The current COVID-19 public health crisis has triggered devastating economic consequences throughout the state. Small businesses were among the first economic casualties of crisis and I have received heartbreaking calls from local business owners tottering on the brink of total disaster. Even now, many businesses are only partially opened or still closed.
Governor Lee appointed a blue chip group called the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group to find ways to help struggling businesses. That group has worked with the Department of Revenue to provide a lifeline to local business affected by the Governor’s stay-at-home order. The new Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act appropriation to qualified businesses in the state.
Barber shops, beauty and nail salons, gyms, restaurants, and marinas are eligible. Businesses who may have remained open but whose sales were reduced 25 percent as shown on their April sales tax returns are likewise eligible. Go to the state website at www.tn.gov to find the link to the Department of Revenue for more eligibility information.
Recently, I invited the Commissioner of Revenue, David Gerregano, to participate in a call with the local chambers of commerce CEOs in my district regarding this program. I’d like to share some of the information we learned.
Approximately 28,000 Tennessee businesses are expected to qualify, including many in the 12th Senatorial District. The amounts awarded will be based on gross sales. Relief payments under the program will range from $2,500 to $30,000, depending on the business’s gross sales. The payment will be made by direct deposit if the business has previously provided bank information to the Department of Revenue. If not, payments are made by check. No application is necessary. Although currently not included, the hope is to include non-profits.
Payments should be delivered by the end of July. In order to timely receive it, it is critical that each small business’s information be up to date with the Department of Revenue. I encourage you to go to the department’s website to double check your information. Incorrect or old information should be updated to prevent delayed payment.
I am very pleased that the Governor and Financial Stimulus Accountability Group have developed this plan to help small business, the backbone of our economy. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to call my Nashville office at 615-741-1449 or go to www.tn.gov.