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What to know about operating your business from home during COVID-19By: Bankrate.com
October 2, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States, many business owners, including hairstylists, personal trainers and even clothing retailers are working from home.

The pandemic has forced some entrepreneurs like Joyce McNally, an Atlanta-based coach and owner of Say ‘YES’ Fitness, to adjust their business models.

“I’ve discovered that I love working from home. I set up classes in my living room and don’t have to travel,” says McNally, who began offering virtual classes and personalized training plans for clients earlier this year.

4 tips to safely run your business from home

If you’re among those who are running your business from home, there are a number of steps to take to ensure you’re protecting yourself and your visitors. You’ll also want to consider any insurance needs and make sure you’re following regulations.

If you find yourself working from home or operating a business from your residence, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Seek help from those who understand your business

Businesses are as diverse as the products and services they offer — from graphic design and artists to personal chefs and developers. The needs of each kind of business will vary.

“First, you should evaluate your risks,” says Scott Holeman, director of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute (III). “If you’re a home-based accountant, your risks are much different than if you operate a day care.”

It might make sense to work with an expert such as an insurance agent or regulatory specialist to identify potential areas of risk.

If your industry has a national board or association, it can be a good resource for understanding new regulations and best practices. When McNally started promoting her training business, she began taking classes with The Talent Hack, an online network of fitness professionals. Through a digital business accelerator course, she received expert coaching on brand building as well as legal and financial precautions to take. Seeking like-minded professionals can help you uncover blind spots in your business.

2. Take precautions to protect yourself and visitors

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to maintain a physical distance of six feet between people. If you are operating your business from a home, prevent groups of employees or customers from gathering, and organize the layout to allow people to remain six feet apart.

The CDC also recommends regular and thorough hand washing (or using hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable). If you’re welcoming employees or clients to your home, make sure you have the proper hygiene products available.

If you have clients or customers visiting your home, you may choose to implement similar protocols as larger, public businesses.

These may include:

  • Asking visitors if they’ve had any COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus. The CDC says that symptoms may include fever, cough, muscle aches, fatigue and more.
  • Temperature checks upon arrival. According to the CDC, someone with a fever equal to or higher than 100.4 degrees should not be allowed to enter your home.
  • Wearing a mask and asking visitors to do the same. The CDC issued recommendations for mask-wearing in July 2020.
  • Adjusting your cleaning checklist. The CDC offers tips for what products to use, how frequently certain surfaces should be cleaned and more.

Should someone report fever or other symptoms, have a protocol prepared. If the temperature check and inquiry about symptoms happen before entering, the protocol may be simply asking them to come back another time.

3. Check your insurance coverage

Research and evaluate your insurance coverage before beginning to offer services from home.

“Whether you’re running a part-time, seasonal or full-time business from your home, you should carefully consider your risks and insurance needs. Having the right insurance can provide a financial safety net and peace of mind,” Holeman says.

Since homeowners or renters insurance may not be sufficient, Holeman says to “consider adding an endorsement to your homeowners policy or consider a stand-alone home-based business insurance policy.”

Here are some tips from Holeman to keep in mind when evaluating your coverage.

  • Equipment and inventory: “Know the value of your business property. You’ll need insurance to protect from loss due to theft, fire or other insured peril.” Items covered might include items such as computers, products, inventory and more.
  • Liability coverage: This would protect you if someone is injured while visiting your home workplace.
  • Coverage for employees and contractors: If your workers visit your home, “your homeowners insurance may provide some protection, but it may not be sufficient. Consider adding an endorsement to your homeowners policy or consider a stand-alone home-based business insurance policy.” You might also need to purchase workers compensation insurance. “In some states, workers compensation insurance is mandatory, so be sure to check your state’s workers compensation website for local requirements.”
  • Auto insurance: If you’re using your personal automobile primarily for business, or if your business owns vehicles, you’ll need business vehicle insurance.

4. Comply with all regulations

It’s important to educate yourself about your state and local ordinances and stay up to date with all regulations to make sure you are operating your business accordingly. Many states and municipalities regularly update information on their websites to keep residents informed.

For example, San Francisco has a page on its website dedicated to current COVID-19 regulations and recommendations.

It helps local businesses identify if they are allowed to operate from home or for workers to be in other people’s homes. For instance, in-home services such as housekeeping, personal chefs and maintenance are allowed if they’re able to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet, and certain non-contact group fitness classes can happen outdoors with mask-wearing and a limited number of participants.

The situation continues to develop, so it’s important to check frequently to make sure your business complies with all current regulations.

The bottom line

Operating a business requires near-constant diligence to make sure you’re optimizing your success, complying with local, state and federal regulations and keeping yourself, your employees and your customers as safe as possible.

While the current COVID-19 pandemic can make those goals more complicated, by leveraging these and other resources, it’s possible to succeed even during current challenges.

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You make the callBy: NATP Research
October 1, 2020

Question: Justine has a 401(k) plan loan with her employer and recently was diagnosed with COVID-19. She has never missed a required payment before and is concerned that she will not be able to afford to make her weekly payments due to being off work. Can she request a forbearance on her required payment due to being impacted by COVID-19?

Answer: Justine will not only have 14 days to suspend the loan repayment, the plan loan will receive an automatic repayment delay of one year. This treatment is only applicable if the employee, spouse or dependent has been impacted or affected by COVID-19. Had she had the plan loan and not contracted COVID-19, she would still be liable for the repayment.

Delayed repayment of plan loans: Affected participants who have a payment on a plan loan due between the date of enactment and Dec. 31, 2020 (the “grace period”), will be able to receive a one-year extension. The five-year mandatory repayment period that applies to most plan loans is suspended for the duration of the grace period. The CARES Act provides that the subsequent loan payments will be “appropriately adjusted” to reflect a one-year extension and any interest which accrues during the one-year extension.

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Credit Card Processing: why contactless payments are in demandBy: EPS Financial
September 28, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our normal routines and has made a significant impact on consumers’ expectations and the way they interact with businesses.

To thrive during these difficult times and emerge from the pandemic successfully, businesses must learn and understand the new habits of consumers and why they are choosing them. Consumers are looking for a seamless experience and the merging of physical and digital interactions. It is critical for businesses to implement changes to survive.

During lockdown, we became accustomed to using technology to maintain our professional and personal connections. With an explosion of consumers shopping online, and the use of contactless cards and digital wallets, businesses must show customers that they can adapt and meet their demands.

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E-commerce capability has now become a must-have feature to maintain the well-being and safety of customers and staff. With the decline of in-store sales, many businesses offered their products and services online and were able to stay in business and remain successful. However, small or older traditional businesses that did not use contactless payments, suddenly needed to adapt.

Below are some of the ways the payments industry has been affected by the pandemic crisis:

  • Quantities, what and how people are buying have been altered by COVID-19
  • The way consumers shop has also changed significantly
  • There has been unprecedented growth in online transaction volumes
  • Use of cash and paper checks is decreasing to limit spread of the virus

COVID-19 has placed the emphasis on digital and contactless payments. With consumer demand changing, businesses need to act now to meet and exceed customer expectations.


How can EPS Financial help?

Our Merchant Services programs are built for the tax professional with multiple programs to choose from and no long-term commitments. We offer flexible rates and pricing to fit your business needs as well as secure desktop, mobile and hardware processing options to keep you and your customers safe.

Visit www.EPSPayments.net for more information.

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You make the callBy: NATP Research
September 24, 2020

Question: Due to a medical condition during 2020, Scarlet’s doctor advised her to use a specific type of menstrual product but did not issue Scarlet a prescription. May Scarlet pay for the non-prescribed menstrual product with her qualified HSA funds?

Answer: Yes. Effective after Dec. 31, 2019, the CARES Act changed the HSA rules for expenses incurred and amounts paid for tax-free distributions from an HSA. The Act both repealed the prescription requirement for over-the-counter medicine or drugs and updated the definition of qualified medical expenses. For HSA purposes, amounts paid for menstrual care products shall now be treated as paid for medical care and thus a qualified medical expense [§223(d)(2)(A)]. Menstrual care products are defined as a tampon, pad, liner, cup, sponge or similar product used by individuals with respect to menstruation or other genital-tract secretions [§223(d)(2)(D) as amended by Act Sec. 3702(a)(2)].

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Help your client with bankruptcy and repossession issuesBy: National Association of Tax Professionals
September 21, 2020

In recent months, the U.S. has seen an influx of companies declaring bankruptcy, most citing COVID-19 as part of the problem. While many businesses may have been in trouble before the government-ordered shutdowns nationwide, the pandemic has dug many companies into the ground. Now, more than ever, people are in need of resources that will help them through this difficult transition.

NATP is here to help. It’s important for tax professionals to become familiar with the tax obligations of their clients for those choosing bankruptcy and foreclosure. We offer some educational webinars discussing topics specific to these situations:

  • Repossession, Debt Restructuring, and Cancellation on-demand webinar
    Description: With the massive economic impact of the COVID-19 shut-downs, this webinar is intended as a refresher to the basic economic and tax issues of foreclosures, repossessions, and debt cancellation. Most of the issues will be considered from both the borrower and lender perspective.

  • Tax Aspects of Bankruptcy on-demand webinar
    Description: With the massive economic impact of COVID-19, this course will prepare tax professionals to better advise their client(s) on bankruptcy and insolvency issues. Including to identify tax debts that can or cannot be discharged by bankruptcy and the client’s tax filing responsibility.

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Additional Articles

Don’t Miss the Oct. 15th Tax Extension DeadlineOctober 6, 2020
A tax checklist for newly married couplesOctober 5, 2020
What to know about operating your business from home during COVID-19October 2, 2020
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