Urge Congress to act now

As Congress and the administration debate the details of a new coronavirus recovery bill, Home Furnishings Association members must make their voices heard. They must tell senators and representatives to support provisions that will help their businesses overcome the challenges that COVID-19 still presents.

The HFA urges them to ask for:

A liability shield

The plan presented by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week includes a five-year shield that would protect businesses from legal liability for COVID-related claims unless a plaintiff could prove both gross negligence and a violation of state and local public health guidelines. The measure would assign jurisdiction to federal courts. This is a much-needed proposal that would help furniture retailers operate their businesses responsibly without the worry of unjustified legal actions.

[HFA asks for liability protection as stores reopen]

[Ask state leaders for liability protection]

New borrowing opportunities

Even if your business is doing well now, that could change if the virus continues to spread out of control. It may be critical to have access to capital on favorable terms. The Senate bill would provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and allow many small businesses to apply for a second loan.

The HFA also urges Congress to support other lending programs that could help furniture retailers, including:

  • The Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act, which would create a simple process for borrowers of $150,000 or less to earn 100 percent forgiveness.
  • Full deductibility for business expenses covered by PPP loans.
  • The RESTART Act, which would create a new lending program for businesses with up to 5,000 employees.

An expanded ERTC

The Senate proposal, called the HEALS Act, expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit. It would increase the portion of qualified wages from 50 percent to 65 percent. The threshold for eligibility would be lowered, from a 50 percent revenue decline in the prior year quarter to 25 percent. It would raise the level of qualified wages from $10,000 for the remainder of 2020 to $10,000 per quarter over the final three quarters. And the number of employees for whom the credit could be claimed would increase to 500 from 100. Finally, businesses could claim the ERTC in most circumstances even if they also borrowed through the PPP.

Contact members of Congress now

You can find contact information for senators and representatives here. Let them know today that you support a liability shield for businesses, new borrowing opportunities and an expanded ERTC. This may be the last chance this year.

Below is a sample letter:

Here is a sample letter

Dear Senator/Representative ___________:

Thank you for all you have done to help the American people and businesses like mine to get through this public health and economic crisis. Still more is needed. As you craft the new recovery bill, I urge you to include:

A liability shield

I am making every effort to protect my employees and customers and to follow federal, state and local public health guidelines. I should not face the threat of legal action if anyone claims I am responsible for a COVID-19 infection. Please provide reasonable federal liability protection for businesses that operate responsibly.

New borrowing opportunities

With the virus still spreading across the country and consumer confidence declining, I face uncertainty in the months ahead. Please create new opportunities for borrowing and other relief in case I need greater access to capital. In addition to an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, I support:

  • The Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act, which would create a simple process for borrowers of $150,000 or less to earn 100 percent forgiveness of PPP loans.
  • Full deductibility for business expenses covered by PPP loans.
  • The RESTART Act, which would create a new, longer-term lending program for businesses with up to 5,000 employees.
  • Expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

I understand you are under pressure from many sides. However, as I business owner, I am an employer, taxpayer and contributor to my community in many other ways. I am doing all I can to run my business safely and provide my customers with household furnishings they desperately need at this time. Our country can’t afford to lose our small businesses. Please provide the help we need.

Sincerely,

[HFA COVID-19 Recovery Resources]

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