Update from Senator Lela Alston, LD 24

Published on 05/03/2020 • Posted in

Wednesday April 29, 2020

Dear Friends,

Today’s COVID-19 Update addresses an issue that many homeowners and business owners are confronting—the May 1, 2020 property tax payment! Several people have reached out to me, asking if the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office (Treasurer’s Office) would consider delaying the due date of property taxes, given the pandemic. The Treasurer’s Office and the Arizona Association of Counties (AZ Counties) support a penalty waiver and/or payment delay for those unable to make their property tax payments due to COVID-19. The entire Arizona Senate Democratic Caucus also support this and have discussed this with the Governor’s Office. The Governor’s Office states that this must be done through the legislature and not through an Executive Order. The Arizona AZ Counties explained the dilemma perfectly in their email to legislators yesterday and I have included in today’s update for all to see. I support AZ Counties’ proposal to waive the penalty fee on tax payments made between May 1 and June 1, as do all Senate Democratic Caucus Members and the efforts of the Treasurer’s Office.

The Treasurer’s Office is encouraging the Arizona Legislature to amend legislation to allow delayed payments on property taxes before the 2020 legislative session ends (Sine Die). The Treasurer’s Office did find a way to provide relief without outside approval, through the business personal property tax provision. This allows county treasurers to set up a payment play with business that have $1,000.00 or more in taxes due on their equipment. Businesses can apply for the August 1 extension to their personal property taxes by either going to https://treasurer.maricopa.gov/ResearchRequest/Index/ or waiting for a letter that will arrive soon from the Treasurer’s Office that explains your business is eligible for the program. Unfortunately, the Treasurer’s Office is unable to do anything about residential and business property taxes without help from the Legislature or the Governor’s Office.

Attached to this email you will find AZ Counties 1-page explanation of their proposal for property tax relief for homeowners and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Tuesday April 28, 2020

Good morning Sen. Alston,

I am writing to you to ask if you would support a one-month waiver on the penalty for delinquent property taxes because of the COVID19 crisis. Our County Treasurers from all 15 counties are asking for the interest penalty to be waived from Tuesday April 28, 2020

when it would normally occur on May 1 to June 1.

We had been told by many legislators that they liked the idea when we brought this up during the budget discussions in mid-March but wanted to wait to see if the crisis continued into May. Unfortunately, we have continued to have to struggle with the pandemic and its economic consequences throughout April and likely into the coming months. For many Arizonans, this means their income has been frozen or dramatically reduced and they are awaiting aid from federal programs to kick in.

During this time, County Treasurers do NOT have the authority to waive the interest or penalties (A.R.S. 42-18053) even if the individual or business’s revenue has been frozen for a month and a half now. That is why we are asking for a one-time legislative solution to override A.R.S. 42-18052 to move the interest penalty date to June 1 for this year or a similar executive order. The Department of Revenue’s Director had been authorized to provide similar relief to individual income tax payers under A.R.S. 42-2079 and we ask you to recognize that if an individual can’t pay their taxes while their livelihood has been stopped by the government to prevent the spread of a fatal disease, a penalty won’t encourage them to spend money they don’t have during this act of God event.

We have been fortunate that so far property tax collections in our counties have mirrored their prior year collections. But we do want to address that if there is a cash flow problem for any of our local taxing jurisdictions, the County Treasurers have the ability to invest in registered warrants to provide cash to these tax jurisdictions at low or no interest. Much like the state budget, we have many budgetary tools that we in fact used before the crisis as well to keep taxing jurisdictions afloat even if they slip into the red briefly. County Treasurers additionally have reserves and investments that were built to give us additional flexibility in preparation for an economic downturn. A singular month’s delay on a penalty that will not incentivize individuals who do not have any income to pay their property taxes will not create a dramatic revenue shortfall.

We have been working hard daily throughout the crisis looking toward providing relief like 13 other States did back at the start of April alone on property tax deadlines and 16 additional States did by extending relief program deadlines that are far more generous than what we have. We humbly ask for your support to pass a one-time extension of the second half property tax delinquency deadline to June 1 by the legislature or the Governor.

Thank you for your time,

Arizona Association of Counties

Small Business Association (SBA) Updates

The Arizona Senate Democratic Caucus is fortunate to have a talented team of Policy Advisors who provide us with the latest COVID-19 updates. Below is the latest information affecting our small businesses.

  1. Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
    1. The SBA is no longer accepting EIDL applications. Noteworthy: if an applicant has an application that begins with the No. 3, the application remains in queue and may be funded—based upon a first come, first serve allocation of the additional $60B.
    2. As of April 24, 2020, the SBA has funded 1,192,519 EIDL Advances (forgivable loans) totaling $4.8B; of which 21,966 were in Arizona, totaling $91,610,000. See state by state figures in SBA National COVID19 EIDL Advances Report.
    3. As of April 24, 2020, the SBA has approved a total of 38,984 EIDL loans nationwide, totaling $7.9B; of which 645 were in Arizona, totaling $139,672,400. See state by state figures in SBA National COVID19 EIDL Loans Report.
  1. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
    1. The SBA has provided an updated list of lenders who are accepting PPP applications, by state. See SBA Updated National PPP Participating Lenders.
    2. Additionally, Chicanos por la Causa (CPLC) is accepting PPP applications:
      English: https://www.prestamosloans.org/ppp/
      Spanish: https://www.prestamosloans.org/es/ppp/
  1. Small Business CARES Act Application Resources for Arizona Business Owners
    1. Arizona Commerce Authority has a Small Business Assistance Program staffed with a small business team ready to assist Arizona small business owners with CARES Act information and business support. Apply here.
    2. In an effort to increase accessibility to CARES Act relief funding and the probability of small business survival in Arizona, The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Commerce Authority, and the Arizona Small Business Association have created the CARES Act Readiness Program for Small BusinessesAn educational online CARES Act course for new borrowers (22 modules) or experienced borrows (8 modules), available in English and Spanish. Upon completion of the course, Arizona Small business owners receive a certificate and a special access code with instructions to connect with a live business advisor and that will assist with a successful completion and submission of their loan application.

Intuit Supports Small Businesses & Consumers

Intuit has launched three new offerings – Intuit Aid AssistQuickBooks Capital for Paycheck Protection Program and TurboTax Stimulus Registration – to help consumers and small businesses better understand and potentially access billions of dollars through the recently passed federal aid and relief programs.

Intuit has applied its artificial intelligence and rapid innovation capabilities to help Americans navigate these offerings and get access to the money they need quickly.

  • Intuit Aid Assist – a free website with an interactive tool to help small business owners and the self-employed in the U.S. assess potential eligibility for financial relief under the CARES Act, along with a calculator that will help estimate how much they qualify for and how much of a potential loan will be forgiven.  Intuit Aid Assist takes the complexity of hundreds of pages of the CARES Act and converts it into an easy-to-understand interview that provides answers to the most pressing questions on small business owners’ minds: What relief am I eligible for? How much of a loan can I get? How much of my loan may be forgiven so I don’t have to repay it?  The interactive tool assesses eligibility, estimates loan amounts, delivers a personalized recommendation and, for qualified small businesses and other eligible applicants, provides links to help them take the next step of applying for a loan. Intuit Aid Assist supports both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) relief programs.
  • QuickBooks Capital – QuickBooks Capital is a non-bank SBA-approved lender for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). QuickBooks Capital will be able to simplify, automate and expedite the PPP application process.  The product will assist applicants in determining eligibility and automating much of the application process, then facilitate the federal relief application process and, in coordination with the Small Business Administration, disburse PPP funds, allowing quick access to relief.
  • TurboTax Stimulus Registration – a free product designed to help the more than 10 million Americans not required to file a tax return get their stimulus money fast.  On April 3rd, TurboTax launched the Stimulus Registration product to help millions easily file a minimum tax return with the IRS, which has the information needed to determine their stimulus eligibility. Users simply answer a few questions and then choose to receive their payment via direct deposit or check.

Arizona Tourism Affects Us All

 Arizona’s spring tourism has been drastically affected by COVID-19. Spring Training, various exhibits and events that our state is famous for have all been cancelled. The attached letter from Kim Sabow, President & CEO of Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association (AZLTA), to Governor Ducey outlines the concerns of the tourism industry. ALTA supports deferring the May 1 property taxes for hotels, along with the need for new ways of working and protecting guests and workers, once hotels and resorts have re-opened. Tourism is an important part of our economy; it also provides the nation and the world with a glimpse into the wonderful things our state offers to visitors. The recovery and health of our tourism industry is important to us all!

Carol Parson, Owner of Blue Willo Catering—LD 24 Hero of the Week

Carol Parson is the owner of Blue Willo Catering and specializes in school lunches. She started her company in the Willo neighborhood of mid-town Phoenix and expanded after purchasing an old restaurant building on 24th St., just north of Thomas Road. When COVID-19 hit and schools closed, Carol’s business experienced a drastic decline.

Carol contacted my office last week concerning her May 1 property tax bill—almost $10,000.00—because she was informed by the Governor’s Office that the property tax payment schedule could only be changed by the legislature. Carol knows that the Senate Democratic Caucus, the County Treasurer’s Office and AZ Counties all support waiving the penalty fee for late payments or extending the deadline to later in the summer. I remain hopeful that a resolution can be found either through the legislature or through an executive order.

Carol’s situation also came to the attention of 3TV and you can view the segment by clicking on this link: https://www.azfamily.com/news/continuing_coverage/coronavirus_coverage/struggling-businesses-brace-for-arizona-property-tax-deadline/article_c38e9074-85c3-11ea-b185-37dbe8c22eaf.html

Carol is a small business owner who provides a valuable service to communities and schools. Carol brought the attention to her issue and that of others to the attention of the Arizona Legislature, the County Treasurer’s Office, the Office of the Governor and the media. She is our LD 24 COVID-19 Hero of the Week for advocating for her own business as well as others.

Final Thoughts

At the time of this writing, the date of the Legislature’s return to the Capitol has not been confirmed. It could be May 1, or later in May. It has also not been decided whether the Legislature will convene, immediately Sine Die, then return later to work on bills that address the needs that COVID-19 has created; the other proposal is for the Legislature to return and work on various bills—not necessarily those addressing COVID-19. We hope to have a final confirmation of our return date and I will keep you posted as that news becomes available.

I leave you today with a powerful photo from the Monday April 20, 2020 rally at the AZ Capitol. About 500 people gathered to protest the state-wide shut down due to COVID-19, the wearing of masks and social distancing. This group of nurses stood in support of the shut-down, wearing masks and working together to level the spread of COVID-19. Thank you to all nurses and medical professionals who risk their own health, for ours.

Arizona currently has 7, 202 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase in 254 cases from yesterday. 302 Arizonans have lost their life to this disease. www.arizonatogether.org continues to be a good link for updated information and resources pertaining to COVID-19. Should you have any problems reaching an agency, or need additional information please contact me at lalston@azleg.gov.

Please stay safe, stay healthy and stay engaged.

Lela Alston

LD 24 State Senator