It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of running a store – checking to see whether the staff got to work on time, whether the day’s shipments arrived complete, whether the roof is leaking. (If your store isn’t located in a place where ice dams are a problem, you can probably cross that one off your list.)  But it’s important to make time for big picture issues too.  As we go into the second year of COVID-19, that includes seeking all the government funds available to help you get through the pandemic.

Do you know about the ERC?  According to the IRS website, “The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.”  On December 27, 2020 the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 amended and extended the ERC, so you may be eligible as long as you have retained employees during the pandemic and experienced financial disruption during that time.

The SBA has recently announced the next round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), called Second Draw PPP loans.  Applications are open between now and March 31, 2021. Note that PPP funds are considered a loan unless you successfully seek to have the loan forgiven – another task that you don’t want to have go to the bottom of your to-do list.  You need to apply for a PPP loan through a lender such as your local bank, and to work with the same institution on the forgiveness process.

Whether or not you received PPP funds in the first round, you should see if you are eligible this year.  The rules have changed slightly, and the SBA states that “Second Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.”

Some states, cities and counties have special funds set up to help small businesses get through this difficult period. These programs all have application deadlines, so you need to make researching all your options a high priority (despite distractions such a leaking roof).

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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