March 30, 2020
NJGCA March 30th
Coronavirus Shutdown Update
I have sent another formal request to the Governor this morning. After several tries I was finally able to speak with the Governors deputy chief of staff, who assured me they were not ignoring me but were just busy. However, what he told me I was not happy with and that is that the Governor is not considering my proposal to suspend the self-serve law at this time. Because of the developments in Oregon, I have had several reporters contact me and we have also sent out a press release so that the public can now be aware that we are working on this effort, because I believe that many motorists will support our position. The Governor did a press conference at 2 PM and a reporter did ask him about this and his reply was identical to the DCOS that he is not considering this at this time.
While the Governor has taken several steps to try to flatten the curve, lifting self-serve prohibition seems like a logical next step in slowing the spread of the virus.
I have received a few great emails from some of you that originated with your customers.
Here are only a few samples of what has been sent to me, and I hope will motivate you to do the same
Customers names and contact info have been redacted.
I am a regular patron of your gas station as you are close to my residence and your prices are always reasonable.
However, I was very disturbed the other day when I went to your station and was told by a member of your staff that I was NOT allowed to handle my own credit card by placing it into the pump's machine.
As you inevitably know, there is a national crisis right now because of COVID-19. New York and our area are the hardest hit in the country. I have several family members who are considered "high-risk" due to age and underlying health conditions.
It is ridiculous that we are not allowed to handle our own cards while at the pump. I understand NJ's law that we are not allowed to pump our own gas - but it seems inconceivable that we are not allowed to pump our own gas. I do not know if this is your policy or a state law, BUT IT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. I will not put my family at risk by going to your station and risking exposure to the virus if this policy continues. I appreciate you have a business to run, but my families health and safety will always be more important. Please adapt to the current conditions and change this policy.
My wife and I have enjoyed the services of your gas station for the past years, however, your current policy of having us hand our credit cards to your employees and pump our gas. This is out of touch with the times.
My wife and I feel uncomfortable being in contact with untested persons and handling our credit cards. We are in the risk group to contract the corona virus with a greater chance of it being life threatening. My wife and I respectfully request that you change your gas station's procedures so that we may insert our credit cards directly into the gas pumps and pump gas OURSELVES without having contact with your employees.
If you do not change your policy my wife and I and our two children will have to begin using service stations that care about their customers.
Please Mr. XXXXX change your policy to protect our health and the health of your employees.
We have also received some great emails outlining the difficulty that you are having getting employees to work the pumps jeopardizing your ability to remain open. Please continue sending these emails. If any of your customers are willing to go on camera and speak to the press that will be terrific!
Many of you have asked about the relief programs that we have written about in the past week. Below is a summary of one of the most important programs with the details that are currently known. Please read thru this information slowly and digest each point to determine if what we have spelled out is something that you can apply for.
- Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
- Signed into law Friday March 27, 2020
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans
- $350 billion
- For small businesses (under 500 employees)
- How is it administered?
- Lenders who are already certified to participate in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Section 7(a) program can provide these loans directly, with the financing backed by the SBA.
- Lenders who are not currently certified by SBA will be able to participate once the Treasury Department finalizes a process to involve them for the duration of the emergency.
- Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said that the application process should be completed by April 3rd and that loans will be approved within one or two days after being applied for.
- How much can be loaned?
- The amount of this loan is your average monthly payroll cost in the previous year multiplied by 2.5, up to $10 million.
- Payroll includes wages and other benefits given, including healthcare and paid leave costs, and state and local payroll taxes.
- It does not include payment for the new types of leave provided by the federal government under the Families First law, because that leave is being repaid through refundable tax credits.
- If you have already qualified for an SBA disaster loan, that loan amount will not be held against the amount of money you can take out under a PPP loan (although that money cannot be forgiven like the PPP loan can).
- What can the money be used for?
- Payroll costs, mortgage, rent, utilities (gas, water, electricity, phone, and internet), insurance premiums, and interest payments on debt obligations which were incurred before Feb. 15, 2020. The PPP loans can be used for any of these expenses made between Feb 15 and June 30, 2020.
- How much can be forgiven?
- The total amount spent on qualifying expenses made from the date of the loan and for 8 weeks after.
- Qualifying expenses are:
- Payroll costs
- Interest Payments on mortgages
- **Reduction in Amount Forgiven**
- The amount of loan forgiveness will be reduced in proportion to any reduction in employees retained and/or a reduction in employee compensation by more than 25%, compared with the “reference period”.
- The reference period is either February 15, 2019-June 30, 2019 or January 1, 2020-February 29, 2020. The employer may choose which period to use.
- There will be no penalty for having already laid off employees if the positions are re-filled by June 20.
- If a business with 10 employees laid off 5, then the amount of total loan forgiveness would be reduced 50%.
- Application for forgiveness of an expense is made to the lender, who must decide within 60 days whether it is valid.
- Special Terms
- Borrower and lender fees are waived
- Collateral and personal guarantee requirements waived
- Maximum term of loan is 10 years
- Interest rate is capped at 4%
- Payments deferred for at least 6 months, may be deferred up to a year
- So How Do I Apply?
- Contact your local bank immediately and ask them about “Paycheck Protection Program Loans”. It is the local lender that will be providing and administering the loans, not the federal government.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit
- Refundable payroll tax credit
- Not available if business has received a Paycheck Protection Program loan
- Who can get these tax credits?
- Businesses that experienced a decline of gross receipts of at least 50% vs. the same calendar quarter last year
- Businesses fully or partially suspended by the government
- How much is the credit?
- 50% of the first $10,000 of qualified wages paid to employees (including health benefits) per quarter, from March 13, 2020 until gross receipts reach 80% of what they were in the previous year, or until December 31st (whichever is sooner)
- Businesses with fewer than 100 employees can use the tax credit on all employees.
- Payroll Tax Holiday
- Employers may defer payment of Social Security taxes for the rest of calendar 2020.
- The full amount must still be paid, with half of it due by December 31, 2021 and the other half due December 21, 2022.
- The goal is to free up cash for employers if absolutely necessary.
- Stimulus Checks for individuals
- $1,200 per individual ($2,400 for married couple filing jointly), plus $500 per dependent child. The rebate begins to phase out after $75,000 for an individual, $112,500 for a head of household, or $150,000 for joint taxpayers. Phased out completely at $99,000 for an individual with no children and $198,000 for couples with no children.
- Taxpayers do not need to apply for these checks, they will be sent automatically based on the 2019 income tax return. If returns for 2019 haven’t been filed, then it will be based on the 2018 income tax return.
If the IRS has direct deposit information on record, it will be depositing the checks very soon. Otherwise they will be mailed, the Treasury Secretary has estimated 3 weeks for them to begin arriving.