Tell Washington that businesses need cash-flow help

As furniture stores and other businesses begin to close their doors in some parts of the country, Congress and the administration are moving to help. Retailers should tell their representatives to include help with cash-flow disruptions.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act early on March 14, 363-40, just hours after President Trump tweeted his support for the measure. The House made technical corrections late Monday, so the measure moves on to the Senate for consideration.

One of the key provisions requires businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide workers with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave related to the coronavirus outbreak.

‘In no way will Small Businesses be hurt’

“This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers,” the president tweeted. “I have directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations that will provide flexibility so that in no way will Small Businesses be hurt.”

According to a summary by Law360, “the legislation would provide employers with a refundable tax credit to offset the cost of providing a worker with paid medical leave. The bill caps the amount of qualified sick leave wages taken into account for each employee at $511 per day.

“The credit would offset $200 per day of wages for employees who must care for a loved one or whose child is home because of a school or day-care closing.”

Realizing, however, that many businesses won’t have the cash to pay workers to stay home, the House adjusted the bill Monday to provide an upfront payroll tax credit.

Retailers will face a ‘liquidity crisis’

Business leaders point out that a greater problem will be a “liquidity crisis” as consumer spending plunges or stores close in response to public health orders. Congress is planning another, larger bill aimed at stimulating the faltering economy. The Trump administration reportedly will propose $850 billion in assistance. Any aid package must include steps to restore lost income so that businesses can open their doors again and put employees back to work when the crisis ends.

The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program is up and running now. Businesses can apply here. In addition, HFA urges policymakers to consider any form of appropriate tax relief or other measures that can help impacted businesses weather this crisis.

Industries such as airlines, cruise lines, insurers, hotels and restaurants are advocating for help. But all businesses will need assistance. Home Furnishings Association members should call their U.S. senators and representatives to make sure they know that many furniture stores are in trouble, too.

[See the HFA COVID-19 resources page]

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Here’s what your business needs to know about the COVID-19 outbreak.