California providing $500 million in virus aid for small businesses

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California will provide temporary tax relief and $500 million in aid to small businesses struggling because of coronavirus outbreak restrictions, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday.

The tax measures include a three-month automatic extension of the income tax payment deadline for those paying less than $1 million in sales tax and expansion of a program allowing businesses with up to $5 million in sales to reach agreements on interest-free tax payments.

Interest-free payment options also will be expanded for larger businesses, Newsom said.

The additional $500 million in relief funds will be available to small businesses and nonprofits in the form of grants up to $25,000.

“California’s small businesses embody the best of the California Dream and we can’t let this pandemic take that away,” Newsom said in a statement. “By providing potentially billions in immediate relief and support, our small businesses can weather the next month.”

The tax relief and grants are designed to provide aid until the Legislature can meet in the new year and work with the governor to provide more relief, Newsom said.

“This is not the end,” Newsom said at a news conference. “This is just the beginning of a bridge.”

Many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat after months of restrictions and lower sales because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in recent weeks has surged to record levels, prompting a nearly statewide nighttime curfew on nonessential work, movement and gatherings.

In addition Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, instituted a new local stay-home order that took effect Monday. It calls for 10 million residents to stay home “as much as possible” and prohibits them from gathering with people outside of their households for most public or private occasions.

California’s 4.1 small businesses employ 7.2 million workers — nearly half of all private-sector employees — and they are “drivers of economic growth” that create two-thirds of new jobs in the state, Newsom’s office said in a statement.

But the statement cited an August survey by Small Business Majority, a national small business organization, that found 44% of small businesses are at risk of shutting down.

Some businesses have stayed afloat with federal aid but Congress has yet to reach consensus on a new COVID-19 economic relief package.

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