Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES)

Signed into law on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides support for individual taxpayers and businesses through direct stimulus payments, small-business loans and debt relief.

[fa icon="plus-square"] When is the CARES Act effective?

Signed into law on March 27, 2020, with several provisions commencing on that date and the Paycheck Protection Program opening to accept loan applications starting Friday, April 3, 2020 for eligible employers and Friday, April 10, 2020, for independent contractors and self-employed individuals. 

[fa icon="plus-square"] What does the CARES Act cover?

The CARES Act provides economic benefits to support both employees and employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides the following forms of economic relief and stimulus:


  • Deferred payment of the employer's portion of social security taxes for a period commencing March 27, 2020 and ending December 31, 2020. The first 50% of the deferred amounts will be due on December 31, 2021, and the remaining 50% on December 31, 2022. (Employers who apply for and receive Paycheck Protection Program loans are not eligible).
  • Employee retention credits for wages of employees retained during any business closure due to COVID-19. Credit can be up to $5,000 representing 50% of initial $10,000 to cover wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. Employers with 100 or less employees may count wages for all employees. Employers with 100 or more employees may only count furloughed workers who were paid. Businesses that had a COVID-19 related closure or a loss of 50% less cash receipts for the same period in the prior year due to COVID-19 are eligible. (Retention tax credits are not available to employers who receive PPP loans. Government and Self-Employed Individuals are also not eligible for this tax credit.)
  • Paycheck Protection Program loans that may be 100% forgiven if certain workforce and payroll level thresholds are met. Click Here to Access our PPP Resources and FAQs. 


  • Expansion of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for any employee eligible for Federal or State UI. This includes a waiver of standard waiting periods, increase of an additional $600 per week for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and an extension adding thirteen (13) additional weeks of benefits. Available through July 31, 2020. (Note: Will not affect Medicaid or CHIPs eligibility for employees. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments for employees will not be counted toward an employer's Unemployment Insurance account for Reimbursable Employers (i.e. non-profits who opt out of state unemployment programs).
  • Suspension of student loan garnishments from wages through September 30, 2020.
  • Direct payment of stimulus checks based on income and tax household members.
[fa icon="plus-square"] I was told that the $600 extra unemployment from the Federal CARES act is meant to bring employees up to the amount of their prior wages. Does the NH Employment Security office consider what an employee was making prior to a layoff?
It appears that every individual on unemployment will see a direct, $600 increase in their weekly benefit, funded by the Federal government, for up to 4 months. Since most states provide unemployment benefits that cover roughly 50% of what an employee formerly earned, this increase should bring most people up to their prior earning level. In some cases, they will likely earn more from unemployment than they did when they were working – for 4 months. For certain people who are used to making a fairly decent amount of money, the additional weekly benefit might still leave them a little short, but this is how the program will be working once the money is flowing.
[fa icon="plus-square"] If I reduce work hours for some or all my employees from 40 to 30, would they be eligible for unemployment benefits for the missing hours? If so, would they also be eligible for the extra $600 per week under the CARES Act?

Yes, partial unemployment is available to your employees. However, the amount of benefit they would receive depends on the weekly pay amount they are still receiving. NH Employment Security will work with the employee to determine how much of a partial unemployment benefit they will qualify for. The actual amount of the additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits from the federal government will be determined depending on the proportion of the total state unemployment benefit they could receive if they were 100% unemployed, and the amount of state unemployment benefit they are entitled to for partial unemployment. For instance, if an employee would receive $200 per week in partial unemployment and they could receive $400 per week if they were on total unemployment, they would get an additional $300 per week in unemployment (instead of the full $600).


[fa icon="plus-square"] We are interested in pursuing the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Is this tax credit a deferral?
This is a tax credit, not a deferral. However, the credit is only available during each calendar quarter where your organization is impacted by a state mandate related to COVID-19 and/or during any calendar quarter where your month to month revenues have declined by at least 50% compared to the same month last year.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Can we retroactively apply the Employee Retention Tax Credit to Q1 for the month of March?
Yes, the Employee Retention Tax Credit can be applied retroactive to March 13, 2020. This will be documented/reconciled on your Q2 Form 941 if applicable.

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