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COVID-19 Response Center

Freed Maxick's commitment to you during the COVID-19 crisis.


As we are in the midst of a global pandemic, be assured that the health and well-being of our clients, team members, colleagues and their families are of utmost importance to us. As we are keenly aware of the acute challenges businesses and employers are facing in connection with the coronavirus outbreak, we have formed dedicated internal teams and resources to focus on the following areas:

  • Small business cash flow needs, including integration of the various Small Business Administration loan programs in the CARES Act with federal and state tax deferral programs;
  • Employer and employment needs, including integration with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act;
  • Individual needs, including individual rebates and retirement plan relief; and
  • Specialized industry response related to: Agribusiness, Healthcare, Non-profit, Real estate, Financial institutions, Manufacturing, wholesale, and distribution

This legislation is complex, evolving and will unfold over the next several weeks and months, but we are working constantly to be a resource for our clients and communities in this time of need to provide clear and concise guidance. Please reach out to your Freed Maxick engagement leader for more information and stay tuned for updates to this resource center. Contact us to discuss planning ideas applicable to your situation.

To learn more about how Freed Maxick is currently operating, click here for our remote workforce communication.

Latest COVID-19 News

Deferral of Employee Social Security Tax on Wages | Freed Maxick

This past weekend President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the Treasury Secretary to use his authority to defer the withholding, deposit and payment of the employee’s share of the…

Executive Order

This past weekend President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the Treasury Secretary to use his authority to defer the withholding, deposit and payment of the employee’s share of the 6.2-percent Social Security tax on wages.

The deferral would apply to wages or compensation paid during the period beginning September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

The deferral is only for employees whose biweekly, pre-tax pay is less than $4,000, or a similar amount where a different pay period applies. Amounts are to be deferred without any penalties, interest, additional amount or addition to the tax.

Currently this is a deferral only and not a forgiveness of the tax. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated that the deferral will not be mandatory, although this could raise a variety of other issues.

The memorandum orders the Treasury Secretary to issue guidance to implement the deferral. IRS guidance is expected to be issued soon.

Five Cybersecurity Questions Every CEO Needs to Ask Their Cybersecurity Team

You don’t necessarily need to get into the weeds of your cybersecurity program, but …. In previous blog posts, I have talked about the frenzied rush of companies to accommodate…

Employee Security

You don’t necessarily need to get into the weeds of your cybersecurity program, but ….

In previous blog posts, I have talked about the frenzied rush of companies to accommodate new workforce models that have a direct impact on cybersecurity. Now, more than ever before, cyberthieves are attempting to take advantage of your company’s IT systems, data and infrastructure amidst the chaos created by COVID-19.

The timing may be right for you to perform a review and update of your company’s cybersecurity plan, or if you do not have one, to move down this path.

Regardless, as a CEO or Executive Director, it’s prudent for you to have an understanding and awareness of your company’s cybersecurity defenses and the efficacy of those defenses.

Five Cybersecurity Questions Every CEO Should be Asking Their IT Team

As an executive, you don’t necessarily need to get into the weeds of your cybersecurity program to enable you to make smart, informed decisions, but you do need to have enough awareness and understanding of the key metrics of the program in order to prioritize efforts and commit appropriate resources.

FreedBlog1Here are five questions you should be asking your IT team to help you along this path:

1.) Does our Cybersecurity Action Plan accommodate all of our workforce models for onsite and remote work and include all of the pieces of your digital ecosystem, from networks to servers to laptops/desktops to handheld devices and more?

2.) Do we have adequate, clear reporting or access to a “cybersecurity dashboard” for our Executive Team showcasing the current state of our cyberdefenses using key security metrics; identifying high level critical threats, and pinpointing key remediation issues, activities and their implementation status?

3.) Do we know the organization’s status regarding the latest installation and implementation of cybersecurity related software updates and patches? Are we protected?

4.) Are all of our employees up to date with our company’s most recent cybersecurity policies, programs, education, training and awareness?

5.) Does our organization take the necessary steps to limit user access to only those applications, data and systems necessary for each employees’ own job responsibilities?

Additional Resources and Information from the Freed Maxick Cybersecurity Team

The timing is ideal for improving the strength and sophistication of your organization’s cybersecurity. At a minimum, we suggest a thorough assessment of your cybersecurity program. To this end, the Freed Maxick Cybersecurity Team is pleased to provide a complimentary assessment tool, “Assessing the Impact of Covid-19 on Your Cybersecurity” that’s designed to help executives and managers – particularly those without a deep IT background – understand the risks your organization faces.

Our Cybersecurity Team provides services to businesses of all sizes and types relative to monitoring, assessment and remediation of cybersecurity threats and incidents. We are particularly well suited to help you with your cybersecurity concerns and issues related to effects of Covid-19 upon your entire digital ecosystem.

To learn more about what we do and how we can help your for profit or not for profit organization, visit our website or contact Sam DeLucia, Senior Manager at 585.360.1405 or Samuel.delucia@freedmaxick.com.

Additional Loan Accommodations Related to COVID-19 | Freed Maxick

On August 3, 2020, the FFIEC issued a joint statement on additional loan accommodations for loans with accommodations that are expiring.  The statement reflects the opinion of the regulators that…

Loan Accomodations

On August 3, 2020, the FFIEC issued a joint statement on additional loan accommodations for loans with accommodations that are expiring. 

The statement reflects the opinion of the regulators that additional accommodations should be made wherever possible but should be done in a safe and sound manner. They are viewing loan accommodations as “positive actions.” Your financial institution should consider prudent accommodation options that are based on an understanding of the credit risk of the borrower; are consistent with applicable laws and regulations; and, that can ease cash flow pressures on affected borrowers, improve their capacity to service debt, and facilitate a financial institution’s ability to collect on its loans.

There are sections on prudent risk management, consumer protections, accounting and regulatory reporting and systems of internal control. I will leave the account mostly to the CPAs out there and briefly report on everything else.

If the accommodation was not granted under the terms of, and as part of the CARES Act (4013), this statement really doesn’t apply. Can you still provide an accommodation to a borrower that weathered the storm but is now in trouble? Yes, but make sure that the accommodation is truly COVID-19 related if you want the proper accounting treatment.

Regulators are very in tune with risk management, and start examinations by examining risk assessments and compliance management systems. Is your institution identifying, measuring and monitoring the credit risks of loans that received accommodations? You are the only ones that understand your specific contractual terms and covenants. Well-structured and sustainable accommodations are designed to prevent losses by both the borrower and the lender.

And don’t forget about the consumer. The statement is also positive on these accommodations, but highlights very strong consumer protections. Always be thinking about fair lending and disparate treatment and impact of your decisions. Be consistent and conspicuous with disclosures.

Additionally, ensure your institution is:

  • Providing additional accommodation options to borrowers that are affordable and sustainable;
  • Providing clear, conspicuous, and accurate communications and disclosures to inform the borrowers of the available options;
  • Providing such communications and disclosures in a timely manner, before the end of the accommodation period to allow adequate time for the borrower and financial institution to consider next steps, which may include payment deferral, loan modification, or loan extension, among other options;
  • Basing eligibility and payment terms on consistent analyses of borrowers’ (and, if applicable, guarantors’) financial condition and reasonable capacity to repay;
  • Ensuring policies and procedures reflect accommodation options offered by the financial institution and promote consistency with applicable laws and regulations, including fair lending laws;
  • Providing appropriate training to employees and other persons responsible for compliance and operational procedures related to any additional accommodation options, including customer service personnel;
  • Ensuring that risk monitoring, audit, and consumer complaint systems are adequate to evaluate compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures; and
  • Providing complete and accurate information to borrowers and subsequent servicers during loan transfers and ensuring post-transfer servicing is consistent with the agreement with the borrower and the borrower’s status at the time of transfer.

From an internal control perspective, ensure that accommodations are properly approved and servicing systems accurately consolidate balances, calculate required payments and process billing statements for the full range of potential repayment terms that exist once the accommodation periods end.

Additionally, make sure that personnel operating in this space are qualified and properly trained and that all documents are clear, accurate and timely and in accordance with policies and regulatory requirements.

See the entire statement at:

https://www.ffiec.gov/press/PDF/Statement_for_Loans_Nearing_the_End_of_Relief_Period.pdf

Remote Work Cybersecurity Best Practices | New Cybersecurity Threats

Using the NIST CSF Checklist to Assess the Cybersecurity of Your New Workforce Models For virtually all employers, business continuity and survival have become a function of trying to reorganize…

remote work security

Using the NIST CSF Checklist to Assess the Cybersecurity of Your New Workforce Models

FreedBlog1

For virtually all employers, business continuity and survival have become a function of trying to reorganize people and processes into new workforce models, using technology as a common denominator to maintain some semblance of normality.

Today, employees may spend their entire day working remotely from home, in the office in some sort of flexible arrangement relative to workhours or shifts, delivering forty hours a week onsite just like before the pandemic, or more likely, some combination of all of these models.

While this patchwork solution may be sufficient and functional, it has created opportunities for cyber-attackers who are having a field day exploiting new weaknesses in cyber defenses at all access points in new digital infrastructures and ecosystems arising out of a need to respond to COVID-19.

FreedBlog2For example, Cybersecurity Ventures, researchers and publishers covering the global cyber economy, and a trusted source for cybersecurity facts, figures, and statistics, say that cybercrime damage costs may double due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Interpol tells us that cybercriminals are attacking the computer networks and systems of individuals, businesses and even global organizations at a time when cyber defenses might be lowered due to the shift of focus on the health crisis. They cite three main threats that are increasing more than ever before: malicious domains, malware and ransomware.

While the news may appear bleak, you have opportunities to defend your company that go beyond those you used before the pandemic.

Using the NIST CSF Checklist to Assess Cyberthreats, Weaknesses Best Practices in the New Normal

There is a self-assessment tool you can employ to evaluate your cyber defenses, policies processes, procedures and technologies against the four different workforce models – the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF).

NIST SecurityThe NIST CSF is a collection of cybersecurity best practices, guidelines and industry standards that will facilitate your ability to communicate and discuss cybersecurity outcomes and activities across the firm from the executive level to employees and even vendors. At Freed Maxick, our Cybersecurity Team uses the NIST CSF to deliver a high-level, strategic view of the life cycle of our clients’ management of cybersecurity risks. It is an effective tool for providing a common language that allows staff at all levels within an organization—and at all points in a supply chain—to develop a shared understanding of their organization’s cybersecurity risks.

The NIST CSF is organized by five key function areas (Identify, Detect, Protect, Respond, and Recover) and further divided into 23 categories and 108 subcategories. Our guidance to organizations of all types and sizes is simple and direct: while in the past you may have used a checklist like NIST to assess an on-site/in office work model, today, you need to apply that same assessment and criteria against each of the different workforce models your organization may be using.

The Freed Maxick Cybersecurity Team is pleased to provide a complimentary assessment tool, “Assessing the Impact of Covid-19 on Your Cybersecurity” that’s designed to help executives and managers – particularly those without a deep IT background – understand the risks your organization faces. It’s the first step in a process that can save your organization from significant damage related to cybertheft.

You can get the free assessment tool here.

Additional Resources and Information from the Freed Maxick Cybersecurity Team

Freed Maxick’s Cybersecurity Team provides remote work cybersecurity best practices service to businesses of all sizes and types relative to monitoring, assessment and remediation of cybersecurity threats and incidents.

We are particularly well suited to help you with your cybersecurity concerns and issues related to effects of Covid-19 upon your entire digital ecosystem.

To learn more about what we do and how we can help your for profit or not for profit organization, visit our website or contact Sam DeLucia, Senior Manager at 585.360.1405 or Samuel.delucia@freedmaxick.com.

Federal Reserve Providing Greater Access to Credit for Nonprofit Organizations | Freed Maxick

Overview On Monday, June 15th, the Federal Reserve issued a press release announcing that it will be seeking public feedback on the proposed expansion of the Main Street Lending Program…

Fed Reserve

Overview

On Monday, June 15th, the Federal Reserve issued a press release announcing that it will be seeking public feedback on the proposed expansion of the Main Street Lending Program to nonprofit organizations. The proposed expansion would provide loans to small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations that were in good financial condition prior to the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the press release, the Federal Reserve released a summary of the proposed terms of the loan options, as well as first drafts of term sheets for public consultation. The period to submit feedback to the Federal Reserve ran through Monday, June 22nd.

 

On Friday, July 17th, the Federal Reserve issued a press release announcing that, based on the public feedback received, certain terms and conditions for participation in the Main Street Lending Program were amended for nonprofit organizations. Updated term sheets for the two loan options that are available to eligible nonprofit organizations were also released on the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s website (New Loan Facility; Expanded Loan Facility). For more information, download our latest whitepaper below.

Reopening Western New York – Webinar Series (Part 4) | Freed Maxick

In the final session of our four-part series, a panel of professionals from Bond, Schoeneck & King and Freed Maxick discussed some of the most common questions received from you,…

In the final session of our four-part series, a panel of professionals from Bond, Schoeneck & King and Freed Maxick discussed some of the most common questions received from you, the audience, throughout the webinar series, and provided insight on lessons learned throughout the phased reopening program.

The panel addressed:

  • Issues businesses are facing with managing risk and liability while reopening
  • Managing the new workplace, including issues with remote and on-site employees
  • Best practices in light of New York’s travel restrictions
  • Updates to the Paycheck Protection Program
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrmro7ZpYQc]

Panelists:

  • Julie Becht, Freed Maxick Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Jeff Crimmins, Freed Maxick Chief Information Officer
  • Bryan Donohue, Freed Maxick Chief Operating Officer
  • Raj Patel, Freed Maxick Audit Senior Manager
  • Riane Lafferty, Bond Attorney
  • Jay Organek, Bond Attorney
  • Peter Wiltenburg, Bond Attorney

To view the previous webinar recordings, please follow the links below.

Part 1: https://youtu.be/eF13GJBqsZA

Part 2: https://youtu.be/3sNXUNIgUNg

Part 3: https://youtu.be/3sNXUNIgUNg

Part 4: https://youtu.be/lrmro7ZpYQc

Assistance and Guidance from Freed Maxick

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The Freed Maxick COVID-19 Resource Center has a wealth of information and guidance on a wide range of topics related to tax relief and benefits, regulatory relief and benefits, and business continuity in the era of COVID-19. Click on the button to explore insights, observations and updates.

If you wish additional guidance, we are available to discuss your issues and concerns. Connect with us here or call Freed Maxick at 716.847.2651.

Please keep in mind that due to the quickly-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, you should always discuss changes with your Freed Maxick advisor or legal counsel.

New Federal and New York State Tax Benefits

Understanding the tax policy response to COVID-19

Tax relief policies at the federal, state and international levels are taking shape to help businesses recover from COVID-19 disruptions. Our COVID-19 Tax and Regulatory Relief resource center features the the most current information and analysis from our professionals, with the goal of addressing your immediate needs. From cash flow challenges to ensuring your employees are taken care of, Freed Maxick has provided these resources to help your business develop its response to the environment created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act) was signed into law late on March 18, 2020, soon after the Senate passed the amended House bill sent to the Senate on March 17, 2020.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Q&A

As provided under the legislation, the U.S. Department of Labor will be issuing implementing regulations. Additionally, as warranted, the Department will continue to provide compliance assistance to employers and employees on their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA.

CARES Act – Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. The CARES Act is a massive $2 trillion bill with an array of significant tax-saving provisions that impact both individuals and businesses and hopefully create needed cash flow. The CARES Act also could affect prior tax years.

CARES Act Provides Technical Amendment to Qualified Improvement Property

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) amended IRC section 168(k) to eliminate qualified improvement property (“QIP”) as a specific category of qualified property eligible for additional first-year depreciation known as “bonus depreciation."

Use of Retirement Funds Under the CARES Act

Section 2103, Special Rules for Use of Retirement Funds of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act” allows tax favored withdrawals from retirement plans and changes to loan provisions for those individuals directly impacted by COVID-19. Whether you are a Plan Administrator or a participant in a retirement plan it is important to understand these benefits.

The CARES Act: Elections Under Business Interest Limitation Rules Amended By IRS

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security “CARES” Act into law. The $2 trillion CARES Act contains an array of tax provisions designed to increase deductions that are available to businesses, and by doing so, generate cash flow during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

CARES Act: IRS Issues Guidance on Deferral of Employer Social Security Taxes

The recently enacted $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) contains a provision which allows employers to defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s share of Social Security taxes, as well as certain railroad retirement taxes. Now, the IRS has issued additional guidance clarifying this.

CARES Act Provides Added Value to Net Operating Losses (NOLs)

By now we have all heard about the various stimulus and relief packages deployed by the government aimed at providing economic and fiscal relief to businesses of all sizes as well as individuals facing hardships during this challenging time. Included in the CARES Act were several income tax provisions aimed at providing liquidity and relief, specifically the provisions regarding net operating losses (NOLs).

New Federal and New York State Business Relief Programs

Understanding your options

On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a $2 trillion stimulus package thought to be the largest in U.S. history.  The CARES Act expands or establishes multiple loan programs for qualifying businesses, including the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program, the expansion of the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s existing Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program and an additional program focused on mid-size businesses with 500-10,000 employees backed by $500 billion from the US Department of the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund to make loans, loan guarantees and other investments to provide liquidity to eligible businesses, states and municipalities.

Paycheck Protection Program

Click the link below to see all Freed Maxick content and insight related to the Paycheck Protection Program.

SBA Disaster Loan Program

In an effort to minimize economic impacts on small businesses resulting from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to small businesses in designated states and territories.

Federal Government Expands Access to Loans for Small and Midsize Businesses Under Title IV of the CARES Act

Under certain conditions and with appropriate certifications, your business may be eligible under the CARES Act to receive a loan through the federal government to help you through the Covid-19 crisis. Although funds under the Main Street Business Lending Program have not yet been distributed, guidance for borrowers has been issued in preparation for the funding flow to be initiated.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits in NYS Under the CARES Act

In response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, on March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus bill. The Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act – which is the unemployment insurance (UI) portion of the Act – provides enriched unemployment benefits to eligible claimants.

Federal Reserve Announces an Expansion of Scope and Eligibility of the Main Street Lending Program

On April 9th, the Federal Reserve provided details regarding actions they were taking to support small and mid-sized businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. One of these programs was the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP or the Program).

FASB Provides Guidance on COVID-19 Related Lease Concessions

With the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has received several questions from stakeholders about the application of Topics 840 and 842, Leases. Specifically, the inquiries pertain to the accounting and disclosure of new lease concessions in previously executed contracts, as a result of the pandemic.

Regulation Compliance Reliefs

What you need to know

COVID-19 is presenting challenges for many companies. To address these challenges, many regulators/agencies have issued orders, releases and statements which allow, subject to certain conditions, companies to take advantage of any applicable relief. Companies need to ensure they meet all applicable criteria and are in compliance with the requirements.  Companies also need to consider matters related to financial reporting.  Freed Maxick has provided the resources below help you address these concerns.

April 15, 2020 Due Date Information

The 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers who file and pay their Federal income taxes on April 15, 2020, are automatically extended until July 15, 2020. This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This relief is automatic, taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify.

Financial Statement Considerations

The effects of the coronavirus are evolving rapidly (hour-by-hour, day-by-day) and are unique for each entity's circumstances. The following is a high-level overview of a few matters related to financial reporting for consideration during this critical time.

New York State Tax Extension Update

New York has extended the April 15 due date to July 15, 2020, for personal income tax and corporation tax returns originally due April 15, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The extension applies to returns for individuals, fiduciaries, and corporations. In addition, taxpayers are allowed to defer all related tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.

Regulators and Agencies Extend Much-Needed Regulatory Relief to Businesses

COVID-19 is presenting challenges for many companies. To address these challenges, many regulators/agencies have issued orders, releases and statements which allow, subject to certain conditions, companies to take advantage of any applicable relief. Companies need to ensure they meet all applicable criteria and are in compliance with the requirements outlined below, as in many cases, extensions are not automatic.

IRS Extends More Tax Deadlines

To help taxpayers, the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced today that Notice 2020-23 extends additional key tax deadlines for individuals and businesses.

FASB Proposes Lease Standard Deferral

On April 8, 2020, the FASB issued a proposal to defer the effective date for ASU 2016-02, Leases, and its subsequent amendments. For private companies and private not-for-profits, the standard would be effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2021. For public not-for-profits (i.e. those that have issued, or are conduit bond obligors for, public debt) the standard would be effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019, so long as the entity has not yet issued financial statements.

Industry Updates

Industry specific direction and guidance

Financial Institutions

Click the link below to find Financial Institutions related COVID content.

Healthcare

Click the link below to find Healthcare related COVID content.

Higher Education

Click the link below to find Higher Education related COVID content.

Non-Profit

Click the link below to find Non-Profit related COVID content.

Real Estate

Click the link below to find Real Estate related COVID content.

Business Continuity in the COVID-19 Environment

Business Continuity in the COVID-19 Environment

To ensure business continuity it is important to react quickly to mitigate impacts and other risks and to prepare the organization for the further disruptions related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Managing business continuity includes concerns around infrastructure, cybersecurity, remote employees, business, operational and communication risks, with the aim of managing an organization through new challenges and risks while maintaining continuity of operations and production.

Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

On March 17, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the “Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency.” This notification provided guidance on the use of video conferencing technologies to provide telehealth services to a health care providers patients, and communicates the OCR’s official stance on the issue as the country continues to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why is Privileged Access Management Important for Your Organization?

With evolving and steadily increasing cyber-attacks, many organizations are not taking steps to stop the abuse of privileged credentials. A recent survey from Centrify, a privileged access management (PAM) company, suggested that of the 1,000 IT decision makers surveyed in the U.S. and U.K., 74% of breaches involved access to a privileged account.

Adapting to a Remote Work Environment

For much of the workforce, life has changed drastically over the past few weeks. The combination of school closings and mandatory work from home orders can have a significant impact on your ability to stay focused and productive. We have put together some suggestions to help you adjust to your new normal. Ultimately, we are all a bit different and you have to find what works best for you, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.