COVID-19 Update – Financial Resources and Remedies

We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy.  As economic losses continue from the coronavirus pandemic, South Carolina and the federal government have made important changes aimed at providing some financial relief.  Here is a summary of what we know so far:

Income Taxes

The deadline to file federal income tax returns is now July 15.  If you owe money, the deadline to pay has also been extended from April 15 to July 15 — included quarterly estimated payments. See irs.gov/coronavirus for more details.

The deadline for filing South Carolina returns and the payment of income, sales, and withholding taxes administered by the state Department of Revenue is now June 1.  See dor.sc.gov for more details.  This creates a strange situation where the state income tax return is due before the federal return.  Hopefully, South Carolina will extend its deadline to match the federal deadline.

If you expect a refund, file as soon as you can.  IRS and South Carolina are still processing refund claims.

Credit Cards, Banks

Many credit card issuers and banks have been responding to COVID-19 with an easing of terms.  If you need more time to pay, want a larger credit line, need a lower interest rate, or want a fee waived, pick up the phone and call the toll-free number on the back of your credit card, or contact your bank.

Emergency Business Loans

The Small Business Administration has a website with information on its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and other guidance for small business owners.  According to the SBA, the agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by COVID-19.

The program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.  For details, visit the link above.

It is likely that Congress will expand this program, or provide other loan opportunities to small business owners and the self-employed.  Stay tuned.

Paid Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, effective April 2, provides paid sick and family leave to employees at companies with up to 500 workers, and the self-employed.  For employers, the main provision is that the law requires you to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who have COVID-19.  Employees must be paid their entire salary, up to $511 per day (which works out to about $130,000 per year).  Employers will be reimbursed via a payroll tax credit mechanism.  You can read a summary of the law here.

Cash Payments

Congress is negotiating a plan to issue cash checks by mail to Americans in early April and again in mid-May.  The details are still to be determined.  The assistance could amount to $1,200 or more per adult, and more for those with dependent children.

Rent and Mortgages

The S.C. Supreme Court has ordered a statewide halt on foreclosures, including an indefinite moratorium on foreclosure hearings, sales of foreclosed property and other court orders mandating people leave their homes.  The edict by Chief Justice Donald Beatty follows a freeze on all evictions in South Carolina until May 1.

The federal government also announced Wednesday a 60-day moratorium on foreclosures and evictions involving all single-family mortgages insured by Federal Housing Administration.

Also, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which guarantee about half of all U.S. home loans — federal regulators have directed lenders to reduce or suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months for borrowers who have lost income.

Unemployment Benefits

The State is waiving the one-week waiting period for filing South Carolina unemployment claims.  As part of the Coronavirus Response Act, the federal government is also providing money to states that see large increases in jobless-aid claims.  The money can be used by qualifying states to provide extended benefits, 100 percent paid with federal funding.

Student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that “All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days. In addition, each of these borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. This will allow borrowers to temporarily stop their payments without worrying about accruing interest.”  For details visit StudentAid.gov/coronavirus.

We will try to update this blog as developments occur.

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