• Advocacy Team

COVID-19 Federal Updates: May 29, 2020

Reuters: In about three months, more Americans have died from COVID-19 than during the Korean War, Vietnam War and the U.S. conflict in Iraq from 2003-2011 combined.

  • The new respiratory disease has also killed more people than the AIDS epidemic did from 1981 through 1989, and it is far deadlier than the seasonal flu has been in decades.

  • The last time the flu killed as many people in the United States was in the 1957-1958 season, when 116,000 died.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed bi-partisan legislation, H.R. 7010, to provide small businesses with more flexibility while using loans provided through the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • The final legislation that passed the House today is different than the legislative text from earlier this week.

  • Most notably, instead of striking the 75/25 rule, this bill would give small businesses the ability to spend more of the money on non-payroll costs. The current terms of the loans require recipients to use 75 percent of the funds on payroll and up to 25 percent on other costs to qualify for loan forgiveness. But the legislation would change the ratio to at least 60 percent on payroll and up to 40 percent on rent, overhead and other costs.

  • Additionally, the extension of the loan maturity period from two to five years would only be for new PPP loans and would not be retroactive, however current borrowers and their lenders could agree to an extension.

  • The bill would give small businesses up to 24 weeks, up from the current eight weeks, to use the loans and extend the deadline for rehiring workers from June 30 to the end of this year.

  • The bill now heads to the Senate, which also has a version similar to what the House has passed, but it presently only extends the time frame for small businesses to spend the funds to 16 weeks instead of 24 weeks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Congress will “probably” have to pass another coronavirus relief package, with talks expected to take place “in the next month or so” on a bill.

On Tuesday, the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations clarifying the reporting requirements generally applicable to tax-exempt organizations.

  • The final regulations reflect statutory amendments and certain grants of reporting relief announced by the Treasury Department and the IRS in prior guidance to help many tax-exempt organizations generally find the reporting requirements in one place.

  • Among other provisions, the final regulations incorporate the existing exception from having to file an annual return for certain organizations that normally have gross receipts of $50,000 or less. That exception was previously announced in Revenue Procedure 2011-15. The regulations also provide that the requirement to report contributor names and addresses on annual returns generally applies only to returns filed by Section 501(c)(3) organizations and Section 527 political organizations. All tax-exempt organizations must continue to maintain the names and addresses of their substantial contributors in their books and records. This change will have no effect on transparency, as contributor information that is open to public inspection will be unaffected by this regulation.

  • The final regulations allow tax-exempt organizations to choose to apply the regulations to returns filed after September 6, 2019.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing relief for taxpayers developing renewable energy projects and producing electricity from sources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, trash, and hydropower.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an alert listing steps employers can follow to implement social distancing in the workplace and to help protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus.

  • OSHA launched a webpage with coronavirus-related guidance for construction employers and workers.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service today issued a proposed regulation updating the federal income tax withholding rules for periodic retirement and annuity payments made after December 31, 2020.

An executive order signed by President Trump directing agencies to decrease regulations to boost the economy may lead to court challenges.

  • The order directs agency heads to “identify regulatory standards that may inhibit economic recovery,” highlighting that regulations could be permanently or temporarily lifted to fight the economic fallout of the coronavirus.

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