How to Develop a Sanitation Plan for Employee and Customer Safety

How to Develop a Sanitation Plan for Employee and Customer SafetyAs part of a comprehensive strategy to cope with COVID-19 and reduce the risk of spreading it, developing a sanitation plan is a necessary tool that businesses can implement during the reopening process.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a thorough approach for cleaning and disinfecting. The first thing to do to reduce the amount of COVID-19 virus on exterior surfaces and items handled by individuals is to wash them with soap and water.

When it comes to items handled by many individuals, using appropriate disinfectants approved by the Environmental Protect Agency that contains active ingredients such as ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, and sodium chlorite is another way to lower the chances of people being exposed to the virus.

The CDC lists a few examples of items that exist in offices and/or retail outlets that need to be disinfected – not just cleaned. Examples include touch screens, phones, handles, light switches, tables, doorknobs, toilets, shopping carts, and anything that’s likely to be touched by multiple people throughout the day. Keeping doors open can reduce the need for employees or customers to constantly touch the door.

When it comes to soft or spongy items, such as rugs or seating, the CDC recommends to first remove any unnecessary items. For things that must remain such as carpeting, they should be washed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, using hot water and letting them dry fully.

Another way to increase workplace and retail hygiene is to improve air quality. Other recommendations include running air filtration and exchanges 24/7. It also includes maintaining fresh filters and ensuring they’re installed properly and increasing the level of air filtration to maintain clean and healthy airflow.

Encouraging employees to wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol is also recommended. Reminding employees verbally or through written means (including signage posted throughout the building) to wash their hands throughout the day, including before and after work, when they use the restroom, and after touching their workspace or work materials is also recommended.   

While every office and retail space is different, taking steps to reduce the chance of COVID-19 infection is a great way to stay safe and create goodwill with employees and customers.


IRS Gears Up for Aggressive Enforcement

IRS Gears Up for Aggressive EnforcementRecently, the IRS Commissioner testified before the Senate Finance Committee, sending the message that the IRS is committed to catching intentional tax evaders. There was no ambiguity in the message of his testimony to Congress; he noted that under his watch, the IRS will aggressively pursue those purposely evading their tax obligations with civil and criminal enforcement. The commissioner made sure to mention that those who were not defrauding the system intentionally had nothing to worry about; they are not the target of stepped-up enforcement.

The IRS will be targeting five major enforcement initiatives:

  1. Technology – The IRS will put a new focus on their use of technology as an enforcement tool; specifically, advanced data and analytical strategies. With this data-driven approach, the IRS believes it will be able to catch tax fraud impossible to spot even just a few years ago.
  2. Offshore Tax Evasion – Offshore tax reporting enforcement is a long-standing priority of the IRS, but the current commissioner reiterated the focus on this area, so don’t expect to see any easing here.
  3. Tax Shelters – The IRS believes many taxpayers are abusing two tax shelters, syndicated conservation easements, and micro-captive insurance arrangements. They plan on stepped-up enforcement on both those who arrange these shelters and taxpayers who participate in them.
  4. Cryptocurrency – The IRS believes there is mass non-compliance in the world of cryptocurrencies through either underreporting or nonreporting of taxable transactions.
  5. Wealthy Taxpayers – Enforcement actions take time and are resource-intensive, so it should be no surprise that the IRS is going after non-compliant taxpayers with the biggest ROI. The IRS is considering anyone with an income level of over $100,000 to be high-income. 

Expect to see increased tax enforcement efforts ahead, with a focus on those who are intentionally evading the system. If you haven’t purposely defrauded the system, you have little to worry about.

How Businesses Can Help Protect Themselves Against Civil Unrest

If the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t a big enough strain on businesses trying to engage in commerce, whether it’s retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, or those in the service sector, civil unrest puts another strain on surviving the downturn. Based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Small Business Administration, businesses can prepare for civil unrest.

While the British firm Verisk Maplecroft predicts that 75 countries will see civil unrest in 2020, the United States has already seen its fair share recently. While the future intensity of civil unrest can’t be predicted, businesses can take steps to plan and mitigate such events.

For businesses, the first priority is to ensure employees and customers are not put in harm’s way. If a dangerous situation happens quickly and without warning, there are some steps business owners can take to mitigate the threat.

  • Plan ahead for travel disruptions by keeping an eye on local media reports and online/social media. This information can be helpful for informing employees and customers not to go to work or order online if a retail outlet or office location is subject to civil unrest.
  • Ensure that all workers are familiar with emergency and security plans. This might include having current contact information to reach employees before they go to work or giving them time to leave before the situation escalates.

Another recommendation is to take steps against arson, break-ins, and damage sustained to the property. Examples include maintaining employee vigilance against the out-of-the-ordinary activity. Review security and fire protection systems, how alarm companies will notify business owners, and what steps the monitoring companies will take to mitigate against burglary and/or fire. Reinforce locks and board up areas vulnerable to damage or provide easy points of access during civil riots (e.g., protect glass doors and windows).

If first responders take longer than normal to arrive, it’s important to take measures to reduce the chance of serious and unintended damages from the civil unrest. Be it water, gas, electrical or related systems, turning off all but necessary utilities (e.g., water for sprinklers; enough heat to prevent freezing pipes; power for an alarm system) could reduce the risk of additional damage.

Along with having a commercial insurance policy that includes looting as a covered peril, one other important part of a business continuity plan is how important documents are stored. Will they be stored on-premises in a safe? Will they be stored online, in the cloud and encrypted? Will they be stored offsite in a secure location?

Much like other disasters that often happen with little to no warning, businesses that prepare before civil unrest occurs can help reduce the amount of property damaged and help get their operations back to pre-crisis levels.


Payroll Protection Program Loan Forgiveness is Here

The first Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans were made over eight weeks ago, which means they may be forgivable if the guidelines set forth by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the United States Treasury Department are met.

In order to have a loan forgiven, borrowers need to complete the 11-page application made available by the Treasury Department. Applicants can complete the forms either in hard copy or via an online platform if provided by their lender. Large borrowers, or those who took out more than $2 million from the PPP program, are required to file even more paperwork.

Along with the application, borrowers need to submit a Forgiveness Amount Calculation. This calculation discloses the total eligible payroll costs paid during the program. Applicants will also need documentation, such as tax filing statements, utilities, PPP loan contracts, EIDL contracts, and any supporting documents that were used when applying for the PPP loan. 

Certification of the loan forgiveness amount requested is necessary to prove it was truly used to pay eligible costs, such as payroll, business mortgage interest, rent or lease payments, and utilities. Further, borrowers must report any declines in the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and/or wage reductions more than 25 percent. Failing to retain pre-program FTE headcount or wage reductions over this threshold will reduce the eligible amount of loan forgiveness.

The amount of paperwork necessary to substantiate the application can be daunting, especially for many “main street” businesses. In order to help you complete the application, the SBA has issued formal guidance that can be found here. And a more user-friendly guide giving detailed instructions on how to fill out your PPP forgiveness application form can be found here, provided by Bench. We can assist you with the application process itself and the required documentation. Give us a call to see how we can help instead of struggling through the process on your own.