COVID-19 HR Update: Unemployment Benefits and Taxes

Posted by Christy Putnam on March 24, 2020 at 2:44 PM

Empty Conference Room COVID-19 HR Update Unemployment Benefits TaxesWho is dreaming about the days of getting back to a normal version of crazy? You know, kids back in school, too many scheduled social gatherings, a day packed with back-to-back in-person meetings, watercooler talk with co-workers, sporting events to cheer at, too many toilet paper options at the grocery store, and bumper-to-bumper traffic in the morning and afternoon. Okay, maybe not so much the traffic.

These are definitely uncharted times that we are going through. It’s such a strange feeling to take that pause that keeps our family members, friends, co-workers, and even total strangers a little safer by staying distant from them. 

It is also amazing how much information continues flowing around us yet how many questions remain unanswered. I feel like I spend 29 hours each day (yes, I know there are only 24 hours in a day, but lately it seems like more than that) reading new information and still barely scratch the surface of what I need…what we all need and want…to know. So with the intention reducing confusion generally, what follows is some resource information that I thought might be helpful to our HR friends as we all continue our efforts to comply with all the necessary regulations while helping our employees to also navigate everything that is happening:

Oregon Employment Department

With so many businesses needing to temporarily close their doors and/or having to lay off most, if not all, of their staffs, the Oregon Employment Department is working to keep people updated on benefits available as well as processing the tens of thousands of claims being received (updated numbers on those claims are due out on Thursday). Temporary Rules for Unemployment Insurance were released on March 18th (retroactive back to March 8th). Typically, individuals must be seeking work to qualify for unemployment benefits. These temporary rules suspend that requirement if individuals are sick, quarantined, staying home to care for a child due to school/daycare closures, or intend to resume work for their employer when permitted.

Here is a very useful flyer that you can download from the Oregon Employment Department website showing the ‘COVID-19 Scenarios & Benefits Available’:

COVID-19 Oregon Unemployment Benefits

The department also has a page on their website specifically addressing COVID-19 Related Business Layoffs, Closures, and Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

We previously published a post called COVID-19 HR Update: New Federal Benefits Legislation, which outlines the federal government’s high-level Emergency FMLA and Sick-Leave policies. In that post, we also shared information about tax credits available to employers intended to help cover costs of these benefits. The IRS is reporting that employers will be able to retain an amount of tax, usually paid through the Form 941 filing, equivalent to the benefit amount provided. If the benefit amounts exceeds the taxable amount, the employer will be able to file for a refund. Additional details are still forthcoming, but for updates please reference the IRS website. Hopefully, there will be more updates later this week on this topic.

If you have not heard because it was a little buried under all the other news updates, federal tax day is now July 15th. The IRS extended the filing deadline as well as the deadline for federal tax payments. What you may not be aware of is that Oregon is still working on state guidance for filing and will hopefully have an update shortly:

Oregon Department of Revenue Tax Guidance

If you are looking for additional resources or are just out of reading material these days (really, is that possible?), following are a few more sites you may want to browse for updated information:

You can also let the important information come to you! People Savvy HCM Essentials is a low-cost, full-feature resource library and on-demand team of HR professionals ready to offer you guidance through the current situation in all things related to Human Resources. Your subscription to the service includes eAlerts to the most critical HR-related updates, in real time, as situations evolve. Let People Savvy HCM Essentials cut through the clutter.

As we continue to chart these unprecedented times, remember that sunnier days are ahead, and hopefully soon, together and from closer than six feet apart, we will look back on these times and say, “Remember when…” In the meantime, take care and be well.

Topics: News Alert, Human Resources, Taxes, Benefits, Unemployment, COVID-19

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