FFCRA Tax Credit FAQs

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) tax credits apply to small and midsize businesses.

The FFCRA provides small and midsize employers refundable tax credits that reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19.

This Compliance Bulletin provides the FAQs issued by the IRS on how the FFCRA tax credits apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees and self-employed individuals.

IRS FAQs -FFCRA Tax Credits for Small and Midsize Businesses

NH Boosts Unemployment Benefits

On March 30th NH Governor Sununu signed the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus [CARES] Act agreement which provides New Hampshire with 100 percent funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to support benefit payments to people receiving unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are making every effort to provide assistance to families who are out of work during this time so that they can focus on what is most important – caring for their families and protecting their health by staying home,” said Governor Sununu. “Over the past few weeks, New Hampshire’s Department of Employment Security Commissioner George Copadis and Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers have been working closely with my office and our federal partners to address some of the most pressing issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By signing this agreement today on behalf of the state of New Hampshire, the U.S. Department of Labor will fund the growing number of unemployment recipients in our state and help the unemployment trust fund to remain solvent through this crisis.”

The Federal CARES Act provides the following enhancements to the benefits available under Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order #5:

  • Granite Staters affected by COVID-19 currently drawing from the State’s Unemployment Insurance fund will in many instances be shifted to the Federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. We are still awaiting Federal guidance on this and will provide more detail as received. All claimants will not need to take any new, additional actions, and should continue to file as they have been through the standard state mechanism.
  • For those eligible under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, there will be an increase of the minimum weekly benefit amount from $32/week to $168/week, which includes people earning less than $15,500 during their base period.
  • An additional $600 per week to be added to an individuals weekly benefits for all weeks claimed starting this week — 100% federally funded.
  • Extends the length of time a person can receive benefits by 13 weeks, totaling 39 weeks — 100% federally funded.

More details will be coming shortly.  Refer to the below link for the full press release.

Govorner’s News Release – Unemployment Benefit Increases

Harvard Pilgrim Offers Special Open Enrollment for April 1

Harvard Pilgrim will permit small and large group fully insured employers to hold a special enrollment period between March 27, 2020 and April 10, 2020 for an April 1 effective date for employees who previously did not enroll in coverage. The special enrollment period is at the discretion of the employer and does not require any affirmative notice to Harvard Pilgrim.

Employers should consult with their own legal counsel to see if Section 125 limits the employer’s ability to offer such an open enrollment.

Self-insured customers may adopt a similar special enrollment period at their discretion. Self-insured clients are encouraged to check with their stop loss carrier about any implications to changing their eligibility guidelines.

Understanding the 2 Trillion Stimulus Package

The $2 trillion stimulus package is the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history, and is a combination of tax provisions and other stimulus measures including lending.

Three major provisions include:
Loans and Tax Credit Available to Small Businesses
The package creates a federally guaranteed loan program for small businesses that employ 500 or fewer people who must pledge not to lay off their workers. The loans will be available during an emergency period ending June 30, and would be forgiven if the business uses the funds for approved purposes and maintains the average size of its full-time workforce.

Additionally, small businesses forced to suspend operations or that have seen gross receipts fall by 50% will be eligible for a tax credit worth up to 50% of wages paid during the crisis, so long as they keep their workers employed through the crisis. The credit could be applied to all wages for employers with fewer than 100 employees, while the benefit is capped at $10,000 in wages per employee for larger employers.

Expansion of Unemployment Benefits
The package includes an expansion of unemployment benefits that will extend unemployment by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits. The enhanced benefits will provide an additional $600 per week on top of what state unemployment programs pay.

Note that many individuals who typically do not qualify for unemployment will qualify under the package, including independent contractors and self-employed individuals.

Individual Checks to Taxpayers
The package will provide direct payments to taxpayers based on the adjusted gross income found on their 2019 federal tax return. All US residents with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) will get a $1,200 ($2,400 for couples) payment. Families will receive an additional $500 per child, as a way to create a safety net for those whose jobs and businesses are affected by the pandemic. However, the payments will start to phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes greater than $75,000. Those with incomes higher than $99,000 will not qualify for payments under the stimulus package.

Additional business provisions include:

  • Health care providers will receive $100 billion in grants to help fight the coronavirus and make up for revenue lost by delaying elective surgeries and other procedures. $200 million will be carved out for the Federal Communications Commission to provide health care providers with connected devices to facilitate telemedicine services, with the goal of freeing up hospital beds. Another $25 million will go to a grant program that helps rural communities purchase broadband equipment for telemedicine.
  • Employers can defer the 6.2% tax they pay on wages used to fund Social Security.

Additional individual provisions include:

  • A new pandemic unemployment assistance program, which will provide jobless benefits to those who are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of COVID-19 and don’t qualify for traditional benefits.
  • The Department of Education will suspend payments for student loan borrowers without penalty through September 30.
  • There will be housing protections against foreclosures on mortgages and evictions for renters. Anyone facing a financial hardship from the coronavirus will receive a forbearance on federally backed mortgage loans of up to 60 days. Those with federally backed mortgage loans who have tenants are not allowed to evict tenants solely for failure to pay rent for a 120-day period.

Refer to the attached summary for additional detail and contact your NEEBCo representative with questions.

In The Know – Understanding the Historic $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

CARES Act Expands Health Coverage Rules

On March 27, 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to provide $2.2 trillion in federal funding to address the COVID-19 crisis.

The CARES Act includes provisions to:

  • Expand the types of coronavirus testing that all comprehensive private health insurance plans must cover without cost-sharing or barriers under the FFCRA;
  • Accelerate the process that would make permanent the requirement for health plans to cover preventive services and vaccines related to COVID-19;
  • Allow telehealth and other remote care services to be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) before the deductible is met, without affecting the HDHP’s compatibility with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) (applicable for HDHP plan years beginning on or before Dec. 31, 2021); and
  • Treat additional over-the-counter medications, along with menstrual care products, as qualified medical expenses that may be paid for using HSAs or other tax-advantaged arrangements.

Additional details will follow. Contact your NEEBCo representative with questions.

CARES Act Expands Health Coverage Rules

Updated DOL FFCRA Q&A

The Department of Labor continues to update their information regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), including the below Q&A.

This release provides helpful direction to employers for several scenarios, including:

  • Required documentation for employee sick leave to be eligible under the FFCRA paid sick leave
  • Employer closures, furloughs and lay off with regard to FFCRA paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave
  • Unemployment and FFCRA paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave
  • FFCRA paid sick leave and other state leave or employer leave

See the below link for the DOL’s guidance and contact your NEEBCo representative with questions.

DOL FFCRA Q&A

Anthem Offers Special Enrollment Period

In response to COVID-19, Anthem opened a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) from now until April 15, 2020 (expanded from April 3, 2020) to make benefits available to employees in fully-Insured small and large groups who previously waived participation in employer-sponsored plans.

Employees who were eligible for benefits during employers’ Open Enrollment are eligible for this SEP if they had previously waived coverage. Employers will follow the standard process of sending updated enrollments to Anthem, just as they would for any qualifying event or enrollment period.

For self-insured employers, it is up to each employer to determine if they wish to offer the special enrollment period.

Contact your NEEBCo representative with questions.

DOL Issues Required FFCRA Notice

Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises.

An employer may also satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.

The Non-Federal Employee FFCRA Notice as well as a Q & A issued by the DOL about the required notice is attached to this communication.

Contact your NEEBCo Benefits Advisor or Account Manager with questions.

DOL Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Relief Laws

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to the Coronavirus or COVID-19.

The expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to virtually all private employers with fewer than 500 employees.

In general, the new law requires covered employers to provide the following to all employees who meet leave criteria specified by the FFCRA:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at an employee’s regular rate of pay, or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds an employee’s regular rate of pay

The rate of pay that the employee qualifies for is dependent on the reason they are taking the FFCRA leave.

Additionally, a covered employer must provide the following to employees whom it has employed for at least 30 days:

  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay

Qualifying reasons for leave, guidance on pay rate calculation, tax credits and exemptions for businesses are addressed in the attached Compliance Bulletin.

Also included with this communication are links to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Guidance Documents on FFCRA as it pertains to Employers and Employees that was released today as well as an informative DOL Q & A.

Contact your NEEBCo Benefits Advisor or Account Manager with questions.

For a complete list of NEEBCo’s staff and their contact information, please click here.

DOL-Families First-Employer Expanded FMLA Requirements

Harvard Pilgrim Foundation offers $3m in Nonprofit Grants

As reported by NH Business Review, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation is urging New Hampshire nonprofits to apply for more than $3 million in grants to help in their COVID-19 relief efforts.

“In this time of uncertainty and rapidly changing dynamics, it’s incredibly important that we provide support for our members and the medical community, as well as financial support to organizations that are assisting our neighbors in need,” said Michael Carson, president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Harvard’s support includes two expedited grant programs totaling $1.5 million, local relief grants totaling $1 million, and community spirit mini-grants.

Refer to the attached article and press release for detail, and for more information visit harvardpilgrim.org/foundation.

NH Business Review – Harvard Pilgrim Foundation

Harvard Pilgrim COVID-19 Assistance Grants – Press Release