COVID-19 roundup: State, federal officials plan for relief

OSCPA staff report

It has been another busy week on the governmental and regulatory front, as officials work to handle the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's what you need to know on the accounting front:

BWC board approves $1.6 billion dividend for Ohio employers

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation’s Board of Directors on Friday approved to send up to $1.6 billion to Ohio employers this spring to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The board met in a virtual emergency session in response to Gov. Mike DeWine’s call for state agencies to help the business community withstand COVID-19’s challenges, which include temporary business closings, stay-at-home orders, and a record number of Ohioans applying for unemployment assistance.

Because of strong investment returns, the dividend is about 100% of the premiums employers paid in policy year 2018. Of the $1.6 billion dividend, about $1.4 billion would go to private employers and $200 million would go to local government taxing districts, such as counties, cities, townships, and schools.

Checks will be mailed in batches to employers later this month.

This dividend follows other recent moves by BWC to ease COVID-19’s strain on employers. In late March, BWC told employers they could defer their monthly premium installment payments for March, April, and May until June 1. BWC also waived or postponed some requirements and deadlines for several programs that reduce employer premiums and applied the discounts automatically.

For more on COVID-19 as it relates to BWC, visit the bureau’s FAQ page.

 

PUCO OKs PPP loans for utilities

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Wednesday authorized utilities in the state of Ohio to obtain loans from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, which authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to retain their employees during the COVID -19 crisis. This program will allow small utilities to apply for federal loans without seeking approval from the PUCO.

Additionally, the commission extended its March 12 order allowing for the suspension of requirements that may impose a service continuity hardship on residential and business customers or create unnecessary risks of social contact. The extension is for an additional 30 days, unless otherwise ordered by the PUCO.

Ohio news & notes

Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Husted announced the creation of the Office of Small Business Relief to coordinate efforts to identify and provide support for Ohio’s nearly 950,000 small businesses. This office will be housed within the Ohio Development Services Agency. The Office of Small Business Relief already has a website at businesshelp.ohio.gov.

Ohio also created a Dispute Resolution Commission that will evaluate and render guidance in situations where two local health departments have come to a different conclusion for similar businesses on whether they are essential. To submit a dispute, fill out this dispute resolution form and submit it to Dispute.Resolution@odh.ohio.gov.

Gov. DeWine this week announced the Ohio Liquor Control Commission has passed an emergency rule to allow establishments with an existing on-premises liquor permit to sell and deliver alcohol, including high-proof liquor in limited quantity for off-premises consumption. Under the rule, patrons can purchase two unpackaged drinks per meal. All drinks must be closed and remain closed during transport as per open container law.

Finally , here is a reminder that Ohioans can apply for unemployment benefits online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at  unemployment.ohio.gov. It is also possible to file by phone Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 877.644.6562 or TTY at 888.642.8203. Employers with questions should email UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov.

 

Federal news & notes

The U.S. Small Business Administration said it intends to provide continuing guidance for borrowers and lenders on the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Here is the latest FAQ document, which you can also access via OSCPA’s Coronavirus Resources & Information page.

The AICPA this week urged the U.S. Department of Treasury and the IRS to provide broader tax filing and payment relief. In a letter to the Treasury Secretary, the AICPA calls for several actions, including extensions for all filing and payment deadlines, e-signatures, estimated payment relief for second quarter payments.

It’s important to note that OSCPA has been able to secure more relief at the state level than most beyond initial deadlines. For example, we successfully advocated for Ohio to extend both the first and second quarter estimated payment deadlines to July 15 in the ODT’s March 27 release. The federal government had previously only moved the first quarter payment, until announcing additional tax filing and payment relief in Notice 2020-23 on April 9.

As news of the coronavirus continues to develop, refer to  OSCPA’s resource page to stay informed. And as always, if you have comments or questions, contact OSCPA's Government Relations team.

Hannah News Service contributed to this report.

2 comments

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  1. Greg Saul | Apr 13, 2020

    Kathleen, not yet.  See FAQ #9 on ODT's website: https://www.tax.ohio.gov/Coronavirus.aspx

  2. Kathleen Roberts | Apr 12, 2020
    has the state extended the cat tax filing ?

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