California Gives Small Businesses Tax Extension Amid Pandemic

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A boy rides his bike passed a supportive sign posted on a storefront in San Francisco, California on April, 1, 2020, during the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Small businesses in California will have an extra year to pay up to $50,000 in sales and use taxes to the state. The extension applies to businesses with less than $5 million in taxable sales.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the reprieve during his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday. Under the program, small businesses that qualify would be able to sign for for a 12-month, interest-free payment plan.

Newsom said nearly half of all California private-sector workers are employed by small businesses.

“People that make a go of it, put everything on the line, take risks in ways large and small," he said. "So often we take them for granted, even in the best of times. Right now, they have been devastated.”

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Last Monday, Newsom signed an executive order extending the tax filing deadline until the end for July for businesses filing a return for less than $1 million.

Newsom encouraged small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to apply for new federal loans available for up to $10 million. But, he said the state will also allocate $50 million for loans to businesses that don’t qualify for federal help.

"It's an additional contribution for the state to address those that may otherwise fall through the cracks," Newsom said.

Interested taxpayers can learn more about the program here or by calling 1-800-400-7115.

Additionally, local governments have stepped in to help out small businesses as well. On Tuesday, the city of Oakland announced the availability of emergency grants for some small business owners to cover losses associated with COVID-19.

The grants, which are being prioritized for low-income small business owners, can be used to pay rent, utilities, worker payroll, outstanding debt and other immediate operational costs.

San Francisco city officials also announced a $10 million small business relief fund. With those dollars, the city is committing $9 million to launch a zero-interest loan fund and $1 million to expand the COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund.

"The shelter-in-place order — while absolutely essential for public health — has businesses scrambling to figure out how to stay afloat. San Francisco small businesses employ hundreds of thousands of workers. They are the lifeblood of our economy and the soul of our neighborhoods. We can’t let them go under,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen in the press release.

The governor also signed an executive order Thursday prohibiting water agencies from shutting off service to residents and small business who have been unable to pay their bills because of coronavirus-related circumstances.