News: Quick Takes

COVID-19 Response Act passes House Economic Support working group

The Economic Support working group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 has approved a bill waiving the accrual of interest on taxes paid between April 15 and the new July 15 deadline. 

The N.C. Department of Revenue waived late fees when the state decided to extend the tax deadline to July 15, but legislation is required to waive the accrual of interest on deferred payments.  

The COVID-19 Response Act solves that problem. Under the bill, approved Tuesday, April 14, accrual of interest on individual and corporate income tax, as well as on franchise tax returns, are waived. 

The bill codifies changes Gov. Roy Cooper made to unemployment benefits in two executive orders. One such change allows employers to file attached claims. 

Lawmakers unanimously approved the COVID-19 Response Act. As soon as the General Assembly returns to session the bill will be filed, said Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, co-chair of the Economic Support working group. 

The working group also discussed a bill providing $25 million for emergency loans to small businesses. 

“Some of our small businesses won’t survive without assistance,” said Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Alamance, one of the bill’s sponsors. 

Golden LEAF Foundation will use the $25 million to provide aid through the Rapid Recovery Loan Program. The foundation has already approved $15 million for the program. Small businesses can use the emergency loans while they wait for assistance from the Small Business Administration. 

The $25 million would pay for 500 small businesses to receive a $50,000 bridge loan, said Rep. Chris Humphrey, R-Lenoir. He questioned whether the amount would be enough and whether the program would expand.

The bill is designed to help with what Golden LEAF is already doing, Saine said, but more may be done to help small businesses. 

For the next meeting, Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, suggested asking someone from the Cooper administration to attend and discuss plans for reopening North Carolina’s economy.