On May 13, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) issued anxiously awaited guidance outlining the agency’s perspective on the good faith certifications made by Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) applicants. (See, PPP Frequently Asked Questions, #46).

PPP recipients of loans less than $2 million found relief in the SBA’s statement that it would deem those recipients to have made the certification in good faith.

For those with PPP loans at or above $2 million, the SBA will require the recipient to adequately support its certification. If the recipient fails to do so, the SBA indicated it will seek repayment of the loan in full, but the agency will not pursue administrative enforcement or refer the matter to other agencies.

Continue Reading SBA Issues New Guidance Addressing PPP Loan “Good Faith” Certification

Two Fort Myers tax lawyers will once again host a complimentary webinar to help the Southwest Florida community understand the tax law changes in light of the COVID-19 crisis. On Friday, May 1, 2020, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm, Lindsay Sablan, a journalist and WINK News morning anchor, will serve as moderator, with speakers attorney Shanthy Bala, the Tax Clinic Director and Supervising Associate at Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., and Sara Qureshi, a business and tax attorney at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., will present “Tax Law Changes Amidst COVID-19: Further Guidance Providing Relief to Individuals and Small Businesses” in association with the Lee County Bar Association and its Pro Bono Committee.

This one-hour session will go over recent updates and frequently asked questions regarding federal tax relief available for individuals and businesses during COVID-19, including questions that were submitted to the clinic after the last webinar on April 3rd. Questions may be submitted in advance by email to Shanthy.Bala@FRLS.org.

Continuing Education

Continue Reading May 1 Webinar to Provide Guidance on COVID-19 Tax Relief for Individuals and Small Businesses

April 21 Update

Unfortunately, the grant application process is closed. Carolyn Cawley President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation stated in a letter:

We received more than 15,000 applications in minutes and, while we will begin awarding grants this week based on existing donations, we are no longer able to accept applications. Those who did submit an application will be notified if it results in a grant.”

A link for additional resources may be found here.

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If you own a small business and missed the first round of SBA funding, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is offering a helpful alternative called the Save Small Business Fund. Through the Save Small Business Fund, eligible small businesses can receive $5,000 grants to use towards business expenses.

To be eligible for the grant, you must:

  1. Run a small business or chamber of commerce with between 3-20 employees, including yourself,
  2. Your business must be located in an economically vulnerable community based on the zip code of your business address, and
  3. Your business must have been financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue Reading COVID-19: U.S. Chamber Will Begin Accepting Grant Applications Today to Save Small Businesses

While COVID-19 rightfully dominates news coverage and Henderson, Franklin has been providing our clients with information, updates and links to resources to help get through this, we also recognize that the mundane is sometimes just as important. Thus, in a world without Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, NASCAR or F1, we offer our own unique sports coverage, with an intellectual property slant.

Tom Brady Leaves Boston, Files Trademarks Applications

After 20 storied years with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady turned his back on the franchise, his fans and six Lombardi Trophies to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is undoubtedly a bitter pill for New England fans to swallow, who will now have to get used to mediocre football. (Patriot fans, please see Chicago Bears for guidance).

On the other hand, with his place in the Hall of Fame secure, Brady was looking for new challenges. Specifically, it appears, the challenge of brand extension. Almost as soon as the ink dried on his new contract with Tampa Bay, Brady’s management, TEB Capital Management, Inc., filed applications to register the trademarks TOMPA BAY and TAMPA BRADY with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The trademark applications identify the goods the mark will appear on, specifically all the clothing, hats and footwear that Tampa Bay fans are rushing out (at least online!) to buy. Time will tell whether Brady can repeat his on-field success with Tampa Bay, but it is certain that his off-field brand strengthening moves will allow him to throw from a deep pocket.

Nature Boy Down for the Count Continue Reading The Sports Page

April 30, 2020 Update

The IRS has issued Notice 2020-32, which provides further guidance on some certain tax consequences associated with PPP loans. In particular, the IRS has confirmed that expenses paid with PPP loans will not be deductible to the extent attributable to the portion of the loan forgiven.

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The Internal Revenue Service announced further tax relief for individuals, trusts, estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers.

Individuals and Businesses Extensions

Penalties and interest have been waived for every U.S. taxpayer, including those living and working abroad, who wish to wait until July 15, 2020 to file their 2019 federal tax return and/or pay any taxes owed. Should an individual need an extension beyond the July 15 deadline, they must file Form 4868.

A business who needs an extension must file Form 7004. Granted extensions will allow individuals and business owners until October 15, 2020 to file. This extension will not extend the July 15 deadline to pay taxes owed. Taxpayers requesting the October extension should estimate their tax liability and pay in full by July 15 to avoid accumulating interest and penalties.

Estimated Tax Payment and Unclaimed Refunds

Continue Reading COVID-I9: IRS Extends More Tax Deadlines and Provides CARES Act Guidance

It has long been settled that mistreatment based prohibited characteristics (such as race or sex) is actionable under Title VII even without a tangible employment action – e.g., termination, demotion, or pay cut. These are often referred to as hostile-environment claims. A hostile-environment claim under Title VII requires evidence of mistreatment that is sufficiently severe or persuasive that it can be said to alter the terms or conditions of employment. This measure is meant to draw a dividing line between trivial slights and substantial discrimination.

Nearly a decade ago, the Supreme Court clarified that mistreatment based on retaliation for protected conduct is likewise actionable under Title VII without a tangible employment action. However, the test is different. A retaliatory-hostile-environment claim is actionable when the mistreatment “well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.” Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 57 (2006).

Accordingly, when dealing with hostile environment caused by retaliation, the court must ask if the mistreatment would have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making a claim of discrimination. When confronted with a hostile-environment-claim stemming from race or sex, the court must ask if the mistreatment was sufficiently severe or persuasive to alter the conditions employment.

Although this dichotomy has long been viewed as settled law, there exists an outlier case in the Eleventh Circuit applying the old standard: Gowski v. Peake, 682 F.3d 1299, 1312 (11th Cir. 2012). In Gowski, the court remarked that a retaliatory-hostile-environment claim still required proof that the mistreatment was “sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of employment, thus constituting an adverse employment action.” Gowski, 682 F.3d at 1312.

The Eleventh Circuit has now clarified its position—Gowski is a dead letter.

Monahan v. Worldpay, No. 17-14333 (11th Cir. Apr. 2, 2020)

In 2014, Atlanta-based Worldpay U.S. Inc. hired Susan Monaghan to work as an executive assistant. Although brief, Monaghan’s tenure was marred with conflict. Her immediate supervisor, a black female, made a number of race-and age-based comments that Monaghan reported to other executives. The complaints were not well received. According to Monaghan, she was told to stop complaining because “Worldpay did not want to get sued.”

Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Clarifies Standard for Retaliation Under Title VII

April 30, 2020 Update

The IRS has issued Notice 2020-32, which provides further guidance on some certain tax consequences associated with PPP loans. In particular, the IRS has confirmed that expenses paid with PPP loans will not be deductible to the extent attributable to the portion of the loan forgiven.

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Following up on my post earlier this week regarding the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program Update: SBA Issues Some Guidance and Sample Application, the Final Rule has been issued and may be found here.

A summary of the highlights include: Continue Reading COVID-19: SBA Issues Payroll Protection Program Loan Interim Rule Effective April 2, 2020

Unfortunately, with good news of the stimulus package, also comes the bad news of an increase in calls and e-mail phishing scams, leading to tax-related fraud and identity theft. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig shared:

We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster….That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on [the] attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.”

The IRS will never contact taxpayers requesting money or personal information, in a text message or through social media. Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov website.

How will I get my money?

Continue Reading COVID-19: IRS Warns of Stimulus Scammers

Join us for a complimentary Community Q&A Webinar on The Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Tax Relief for Individuals and Small Businesses to be held on Friday, April 3, 2020, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm.

Lindsey Sablan (WINK News Journalist and Morning Anchor) will moderate the discussion with panelists Shanthy Bala, Esq., (Tax Clinic Director for Florida Rural Legal Services) and Sara Qureshi, Esq., LL.M. (Business & Tax Attorney at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A.).

Continue Reading COVID-19 Community Q&A Webinar: The Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Tax Relief for Individuals and Small Businesses

Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 20-91 (which the Governor amended later the same day for clarification). Section 1.B of Executive Order 20-91 provides “all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.”

What are essential services?

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to describe in general terms what an “essential service” is. Of course, if you own a business, you consider your business’s service or product essential, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business to begin with! Personal feelings aside, however, it’s important to understand how the State of Florida defines “essential services.”

Continue Reading COVID-19: What are Essential Services?