COVID-19 community updates

Published: 7/6/2020 6:54:49 PM
Micro-Enterprise Relief Program

Hilltown CDC, on behalf of the Town of Chesterfield and with potential funding provided through both their CDBGFY19 grant and a CARES Act grant, is establishing a micro-enterprise relief program to help businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is designed to assist businesses with five or fewer employees (including the owner) that have been negatively impacted due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide one-time grants for business owners who need financial assistance to support business operational costs in order to keep the business sustainable. Grant funds must be used within two months of award. Applications are now being accepted. Funding will be awarded based on a first-come, first-eligible, completed application basis, subject to the availability of funding.

Grant amounts will range from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000 to cover business losses incurred after May 26.

Eligible towns for CDBGFY19 funds include Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Peru, Plainfield, Williamsburg and Worthington.

Eligible towns for CARES Act funds include those listed above, plus Ashfield, Blandford, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, and Montgomery. These funds are pending.

Examples of potential allowable grant uses:

■operating costs — rent, mortgage, utilities, business insurance premiums;

■inventory, materials or supplies;

■small equipment/tools needed due to altering product or service to be provided;

■personal protection equipment purchases or alterations to location to allow ease of reopening due to COVID-19;

■payment for professional services needed to pivot business, including but not limited to marketing-related activities or website improvements.

Examples of grant uses that are not allowable (not exhaustive):

■payment of outstanding debt incurred prior to COVID-19;

■salaries;

■vehicle purchase / lease;

■payment of any existing tax lien.

Your business may be eligible if:

■you have been in business as of Jan. 1, 2019;

■you have five or fewer employees (including yourself);

■your place of business has temporarily closed or has reduced hours due to COVID-19;

■you live in an eligible town (listed above);

■the business owner’s family income falls within income guidelines (if more than one owner, each owner’s family income must be below 80% AMI) See application for income limits.

You are not eligible if:

■you have a not-for-profit business;

■business owner’s family income is above 80% AMI income level;

■business owner does not live within in an eligible town;

■you have received emergency funding through another source for the purposes for which you are applying;

■assistance is for one of the following types of businesses: real estate rentals/sales; owned by a person under age 18; businesses that are chains; liquor stores; weapons/firearms dealers; lobbyists; or cannabis related businesses.

Questions should be directed to Bea von Hagke at beavh@hilltowncdc.org.

Vehicles may be registered without a visit to the registry

The Massachusetts Registry of Motors Vehicles in partnership with Boston Software Corp., has introduced a new online service that enables independent insurance agents to renew and reinstate passenger and commercial vehicle registrations on behalf of their customers. This eliminates the need for eligible vehicle owners and drivers to visit an RMV customer service center to renew or reinstate their registration.

Boston Software has been an RMV business partner for more than 20 years. The company’s software platform, known as SinglePoint, is used by the majority of Massachusetts insurance agents and carriers, and is integrated with the RMV’s new ATLAS system to perform various functions, including inquiries and preparing RMV paperwork. This latest functional update is especially important to ensuring social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic within RMV Service Centers, by helping drivers get their vehicles properly registered without the need to physically visit the RMV in-person. The new online service is now available.

Using the new feature in SinglePoint, insurance agents can seamlessly access the RMV’s ATLAS system to confirm that the reinstatement or renewal transaction is eligible to be completed online, and attest that a vehicle is properly insured. Owners or drivers will then get an email link instructing them to pay for the transaction and, when payment is provided, the registration will be reinstated or renewed immediately. This process works for registration renewals and reinstatements that require proof of insurance.

For information about RMV transactions, please visit: www.mass.gov/RMV.

Tax deadline July 15

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue reminds Massachusetts taxpayers that the deadline to file both federal and state income tax returns is July 15. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the tax filing deadlines were extended 90 days from the original April 15 deadline.

A range of free electronic options is available for eligible taxpayers, including free fillable forms.

“The department encourages all Massachusetts taxpayers to utilize the DOR website and review options for filing their state income taxes,” said DOR Commissioner Geoffrey E. Snyder.

“To date, more than 90% of Massachusetts taxpayers who have filed their 2019 income taxes have done so electronically. Given social distancing requirements and remote working conditions, electronic filing remains a safe and secure option for refund processing.”

Information on electronic filing options available to Massachusetts taxpayers can be found on DOR’s website. Please note that DOR does not endorse or recommend any particular tax preparation software.

Volunteers certified by the Internal Revenue Service provide free tax help for lower-income taxpayers, as well as senior citizens, with both federal and state tax returns.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is for taxpayers with an annual income of $56,000 or less, those with disabilities, as well as taxpayers with limited or no English language proficiency.

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program provides free tax help to taxpayers who are 60 and older. TCE sites are often operated in partnership with AARP Tax-Aide.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, only some in-person services are available.

The Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has increased from 23% to 30% of the federal credit. The credit is available to certain taxpayers who meet the requirements of the federal EITC. In order to claim the Massachusetts EITC, you must be a resident of the commonwealth for at least part of the taxable year and file a tax return.

Massachusetts taxpayers can find more information, including forms, instructions, and helpful tips on DOR’s website. To avoid penalties, returns for Massachusetts taxpayers must be filed electronically or postmarked by midnight July 15.


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