CRA: Christmas in Washington

Curated news from the CRA.

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US Capitol Building at night during christmas time in Washington, DC. Decorated Christmas tree lit up in foreground.
Is it a Christmas miracle? Don't hold your breath quite yet. / belikova ©123RF.com

Steve Earle famously wrote about Democrats “getting into gear for four more years of things not getting worse.” After a year that had us all feeling like we’d been shoved off the edge of the Grand Canyon, only to haul our bruised and bloodied bodies back up to the ledge to plummet thousands of feet again…and again…and again, we might even settle for things not getting worse. But there might be a glimmer of hope as the mooks in D.C. have taken one tiny step towards passing COVID relief. Meanwhile, El Paso County is considering tax relief for restaurants, and the Colorado Restaurant Association is launching regular, industry-only COVID updates and town halls were you’ll have the chance to bring up questions and concerns.

The following information comes from the CRA’s December 15 newsletter. Sign up to receive the full version here

Federal COVID-19 Relief Package Update

This weekend, Senators and House members continued to negotiate on an omnibus measure, which could provide businesses with COVID-19 relief before the end of the year.  Simultaneously, the moderate Senate and House working group refined their legislative framework, which they plan on releasing shortly.  Notably, the group decided to sever their framework into two parts. The first would contain items that both sides largely agree upon, like funding for schools, health care, and an additional round of PPP for businesses with significant COVID-19 related revenue losses.  The second would contain the outstanding issues that continue to divide Congress – namely, liability protections and state and local funding levels and parameters. While Senate and House Leadership are negotiating a package separate from the moderate working group, the working group’s decision to sever the framework could help galvanize Congress to pass what they can before the end of the year. 

Click here to view the proposal to support businesses. Click here to view the proposal to support State and local governments.

The National Restaurant Association is still analyzing these proposals, particularly the liability pieces.  In regards to a second round of PPP, restaurants that meet a calendar quarter revenue loss threshold of 30%, when comparing a quarter of 2019 to 2020, may be eligible. Critically, this proposal would restore the tax deductible expenses for PPP recipients. Additional restaurant priorities include adding supplier, PPE, and other costs to the allowable forgivable expenses of PPP loans; an easing of the forgiveness process for certain loans; the allowance of certain 501(c) (6) entities that provide assistance to restaurants to participate; and the explicit inclusion of a per location carve out for restaurants.  This is a strong step in the right direction, but the National Restaurant Association continues to fight for key aspects proposed in their December 7 letter.  

We will provide you with updates on the status of a federal relief package as we learn more and continue to push for meaningful relief for restaurants at the federal level, as we know this is critical for the survival of our industry.

Tell Congress how important this relief is for our industry here.

Colorado Springs and El Paso County Sales Tax Relief Program for Local Restaurants

The City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County have proposed a joint Sales Tax Relief plan for restaurants that have experienced sales declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposals are still pending approval but hope to be approved by the end of the month or by January 2021.

If approved, the program will be limited to the General Fund portion of taxes for each organization (2% for the City and 1% for the County). Applicants will only apply once for both the City and the County’s tax relief program. To participate on both levels, restaurants must have incurred a greater than 5% loss from third quarter 2019 to third quarter 2020. The maximum rebate is $1,400 a month (or sales tax on up to $70,000 in sales). The City’s program will offer refunds on the taxes remitted on sales in November and December 2020 and January and February 2021. The County’s program offers refunds from July 2020 through February 2021.

COVID-19 UPDATE & Town Hall with Sonia Riggs and the CRA Government Affairs Team

Starting this Friday, November 18 at 9:30 a.m., join us for ongoing COVID-19 updates and town hall discussions with Sonia Riggs and the CRA Government Affairs team (Nick Hoover and Mollie Steinemann). Our team will spend ten minutes discussing our current efforts at all levels of government, give you important updates that will impact your business directly, and then open the floor to your questions, feedback, and comments. These meetings are for industry ONLY, and are off the record and not for attribution. We will not be publishing the recordings.

Join the Zoom meeting here (meeting ID: 886 0675 5876; passcode: 839705).

Talk to DiningOut! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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