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 concerns continue to grow regarding the financial impact of COVID-19 (the coronavirus), the number of individuals affected physically, mentally and financially continues to rise. 

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:

If you 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 do 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 on to 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 a payments, waiving fees, lowering APRs or not reporting late payments to the credit bureaus. Many companies you owe bills to are being more lenient now 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 CARES Act has provided some financial relief to individuals. Taxpayers who reported under $75,000 on the most recent tax return have received or will receive a $1,200 stimulus check. 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: As a result of the financial impact of COVID-19, President Trump announced that Federal student loan borrowers will be automatically enrolled in a 0% deferment until Dec. 31, 2020 (extended from the original Sept. 30 date). If you are under the public loan forgiveness program and your payments stop, the time will still count towards the government’s forgiveness program. Because this is automatic, you won’t need to contact your servicer. This is great news! The program does not include private student loans and federal loans that are held by private institutions. You should receive notice from your servicer before the payments stop. If you check your online account, the amount owed for your monthly payment should be 0.
    • Automatic payments will be automatically suspended during this time. Borrowers can request a refund for any payments processed between March 13 and December 31 by contacting FedLoan servicing.
    • You can continue to make manual payments to work towards reducing your loan balance.
    • Borrowers who have Direct loans, were on a qualifying repayment plan and are continuing to work at a qualifying public service employer through the suspension will still receive credit towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness as if on-time payments were being made.
    • Borrowers on an Income-Drive Repayment plan will still receive credit towards IDR forgiveness.
    • If you have private student loans, contact your servicer to see what they are willing to work out. Collection practices, such as seizing defaulted federal student loan borrower’s tax refunds and social security checks, will also cease during this time. Additionally, nine states have teamed up with more than 20 private student loan lenders to offer 90 days of forbearance during this time. However, this deferment is not automatic, so borrowers will still need to contact their lender directly.

 

I am now unemployed. What should I do?

  • File for unemployment as soon as possible: This is so even if you’re furloughed. The number of people filing for unemployment has surged since the beginning of the pandemic, so you’ll want to file 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 $600/week in unemployment benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) ended on July 31, 2020.
    • 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, the process will require you 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. If you still have not paid your taxes, you may face a late penalty.

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

  • Understand the Families First Act: The Families First Act has brought about additional provisions relating to food assistance, unemployment benefits, healthcare plans, and sick leave.
  • 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: The Act also assures that those with health insurance, including high-deductible plans, can receive COVID-19 testing at no cost. This also includes visits to a provider, urgent care center or emergency room.
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave: The Act requires employers with 500 or fewer employees to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave due to quarantine because the employee is diagnosed with coronavirus, to see diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, to comply with an order from a public health official that the presence of the employer would jeopardize the health of others, or to care for a family member such as a child whose school has closed due to the coronavirus.

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

  • Understand the situation of the SBA: The SBA is offering assistance to small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19 through The CARES Act. The Act included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but applications closed on August 8, 2020. The SBA has additional traditional small business loans, as well as Economic Injury Disaster Loans, to assist businesses.
  • Look for alternatives: If you missed the deadline for PPP, your business 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. 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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What People Have to Say

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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R.S. Client 2012-2014

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D.M. Client 2009-2012

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