Local Help for Federal Aid Measure

Apr 3, 2020

Billions in federal economic aid are on their way to Hawaii. And a locally-based payroll expert helped write some of the rules.

Three bills in Congress are designed to help the U.S. economy survive shutting down to prevent the spread of coronavirus. One, signed into law by President Trump on Friday, is the CARES Act, which includes $4 billion in relief for Hawaii and its counties. Another bill passed by Congress expands the Family and Medical Leave Act to offer employers payroll tax credit for providing paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work directly or indirectly because of the coronavirus.

Among the payroll experts giving guidance to Capitol Hill policymakers was Hawaii’s own Barron Guss, president and CEO of Hawaii professional employer organization Altres. He is also past chair of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations.

Said Guss, “The employer is the best link from the federal government to employees.”

Guss and other payroll experts helped to refine the legislation to provide the best benefits for employers with actual best practices in mind, details that career government officials wouldn’t have firsthand knowledge about. The final version of the payroll tax credit legislation passed and became law on March 18.

There are also relief loans coming, specifically to help small businesses make payroll. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz told Pacific Business News this week that he has been talking with local banks that provide such SBA loans to make sure they’re ready for their rollout today. Under the legislation, businesses can borrow up to two-and-a-half times their average monthly payroll expenses — and these loans will be 100% forgivable, said Schatz, provided they’re used only for payroll.