Weekly Digest – 23 December 2020
Hoping that you are busy, making holiday plans, while scanning the news about the COVID-19 Relief Bill we’re keeping this issue extra short.
Just in time for Christmas, Jupiter and Saturn appear in close alignment this week, forming what some have called a ‘Christmas Star.’ The last time this happened was in the spring of 1226, when Notre Dame cathedral was under construction. Their closest connection will be on the Winter’s Solstice, when they will look like a double planet. To see them, look towards the southwest horizon, just after sunset. They will be bright enough to see in twilight but will be harder to see as they drop closer to the horizon, finally setting around 6:45.
A look back at 2020 in charts
Everyone will agree that 2020 was a year unlike any other. This article from Vox includes 20 charts that illustrate exactly how unlike any other year 2020 has been. Here are some of the highlights from those charts: The U.S. continues to lead the world in COVID-19 cases. More dogs and cats were adopted from shelters (just last week my daughter Jessie adopted Samson a pit-boxer mix, we are enjoying the daily photo’s she sends). The COVID-19 vaccine was developed in record time, especially compared to diseases like Ebola and chickenpox. Unemployment reached its highest level in generations. Greenhouse gases dropped significantly.
As we look ahead and hope for a “back to normal 2021”, we wish you, your friends and family a safe and joyous holiday season and a happy healthy New Year! My daughter Jessie is coming to visit, but Samson is staying in Atlanta with friends for the holiday.
CARES ACT UPDATES
Another stimulus bill – Finally or Not Just Yet… Now Signed into Law December 27th
Over the weekend of December 20th, an agreement was reached, and then tweaked a bit and then voted on on Monday, December 21 by Congress (359-53) and the Senate (90-2).
We were optimistic as our office read through the analysis by our professional association. We texted each other as we watched a very detailed webinar produced by the US Chamber of Commerce, it seemed that we were finally getting the guidance we needed. We have spent the year creating two versions of projections for our clients and it seemed that yesterday we could finally settle on one and get cracking on final estimates and year end tax plans based on provisions in the new bill. BUT this morning I woke up to find that all is not well in DC as this Associated Press article indicates. While we do know the process: first congress votes, then the senate, and then the president. It is hard to wait for the final final when so much is at stake and we have waited so many months for guidance relating to the first PPP loan forgiveness and so many Americans are hurting.
According to various analysis of the bill passed by by Congress and the Senate, and the president here are the key provisions:
- Direct payment checks of up to $600 per adult and child. There is talk that the checks are going out this week.
- Another round of more than $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans. We are calling this PPP2 and have started identifying those clients who may meet the eligibility criteria. Those who have had a reduction of 25% in gross revenue in any quarter for 2020 as compared to 2019.
- $15 billion to help live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions
- $300 per week for enhanced unemployment insurance benefits (through March of 2021)
- $25 billion for rental assistance and an extension of the moratorium on evictions
- $82 billion for education providers like schools and colleges, including aid to help reopen classrooms safely
- $10 billion to help with childcare assistance
- $13 billion in increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and child nutrition benefits
- $7 billion to bolster broadband access to help Americans connect remotely during the pandemic
- Funding totaling in the billions of dollars to support coronavirus vaccine distribution, testing and contract tracing efforts and health care workers
- A refundable tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave
- The ability to write off 100% of restaurant supplied business meals (historically they have been 50% deductible)
- The ability to write off the business expenses paid for by forgiven or forgivable PPP funds.
- The ability to apply for PPP (1) funds for those who were closed out of the first round.
- A simplified PPP forgiveness application for those businesses whose funding was less than $150,000. In addition the EIDL funds will not reduce the amount of forgiveness.
- Expanded eligibility for the employee retention credits through the second quarter of 2021.
- Our Covid-19 Resource Center with relevant blog posts, videos and prior weekly newsletters
- Payroll, HR and benefits company Gusto has put together An Employer’s Guide to Navigating the Coronavirus
- Accounting Today has a special page for articles on COVID-19
- The best source for up-to-date and accurate health information is the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- The CDC also has recommendations for businesses and employers
- Intuit QuickBooks has a dedicated page to help small businesses
- The Red Cross has pointers to help young adults stay safe
- Entrepreneur put together a listing of free tech resources for remote work
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warnings about COVID-related scams
- Fast Company has a listing of the best productivity apps for 2020
- The New York Times has an online newsletter on K-12 and higher education
- The Wall Street Journal has a collection of articles on education
- The Atlantic has a state-by-state coronavirus tracker
We sincerely hope that you and your family are well and remain well. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are all in this together!