COVID-19 Assistance for Small Businesses

The Comptroller’s office is partnering with the Texas Workforce Commission to provideinformation that may help small businesses navigate available resources.

As a small business employer, is there a way to avoid layoffs?

Yes. The Shared Work Program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. TWC developed this voluntary program to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business.

Shared Work allows employers to supplement employee wages lost due to reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits. It applies to units seeing work-hour reductions of at least 10 percent but not more than 40 percent; the reduction must affect at least 10 percent of the employees in that unit. Employees who qualify will receive both wages and Shared Work unemployment benefits.

Are resources available to assist in covering the cost of retaining employees?

Yes. The federal CARES ACT includes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers loans of up to $10 million for payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, etc. The federal government will forgive payments if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.

Program specifics:

  • PPP loan period: Feb. 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020.
  • Business must be in operation as of Feb. 15, 2020.
  • Business must have been harmed by COVID-19 between Feb. 15, 2020, and June 30, 2020.
  • Cash flow protection during emergency is available through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers;
  • If payroll is maintained during the emergency, the loans will be forgiven.

To find an approved vendor, visit the SBA website.

If your bank requests a franchise tax “Certificates of Account Status,” previously called “Certificates of Good Standing,” you can check your status and obtain a certificate at

Can you explain the other provisions included in the CARES ACT?

The CARES Act also includes the following unemployment insurance provisions:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance — a temporary program that provides payments to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (the self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency through Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations – provides payments to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through Dec. 31, 2020, in paying unemployment benefits.
  • Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits — provides an additional $600 weekly payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation — provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, 2020, to help those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available.

When will the $600 per week be available for Texans on unemployment?

TWC’s goal is to begin issuing payments in the week of April 13 and thereafter. An individual may be eligible for $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits available for W2-covered employees, self-employed workers and independent contractors. The application process for each is the same.

Does the CARES Act include provisions that affect taxes?

Yes, at the federal level. The CARES Act includes delays for payment of employer payroll taxes. The provision allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees.

While the CARES Act does not address state taxes, the following provisions that impact state taxes are in effect:

  • The date to file and pay 2020 Texas franchise tax reports has been extended to July 15, 2020, to be consistent with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Short-term payment agreements may be available for businesses struggling to pay the full amount of state sales taxes.
  • The 60-day deadline for businesses contesting audit results is temporarily suspended.

For more information, please contact the Texas Comptroller’s Enforcement Hotline at 800-252-8880 or go to our tax page.

Where can I receive small business training and counseling?

A variety of local organizations can assist with training and counseling, including:

  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
  • Women’s Business Centers (WBCs)
  • Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
  • Minority Business Development Agency Business Centers (MBDCs)

With the passage of the CARES Act, these resource partners will have additional funding and better support for small businesses regarding COVID-19. Counseling is free, and most training is low cost (SCORE is always free).

Does Texas have a program that covers the cost of training or upskilling?

Yes. The Texas Workforce Commission offers the Skills for Small Business Grant Program, designed to help small businesses train their workers without a financial burden.

The program targets private, for-profit businesses that employ at least one person and not more than 99. It pays tuition and fees of up to $1,800 for new employees and up to $900 for existing employees per 12-month period. Eligible employees must be full-time, W-2 workers; training providers include public community or technical colleges and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).

For more information, please email TWC.

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