For individuals or business owners who have been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) — find out how we may be able to help. Learn More
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YOUR COVID-19 QUESTIONS ANSWERED

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, even with an end in sight, millions of families continue to experience physical, mental, and financial challenges. 

At Tayne Law Group, we understand how struggling to manage your bills and keep your business running only adds stress during an already challenging time.

We want you to know that we are here for you with extended times for your convenience. If you are a business owner or an individual consumer who is now confused or worried about the financial impact of COVID-19, we can help. 

We are offering free phone consultations to you during these difficult times with the head attorney at your convenience, even during evenings and weekends. You can count on our firm to provide personalized attention specifically tailored to your needs during this difficult time.

 

What we know right now about the financial impact of COVID-19 and how we can help:

What can I do if I have commercial rent due?

What do I do about paying my bills?

What do I do with my student loans?

I am now unemployed. What should I do?

What should I do if I haven’t filed my taxes yet?

Are you worried about food or sick leave?

My small business is struggling due to COVID-19, how can I get help?

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What can I do if I have commercial rent due?

  • Can I stop paying my rent if I’m dealing with the financial impact of COVID-19? Every lease is different. Your lease may include specific provisions that allow for rent to be held off (abatement) during times of material business interruption, which may include the financial impact of COVID-19.
  • If your lease doesn’t have that clause in it, then you can do one of the following:
    • Review and understand your current lease and your rights. You may wish to speak with an attorney to understand your rights before talking to your landlord.
    • Strategize how to communicate with your landlord. Now is the time. You might be surprised to find out how understanding they are as a result of the circumstances.
    • Have a conversation with your landlord and be open to solutions that work for you. They will value cooperation and communication.
    • Ask your landlord for 3-6 months of rent abatement now that will then be tacked onto the end of your lease OR ask your landlord for 3-6 months of rent abatement, with higher rent in the months following so they are made whole over a period of time.
  • Apply for a Payroll Protection Program loan: If you haven’t already, consider applying for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reopened applications for loans in January, and now businesses who have yet to receive a PPP loan, as well as those that already received a loan last year, can apply through March 31, 2021. While 60% of the loan funds must be used for payroll, you can use the remainder for rent, utilities, and other eligible expenses. Visit the SBA website to learn more.
  • When should I talk to an attorney? Consider doing so early on. As a tenant, given the multiple Executive Orders and policy changes around rent payments and landlord-tenant relationships, an attorney can give you a good idea of how this impacts you. Attorneys are willing to work with you, especially ones you’ve done business with before that specialize in landlord-tenant or real estate. We can make a referral if you need one.
  • Will my business interruption insurance cover me at this time? Many companies do have business interruption insurance. However, most insurance carriers are not covering the issue of the coronavirus. Check your policy. If you do have provisions that will cover you at this time, you should speak with your insurance company or broker about whether the policy will help you. If you don’t have the policy, call the insurance agency or broker. Over the last year, many businesses have filed lawsuits against insurers, and even state legislatures have gotten involved. While insurance companies have won in most cases, some business owners have managed to succeed.
  • Look for a Force Majeure Clause in your business contracts: A Force Majeure Clause is a contract provision in most commercial contracts that excuses a party’s obligations when circumstances arise beyond the party’s control. These clauses can vary in length and language, but many do include epidemic and pandemic. If your business is feeling the financial impact of COVID-19 and is having trouble fulfilling contractual obligations, you may want to explore a Force Majeure.
    • To obtain relief with a Force Majeure Clause, you must prove that the coronavirus falls into what’s covered by the clause and that it is a direct cause of your business’s inability to perform its obligations.
    • When deciding whether to invoke a Force Majeure, give timely notice to your counterparty. Work with your counterparty to find business solutions suitable to both parties. In these circumstances, coronavirus has likely affected their business as well.
    • A Force Majeure may also have a “carve-out” for payment obligations. This means it may not excuse your business’s breach of payment obligations. However, you may find other areas in your contract that could offer payment relief.
    • Government actions and supply chain disruptions as a result of the coronavirus will likely provide the strongest case for you to invoke a Force Majeure.

What do I do about paying my bills if I’m struggling with the financial impact of COVID-19?

  • Work through a new budget: Not paying your bills can have dire consequences. For everyone feeling the financial impact of COVID-19, now is the time to redo your budget, even if it’s only temporary. Take a look at expenses and see what you can cut out now or reduce. Look through your expenses and decide which debt needs to be dealt with immediately and which you can hold off on. You should also explore what the consequences will be if you hold off.
  • Contact your lender/creditor: If you know you’re going to have trouble paying your bills, contact your lender/creditor/financial institution. You may be able to negotiate a lower payment or other helpful options. These options could include skipping payments, waiving fees, lowering APRs, or not reporting late payments to the credit bureaus. Many companies you owe bills to continue to be more lenient during the pandemic and may be willing to work with you. However, you will need to have a plan to get caught up when this passes. Some creditors may require proof of your hardship and how it relates to COVID-19. Check in with your lender or creditor as to how these actions could impact your credit score and get that information in writing.
  • Use your stimulus check: The American Rescue Plan Act aims to provide a third stimulus check to struggling Americans. Taxpayers who reported under $75,000 (or $150,000 if married filing jointly) on the most recent tax return are scheduled to receive a $1,400 stimulus check — that figure will phase out over the next $5,000/$10,000 and end completely at $80,000/$160,000. This can help make ends meet during this difficult time. If you are filing for bankruptcy, this stimulus check is not included as “income” in the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy processes.
  • Contact debt collectors: Because of many relief measures, such as student loan deferment, credit card assistance, and mortgage forbearance, collection activity has been limited in some ways as a result of the pandemic. However, for debts not impacted by relief measures, debt collectors may still be contacting you. Speak with the collector to confirm whether the debt is yours to determine your course of action. You can also submit a written letter to the collector to stop contacting you.

 

What do I do with my student loans?

  • Take advantage of government programs: The student loan benefits provided under the CARES Act have been extended by President Biden through Sept. 30, 2021. If you have eligible federal loans, you won’t have to make payments during this period and interest will not accrue. That said, the program does not include private student loans and older federal loans that are held by private institutions.
      • You can continue to make manual payments to work towards reducing your loan balance.
      • Borrowers who are in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will receive credit toward their forgiveness during the moratorium as if on-time payments were being made.
      • Borrowers on an income-driven repayment plan will still receive credit towards IDR forgiveness.
      • Collection practices such as seizing defaulted federal student loan borrower’s tax refunds and Social Security checks, will also cease during this time.
  • Contact your lender: If you have private student loans or federal loans held by a commercial lender, contact your lender to see what they are willing to work out. While many lenders offered special forbearance during the beginning of the pandemic, those programs may or may not still be available.

 

I am now unemployed. What should I do?

  • File for unemployment as soon as possible: Typically, only individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment benefits. In response to the coronavirus’s impact on employment, unemployment benefit eligibility has been extended to those who are sick or have been quarantined, those who have been laid off or had hours reduced, and those who can no longer work because they have to care for children. Note: The additional $300/week in unemployment benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is set to end March 14, 2021, but if passed, the American Rescue Plan Act is set to extend that to Sept. 6, 2021.
    • After your last day of work, file with your state. The application is available online.
    • Once you file, it normally can take a few weeks to begin receiving benefits. Many states, however, have waived the typical waiting periods between losing your job and receiving benefits.
    • You may have to prove that your job loss is directly related to the coronavirus. If you are filing because you’re sick or quarantined, you will need to provide medical documentation.
    • If you are not sick or quarantined, you must prove that you are still looking for work. This will include a requirement to contact a certain number of employers, depending on the state. This may be difficult during this time. Hiring freezes, business shutdowns, and the ability to safely look for work could pose challenges to job seekers.

What should I do if I haven’t filed my taxes yet?

  • Tax extension has passed: The deadline to file your 2019 taxes was extended until July 15, 2020. However, that may not be the case in 2021. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has requested that the IRS extend the deadline again for 2020 returns — this time to June 15 — but as of March 10, the deadline remains April 15.

What should I do if I’m worried about food or sick leave?

  • Understand the Families First Act: The Families First Act brought about additional provisions relating to food assistance, unemployment benefits, healthcare plans, and sick leave. However, it expired at the end of 2020. While employers may continue to provide these benefits voluntarily, they’re no longer mandated.
  • Food assistance: The WIC program, the Commodity Assistance Program, the Community Living Aging and Disability Program, MEALS, and SNAP have received additional resources.
  • No-cost COVID-19 testing: Those with health insurance, including high-deductible plans, can generally receive COVID-19 testing at no cost. This also includes visits to a provider, urgent care center, or emergency room.

My small business is struggling due to the financial impact of COVID-19, how can I get help?

    • Apply for a PPP loan: As stated above, Congress renewed the PPP loan program with additional funding. The current deadline is March 31, 2020. If you haven’t received a PPP loan yet, you can apply by that deadline. Also, small businesses that received a PPP loan last year can apply for a second-draw loan.
    • Look for alternatives: If you don’t qualify for a PPP loan or you didn’t receive enough capital for your business needs, you may need to look elsewhere for funding. Consider researching other business loans from reputable financial institutions. Try to avoid quick fixes, such as Merchant Cash Advances. These kinds of loans could be disastrous for the long-term financial health of your business. Adjust your budget and your business and marketing strategies and consider how leanly you can operate.
    • Understand where you can get help: Many creditors are offering assistance to individuals and businesses. Consider contacting your creditors to explain how your business has been financially impacted by COVID-19 and discuss what options are available.

Resources:

 

If you’re struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tayne Law Group is here for you. Call us for your free phone consultation today or email us at info@taynelaw.com

 

This is meant for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice or tax advice. Laws, regulations, and interpretations are constantly changing and evolving. Therefore the information on this website is constantly changing – we will do our very best to bring the most up to date information. Visitors to this page should verify for updated information. Attorney Advertising.

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I just wanted to thank your entire staff at The Law Offices of Leslie H. Tayne, for helping me get out of debt. If it wasn’t for your firm, I would have never been able to resolve my $13k worth of debt in less than 3 years. Your staff did a great job, I was finally able to buy myself a brand new car without using a cosigner. I can’t tell you again how happy I am. I would recommend your services to anyone.

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