The last week has been a whirlwind of physical and emotional challenges. Our Wilmington community is strong and we will come through this together. One of the less discussed aspects of the Florence so far is the post-storm financial impact on individuals and business owners. The storm’s impact to the local economy could prevent businesses and individuals from receiving regular income for a while. I have taken some time to compile a list of resources and suggestions that may be relevant to helping people weather the economic storm.
There are several disaster loan options available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other programs. Some options are:
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) has many options for physical and economic disaster situations.
- Thread Capital has a 180 day interest-free Hurricane Florence Rapid Recovery Loan.
The Small Business Technology Development Center has a lot of relevant storm recovery loan related information on their website.
If your business was damaged, you may want to check if you have business interruption coverage (or something equivalent). Whether it’s business or individual property damage, you will want to take time to assess your damage and report claims in a timely manner. Realize that when it comes to claims, insurance companies want to pay out the minimum. Stand up for yourself. You may need some forensic accounting to demonstrate economic impact of the storm and aftermath. You may also need to get an attorney involved, depending upon what is at stake with your claim.
If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac you may be eligible to stop making payments for three to twelve months. You can click these links to determine if your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If you do not have a mortgage owned by one of these entities, you may still be able to get some sort of deferment or relief from your lender. Regardless of who owns your loan, call them and ask what they have available and if appropriate proceed to sign up for the appropriate program.
Be careful of scammers during Hurricane cleanup. Make sure you are working with licensed, insured contractors. Don’t pay up front and pay with a credit card if possible. Try to use local providers when you can.
Price gouging is illegal in North Carolina.
For those located in the federal declared disaster zone (as of this writing Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnson, Lee, Lenoir, Jones, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne and Wilson counties), the IRS has extended the following items until January 31st, 2019:
- S Corporation, C Corporation, Partnership, and Individual Income tax returns that were previously extended.
- Quarterly estimated income tax payments due September 17th, 2018.
- Quarterly payroll tax or excise tax returns due October 31st, 2018.
Penalties on late payroll taxes due between September 7, 2018 and September 24, 2018 will not be penalized as long as deposits are made by September 24, 2018. North Carolina is making the same waivers except that they are still assessing interest on later quarterly estimated income tax payments. Since we are in a federally declared disaster area, you may be able to claim damage or loss of property not covered by insurance on your income tax returns.
Unemployment (Even for Business Owners)
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available from the NC Division of Employment Security (NC ESC) for people in the following counties (as of the time of this writing): Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender. You may be eligible for DUA if:
- You are unemployed due to disaster.
- Self-employed and lost income due to the disaster.
- Injured due to disaster and unable to work.
- You became a major income provider due to death from disaster.
- You can’t reach their job or self-employed business due to travel affected by disaster.
- You could not start employment during the disaster.
Frequently asked questions on DUA can be found here. Note that from a timing perspective the NC ESC system will be down from 5PM September 24th through 8 AM Friday September 28th, so try to submit an initial claim before then. If you wish to submit a claim during the system downtime, you can still call 888-737-0259.
Adam Shay, CPA (N.C. License Number 35961), MBA, is managing partner of Adam Shay CPA, PLLC. During the next couple of months we are offering free business roundtables for business owners to discuss things they are and could be doing to survive the economic impacts of Florence. Anyone interested in learning more should email [email protected].