On Monday, the New Jersey General Assembly approved the COVID-19 bill package to help businesses and New Jersey residents mitigate the economic challenges they may face due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, March 19th, the Senate will vote on the COVID-19 bill package, and if passed, it will need to be endorsed by Governor Murphy to become law (please note that this bill package is not law, and may change, until approved by the Senate and endorsed by Governor Murphy). Below is a summary of a few of the bills that pertain to small businesses and New Jersey residents (this is not a comprehensive list of the entire bill package):
- A-3841: Extends Time to File Gross Income Tax or Corporation Business Tax Return by 1 Month. The language of the bill states that the extension will be granted following an IRS determination to extend the filing or payment due date, or both. Note that the IRS has extended the payment due date for Federal taxes for 90 days. Applies to taxpayers required to make and file an annual or quarterly return under the New Jersey Gross Income Tax Act or Corporation Business Tax Act. Automatic extension will be no later than June 30, 2020. A taxpayer will not be subject to penalties or interest if the return is filed by the end of the extension.
- A-3845: Expands EDA Small Business Loan Program to Include Small Businesses Negatively Affected by Certain Epidemics. Authorizes the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (“EDA”) to provide grants during periods of emergency declared by the Governor, for the duration of economic disruptions due to the emergency. Extends the uses for funds in the Economic Recovery Fund and provides that EDA may extend NJ Grow Projects, if project delay is a result of economic hardship as a result of the state of emergency.
- A-3846: Creates “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program”. Allows persons to claim for lost wages due to coronavirus disease 2019, and employers to pay wages to workers ordered under quarantine by a licensed healthcare practitioner. To qualify for payment from this fund employees must have lost wages as a result of missing work to care for a family member; the employee’s own sickness; the employer being closed; or missing work to care for a child after their school or childcare facility was closed, all related to the COVID-19 outbreak. No individual shall receive benefits from the Program for any period or wages for which the individual receives unemployment compensation.
- A-3848: Concerns Time Off from Work in Connection with Infectious Diseases. Prohibits an employer, during the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020, from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee if the employee requests or takes time off from work based on a recommendation from a licensed medical professional to do so as a result of COVID-19. This appears to apply to all employers, including municipal employers. There is a $2,500 penalty for an employer that violates the provisions of this bill.
- A-3861: Remote Shareholders’ Meetings during a State of Emergency. Permits corporations to hold shareholders' meetings in part or solely by means of remote communication. During a State of Emergency declared by the Governor, a meeting of shareholders may be held by means of remote communication to the extent the board authorizes and adopts guidelines and procedures governing such a meeting. Shareholders participating in a meeting of shareholders by means of remote communication are deemed to be present in person and are entitled to vote at the meeting, regardless of whether the meeting is held at a designated place or solely by means of remote communication.
The following bill was proposed, but pulled from the agenda and will not be voted on by Senate today as insurers objected to it and called the bill “radical” and that it ignored contract law. However, it is expected to be amended in the near future and resubmitted for a vote:
- A-3844: Concerns Business Interruption Insurance during Coronavirus Disease 2019 State of Emergency. Every insurance policy insuring against loss or damage of property, which includes the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption in force in effect on March 9, 2020 is construed to include among the covered perils under that policy, coverage for business interruption due to COVID-19. This coverage shall indemnify the insured, subject to policy limits, for any loss of business or business interruption during the declared state of emergency. Applies to businesses covered by such a policy with less than 100 eligible employees in the State of New Jersey. The insurer which indemnifies an insured who has filed a claim pursuant to its provisions may apply to the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance for relief and reimbursement. Again, please note that this bill is not on the agenda today, but we may see some form of it in the near future.
We will continue to monitor this legislation and other packages and bills being considered to combat the coronavirus, and we will post updates as soon as they are available.
The content of this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion. You should consult a lawyer concerning your specific situation and any specific legal question you may have.