We at Stein Sperling recognize the impact that COVID-19 is having on communities, businesses and individuals nationwide. To help address this ever moving pandemic, we have created this resource page, updated frequently, to address the most pressing issues affecting our clients at this time.
To support our clients at this time we have created a Crisis Response Team that draws from the firm’s diverse array of practice areas allowing us to bring a wide range of perspectives to each client’s unique situation.
Our attorneys and staff are prepared to help our clients through these extraordinary challenges. We are fully available to you. Please contact us if we can be of help in any way.
Paycheck Protection Program
The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) has provided a critical lifeline to businesses and their employees. Business owners whose PPP loan applications have been approved now face a new challenge: determining how to properly spend the loan proceeds in order to maximize benefits under the program. Our Tax attorneys summarize what we know at this time and provides suggestions to businesses on how to deploy PPP funds most effectively.
Stein Sperling business attorney Andrew Schwartz presented on the CARES Act: Paycheck Protection Program for the Maryland Society of Accounting and Tax Professionals.
Updated May 13, 2020 SBA Paycheck Protection FAQs – This document from the SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, intends to provide timely additional guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program. This document will be updated on a regular basis.
The Paycheck Protection Fact Sheet – This provides details for borrowers on the program that authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
4/15/2020: Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program – Additional Eligibility Criteria and Requirements for Certain Pledges of Loans.
4/3/2020: The SBA has issued additional interim final rules for the Paycheck Protection Program.
4/3/2020: The SBA has issued interim final rules for the Paycheck Protection Program.
3/27/2020: The Paycheck Protection Program will make available up to $349 billion in loans by banks and other lending institutions to small businesses and other eligible entities. Our business department outlines what it covers and who is eligible.
Other Financial Resources
SBA Disaster Loan Assistance – This program provides Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million for alleviating economic injury caused by disaster. The actual amount of the loan is limited to the economic injury as determined by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan at rate determined by law not to exceed 3.75% with loan terms up to a maximum of 30 years. There is a collateral and credit history and additional requirement for loans.
SBA offers further guidance on EIDLs Basics – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The organization has provided answers to questions that have arisen on their Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) program.
The Maryland Department of Commerce is offering new business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment and other items identified as Critical Needs Items by MEMA and DGS, that are urgently needed by the State of Maryland, Maryland-based hospitals and healthcare facilities, and emergency and first responders.
- Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund – This $75 million loan fund offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum.
- Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund – This $50 million grant program offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020.
- Maryland COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – This $7 million fund provides eligible businesses funding up to $50,000 to cover the cost of purchasing equipment to allow employees to work remotely, cleaning/sanitizing services so that small businesses are able to keep employees at work on-site, paying for liability insurance for restaurants that convert to delivery, and adopting other creative approaches and strategies to reduce or eliminate the need for layoffs. *Please note the Department of Labor has currently stopped accepting applications for the Layoff Aversion Fund. See their website for details.
- Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country.
- Montgomery County, Maryland Public Health Emergency Grant Program: Grant funding up to $75,000 per business or nonprofit for County businesses or nonprofits with 100 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees that can demonstrate financial losses caused by the public health emergency. Grant funding must be used for employee wages and benefits, taxes, debt, rent or other operating losses during the public health emergency. Grant program includes microgrant funding for local businesses and nonprofits up to $2,500 to purchase teleworking equipment and technology, to support teleworking capabilities during the COVID-19 emergency. As a part of this program, a grantee must enter into a grant agreement that provides the County with the right to audit the financial records of the grantee, certain grantee reporting obligations, and the grantee must remit any funds that are unused or improperly used. The Director of the Department of Finance is expected to adopt regulations to implement this Program, which will specify the application and procedures and further eligibility criteria for a grant to a local business under the Program. The county has launched a website for the PHEG program, which provides information for businesses to prepare their grant application. This program is no longer accepting applications.
For Virginia businesses, there are various local financial aid and benefit measures that have recently been enacted in response to the impacts resulting from COVID-19, which are in addition to the benefits afforded by the statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loans that Virginia businesses may qualify for with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (“WIOA”) – The WIOA Rapid Response funds are available only to Northern Virginia employers with 250 or less employees located in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park.
- Alexandria/Arlington Emergency Layoff Aversion Assistance Program: This is part of the WIOA Rapid Response funding provides for $87,619.00 in funding for Alexandria/Arlington employers with 250 or less employees eligible to remain open during the COVID-19 emergency.
The District of Columbia has enacted various financial aid and other benefit measures to help D.C. businesses and others weather the impacts of the COVID-19 emergency including the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrant Program and the COVID-19 Recovery Effort. Currently, the District is committing $25 million to these efforts.
While a force majeure clause in a contract likely does not excuse the obligation to pay rent or other monetary obligations under a contract, our business attorney details the doctrine of impossibility and when it may apply to your particular circumstances.
The Impact of Planning and Forgotten Contract Clauses – Understanding “Force Majeure” aka “the Act of God” clauses in the new COVID-19 World
COVID-19 has caused many to review their contracts and look at what to do in a the new COVID-19 world. “Force majeure” aka “Act of God” clauses are provisions that explain to parties what happens when acts beyond the control of the parties occur. Based upon the language of the clause, the consequences can be quite dramatic! Read what our real estate and construction attorneys have to say about these clauses and their consequences.
Reopening Your Business? Here’s What You Need to Know About Bringing Your Workforce Back During COVID-19
As businesses are preparing to bring their workforce back to the office they must balance the health and safety of their employees while maintaining operations. Our employment attorney provides various legal considerations employers may face.
Making the Leap From a Hobby to a Business: Things to Keep in Mind When Starting a New Work-From-Home Business
From colorful mask-making to distilling hand sanitizer to cooking fresh meals – new work-from-home businesses are cropping up everywhere and providing important products and services to their local communities during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our business team outlines the benefits to hobbyists that come with formalizing their hobby into a business.
President Trump has signed into law the revised “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” The Act becomes effective on April 1, 2020, so employers should immediately begin preparations to ensure compliance with the law. Our employment and tax attorneys detail the paid sick leave, family medical leave and tax issues addressed in this Act.
As an employer, we all want all of our employees, clients and those with whom we do business to be safe. Our employment attorney Darla McClure shares what the CDC and EEOC recommend if one of your employees becomes ill and how to handle job candidates during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Secretary of Labor has issued temporary regulations to implement public health emergency leave under Title I of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and emergency paid sick leave to assist working families facing public health emergencies arising out of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic.
Guidelines on FFCRA
On 3/26/2020 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced its first round of published guidance – in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers, a poster featuring Employee rights and a Questions and Answers document – to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
Our tax department details the tax provisions of the CARES Act signed by the President on March 27, 2020.
Stein Sperling’s tax and business attorneys David De Jong and Mark Schweighofer review the federal tax developments related to the COVID-19 relief legislation.
IRS Provides Further Relief to Delinquent Taxpayers During COVID-19 Crisis – People First Initiative
Effective March 25, 2020, the IRS instituted a host of sweeping changes aimed at reducing taxpayers’ compliance burden during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our tax department breaks down these changes.
Effective March 12th, 2020, the Maryland Comptroller halted certain tax collection efforts in response to the developing Corona virus outbreak. Our tax department has outlined these efforts and what they mean for you.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Comptroller of Maryland has extended the tax filing deadline and the payment deadline for individual, corporate, partnership, trust and estate 2019 returns from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. Our tax department details this update and what this means for you.
Estates, Trusts and Probate
A Call to Parents with Young Children: Who Will Take Care of Your Children if You are Hospitalized with COVID-19?
In the midst of this pandemic, many parents with young children have a heightened awareness of their childcare situation. What may have been an initial prevailing concern – who will watch the kids while I have a Zoom call? – has morphed into a much deeper concern – who will take care of my child if I pass? But it is also important to think about what happens if you simply become too sick to care for your children? Estates attorney Micah Bonaviri explains the option of designating a standby guardian and how it is more important than ever that you plan for disability or incapacity.
With social distancing and nursing homes limiting access to their facilities and residents, families and advocates for older adults and individuals with disabilities must be vigilant now more than ever to protect these vulnerable segments of our society in addition to their own interests. Estates attorney E. Andrew Cole, details what to watch out for to protect yourself and your loved ones financial interests.
In light of the challenges presented with executing estate plans while abiding by social distancing mandates, many states have enacted temporary legislation permitting remote (virtual) witnesses and/or notarization for these important documents.
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic it is easy to focus on short-term minute issues, but our estates, trusts and probate attorney share why right now estate planning documents are so important both for your future and for peace of mind.
How you determine what your insurance policy covers includes analysis of how coverage is defined. Commercial litigation attorney Alexia Kent McClure explains what questions you should be asking your insurance companies if COVID-19 has affected your business.
Are rent and mortgage payments still due during the COVID-19 outbreak? How do real estate settlements work with non-essential business closures and stay-at-home orders in place? Our Business and Real Estate attorneys break down these and other questions in a discussion of the Real Estate landscape during COVID-19.
UPDATED 4/9/2020: The D.C. Council passed legislation that requires lenders to develop a program that, at a minimum, grants at least a 90-day deferment period of mortgage payments for residential and commercial borrowers. If any commercial borrower receives this deferment, the borrower must reduce the rent charged for the property to any tenant during the period of time in which there is a mortgage deferral in place in an amount proportional to the reduced mortgage amount paid by the borrower. In order for a tenant to qualify, the tenant must notify the landlord of an inability to pay all or a portion of the rent due as a result of the public health emergency. The commercial borrower/landlord may require the tenant repay the amount of any reduced rent, without interest or fees, within 18 months, or at the end of the lease term, whichever occurs first.
During these uncertain times, many find themselves with reduced income and resources. What does that mean for existing alimony and child support orders? As the courts begin to reopen and experience a backlog of cases, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney to help determine how best to deal with your new financial reality.
Will COVID-19 have a lasting effect on marriages? Other countries are already seeing a spike in the separation and divorce rate. With families confined, the emotional and financial pressures of the pandemic can take a toll on marriages and exacerbate existing tensions. Our family law attorney Monica Garcia Harms shares what options exist during this uncertain time.
When thinking about Custody Orders and Parenting Agreements during this period of fear and uncertainty, our family law attorney Julie Christopher has some updates and things to consider.
Access to the Courts Remain for Domestic Violence Matters
UPDATED: 3/30/2020: On March 27, 2020, the Maryland Judiciary clarified that Maryland citizens continue to have access to the courts for protection from domestic violence. Even though the courts are closed to the public, if an individual is in need of a protective order, the individual may still obtain an interim protective order by going to the local commissioner’s office. The commissioners have the authority to issue an interim order, which if issued will remain in effect until May 4th or 5th, at which time the court will conduct a hearing on whether to grant a temporary order pending a final outcome. In certain cases, the court may hold a temporary hearing earlier. Find the closest commissioner’s office throughout the state.
Micah Solomon Senior Contributor with Forbes.com, interviews Tax and Business attorney Mark Schweighofer on the Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs.
In an article for the Washingtonian, Estates, Trusts and Probate attorney Steven Widdes shares his experience with clients in the midst of the COVID 19.