March 19, 2020 Finance & Funding en_US While COVID-19 is forcing businesses to shut down, both the government and private entities are offering relief programs. This page is updating regularly. A brief guide to coronavirus relief and assistance programs
Finance & Funding

A brief guide to coronavirus relief and assistance programs

By Eric Carter March 19, 2020

Programs last updated: April 28, 2020

Millions of small business owners are facing make-or-break decisions, as the world deals with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A month ago, we were thinking about expanding, maybe buying a building to accommodate our crazy growth. And now, here we are thinking about how to survive,” STATE the Label founder Adrienne Antonson posted.

But business owners have options.

Intuit QuickBooks, Yelp, and GoFundMe have teamed up to support the Small Business Relief Initiative. Together, they’re seeding the Small Business Relief Fund, and Intuit QuickBooks is helping small businesses make ends meet with additional employee-directed contributions. But that’s not all.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and some major corporations are offering loans and assistance to small businesses. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $370 billion stimulus loan package, provides tax credits for small businesses and unemployment benefits for self-employed workers. The CARES Act created the small business loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program. Additionally, the CARES Act expanded the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to meet the financial needs of struggling small business owners impacted by the coronavirus.

SBA disaster assistance programs

The SBA offers disaster assistance to small businesses and other eligible organizations in the wake of natural disasters and emergencies. SBA loans can help eligible business and organization owners cover various expenses, including but not limited to real estate, personal property, economic injury, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

When is it available?

An SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan can help businesses, renters, and homeowners affected by declared disasters. On March 27, 2020, the president signed the CARES Act into law. The CARES Act expands the EIDL program to meet the financial needs of struggling small business owners impacted by the coronavirus.

Under the EIDL provisions of the CARES Act, small businesses and other eligible applicants can apply for working capital loans of up to $2 million. Borrowers can use funds to pay fixed debts, cover payroll, and pay other bills they cannot otherwise pay due to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Who is eligible?

Small businesses (as defined by the SBA) in all U.S. states and territories are eligible to apply. Recent and temporary changes to the EIDL program also expand the types of businesses that may be eligible for EIDLs. The program is now also available to private nonprofit organizations; small agricultural cooperatives; sole proprietors; independent contractors; and any other business, cooperative, ESOP, or tribal small business with fewer than 500 employees.

How to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan

Eligible business owners may apply now through the SBA. Potential borrowers should complete applications in full before submitting them. Incomplete applications may take longer to process. If a loan application is denied, applicants may provide additional information and submit a written request for reconsideration.

There is no cost to apply for a loan and no obligation to accept the loan. If the loan is too low, applicants can submit supporting documentation and request an increase. If the loan is too high, applicants can request a reduction.

To apply, you’ll need to produce the following documents:

  • Your federal EIN or Social Security number
  • Your business’ gross revenue for 12 months
  • The cost of goods sold for 12 months
  • The date your business was founded
  • The number of workers you employ
  • Your percentage of business ownership
  • Lost rents (for rental property owners)
  • Other reimbursements you will receive (i.e. business interruption insurance)

Gather the following tax forms and documents before you apply:

  • Tax information authorization (IRS Form 4506T)
  • Federal income tax return
  • Schedule of liabilities (SBA Form 2202)
  • Personal financial statements (SBA Form 412)
  • Year-to-date profit and loss statements
  • Monthly sales figures

SBA $10,000 loan advance

To provide immediate assistance, the SBA is offering loan advances up to $10,000 to eligible small businesses that apply for disaster loans. Even businesses that are not approved for larger loans may be eligible for a loan advance. To apply for an advance, complete the SBA disaster assistance application. Resubmitting an application will not impact the status of a pending application.

Business owners will not have to repay the loan advance of up to $10,000, even if their EIDL loan application is not approved. EIDL loans are not otherwise forgivable, though an EIDL loan may be refinanced into a Paycheck Protect Program loan, which is forgivable under certain circumstances.

Small business loans and tax deferment from the CARES Act

The CARES Act has set aside $370 billion in aid for small businesses and other eligible applicants. The aid comes in the form of either a loan under the PPP or employee retention tax credit. However, this credit is not available to businesses that receive a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program. The CARES Act also expands unemployment benefits to eligible self-employed and gig workers who have lost work due to the coronavirus.

Loans under the Paycheck Protection Program

Loans under the PPP are intended to provide cash flow assistance to eligible businesses, organizations, and certain nonprofits unable to pay employees due to the economic impact of COVID-19. If employers use the loan to maintain payroll, then the loan may be eligible for forgiveness, in whole or in part, if certain other requirements are met. Some other benefits of loans under the PPP include:

  • Forgiveness of up to eight weeks of qualifying payroll costs based on employee retention and salary
  • No SBA fees
  • At least six months of loan deferral, with a maximum deferral of one year; however, interest will continue to accrue over this period
  • Loans will be backed by the government 100%
  • Terms include 1% interest rates, no loan fees, and no repayment fees. Certain lenders may require application fees

These PPP loans are to help small business owners and other eligible applicants who were open on or before February 15, 2020, and have been negatively affected by the coronavirus, avoid layoffs, and continue to pay employees and certain other operating expenses.

In general, a small business as defined by the Small Business Act, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, a 501(c)(19) veterans organization, or tribal business concern that employs no more than 500 people or meets the SBA employee size threshold for the relevant North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code is eligible to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan. Accommodation and food service businesses in NAICS Sector 72 with more than 500 employees, but not more than 500 employees per physical location, are also eligible. You may also be eligible for a loan if you are a sole proprietorship, an independent contractor, or an eligible self-employed individual.

PPP loan amounts for eligible applicants are determined based on the business’ average monthly payroll costs from the last year and will be approximately 2.5x that amount.

PPP loan proceeds can cover payroll, utilities, rent, health insurance, and more. There are a number of allowable uses covered by the loan, although at least 75% of the PPP loan funds must be used for payroll.

Payroll tax credits and deferment for small businesses

This provision of the CARES Act provides eligible employers that continue to pay employees during a closure are entitled to a refundable payroll tax credit, known as the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). ERCs are for up to 50% of the total wages paid by eligible employees up to a maximum of $10,000 in wages per employee. Qualifying employers include:

  • Employers who were fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter
  • Employers whose gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

These measures are calculated each calendar quarter.

Additionally, under the CARES Act, eligible employers may defer payment of the employer share of Social Security taxes (6.2% of wages up to the Social Security ceiling) that accrue from March 27, 2020, through and including December 31, 2020. 50% of the deferred Social Security taxes are due by December 31, 2021, with the remainder due by December 31, 2022. The employer will be responsible to track and submit the deferred payments accordingly.

This ERC is not available to businesses that receive a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program. Additionally, the deferral of Social Security taxes is not available for taxes that are due to be deposited after you receive debt forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Save Small Business Fund

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has created a grantmaking initiative offering short-term relief to small businesses across the nation. Qualifying businesses must have 3 to 20 employees, be located in an economically vulnerable community, and have faced financial hardship due to COVID-19. Small businesses will be required to provide a W-9 form and may receive $5,000 from the Save Small Business Fund.

Small business assistance options from other businesses

In addition to government assistance, companies like Amazon and Facebook have pledged to help businesses weather the pandemic and its fallout.

Amazon’s Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund

Amazon’s Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund pledges $5 million in assistance. Qualifying businesses have fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue. And they must rely on foot traffic and be located within a few blocks of Amazon’s Regrade, South Lake Union, and Bellevue offices. To help distribute funds equitably, Amazon is asking applicants to anticipate expected losses associated with the coronavirus.

Apply now.

Facebook’s $100 million pledge

Facebook COO, Cheryl Sandberg, announced Facebook’s pledge of $100 million to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Facebook will distribute funds to 30,000 small businesses across the 30 countries where Facebook employees work.

Grubhub Community Relief Fund

Grubhub announced efforts to help small businesses in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Boston, and Portland. The Grubhub Community Relief Fund is collecting donations raised through their Donate the Change program. Officials in each of the five cities will help Grubhub identify organizations and small businesses that need help.

Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund

Verizon has pledged to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by offering up to $10,000 in grants to qualified small businesses. Grant funds can be used to pay rent, payroll, outstanding vendor debt, or other immediate operational costs. A second round of funding opens in mid-April for qualified small businesses.

AssistHer Emergency Relief Grant

Texas Women’s University has created a grant for women-owned small businesses impacted by COVID-19 in the Lone-Star State. The grant provides up to $10,000 in capital for small businesses that need to adjust their business model or purchase new technology to stay in operation during the crisis

Other options to explore

Many companies, federal agencies, and private organizations offer grants for small businesses. Fundera has compiled a list of 107 small business and startup grants offered across the country. Each has its own eligibility criteria, and some include contests. Research each grant to determine if your business qualifies.

Local government and community relief programs


Loan and forgiveness calculations and eligibility may vary. Refer to the for information about your particular situation. 

The average number of full-time equivalent employees is determined by calculating the average number of full-time equivalent employees for each pay period falling within a month. 

Relief programs are evolving regularly. Please visit or for the most up to date information.

The funding described is made available to businesses located in the United States of America and are not available in other locations. 

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Eric is the founder of Dartsand and Corporate Counsel for a global technology solutions provider. He is a frequent contributor to technology media outlets and also serves as primary legal counsel for multiple startups in the Real Estate Development, Virtual Assistant and Mobile App industries. Read more