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Coronavirus Resources for California Tourism Industry

Last updated Jan. 5, 2021

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Congress in 2020 approved the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and the $900 million Consolidated Appropriations Act to provide relief for businesses and employees hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and California state government have taken action to help small businesses defer some sales tax payments and get loans.

Here are brief descriptions of the main components of state and federal programs, with links to more detailed documents provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Travel Association, and the California Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Federal Relief

(New) Business Interruption Loans (Paycheck Protection)
The reauthorized PPP gives guaranteed loans of up to $2 million at maximum 4 percent interest to cover payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities and other costs of doing business. Congress in December 2020 added $284 billion to the program, extended the application deadline to March 31, 2021, allowed previous borrowers to apply for a second loan and expanded eligibility to include both nonprofit and quasi-governmental DMOs with 300 employees or less.
Eligibility: Self-employed, businesses, DMOs. Forbids loans to publicly traded companies.
Read more from U.S. Travel.

(New) Coronavirus Economic Injury Disaster Loans/Grants
This extended program allows small businesses to borrow up to $2 million with a maximum 4 percent interest to make payroll or most operating expenses. Congress in late 2020 extended the program until Dec. 31, 2021 and added $40 billion, half of which is reserved for employers of less than 300 in low income areas that have experienced more than a 30% loss.
Eligibility: Self-employed businesses with fewer than 500 employees (and those with more if they meet these SBA standards) and all non-profits.
Read more from U.S. Travel.

(New) Live Venue Grant Program
This program provides up to a $10 million grant for music venues, museums, performing arts centers and theaters if they have 300 or fewer employees and can demonstrate a 30% loss. Grant amount is based on 45% of 2019 revenue. Application details for the program are due by Feb. 10, 2021.
Eligibility: Recipients are ineligible for PPP loans. Grants can only be used on payroll costs, rent, utilities, interest on preexisting debt, maintenance, advertising, insurance payments, theatrical productions, state and local taxes, and measures to address COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
Read more from the National Law Review.

Economic Development Administration Grants
Available grant funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce asks applicants to explain how their project would "prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus" or respond to "economic injury as a result of coronavirus.” The grant specifically includes travel and tourism marketing campaigns.
Eligibility: Applicants include a variety of government organizations and any “public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State.” Individuals and for-profit companies are ineligible.

Read more in the EDA official Notice of Funding Opportunity or the EDA’s FAQ.

Small Business Debt Relief
This allows small businesses with outstanding SBA 7(a) loans, new SBA 7(a) loans, 504 loans (for purchase or improvement of capital assets) to have all principal and interest covered for six months.
Eligibility: Any business with a SBA 7 (a) or 504 loan issued before September 27, 2020.
Read more from the Small Business Administration or U.S. Travel.

SBA Express Loans
Raises the limit for express loans from $350,000 to $1 million through Dec. 31, 2020. Interest is capped at 9.5 percent for loans more than $50,000.
Eligibility: Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees or $7 million or less in annual receipts. Must have been in business for at least two years. Non-profits and marketing organizations are ineligible.
Read more from U.S. Travel.

(New) Tax Relief
- Congress extended the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to July 31, 2021. It allows employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been disrupted by government orders or have experienced revenue losses of at least 20%, to become eligible for tax credits for 70% of wages paid to certain employees.
- The latest act included full deductibility of ordinary business meal expenses incurred in 2021 and 2022.
- Net operating losses from 2018, 2019 and 2020 can be carried back for five years.
- Employers can defer all of their Social Security payroll taxes for 2020, repaying half by the end of 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022. The credit is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.
- Employers now have until Dec. 31, 2021 to repay employees’ portion of payroll tax deductions.
Read more: Internal Revenue Service Coronavirus Tax Relief for Businesses and Tax-Exempt Entities.

(New) Transportation Relief
-The December Act provided relief for airports and other transportation functions: Airport concessionaires will receive $200 million in relief for rent and minimum annual guarantee (MAG) payments.
-Bus companies and private motorcoaches will share $2 billion in relief.


California Relief
California COVID-19 Relief Grants
The state is creating a $500 million relief grant for businesses that have been hurt by health and safety restrictions related to the pandemic. The California Office of the Small Business Advocate system would award grants of up to $25,000 to underserved micro and small businesses or non-profits.
Sign up at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to receive updates on eligibility and development of the program.

California Business Tax Relief
Small businesses with $5 million or less in sales and up to $1 million in sales tax collections can get an automatic three-month tax filing extension, allowing them to use the money interest-free for other obligations.

California Rebuilding Fund
A public-private program provides loans to small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas of the state trying to recover from the economic downturn. The loans are not forgivable and are designed to be paid pack in three to five years.
Eligibility: Businesses with 50 or fewer employees that had less than $2.5 million in gross revenues in 2019.

Read: Full eligibility rules. Fill out an application here.

California Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Program
This provides access to loans up to $1 million for small businesses otherwise unable to qualify for federal disaster relief programs. The money can be used for rent, payroll and other costs of doing business. The state’s guarantee can last up to seven years, and interest is negotiated with private lenders.
Eligibility: Businesses with fewer than 750 employees and some non-profits.
Read more from the Small Business Resource Center.

Main Street Small Business Hiring Tax Credit
The state started taking applications Dec. 1 for a small business hiring tax credit. Reservations are required and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis through Jan. 15. A small business can claim 2020 tax credits of up to $100,000 if certain circumstances apply. Each business can qualify for $1,000 for each employee hired between July 1 and Nov. 30 if, among other requirements.

- The business had 100 or fewer employees on Dec. 31, 2019.
- The business experienced at least a 50 percent decrease in gross receipts between April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

A business can claim a $1,000 per employee credit based on a net increase in the average monthly number of employees from July 1 and Nov. 30 compared to April 1 and June 30.
Sign up for a credit reservation now. Get more information at the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

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