Getting through a crisis as challenging as COVID-19 requires help on many fronts. From the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), government agencies are taking steps to ease long-held policies and help everyone find light at the end of the long tunnel. Here’s just some of what they’re doing for employers and employees.
Many government agencies have relaxed standard operating procedures during the COVID-19 crisis. The DHS, for example, is now accepting virtual verification of Form I-9, making it easier for employers to complete the hiring process remotely.
In addition to accepting scanned and digital signatures, the IRS introduced its expansive People First initiative to lessen tax-related stress for individuals who need it most. The program, in effect from April 1 to July 15, 2020, relaxes policies on both new and existing installment agreements, as well as offers in compromise. You can learn more about the initiative in this National Law Review article.
States are also doing their part, many of which are working to ease the administrative burden for employers with employees temporarily telecommuting in another state due to COVID-19. For example, states like Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Dakota have temporarily eased nexus requirements to relieve employers from tax withholding obligations across state lines.
The CARES Act also features many provisions that ease up policies and make it easier for employers and employees right now, including:
- Economic impact payments to qualifying taxpayers
- Easing of penalties for early 401(k) withdrawals
- Suspension of student loan garnishments
- Expansion of unemployment qualification and benefits
- Relief options for small businesses, ranging from the much-discussed Payroll Protection Program to lesser-known assistance efforts like employee retention credits and payroll tax deferrals.
Sometimes, the most challenging part of getting through a crisis is sourcing information that’s helpful and trustworthy. Government agencies have stepped up their efforts here as well.
As just one example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has provided a comprehensive collection of tips for taking care of behavioral health during the pandemic.
And for employers and employees wanting to better understand workplace implications, the Department of Labor (DOL) has provided answers about COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as questions specific to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
For more examples, be sure to check out the section on our website dedicated to COVID-19 resources.
Change is never easy, especially when it’s due to a global pandemic. Whether it’s keeping up with the latest changes to this or that policy, sorting through remote work tools or figuring out how to adjust to that new normal of working from home, employers need all the help they can get to stay ahead of the game.
At Payroll Data Services, we’re ready and eager to provide information and resources to get you through these trying times. Stay updated on the most recent developments by following us on LinkedIn and Facebook.