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Florida Realtors COVID-19 Update

Apr 17, 2020

Coronavirus Update via Florida Realtors Office of Public Policy

These continue to be surreal times for all of us, and I truly hope everyone is doing their best to protect not only their physical health, but their mental health as well. Our very own past president Christine Hansen, currently serving as NAR's 2020 Vice President of Advocacy, has a great video about self care (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/hPEVfJh7mSh4zA5jbJHl3A)  that I hope you check out. Its only about 3 minutes long and has some great tips for getting through these difficult times.

On the public policy front I have some important updates for you so let's jump right in.

New Executive Orders

Governor DeSantis issued a new executive order (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/IOxghcgtBNu1qxCfi221uw) that extends the current suspension of vacation rentals in Florida to April 30, 2020. We anticipated he would need to take this action given the continuing statewide stay-at-home-order and restrictions on travel.

Also, late yesterday, the governor issued an executive order (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/qQwlA2kNJIPcXPCUnGvb-Q) related to unemployment, which suspends the biweekly “actively seeking work” reporting requirement by claimants.

Unemployment Benefits

We continue to stay in touch with DEO and NAR regarding unemployment benefits for our members. The latest news regarding the situation is that DEO's secretary, Ken Lawson, is no longer handling the unemployment problem. That responsibility has been shifted to the Department of Management Services secretary, Johnathan Satter. Secretary Satter was initially brought in to help fix some of the glaring technological and workforce issues the system was experiencing. With the system now operating much more reliably, the governor has tasked him with addressing the remaining issues.

Additionally, after repeated conversations with DEO personnel, we are now advising our members to file for unemployment benefits through the state’s unemployment system, even though we know they will be denied. DEO says this is necessary on their end to establish state benefits ineligibility. Once the state deems them ineligible, they will then be able to apply separately for federal benefits, although that exact process is still being worked out. We recognize this is far from an ideal solution and we are continuing to urge DEO to streamline the process to prevent confusion and get people their benefits faster.

This new information is reflected in our comprehensive FAQ (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/9kBobyvA6zUkwTkixs6HXQ) on this topic so I encourage you to keep checking this page for new updates. Also, at the top of our main coronavirus page (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/ers8IraAiMruJJivIafigw) is a link to sign up for Florida Realtors daily newsletter. I suggest you do that if you haven’t already as we send out important news alerts through that system as well.

Financial Assistance/Loans

Given the state of the economy, it's no surprise that the emergency loans made available through the federal CARES Act and Florida's SBA Bridge Loan Program are extremely sought after. As an example, according to SBA statistics, as of April 13, 2020, Florida has more than 52,000 approved Payroll Protection Program loans totaling nearly $12.7 billion. That is an unprecedented number and it shows just how clearly businesses in the state are hurting.

Unfortunately, the state has exhausted the $50 million available for the SBA emergency bridge loan program and the federal government has exhausted the money available in the small business and payroll protection loans that were authorized through the CARES Act. We are coordinating with NAR to push the federal government for more money for these types of loan programs through a new federal relief package. We are also staying in contact with the governor’s office to see if additional loan funding is available through the state. More information about the federal loan situation can be found on SBA's coronavirus web page (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/9mLzKxAanEND3SiE6iPyfQ). 

IRS/Treasury Deadline Extensions

The IRS issued guidance that grants deadline relief for both 1031 like-kind exchanges and opportunity zone investments that are already underway. Both of these programs are designed to promote economic growth in communities, and NAR made the case that investors in these programs should not be harmed due to the effects of COVID-19.

  *   1031 Like-kind exchanges: If an investor has taken the first step of a like-kind exchange by selling the old property, and either the 45-day or the 180-day deadline falls between April 1 and July 15, the deadline has been extended to July 15.

  *   Opportunity Zones: If an investor who sold a capital asset planned to roll over the gain into an Opportunity Fund and the 180-day deadline to do so falls between April 1 and July 15, 2020, he or she can make the investment as late as July 15.

Also, sole proprietors who pay quarterly estimated taxes now have until July 15 to file their second quarter payment. As a result of an earlier IRS notice, first quarter estimated tax payments had already been extended to July 15. This means that any individual or corporation that has a quarterly estimated tax payment due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, can wait until July 15 to make that payment, without penalty.

NAR advocated heavily for these extensions since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and they should have a full analysis of this announcement today on their dedicated coronavirus page (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/KurYD7ultLTE0X5LGPnhHw).

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service extended more than 300 deadlines for tax filings, payments, and other requirements to July 15.

RESET Task Force

Florida Realtors has joined forces with associations from across Florida on a task force to Restore Economic Strength through Employment & Tourism (RESET). The task force will focus on policy recommendations and initiatives that will seek to help all Florida’s economy rebound from the effects of COVID-19. In addition to focusing on ways that Florida can restart and rebound the economy, the task force will provide recommendations and suggestions for resiliency for the impacted industries in the event of another pandemic or event that shutters the economy, similar to COVID-19.

 These, and many other topics can be found on our coronavirus website (https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/ers8IraAiMruJJivIafigw) so keep it bookmarked until this crisis is over. Most importantly, stay safe and stay healthy.