VFA COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE

On behalf of the Board and staff of the Virginia Forestry Association, we hope that you, your families, your colleagues, and your employees are and remain healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

VFA is committed to providing Virginia’s forestry community with factual, reliable, and timely information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on companies, employees and individuals in the forestry supply chain.

COVID-19 Page Menu
 
Guidance: Operating a Virginia Forestry/Forest Products Business During COVID-19
 

On March 30, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 55 (EO 55), ordering individuals to remain at their place of residence, except in limited circumstances as defined in the order. EO 55 is an expansion of Executive Order 53 (EO 53), which was issued on March 23, 2020. EO 55 will be in effect until June 10, 2020, or until otherwise amended or rescinded.

Specifically, EO 55 permits individuals to travel to and from their residences for the purpose of work, provided their place of employment continues to operate and adheres to previously issued guidance as described below. Hence, EO 53 and EO 55 DO NOT REQUIRE the closure of businesses in Virginia’s forest supply chain. 

However, EO 53 established guidelines for the continued operation of businesses throughout our forest supply chain. Forestry businesses are strongly encouraged to follow guidance issued under EO 53, including:  

GUIDANCE FOR FOREST INDUSTRY BUSINESSES - VIRGINIA

EXECUTIVE ORDER 53 - MARCH 23, 2020

1. “Utilize teleworking as much as possible”

Virginia forestry businesses are encouraged to implement teleworking policies and procedures to the greatest extent possible for office and administrative functions that can be performed in the remote environment.

Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (VDHRM): COVID-19 webpage has provided teleworking considerations and resources for businesses, managers and employees.

2. “Where telework is not feasible, such business must adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and apply the relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.”

There are very obvious examples throughout the forest supply chain, including manufacturing, transportation, and logging, where teleworking is not feasible. The guidance from state and federal authorities that has been cited by Governor Northam’s administration as critical to continuing forest supply chain operations can be found below:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Includes: guidance on cleaning and disinfecting common surfaces, best practices on social distancing, reducing transmission among employees, and maintaining healthy business conditions and working environments.

U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA): “COVID-19 Control and Prevention Website”

Includes: general guidance for all workers and employers, interim guidance for most U.S. workers and employers of workers unlikely to have occupational exposures to COVID-19, and interim guidance for U.S. workers and employers of workers with potential occupational exposures to COVID-19.

VA Department of Labor and Industry (VADOLI): “COVID-19 Resource Page

Includes: FAQ documents on Executive Order 53, links to additional federal and state resources.

 
NEW: Work Travel Guidance
 

Virginia State Police: Enforcement Practices of Governor's Executive Orders and Directives

On April 1, 2020, the Virginia State Police released guidance on plans to enforce Executive Order 53 and Executive Order 55. Notably, the State Police indicated that the current executive orders do not require individuals to carry documentation related to one's purpose for travel in Virginia, but encouraged individuals to review requirements in other states for travel there.
 
NEW: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
 

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): FFCRA Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family Leave Poster

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, includes requirements that certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

All businesses covered by the law (i.e. private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees) are required by law to post the FFCRA Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family Leave poster above.

 
Resources: Small Businesses
 
Federal and state governments are implementing a number of initiatives and programs to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:
 
COVID-19 Business Loans
 
The U.S. Congress has authorized two primary loan programs to assist small businesses in maintaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has compiled the side-by-side comparison chart below so that business owners may assess if either program may be beneficial to their specific circumstances.
 
Additionally, SBA has created an "Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program," with loans of up to $25,000 while businesses await lender decisions on EIDL or PPPL programs described below. To learn more about the Express Bridge Loan program, click here.
 
IMPORTANT NOTE: As of April 6, 2020, lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPPL) continue to seek additional guidance from bank regulators to understand requirements and protections under the PPP loan program. Businesses applying for loans should be prepared for potential delays as further guidance rendered. 
 
Side-by-Side Comparison of COVID-19 Business Loans (Source: NFIB)
Program Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL)
Lender

Small Business Administration

Financial Institutions (banks, credit unions, other approved lenders)

Program Period

January 31, 2020 – December 31, 2020

February 15, 2020 – June 30, 2020
(Loan covers 8-weeks of eligible expenses within above time frame)

Eligibility
  • Have 500 or fewer employees;

  • Are a sole proprietor, independent contractor, or self-employed individual, and;

  • Have been in business since January 31, 2020.

  • Have 500 or fewer employees;

  • Are a sole proprietor, independent contractor, or self-employed individual;

  • Are a small business that meets the SBA small business industry-specific standards, and;

  • Been in business since February 15, 2020 and paid taxes on your employees or independent contractors.

Amount
  • The maximum loan size is $2 million.

  • Applicants who apply for this loan may request an advance Emergency EIDL grant of up to $10,000 from the SBA.

  • 2.5x the average monthly “payroll” costs, measured over the 12 months preceding the loan origination date.

  • Seasonal business may use the period February 15, 2019 – June 30, 2019 or March 1, 2019 – June 30, 2019 to calculate the average payroll.

  • The maximum loan size is $10 million.

  • “Payroll” includes:

    • Salaries, commissions, tips,

    • Employee benefits (including health insurance premiums and retirement benefits),

    • State and local taxes,

    • Compensation to sole proprietors or independent contractors.

  • “Payroll” excludes:

    • Annual salary in excess of $100,000,

    • Foreign employees,

    • FICA and income tax withholdings.

Eligible Expenses
  • Payroll;

  • Fixed debts (mortgage, rent, lease);

  • Accounts payable, and;

  • Other bills.

  • Payroll costs, including benefits;

  • Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;

  • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020, and;

  • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Duration

Up to 30 years

Up to 2 years

Interest Rate
  • 3.75% for businesses

  • 2.75% for nonprofits

0.50%

Forgiveness

No loan forgiveness

Emergency EIDL grant of up to $10,000 is forgiven. Grant must be used for the following expenses:

  • Providing paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to the direct effect of COVID–19

  • Maintaining payroll to retain employees during business disruptions or substantial slowdowns

  • Meeting increased costs to obtain materials unavailable from the applicant’s original source due to interrupted supply chains

  • Making rent or mortgage payments, repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses

Eligible expenses (below) within an 8-week period from February 15, 2020 – June 30, 2020:

  • Payroll costs (including everything listed above)

  • Payments on mortgage interest

  • Rent

  • Utilities

***Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease the number of your full-time and/or decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019.

Re-Hiring: You have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.***

Repayment

Additional guidance needed

Payments (and interest) are deferred for 6 months

Collateral Requirement

No

No

Personal Guarantee

Not for loan less than $200,000

No

Prepayment Penalties

No

No

Required Documents
Availability

Loans Available Now

  • Available Now: Small Businesses

  • April 10, 2020: Independent Contractors and Self-Employed Individuals

 

COVID-19 Tax Relief
 

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Federal Income Tax Filing Deadline Extension Until July 15, 2020

Regardless of amounts owed, the extension includes individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of March 25, 2020, Virginia has not extended its May 1, 2020 filing deadline for state income taxes.

CARES Act Corporate Tax Relief Provisions

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, otherwise referred to as "Phase 3" or "Stimulus," was signed into law by President Trump on March 28, 2020. Among relief measures for corporations were a number of tax credits, deferrals, and other modifications. According to the Forest Resources Association (FRA), specific CARES Act corporate tax relief measures include:

Net Operating Losses (NOLs) - The CARES Act relaxes limitations on a company’s use of losses from prior years. The CARES Act allows losses from 2018, 2019, or 2020 to be carried back five years. The provision also temporarily removes the taxable income limitation to allow an NOL to fully offset income. The goal of this language is to allow companies to utilize losses and amend prior years’ returns, which will provide critical cash flow and liquidity during the COVID-19 emergency.

Deferred Social Security Tax Payment - The CARES Act allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. The provision requires that the deferred employment tax be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount required to be paid by December 31, 2021 and the other half by December 31, 2022.

Refundable Payroll Tax Credit - The CARES Act authorizes a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The credit is based on qualified wages paid to the employee. For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above.

Corporate AMT Credits - The corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but corporate AMT credits were made available as refundable credits over several years, ending in 2021. The CARES Act accelerates the ability of companies to recover those AMT credits, permitting companies to claim a refund now and obtain additional cash flow during the COVID-19 emergency.

Business Interest Deduction Expansion - The CARES Act temporarily increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of taxable income (with adjustments) for 2019 and 2020. As businesses look to weather the storm of the current crisis, this provision will allow them to increase liquidity with a reduced cost of capital, so that they are able to continue operations and keep employees on payroll.

S-Corp and Pass Throughs - The CARES Act modifies the limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations. The provision modifies the loss limitation applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors, so they can utilize excess business losses and access critical cash flow to maintain operations and payroll for their employees.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As with other provisions contained in the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service will issue guidance on the exact parameters of the corporate tax relief measures described above. VFA will share information on specific guidance once it becomes available.

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Additional IRS COVID-19 Relief and Updates

Includes additional information on IRS relief measures, including: agency operations, paid leave for workers, eligibility of high-deductible health plans to cover COVID-19 expenses.

Virginia Department of Taxation: State Sales Tax Filing and Payment Extension & Penalty Waiver

Businesses impacted by coronavirus can request an extension of the due date for filing and payment of their February 2020 sales tax return due March 20, 2020, for 30 days. When granted, businesses will be able to file and pay no later than April 20, 2020 with a waiver of any penalties.

 Virginia Department of Taxation: Income Tax Payment Extension & Penalty Waiver 

Any income tax payments due during the time period of April 1, 2020, to June 1, 2020, will now be due on June 1, 2020. This includes individual and corporate income taxes paid to Virginia Tax. All income tax filing deadlines remain the same, including the May 1, 2020 individual income tax filing due date. Late payment penalties will not be charged if payments are made by June 1, 2020. However, interest will still accrue, so if you can pay by the original filing due date, you should.

Additional COVID-19 Business Relief Measures

Virginia State Corporation Commission: 60-Day Suspension of Utility Cut-Off

Suspends utility disconnections for a period of 60 days, beginning March 16, 2020.

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Resources: Landowners

 

COMING SOON

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Resources: Individuals and Employees

Federal and state governments are implementing a number of initiatives and programs to support employees who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:

Unemployment Benefits
 
 
Virginia employees may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. Governor Northam has directed that the one week waiting period and the requirement to conduct a weekly job search both be suspended for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
 
CARES Act Unemployment Provisions
 
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, otherwise referred to as "Phase 3" or "Stimulus," was signed into law by President Trump on March 28, 2020. Among relief measures for individuals was the expansion of emergency unemployment insurance benefits for individuals affected by the pandemic. According to the National Law Review, specific emergency unemployment benefits in the CARES Act include:
 
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program - The CARES Act creates a temporary, federally funded program providing unemployment benefits to individuals who otherwise would be ineligible for such benefits under state or federal law – such as individuals who are self-employed (for example, consultants or independent contractors), who are seeking part-time employment, or who lack sufficient work history. The program will cover any individual who: (1) is not otherwise eligible for, or has exhausted all rights to, unemployment benefits; and (2) is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because of COVID-19-related circumstances.
 
Additional UI Payment - The CARES Act allows individuals who are otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits under state or federal law to receive an additional $600 per week, in addition to their regular unemployment compensation under state law, through July 2020.
 
Federal Support for Week One UI Benefit - The CARES Act will allow the federal government to fully fund the cost of an individuals first week of UI benefits if a state has waived the one week waiting period requirement. Governor Northam waived Virginia's one week waiting requirement on March 15, 2020.
 
Extension of UI Benefits - The CARES Act will fund an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits if individuals remain unemployed after their state benefits are exhausted. The additional 13 weeks will be provided to unemployed individuals at a weekly rate of $600. For Virginia, this increases to unemployment benefits for individuals up to 39 weeks. 
 
IMPORTANT NOTE: As with other provisions contained in the CARES Act, the federal government will issue guidance on the exact parameters of the unemployment measures described above. VFA will share information on specific guidance once it becomes available.

Direct Stimulus Payments
 
CARES Act Individual/Family Direct Stimulus Payments
 
As has been widely-reported, the CARES Act will provide a "stimulus check" to a majority of U.S. taxpayers. Details regarding these stimulus payments may be found here.
 

IMPORTANT NOTE: As with other provisions contained in the CARES Act, the IRS and Department of Treasury will require time to process stimulus payments to individuals and families. As of March 30, 2020, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has indicated that they are hopeful that payments will be made within three weeks.

 
Additional Forestry Community Resources - Individuals and Companies
 

VFA is proud to partner with many organizations at the federal and state level that continue to provide invaluable insight into the implications of COVID-19 on the forestry community. Below are direct links to the resources provided by VFA’s partner organizations:

Federal Resources

Forest Resources Association: Impact of COVID-19 on Forest Products Industry Dashboard

Updated daily by noon, FRA is tracking the operational status and related compliance requirements of each state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Federation of Independent Businesses: COVID-19 Employer Compliance FAQ (Federal)

NFIB, and its Virginia state office, are continuing to update guidance to assist employers with understanding federal compliance requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Resources

Virginia Department of Forestry: COVID-19 Information Page

VDOF continues to maintain normal agency operations as much as possible through increased telework options for staff and staggered scheduling to minimize contact in office buildings. This page provides the latest status updates, information for DOF employees, links to additional state resources, and educational materials for Project Learning Tree for use in home education.

Virginia Cooperative Extension: VCE COVID-19 Resources

Cooperative Extension has compiled a number of useful resources for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes preventative measures that you can take at the grocery store, with takeout or during other public interactions. The site also contains educational material including: activities for kids, resources for parents and some diet and exercise recommendations during quarantine.

Virginia.gov: COVID-19 Resources and Latest State-Level Actions

Virginia’s most concise gathering of state government actions/resources regarding COVID-19 can be found on the Virginia.gov website.

Virginia Manufacturers Association: COVID-19 Resource Center for Manufacturers

VMA is tracking its coordination of industry's response to state government, including its recommendations for regulatory relief for Virginia's manufacturing businesses.

Hellebush Consulting: COVID-19 Tips & Takeaways Blog

VFA's contract lobbying firm, Hellebush Consulting, has started a blog to monitor both the impact of COVID-19 policy on Virginia businesses, as well as to share some practical advice for small employers and those who are self-employed.

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Federal & State COVID-19 Document Library
 

Throughout the federal and state government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a number of guidance documents and formal responses that continue to be referenced. Below is a library of PDF documents and/or webpages for your reference regarding the response to COVID-19:

Federal Document Library

U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS-CISA)

 

U.S. Department of Labor - Occupational Safety & Health Administration (DOL-OSHA)

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (March 2020)
OSHA COVID-19 Resource Page (March 2020)

State Document Library

Virginia Governor's Office

 
Virginia Department of Transportation