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COVID-19 Info You Need: March 31
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31 March 2020  

A roundup of information regarding COVID-19 measures.

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State Government

Governor Ducey Announces $6.7 Million In Funding To Support Vulnerable Arizonans

Support To Food Banks, Programs Serving The Homeless Comes From Recently-Signed Relief Package

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Doug Ducey today announced an initial $6.7 million in funding to support Arizona food banks, nutrition programs and programs that serve the homeless. The dollars are part of a $50 million COVID-19 relief package signed into law over  the weekend by Governor Ducey and will have an immediate impact for Arizona’s most at-risk communities. 

“Arizona is committed to using every tool in our tool kit to stretch our safety net in this unprecedented time,” said Governor Ducey. “Across our state, Arizonans are uniting to support one another and help those most in need. These dollars will bolster those efforts by expanding homeless services and strengthening food security through investments in Arizona food banks. Arizona is grateful to everyone in the private and non-profit sectors who have partnered with us to bring support to our most vulnerable.”

Arizona’s bipartisan state budget agreement establishes the Emergency Crisis Contingency and Safety Net Fund. These resources are to be allocated by the Governor’s Office to provide direct relief to communities most impacted by COVID-19. 

Included in this funding, $5 million will go toward assisting homeless shelters in the prevention and slowing of the spread of COVID-19. This includes assisting with:

  • Temporary isolation and quarantine housing;
  • Sanitation supplies and services;
  • And other direct resources as needed.


The Governor also has directed the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH), the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), and the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) to join together to work with public and private-sector partners to help ensure our homeless community has clean and safe housing arrangements.

“These critical funds come at a time of tremendous uncertainty, particularly for individuals experiencing homelessness,” said Human Services Campus, Inc. Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender. “We are adapting our campus daily to protect the health and safety of the men and women receiving services, including elderly and those with ongoing health challenges, and our incredible staff on the front lines every day.  We are deeply grateful for Governor Ducey’s support in those efforts.”

In addition, Governor Ducey is dedicating $1.75 million to improve food security in Arizona. This includes:

  • $1 million in immediate food bank assistance to be distributed by the Department of Economic Security to enhance existing food bank infrastructure. 
  • $500,000 to expand Arizona’s “Double-Up” Food Bucks program, which allows Arizonans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance to get a $1 match from the State for every $1 they spend on Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables, up to an additional $20 per day. Private-sector partners have also announced that they will contribute $500,000 to the “Double-up program, bringing program capacity to $1 million.
  • $250,000 for the Arizona Produce Purchasing Program, known as the “Farm To Food Bank” program. Through a partnership between the Arizona Food Bank Network, the Department of Economic Security, and the Department of Agriculture along with agricultural partners, this program provides those in need with fresh produce, eggs, chicken, and pork, and provides a market for local producers to support their employees and communities.

"This additional investment will help us both support small, local agriculture; while at the same time, help provide fresh, healthy produce and protein for Arizonans visiting food banks right now," said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the Arizona Food Bank Network.

"Arizona farmers and ranchers stand ready to do their part during these uncertain times," said Phil Bashaw, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation Chief Executive Officer and Executive Secretary. "Thank you to Governor Ducey for expanding the Farm To Food Bank program so we can feed communities across the state with our members’ quality, local farm products."

"Challenging times hit our most vulnerable communities and local businesses hardest,” said Mercy Care Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Charlton Wilson. “We’re grateful for Governor Ducey’s leadership. We are proud to have been the first health plan in Arizona to recognize this need and step up to provide funding to the Double Up Food Bucks Arizona program. The Governor's commitment makes sure no Arizonan is left behind during this crisis in our state and in our country."

For more information about Arizona’s COVID-19 response efforts, click HERE.

Governor Ducey Announces New Steps To Protect Families And Small Businesses From Foreclosure

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Doug Ducey today announced a cooperative agreement with the state’s banks to protect small businesses and families from eviction and foreclosure. Banks also committed to expediting the application and approval of small business loans as part of the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program passed by Congress and signed into law last week.

Under the agreement, banks are suspending evictions and foreclosures for at least 60 days, with the potential to extend that period for the duration of the state’s emergency declaration. Additionally, most banks have adopted a payment deferral program for business loans under guidance from banking regulatory agencies, and many banks are working directly with consumers on payment deferrals for certain consumer loans.

Governor Ducey met with banking leaders last week along with leaders in other industries including utilities, telecommunications, and commercial real estate to affirm commitments to protect Arizona small businesses and families amid the economic disruptions caused by COVID-19.

“We know many families and businesses are in need of immediate relief, and with April 1st fast approaching this agreement will help ensure no Arizonan loses their home or business at the end of the month,” said Governor Ducey. “We have a long road ahead of us, and we’ll need the continued partnership of Arizona’s banks and landlords to help those facing economic loss because of COVID-19. I’m grateful to Arizona’s banks for stepping up during this time of need as part of Arizona’s all-hands-on-deck relief efforts.” 

While borrowers will continue to be expected to meet their financial obligations under the agreement, this flexibility will provide a needed lifeline to those facing foreclosure or eviction. Arizonans are encouraged to notify their bankers if they are experiencing short-term hardship related to COVID-19 ahead of their payment due dates.

“This flexibility will help ensure that families and businesses are not evicted or foreclosed upon because of COVID-19-related financial difficulties,” said Jack Barry, Arizona Bankers Association (AzBA) Chairman. “This is a difficult situation for all of us, and the banking sector in this state is committed to doing everything we can to assist Arizonans in this time of need.” 

Small Business Loans

Additionally, Arizona banks are working to deliver small business loans as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program — a new program established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act signed by President Trump on Friday, March 28. The program will allow banks to lend up to $10 million to small businesses and sole proprietors who have been disrupted due to COVID-19. The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is finalizing details of the program and Arizona banks expect to begin accepting applications for the loans within two to three days after federal guidance is issued. Banks expect that approved borrowers will be able to access loan funds within five business days of their applications.

Arizona banks are partnering with the Arizona Commerce Authority to proactively reach out to small businesses to help prepare them for the short application process. 

“While we don’t have the specific requirements from the SBA yet, we do know borrowers will need to have an IRS issued Employer Identification Number, payroll records, and a short statement of how their business has been negatively impacted by COVID-19,” said Paul Hickman, AzBA President. “Businesses interested in applying for the loans should prepare that information now so they can apply immediately after banks begin lending.”

Additional details about the Paycheck Protection Program and other COVID-19 financial resources can be found at azcommerce.com/covid-19/business-financial-support.

Education

Governor Ducey, Superintendent Hoffman Announce Extension Of School Closures Through End Of School Year 

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the extension of Arizona school closures through the end of the school year. The extension follows updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an announcement from the White House extending physical distancing guidelines until April 30, 2020. 

Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman released the following joint statement:

“In alignment with yesterday’s updated federal guidance, today we are announcing the extension of school closures through the remainder of the school year. Today’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so they can plan and make decisions. While this isn’t the outcome any of us wanted, we are grateful for the partnership of schools around the state, who have stepped up to offer virtual and take-home learning opportunities for our students... Our number one priority will continue to be health and safety…"

On March 27, Governor Ducey signed legislation to support 

  • schools during closures
  • ensure school letter grades are held harmless
  • suspend statewide testing requirements
  • ensure school days are not extended into the summer (no make-up summer school, kids!)
  • require learning opportunities for students to continue
  • ensure teachers and staff see no disruption in pay as a result of COVID-19

That same week, the Governor joined Superintendent Hoffman to launch Arizona Enrichment Centers, such as Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arizona and the local YMCA, which will offer childcare for

  • first responders
  • critical healthcare workers
  • essential public sector workers
  • child safety workers

Additional information about meals for kids, childcare, special education considerations, learning resources for families and educators and more can be found at azed.gov.

Today’s announcement applies to: 

  • Arizona district schools
  • Arizona charter schools

Private schools must remain closed at least until April 30, 2020, in alignment with federal guidance. Private school leaders may announce closures through the end of the year, or wait for additional guidance from the federal government.

TPT Filers: Reminder of February Filing Deadlines

Taxpayers can file now and schedule payments up until the deadline

The Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) reminds transaction privilege tax filers that February returns are due.  Filing before the deadline is highly encouraged in the event assistance is required.

Avoid the worry and hassle of mailing your return by using AZTaxes.gov, which is available nights and weekends to register, file and pay online. Our online filing and paying service is free, fast and easy — allowing payments to be scheduled up until the second to last business day.

Remaining deadlines for February filing and paying are as follows:

MAR 30

  • Electronic payment must be submitted by 5 p.m. MST on this date.
  • Paper returns must be received at ADOR by this date.

MAR 31

  • Electronic return must be received on this date.

To be in compliance with state law, you must file a return by its due date, even if there is no tax due for the filing period.

State law requires taxpayers to file and pay electronically when:

  • they have multiple business locations, or
  • a business has a total annual combined state, county and municipal transaction privilege tax liability of $5,000 or more.

Penalties:

  • Taxpayers required to file an electronic return will be subject to a penalty of 5 percent of the tax amount due for filing a paper return. The minimum penalty is $25, including filings with zero liability.
  • Taxpayers required to pay electronically will be subject to a penalty of 5 percent of the amount of payment made by check or cash.
  • Taxpayers who file their tax return late will be subject to a late file penalty of 4.5 percent of the tax required to be shown on the return for each month or fraction of a month the return is late. There is a minimum of $25 and a maximum 25 percent of the tax due or $100, per return, whichever is greater.

Remote Sellers

Out-of-state businesses licensed under the remote seller tax law that went into effect on October 1 are reminded to use business code 605 (Retail Classification).  The tax applies to remote sellers and marketplace facilitators that have no physical presence in Arizona and meet certain economic thresholds.

Remote sellers and marketplace facilitators with questions can contact the E-Commerce Compliance and Outreach (ECCO) team by phone 833-293-7253 (833-AZeSale) or by email azesale@azdor.gov.

For all other TPT taxpayers, Arizona Department of Revenue representatives are available to answer questions and provide assistance by phone [(602) 255-3381, toll-free 800-352-4090.] or by ADOR’s Live Chat feature at www.azdor.gov.

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Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She will be leaving for new adventures on May 15, 2020.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/eNewsAZ/