Client Alerts
July 30, 2020

Information You Need on the COVID-19 Coronavirus

March 2020

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC


Updated 08/03/20

Stites & Harbison has assembled a Coronavirus Response Team which consists of a cross-disciplinary task force of attorneys and critical staff members to ensure our firm remains “On the Job” for you.

The Firm is ready and committed to upholding its 10 Imperatives of Client Service even in a pandemic. Whether attorneys and staff will need to telecommute or work from other firm offices, we are poised to support all our clients’ legal needs, ensuring there is no disruption in the delivery of services.

To assist clients with quickly accessing the most up-to-date and relevant information about dealing with the coronavirus and its possible impact on business operations, Stites & Harbison has compiled the below information and links to help navigate the COVID-19 coronavirus. Feel free to add this link to your favorites bar for easier access.

It should be noted that many of these resources do not address the legal aspects of dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Rather, many are from a health care perspective, as well as managing resources during a pandemic. For example, several of the sites suggest NOT asking an employee for a doctor's note if the employee suspected that they may have been exposed. However, from an employer perspective, balancing the perfect storm of ADA, workers’ compensation, OSHA regulations, and the Family Medical Leave Act may require communications from an overworked doctor's office.

Information provided on this webpage should not be construed as legal-specific legal advice for all situations, but rather is general legal information to begin assessing processes and plans while minimizing legal risks.

For specific legal advice, please contact any of the Firm’s attorneys for assistance.
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New Legislation

  • On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Labor announced that employers covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act can take immediate advantage of payroll tax offsets and refunds designed to fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing coronavirus-related leave under the Act. Employers may retain an amount of payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they pay pursuant to the Act, rather than deposit them with the IRS. The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. If those amounts are not sufficient to cover the cost of paid leave, employers can seek an expedited advance from the IRS by submitting a streamlined claim form that will be released next week. Equivalent child care leave and sick leave credit amounts are available to self-employed individuals; these credits will be claimed on their income tax return and will reduce estimated tax payments. The full announcement from the IRS can be found here.
  • On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the “Families First Corona Virus Response Act” to be consistent with the first tax entry. This broad-reaching legislation addresses several workplace issues related to the emergency circumstances brought about by COVID-19. The new law imposes two new requirements upon employers with 500 or fewer employees. To learn more click here.

General

United States Centers for Disease Control

World Health Organization

When to Seek Help

Resources

Travel:

State Websites

OSHA

Department of Labor

Unemployment Benefits

  • U.S. Department of Labor Announces New Guidance on Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities during COVID-19 Outbreak - https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20200312-0
  • Georgia - Georgia employers are required to file partial claims on behalf of their employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period. Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee. A guide to filing Partial Unemployment Claims for employers can be found here. Filing partial claims should result in employees receiving unemployment insurance benefit payments faster, as soon as 48 hours for claims filed electronically. If an employer files a partial claim, the affected employees are not required to register with the GDOL for employment services. Employers cannot file a partial claim until the affected employees have exhausted all paid leave benefits, and claims cannot be submitted until after the end of at least a 7 day week pay period. Claims can be filed on-line or by phone.
  • Indiana – The Indiana Department of Workforce Development also provides a FAQ about unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19. If an employer must lay off employees in Indiana due to loss of production caused by the virus, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria.
  • Kentucky – People experiencing job loss or medical quarantine associated with COVID-19 can file and request unemployment benefits. The one week waiting period has also been waived. Kentucky is increasing the staff on the unemployment insurance call line and launching an online chat feature to accommodate those filing claims. Everything You Need to Know - Unemployment Insurance.
  • Tennessee –The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has established a COVID-19 Response and Resources page to help employers and employees navigate the process and available resources. Tennessee is encouraging employers to file mass layoff claims, in lieu of requiring employees to file individual claims, to help with volume. If an employer submits a mass layoff form, affected employees do not need to file individual claims. If an employer temporarily closes or lays off employees due to COVID-19 and is unsure as to the reopen date, Tennessee instructs filers to use 16 weeks from the date of filing as the estimated date of resuming business operations. At this point in time, Tennessee is not permitting the collection of unemployment benefits for workers who “self-quarantine”. Instead, workers must be affected by a layoff or have been quarantined by a doctor’s order. This is more strict than the federal guidelines and may change.
  • Virginia – The Virginia Employment Commission has established a page dedicated to resources for those whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19. A Q&A for unemployment claims is also provided. Virginia encourages workers who are impacted to file claims online at www.vec.virginia.gov after they have been out of work at least one full day. Workers can file due to a reduction in hours if their gross earnings are less than their weekly benefit amount. The one week waiting period has been suspended for claims beginning March 15, 2020.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

High Deductible Health Plans and Expenses Relative to COVID-19

Small Business Relief

  • GeorgiaOn March 18, 2020, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that Georgia has received an official statewide disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Small business owners should visit www.disasterloan.sba.gov for information and the application. Loans are available for small businesses and non-profit organizations.
  • Indiana - The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved the state's application for an economic injury disaster loans. That means Indiana's small businesses that are affected by the pandemic can apply for disaster-assistance loans for up to $2 million. To apply on line go to https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
  • Kentucky - The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved the state's application for an economic injury disaster loans. That means Kentucky's small businesses that are affected by the pandemic can apply for disaster-assistance loans for up to $2 million. To apply on line go to https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
  • Tennessee – On March 19, 2020, Governor Bill Lee confirmed that his request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been secured. The declaration ensures that small businesses, private and non-profit organizations, that have suffered economic injury as a result of COVID-19 can apply for low-interest loans of up to $2 million. Visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ to apply.
  • Virginia – On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved Governor Ralph Northam’s request for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for Virginia. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis can apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million from the SBA to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. To submit a loan application through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, please visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Federal Tax Information

  • On March 20, 2020, United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, announced that the deadline for filing federal income tax returns and paying federal income taxes otherwise due on April 15, 2020 will be extended to July 15, 2020.

State Tax Information

  • Georgia – Following Governor Brian Kemp’s announcement on Monday, March 23, 2020, the Georgia Department of Revenue, in conformance with the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is automatically extending the 2019 income tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. Like the IRS, the relief provided by this extension is for state income tax payments and state income tax returns due on April 15, 2020. This also includes state estimated income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, for the taxpayer's 2020 taxable year. In addition to the income tax deadline extension, all vehicle registrations in Georgia that expire between March 16, 2020, and May 14, 2020, have been extended through May 15, 2020.
  • Indiana - On March 19, 2020, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced that Indiana’s income tax filing and payment deadlines would be changed to mirror the federal deadlines. Accordingly any Indiana state income tax filing or payment (including estimated payments) that otherwise would have been due on April 15 is now due on July 15.
  • Kentucky - On March 20, 2020, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky's income tax filing and payment deadlines would be changed to mirror the federal deadlines. Accordingly any Kentucky state income tax filing or payment (including estimated payments) that otherwise would have been due on April 15 is now due on July 15, 2020.
  • Tennessee - On March 25, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Revenue extended the due date for filing and paying franchise and excise tax only. The date was extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. No decision has been made relative to Hall Income Tax on interest and dividends, presently due April 15, 2020.
  • Virginia - On March 19, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced that he asked the Virginia Department of Taxation to extend the due date of payment of Virginia individual and corporate income taxes. While filing deadlines remain the same, the due date for individual and corporate income tax will now be June 1, 2020. Please note that interest will still accrue, so taxpayers who are able to pay by the original deadlines should do so.
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