients with understanding their options.
International Debt Collection
Looking beyond the short-term assistance programs, the global economy is likely to be in disarray when it gets going again. One feature may be that people have difficulty paying their bills. D&A’s creditors’ advisory business can help chase payment of debts. Given the internationalization of modern supply chains, many debts will cut across national borders. D&A’s international reach, with offices and partnerships around the globe, means we can pursue debts for clients both in their home country and overseas. Debt collection in the United States is governed on a state by state basis
For firms struggling to pay their bills, one possible option is the bankruptcy system. While the term bankruptcy often implies something terminal, in the United States it is possible for firms to file for bankruptcy and continue operating. Under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code it is possible to reorganize your business and renegotiate your debts. Chapter 13 offers something similar for individuals on fixed incomes. The most common form of bankruptcy in the United States is Chapter 7 where assets are liquidated to pay off debts. It is important to engage an attorney to understand which assets could be legally protected from the liquidation process.
D&A Corporate Team
As you can see, there are lots of different measures in place to help individuals and businesses amid this unprecedented global crisis. And we are here to help. While D&A is most known for bringing people to the United States, we are often less well known for our corporate work once they get there.
Yet for certain visa categories, corporate work is essential. Immigration law and corporate law are natural bedfellows. For example, all new E-2 Visa applications and any “new office” L-1 Visas require a US entity to be established as part of the visa process.
Once these clients have moved to the United States, we stick by their side. Offering ongoing corporate services and tax advice in good times as well as tougher times.
These are some tough times and we are here to help.