In the Aftermath of the Hurricanes, Business Owners Ask "Now What?"
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have caused enormous destruction and hardship in Texas and Florida. How do you begin the recovery process for your business and your employees? Here are a few tips and best practices to help you get started:
- Register for federal assistance with FEMA.
- Request extensions on bills due and loan payments, if needed.
- Contact your insurance agency about filing claims.
- Ask your bank about funding options (e.g., lines of credit, loans).
- Ask your payment processor about alternative and/or backup solutions.
- Contact your CPA, attorney, or payroll advisor to learn your obligations as an employer after a natural disaster, including but not limited to tax relief, unemployment compensation, wages, and leaves of absence.
- Beware of scams:
- When hiring a contractor or handyman, ask for references, licenses, and proof of insurance. Get contracts in writing and draw up a payment schedule. Do not pay with cash or in full up-front, and be wary of deeply discounted pricing.
- Ask to see badges and credentials of those claiming to be federal agents. Scammers may pose as government officials asking for financial and personal information, as well as money to assist with aid applications.
- Do not respond to unsolicited or robocalls about flood insurance. Scammers may advise you that your insurance premiums are past due and that you need to make immediate payment to maintain coverage.
- Are your employees struggling financially? Are they facing large, unexpected bills because of hurricane damage? Consider offering a financial wellness tool with an affordable source of credit for employees in financial distress.
- Need funds to cover the costs of rebuilding or restocking inventory? Small-business lenders, such as Biz2Credit, have lending options.
- If your company faces funding issues, or you can’t move money because of bank closures, contact your payroll company and ask about payroll processing options:
- You must pay your employees, but bank closures may have delayed your payroll, or you’ve lost your computer network. If you need to pay employees the same day you process payroll via direct deposit, same-day ACH (an electronic batch-processing system) can be useful.
- Consider offering paycards to your employees. During recovery from natural disasters or other emergencies, employees (even those without bank accounts) can receive earnings electronically, eliminating worries about receiving and cashing paper paychecks.
- Details about IRS tax relief for both businesses and individuals can be found at IRS News Release TX-2017-09 and IRS News Release IR 2017-150.
- The Small Business Administration also provides low-interest disaster loans to help small businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.
- The IRS has relaxed procedures and requirements for 401(k) loans and hardship distributions for employees and their families impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. To assist your employees with these urgent financial requests, plan administrators may refer to the IRS website for more information.
The work ahead may feel daunting. Business owners and homeowners face tremendous physical, emotional, and financial challenges in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Focus on one day at a time, and use every resource available to reassemble your lives. Paychex is here to help in any way we can.