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BPAA State Policy Update - April 3, 2020

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COVID-19 STATE UPDATE

  • The President has now issued a National Disaster Declaration for 30 states and 4 territories. For a helpful resource for tracking state executive actions, please view the COVID-19 State Policy Summary, which provides high level insight into orders in place from each state, and now includes tracking of orders re Evictions/Foreclosures, Enforcement Penalties, Travel Restrictions, and Unemployment Assistance Programs. Here is the COVID-19 State and Local Bans and Restrictions, which provides more details on orders from each state.
    • The New York Times also offers a helpful state order guide: view it here.

 

  • Florida stay-at-home order: What you can and cannot do now: Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order mandating Floridians stay at home starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday contains exemptions for “essential services.” That list is extensive. Originally, the order superseded all local government shelter-in-place or stay home orders, and it said local governments could impose further restrictions as they deemed appropriate. But the governor later signed a second “clarifying” order requiring local governments to follow the state mandate to the letter. For other activities that qualify as essential services, that include: Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but limited to take-out and delivery service only. Read more here. Read the executive order here.

 

  • Ohio’s stay-at-home order extended until May 1, here’s what the new order includes: Ohio’s stay-at-home order will be extended until May 1, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday. The new order will begin at 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 6, the same time the first stay-at-home is set to expire. “This is a stay-at-home order, an essential business order and it will extend until May 1. This coincides with what we have done in regard to our schools,” DeWine said. “Basically there’s no way we’ll be out of this by then.” Read more here.

 

  • Gov. Parson issues statewide stay-at-home order for Missouri: The order starts Monday, April 6, 2020 and lasts from 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020, according to announcement Friday from Gov. Parson. Under the order, residents can only leave home for “essential activities,” to work for an “essential business,” or for “essential travel." The order explicitly states that Missourians should avoid leaving their homes unless necessary. The order does not prohibit Missourians from accessing essential services, such as grocery stores, gas stations, and banks, or engaging in outdoor recreation following social distancing guidelines. The order includes specific guidance for staying home, social distancing, businesses and employees, schools, restaurants, firearm sales, and state government buildings. Read the guidelines here.

 

  • CDC Issues Travel Advisory For New York, New Jersey, Connecticut: Saturday, March 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a very rare domestic travel advisory aimed at residents in the New York tri-state area comprising New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” The New York tri-state area has been a hotspot for COVID-19 but the disease is spreading exponentially in many states across the country. On Friday, the CDC upgraded the entire United States to a Level 3 Travel Health Notice, the highest level. That was the day when the United States overtook China as the country with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19. Since then, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 have doubled in the U.S.

 

  • Illinois Governor Asks White House to Reopen Obamacare: Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he and other governors from both parties are asking President Donald Trump to reopen Obamacare enrollment amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not reopening enrollment is “leadership malpractice,” Pritzker said during his daily press conference with reporters on Wednesday in Chicago. President Donald Trump will not reopen the Obamacare exchanges, a White House official said Tuesday night.

 

STATE TAX & BUDGET UPDATE

  • For a state-by-state tracker for legislative actions in response to COVID-19, click here to the Tax Foundation’s new resource guide.

 

  • California Giving Businesses a One-Year Sales Tax Reprieve: California has given businesses up to a year to gradually remit the sales taxes they collect from customers. Revenue directors from Illinois and Oregon say further tax relief guidance is coming. And Texas and Pennsylvania, meanwhile, extended more deadlines. Here’s the latest on shifting state tax guidelines, deadlines, and policy to deal with the new coronavirus pandemic. For our Wednesday coverage click here. Here’s a state-by-state roadmap.
    • Small California businesses can take one year to gradually remit up to $50,000 in sales tax collections to the state to help them weather the health crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Thursday. “In essence it is a bridge loan,” Newsom said at noon briefing. “No penalties, no interest, de facto a loan.” The delay in paying tax they’ve collected from customers will help keep their businesses running, Newsom said.
    • Businesses must file their returns to be eligible for the delay, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. Once they’ve filed, they can enter into payment plans that spread the tax liability over 12 months, interest free. For example, a business that owes $50,000 for the first quarter of 2020 could pay that in 12 installments starting July 1, 2020.
    • Newsom called the one-year payment plan a reprieve from tax payments.
    • The new relief is in addition to Newsom’s March 30 decision to push sales tax filing and payment deadlines to July 31 for businesses that owe $1 million or less in quarterly payments. Newsom said Thursday that the new option would help businesses avail themselves of two new federal programs: loans from the Small Business Administration, and a paycheck-protection program that starts Friday giving businesses up to $10 million in low-cost loans if they use 75% of the loan to pay their employees.

 

  • Wisconsin Offers Additional Relief: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) on Wednesday released a legislative package responding to the Covid-19 emergency that included several initiatives designed to ease burdens on taxpayers. Evers also called for a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature to address his emergency legislation. The tax measures included a plan to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families during the crisis. Homeowners would benefit from waiving interest and penalties on delinquent property taxes included in the 2020 tax roll. A second property tax measure would grant municipalities flexibility to implement multiple installments of three or more payments for 2020 property taxes.

 

  • Missouri Cutting Spending: Missouri will cut $180 million from planned spending to help meet an anticipated $500 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, Gov. Mike Parson (R) said Wednesday. The new coronavirus has already caused an economic slowdown, and the result may be a worse decline in state revenues than during the Great Recession, Parson said in his daily briefing on the public health emergency. Missouri hopes to be able to use $315 million in federal funding to help with the shortfall, Parson said.

 

  • While Illinois has brought its filing deadlines into conformity with the new federal deadline for income taxes, the change doesn’t apply to many state deadlines for incremental payments, said Brian E. Fliflet, acting general counsel for the Illinois Department of Revenue. He said taxpayers should pay close attention to those deadlines and any applicable signing requirements. Illinois doesn’t permit e-signatures on some documents but does accept facsimiles of signatures.

 

  • New Hampshire May Waive Property Tax Interest: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is considering waiving interest on property taxes that aren’t paid on time due to the impact of the new coronavirus, he said Wednesday. The state, which has no income or sales taxes, will likely face a revenue shortfall, Sununu said. Despite this, the governor said he was considering granting property tax waivers, as requested by municipal leaders.

 

  • New Jersey Extending Fiscal Year, Too: New Jersey is making it official. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and legislative leaders said Wednesday they have agreed to extend the tax deadline to July 15. And they are adding three months to the current fiscal year for state budget purposes in response to the pandemic. The legislature acted March 19 to extend the tax due dates, but Murphy a week later indicated that he still hadn’t fully committed to signing it. The agreement set in motion a plan to extend the state fiscal year to Sept. 30, from June 30.

 

  • Pennsylvania Extends Corporate Tax Due Date: Pennsylvania on Thursday extended until Aug. 14 the deadline for corporate tax returns due May 15. It also announced several other deadline extensions to aid taxpayers in navigating the pandemic. Estimated corporate taxes are still due June 15.

 

  • States Say More Guidance Is Coming: Now that states have extended their income tax filing and payment deadlines in response to the coronavirus pandemic, revenue agencies are examining additional relief measures to support taxpayers during the public health crisis. Revenue officials from Oregon, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas said Wednesday that they would be issuing guidance in the coming days to address taxpayer burdens resulting from the global health emergency. The comments came during a state and local tax webinar sponsored by the law firm Reed Smith LLP.
    • The guidance will help to clarify inconsistencies between the new July 15 federal income tax filing deadline and the myriad of state income, sales, property, franchise, and activity taxes. States are also scrambling to address tax issues emerging from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), signed by President Donald Trump on March 27.

 

  • California- Gov. Newsom joins property tax relief fray— Just days before property taxes are due, Gov. Gavin Newsom has waded into the financial tangle linked to whether the payments should — or can be — postponed amid the economic chaos spawned by the coronavirus. County tax collectors throughout the Bay Area want to keep the April 10 deadline, but pressure has mounted to push back the payment date because numerous residential and commercial property owners have been financially jolted by the coronavirus. Read article here.

 

LABOR & MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE

 

  • Bloomberg Government – U.S. Jobless Claims Soar to Once-Unthinkable Record 6.65 Million: Filings totaled 10 million in two weeks, spanning industries; Jobless rate of 20% ‘not unthinkable’ as shutdowns multiply.
    • The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits soared to a record 6.65 million last week, a level unimaginable just a month ago. As states shut down commerce to prevent the deadly coronavirus from spreading, the weekly claims data have been among the first detailed figures to show the devastating economic hit, highlighting the extent to which U.S. businesses and workers are reeling from the global health crisis. The figures also may add to pressure on the federal government to ensure that aid payments and loans under the $2 trillion stimulus package flow quickly to people and businesses. “I never thought I’d see such a print in my lifetime as economist,” said Thomas Costerg at Pictet Wealth Management, who had the highest forecast in the Bloomberg survey, at 6.5 million. Claims are likely to stay elevated as more states announce stay-at-home orders, and it would be “not unthinkable” to see a 20% unemployment rate, more than double the high that followed the last recession, he said. The 6.65 million jobless claims filed in the week ended March 28 were more than double the previous record of 3.31 million in the prior week, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday.
      • California reported the most initial claims last week at an estimated 879,000 on an unadjusted basis, following 186,000 the prior week; it was also the biggest increase among all states and territories
      • Pennsylvania had an estimated total of about 406,000, following 377,000
      • New York had 366,000
      • Michigan reported 311,000
      • Texas had about 276,000
      • Ohio reported 272,000
      • Florida had 227,000
      • New Jersey had 206,000

 

  • States overwhelmed by previously unimaginable layoff numbers: In Michigan, the state unemployment filing system crashed this week because it was overloaded. In California, it may take much longer than usual for hundreds of thousands of jobless people to get their benefits. In New York, one laid-off worker says she called the state labor department 800 times before getting through. As previously unimaginable layoff numbers pile up across the country, the state-by-state systems for getting benefits into the hands of people who lost their jobs are stressed, inefficient and not sending money quickly enough to the people who most need it. And it may only get worse: The weekly unemployment figures that will be reported Thursday are expected to climb higher than last week’s record-shattering totals, thrusting more people into already overwhelmed systems. Read more at Politico.
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