Minnesota Business Leaders weekly meeting
Summary for 1/7/21
Questions & Answers
Business Relief Funding -Many taxpayers are unaware that MN must take action to conform to federal tax laws. Taxpayers who are now relieved that there will be no Federal tax on forgiven PPP loans, will be surprised to see a state tax on those same loans. 2020 tax filing will begin soon and an early conformity bill would be a lifeline to many small businesses. The state has a projected surplus for the rest of this fiscal year and a rainy day for situations like this. Will the administration and DOR be supporting an early tax conformity bill to provide certainty and relief to taxpayers?
-Will the legislature be working on federal conformity to eliminate taxability on PPP?
This is a topic that DOR is working closely with GO and Legislature to determine where the state should land relative to conformity bill.
Business Relief Funding Have the checks been sent to the restaurants? If not, when will that happen? Can the cities or counties get a list of recipients?
We notified eligible businesses though their e-Services account and by mail on December 31, 2020. Payments will be sent in early January. You can also view this information in a visual format (PDF). Go to COVID-19 Business Relief Payments which has more details on the payments.
Unfortunately by law we are not allowed to provide that information directly to the counties without the consent of the businesses. That information is considered taxpayer data. And again, again by law, that is private. What I will say is that we have been working with the counties to come up with kind of a work around for it and basically that work around consists of the businesses signing a consent form that currently resides on our website. It's called revenue 185. Form REV185b, Authorization to Release Business Tax Information and Form REV185i, Authorization to Release Individual or Sole Proprietor Tax Information. That form again gives us the permission to release that data to the counties. So then we're that or not, but that's, but that's the way we're working with them to do that, and the counties have the discretion to decide if they want to use that and to do that.
Workforce/Employees I recently heard an employer say that there is no longer "covid sick leave" - is that true? Please explain what covid sick leave looked like in 2020, vs what it now looks like in 2021, from the employer perspective.
The mandate for certain employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA leave in the FFCRA expired on 12/31/20. While employers are no longer required to provide FFCRA paid sick time to employees, eligible employers who choose to provide FFCRA paid sick leave to employees continue to be eligible for a tax credit for the paid sick time through March 31, 2021. Similarly, while employers are no longer required to provide FFCRA paid family leave to employees, eligible employers who choose to provide the FFCRA paid family leave benefits to employees continue to be eligible for a tax credit for the paid sick time through March 31, 2021.
Employers will not receive tax credits for benefits provided in excess of statutory limits. Visit the IRS website COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs for more info on tax credits.
Guidance Around Reopening of Businesses Can you clarify event guidelines: If a community wants to hold an event in a public park (not drive-thru)... what is allowed if anything?
Subject to outdoor entertainment guidance at 25% or up to 250 people. Social distancing of 6 feet. All guidance available at STAYESAFEMN. So we they are still required to maintain a social distance of 6 feet amongst all of the participants and if there is any food or food trucks than the restaurant guidance applies with regards to seating and table size etc. But we are allowing greater numbers now to be outside.
General What are the rules for funerals at this time?
If there’s no food or drink, just venue limitations as noted in guidance 50%. For all ceremonies that take place the rules are distinct, so it to the extent that it's the actual funeral ceremony. The only limitation is that the venue operate at 50%. You'll notice we no longer have a cap in an overall total cap on ceremonies. It's related to a Supreme Court decision so the only limitation is 50% now to the extent that people gather after the ceremony as then either the event limitations apply or the celebration, even though it's not really a celebration for a funeral, will apply So it really depends upon kind of the nature of what happens after the ceremony. If there's no food or drink, then there's just the venue limitation, so it's a little bit complicated, but we don't want to put any limits on a religious and other ceremonies except for 50%.
Business Relief Funding in regards to the eligibility list for applying for a rural Minnesota Convention Center Relief Grant, the way it is written, there are no events enters eligible in greater Minnesota with the exception of public entities as an example, why were hotels with conference centers not included in the legislation?
When legislators and the governor's office got together to craft this legislation, one of the big goals was speed and flexibility. And one of the key decision points we have is figuring out is which actor in the room in which entity in this state is the best person to run point on any given funding stream, and we wanted to track this possible, which is why you saw the revenue grants have a very formulaic component to them is what county is have a lot of flexibility to put money in any different direction that they're county might need for business relief as it related to convention centers and movies ending up in movie theaters ending up. Indeed, those are two categories of businesses for which we knew, given all of the challenges last year were clearly going to be hurting. Many other sectors are too, but notably they also were sectors where there was enough comparability between them. In the clear role where the state could do a perhaps more effective and efficient job of administering a money then the counties could directly and so in convention centers are really focused on the larger ones because those are ones where the state had a reasonable role to play given their regional importance for drawing all kinds of other academic economic activity. And with movie theater is, there's a very formulaic way to get at that with the number of screens that are there and clearly they've all suffered major other losses, so the ability for us to move quickly there was useful.
For hotel centers that are hold events or for art centers, or for other institutions, they are also very of course deserving of funding, but the logic behind where this ended up was that the counties are in a better position to distribute those funds. Given the variability in those settings for the large regional conventions, there's just not as much variability and so it's easier for the state to make more thoughtful and focused decisions given that, given that dynamic. So that is the way it ended up, it isn't perfect. None of this was perfect. Every legislator who worked on it will tell you that, but it was meant to really prize expediency and fairness and transparency.
Update from Guest Speaker -Katherine Blauvelt, MN Dept. of Commerce on vaccine distribution -
· Initial supply of vaccines are limited. Focusing on immunizing for impact. Starting w/healthcare workers, LTC and congregate living settings.
· This means Minnesotans have to be patient – but, the process is underway.
· The Federal Gov’t allocates vaccines to states; other factors like weather for transport, storage, etc. make this roll out complex.
· We want to support business leaders, and know things may look different across the state.
· On 12/20/20, federal advisory group ACIP gave recommendations on who is in phase 1B, which is now being examined by COVID health advisory group, and they’ll review and make recommendations to MDH. See Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Advisory Group
PO Box 612, Moorhead, MN 56561