News Brief & Legal Updates on Pandemic Relief | Acentria Insurance

News Brief & Legal Updates on Pandemic Relief

News Brief provided by Acentria Insurance

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Pandemic Relief
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order and three memorandums to address pandemic relief in response to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. After negotiations for a relief package between the White House and lawmakers collapsed, the executive actions are intended to extend pandemic unemployment benefits, student loan payment deferrals, eviction protections and payroll tax cuts.

Actions Address Unemployment Benefits
One of the memorandums signed is intended to extend federal unemployment benefits. This action is intended to create a new benefit of $400 per week into December—which is a decrease from the previous unemployment insurance of $600 per week. The $600 amount received approval in March and was scheduled to expire at the end of July. According to Trump, states will be responsible for covering 25% of costs, or $100 per week, per individual. Much of the workforce affected by COVID-19 has been reliant on unemployment benefits, which were scheduled to expire at the end of July. Congress and the White House had been negotiating a broader pandemic aid package, with unemployment benefits discussed as a core component. In the absence of an agreement, these actions were taken by Trump to address an extension for pandemic relief programs.

Student Loan Payments, Eviction Protections, Payroll Tax Cuts and Potential Challenges
Included in the series of executive actions was an executive order addressing renters and homeowners. According to the White House, this order, to the extent reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, aims to take lawful measures to prevent residential evictions and foreclosure resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19. One of the memorandums issued addresses student loan payment deferrals. Payments on federal loans were suspended through September, and Trump’s memorandum seeks to extend payments through the end of 2020. Lastly, Trump issued a memorandum deferring payroll tax obligations through 2020, advising the Treasury Department to allow employers to defer payments for the employee portions of specific payroll taxes. Generally, federal funding is controlled by Congress, leading to potential challenges for these executive actions.

Trump’s executive actions include one executive order and three memorandums. These actions intend to extend pandemic relief after an agreement on a relief package was not reached.

Stimulus Relief Efforts
These executive actions did not address stimulus checks. The U.S. Senate has brought bills forward with stimulus relief as part of a broader pandemic relief package. Discussions regarding stimulus checks may extend into August and September.

President Trump Orders Payroll Tax Deferment

On Aug. 8, 2020, President Donald J. Trump ordered the U.S. Department of Treasury (the Department) to defer collecting certain payroll taxes from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. Because the order is for a deferral, the unpaid taxes will need to be recouped at a later time, unless the Department can find an avenue to eliminate the obligation to pay the taxes.

Eligibility for Deferred Payroll Taxes
Under the order, employers will be able to defer taxes that help pay for Social Security and Medicare for individuals who receive less than $4,000 during any bi-weekly pay period (the equivalent of $104,000 per year) on a pre-tax basis. Affected taxes will be deferred without any penalties, interest, additional amount or addition to the tax. The White House’s position is that deferring this tax will alleviate the hardship of individuals affected by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Implementation Obstacles
Government agencies hold employers and payroll providers responsible for withholding an adequate amount of payroll taxes from their employees’ wages and compensation.
At this time, it is still unclear whether employers will opt to release the affected payroll taxes to eligible employees for two reasons:
1. Implementing changes in payroll processes and procedures is not always a quick or easy process—an obstacle aggravated by the fact that the Department has a scarce few weeks to issue guidance to implement this presidential directive; and
2. There is a possibility that the deferred taxes will need to be collected at a future date.

Important Next Steps for Employers

Agency Guidance
Employers should actively monitor upcoming guidance from the Department of Treasury.

Risk Assessment
Employers should balance the benefit of releasing affected taxes to eligible employees against the possibility of having to recoup those taxes later.

Review Payroll Processes
Employers should take time to evaluate now how quickly they can alter their payroll practices and procedures in case they decide to opt for this payroll tax deferral.

The Department of Treasury will stop collecting certain payroll taxes between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.

*This Legal Update is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. ©2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Rob Wagner

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Southwest Florida Region

Jason Cruse

Executive Vice President
Central Florida Sales

Mitch Weinstein

Partner

As partner of Acentria Insurance, Mitch plays an integral role in mergers & acquisitions. He focuses on seeking out strategic like-minded partners and agencies, across the southeastern United States, to partner and join the Acentria family.

Mitch has over 42 years of business leadership experience that ranges from law enforcement to the finance, healthcare and insurance industries. He was instrumental in developing the nation’s first “at-risk” managed care network for physical and occupational therapy serving the worker’s compensation industry. This network paved the way for a new managed care system, based on incentives.

Mitch is passionate about giving back to the youth of his community. He is an active supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Polk County and believes in helping all young people reach their full potential. He is also the founder of Fallen First Reserve which is a non-profit organization dedicated to financially assisting those family members of First Responders killed in the line of duty and military members killed in action. Mitch also serves on the board for Fund the First.

Mary Lawless

President & Chief Operating Officer

As President and Chief Operating Officer, Mary brings over three decades of industry expertise to Acentria Insurance. With a strong focus on Mergers & Acquisitions, Mary is passionate about partnering with new agencies and leaders to continue the overall upward growth of Acentria. She works in conjunction with the CEO to lead and deliver specialized sales products, services and industry leading capabilities while implementing business and sales strategies to the Acentria sales team and carrier partners. Mary has direct oversight of all operational leaders throughout the entire organizational footprint and is responsible for operational financials and budgets.

She empowers her team members and because of it, is well respected by her peers and those she leads. Since her time with Acentria, Mary’s leadership has contributed to the agency’s exponential growth from 15 to well over 50 locations, increasing employment to over 700 team members, across the southeastern United States. Due to her leadership and contributions to the insurance industry, she has been nationally recognized as one of Insurance Business America magazine’s Elite Women and serves as a valuable member on the Executive Committee for Foundation Risk Partners, Acentria’s parent company. Prior to joining Acentria Insurance, Mary led operations for another national broker. Throughout her tenure, she has held a variety of management positions in Personal Lines, Select Business and Employee Benefits. Mary specializes in agency operations, partnerships and acquisitions and is truly passionate about developing team members to become great leaders.

When not shaping the future industry leaders at Acentria Insurance, Mary enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, Pat and their family and friends.

Kendall McEachern

Co-Founder

Kendall was a fundamental part of Acentria Insurance. As a co-founder, he brought more than 30 years of industry expertise to Acentria, helping transform the organization into a leading insurance provider. Beloved by team members, carrier partners and clients, he oversaw more than 400,000 insured multi-family units with property values greater than $22 billion, and over four million square feet of commercial office space and real estate buildings. Kendall has received numerous industry awards to include being recognized as a National Top Producer and Agent of the Year by both Insurance Business America and Insurance Journal. Away from the office, he served as chairman for the American Heart Association, actively participated in his church and golfing, watching sports and spending time with his family. Kendall passed away in January of 2021, leaving a lasting legacy on Acentria’s culture, success, industry-wide reputation – and on all of us fortunate to have worked alongside him.

Liz Bevelacqua

Senior Vice President
Personal Lines Sales

Doreen Castro

Senior Vice President
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Jessica Davis

Senior Vice President
Marketing & Branding

Jackie Shaw

Senior Vice President
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Nathan Marks

Executive Vice President
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Alan Florez

Executive Vice President, National Sales

Alan leads new business growth strategies and expansion, guides the development of resources and training for Sales Producers and their partnerships with Carriers. With over 15 years of industry experience, Alan also leads the Acentria Public Risk divisions working with municipalities and government entities for their coverage needs. He was appointed to the Halifax Health Board of Commissioners December 2020 and also serves as an Executive Committee member for our parent company, Foundation Risk Partners.

Previously, Alan served as Governor Jeb Bush’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and Special Assistant. He is a former member of the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees and currently volunteers his time with the Florida Council of 100, Futures Foundation of Volusia County Schools and the Community Foundation of Flagler and Volusia. Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.

Brian Stanton

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Chris Tolland

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Luke Wolkers

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Eric Austin

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Alex Doberstein

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Teresa Fillmon

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Anne Kraus

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Kevin Mason

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

As Chief Executive Office of Acentria Insurance, Kevin focuses on developing insurance solutions that strengthen Acentria’s presence in the market and its commitment to client-relationships and exceptional service. With over 35 years of industry experience, he specializes in the overall growth of Acentria as is passionate about bringing new talent to the organization both organically and through mergers and acquisitions. Through his leadership and the support of the Executive Leadership team, Acentria Insurance instills a positive corporate culture which has led the agency in being recognized as a leader within our industry as a Top 100 Workplace, Employer of Choice, Best Agency to Work For and several other national and regional accolades.

Before co-founding Acentria Insurance, Kevin served as Branch Manager for another national broker. Kevin holds the prestigious title as an Agent of the Year and five-time National Top Producer. He is also a key member of the Foundation Risk Partners Executive Committee, which is the parent company of Acentria Insurance, while also serving as the National Director for Carrier Relations. In addition, Kevin oversees the Sales Leadership Council, which encompasses sales leaders across the entire FRP footprint in an effort to develop and refine shared resources while offering producer training and development programs.

Kevin received a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the University of West Florida. He is very active in his community and served over a decade on the Board of Directors of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and remains as a trustee, which funds over 14 children’s charities along the Florida Panhandle. He is also a member of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, Community Association Institute and Florida Association of Insurance Agents. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys golfing, tennis, boating and spending time with his wife Laura, and their children.