From the Oregon Secretary of State: March 26, 2020.
Our office is working directly with businesses seeking answers and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to address some of the questions being asked, we’re providing this Frequently Asked Question sheet. Please know that there are many resources available, and local resources may differ from those offered by the state or federal government. For information about a specific program, it’s best to contact the provider of that resource directly.
Q: I have employees who have had their hours reduced or eliminated. What resources are available for them and me?
A: If you are an employer with questions about how to help your workers with a layoff or other reduction in hours, contact the Oregon Employment Department, who administers the WorkShare program. The WorkShare website is http://www.oregonworkshare.com.
Unemployment Insurance is an insurance paid through Unemployment Insurance taxes by employers. Business owners without employees who have not specifically elected to subject themselves to Unemployment Insurance taxes over the past two years are not likely to have a valid unemployment claim. However, these conditions are constantly changing and the Employment Department has modified many of their own rules to adjust Unemployment eligibility. Many people are filing a claim for unemployment in case the program is expanded at a later date. There’s no harm in filing a claim, beyond the time it takes to go through the process. The Employment Department website is http://www.oregon.gov/employ. Please note there are different tabs on their page depending on if you are a business or an individual seeking benefits.
Q: What financial assistance is available for me and/or my business?
A: The most common source of funding comes in the form of loans, but this may change with federal legislation. Even if loans aren’t desirable, there are many different types of loans out there which can be used to pay rent, utilities, payroll, and more. The US Small Business Administration offers disaster assistance in the form of SBA loans to designated states. Information about these loans is available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/Index.
Additional financial resources for businesses can be found at Business Oregon, which is Oregon’s economic development agency. Their website created for businesses experiencing problems due to COVID-19 is https://www.oregon4biz.com/Coronavirus-Information/.
The Department of Human Services offers programs to assist those in need through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/About-SNAP.aspx) as well as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ASSISTANCE/CASH/Pages/index.aspx).
The Oregon Health Authority offers the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program (https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/HEALTHYPEOPLEFAMILIES/WIC/pages/index.aspx).
The latest information on resources for workers and business owners is available at https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/coronavirus2020.aspx.
Q: I can’t get in touch with an agency to apply for a loan or assistance program. Who else can I ask?
A: Response times for agencies may be impacted because other businesses are seeking the same information. Many agencies are referring people to online resources, especially since resources, closures, and updates are constantly changing.
Q: My company offers a product or service the government can use. Who can I talk to about offering such services or products?
A: An excellent resource for those businesses wanting to help out by donating or selling to the government is https://oregon-coronavirus-geo.hub.arcgis.com/. That’s a page set up by the Office of Emergency Management where businesses can offer to donate or sell products by taking a survey which asks for details about products or services being offered by the business.
Q: Is my business considered “essential”? Can I be considered “essential” and continue operating?
Information about essential vs. non-essential Oregon businesses, including a quiz to help decide is at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-covid-19.
The federal government also provides guidance on essential versus non-essential online at https://www.cisa.gov/news/2020/03/19/cisa-releases-guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workers-during-covid-19 and https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19.
Q: Can I get an extension on filing my tax returns?
A: The IRS recently issued an extension for federal tax returns, and the Oregon Department of Revenue followed suit by issuing a similar extension. Federal and state tax returns for most individuals and businesses are now due by June 15. Information about this extension is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dor/Pages/COVID19.aspx.