Seller Handbook

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Seller Handbook

COVID-19 Government Assistance Programs and Resources for US Sellers

Explore new and modified assistance programs available to sellers in the US thanks to direct action from the Etsy community.

By Etsy Staff Feb 3, 2021

Note: This page was updated to reflect new details on relief and direct assistance programs on February 3, 2021.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the Etsy community mobilized to encourage the United States federal government to include self-employed people and microbusinesses in COVID-19 relief programs. We sent multiple letters to Congress, published an op-ed, and over 35,000 Etsy sellers sent messages to Congress. And our efforts made a difference. Each of the COVID relief packages Congress has passed have included direct assistance to the self-employed and microbusinesses, and we’ve won many of the reforms to these programs that we pushed for.

Have you been able to access COVID relief in the US? We’d love it if you’d be willing to share your experience with us here.

Below is a summary of current COVID-19 relief programs and information on how to apply. We’ll continue to update this page as we learn more.

Please note that our goal is to update you on the current relief and direct assistance programs which we hope will be helpful in supporting your small business. This information is for educational purposes only and isn’t intended to provide, and should not be relied upon, for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult your financial, tax and/or legal advisors to understand how these benefits may impact your business based on the laws and financial regulations in your jurisdiction.

Unemployment Assistance

Self-employed individuals qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA). The PUA program was updated when Congress passed a new COVID Relief bill on December 21, 2020, and now provides up to 50 weeks of benefits. The bill also extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to March 14, 2021, and allows individuals receiving benefits as of March 14, 2021 to continue through April 5, 2021, as long as that individual has not reached the maximum number of weeks. The amount of benefits paid out will vary by state and are calculated based on the weekly benefit amounts (WBA) provided under a state’s unemployment insurance laws. Under the new COVID relief bill, the WBA may be supplemented by the additional unemployment compensation of $300/week, starting after December 26, 2020 and ending March 14, 2021, and allows individuals receiving benefits as of March 14, 2021 to continue through April 5, 2021, as long as that individual has not reached the maximum number of weeks. The new law also increases the number of weeks an individual may receive this supplement from 13 to 24 weeks. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is administered by the states, so you’ll need to contact your state unemployment assistance administrator to apply for benefits.

Stimulus Payments

The most recent COVID Relief bill provides a refundable tax credit in the amount of $600 per eligible family member. The credit is $600 per taxpayer ($1,200 for married filing jointly), in addition to $600 per qualifying child. The credit phases out starting at $75,000 of modified adjusted gross income ($112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married filing jointly) at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income. Learn more and check the status of past stimulus payments here.

Small Business Loans and Grants

The SBA reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on January 11, 2021 for First Draw PPP Loans, and on January 13, 2021 for Second Draw Loans. You can learn more and apply for a PPP loan through our partner, PayPal, here.

On December 21, 2020 Congress approved more than $900 billion in COVID relief aid, including roughly $300 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Through PPP, small businesses, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and the self-employed may apply for forgivable loans to cover costs incurred due to COVID-19. Loans will be dispersed on a first come, first serve basis, so it’s important to apply right away.

As with the first PPP program, eligible uses include payroll costs (including self-employment earnings), insurance premiums, mortgage, rent, and utility payments. Thanks in part to advocacy by the Etsy community, the new law improves PPP by expanding the types of expenses that are eligible for PPP loan use and forgiveness. New eligible expenses include:

  • operations expenditures such as software, cloud computing, and other human resources and accounting needs,
  • property damage costs due to public disturbances that are not covered by insurance,
  • supplier costs such as expenditures to a supplier pursuant to a contract, purchase order, or
  • order for goods in effect prior to taking out the loan that were essential to the recipient’s operations at the time at which the expenditure was made
  • supplier costs of perishable goods can be made before or during the life of the loan.
  • worker protection expenditure. Personal protective equipment and adaptive investments to help a loan recipient comply with federal health and safety guidelines or any equivalent State and local guidance related to COVID-19 during the period between March 1, 2020 and the end of the national emergency declaration.

The new program also includes a simplified loan forgiveness form for all loans under $150,000.

Finally, the program seeks to improve access to PPP loans for women and minorities by allocating dedicated funding to Minority Business Development Centers, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), minority-depository institutions (MDIs), and lenders in low-income communities. The law also preserves $15 billion of first loans and $25 billion of second loans for borrowers with 10 or fewer employees, and loans under $250,000.

The Etsy community advocated for these reforms throughout 2020, and we’re pleased to see many of our concerns were considered and addressed in the latest version of the program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued more information about the program here. You can learn more and apply for a PPP loan through our partner, PayPal, here.

Disclaimer: Etsy is not acting as a loan broker and this information is provided for educational purposes only. You can apply for any products linked on this page by visiting the website of that third party. Etsy has no involvement in any application submission, review, or approval, and does not receive any compensation for providing you information regarding such third-party products. Please consult your financial, tax and/or legal advisors to understand how this information may impact your business based on the laws and financial regulations in your jurisdiction.

Debt Deferral

The federal government has deferred payments for most types of debt backed by the federal government, including student loans, mortgages backed by the federal government, and SBA loans. It also suspended payments, evictions, and foreclosures for those with federally-backed mortgages, and allowed lenders and other businesses to let consumers affected by COVID-19 defer or suspend their debt payments or make partial payments from January 31, 2021 through 180 days after the coronavirus emergency ends.

Federal regulators have made it clear that if you receive a forbearance under the COVID relief bills, your mortgage servicer cannot require you to repay your skipped payments in a lump sum once the forbearance period ends.

On January 20, 2021, the Secretary of Education extended the suspension of loan payments, collections and interest on ED held student loans until September 30, 2021.

Tax Credits

The Families First and Coronavirus Relief Act created a refundable tax credit for self-employed people to cover the cost of paid leave (two weeks of sick time and up to 12 weeks to care for children whose schools have closed). Small businesses with employees may choose to take an Employee Retention Credit—a refundable tax credit up to $10,000 per employee—if you employ up to 100 people and experience a 50% decline or more in sales compared to the same quarter last year or you’re fully or partially closed due to COVID-19. You’re also eligible to defer the employer portion of payroll taxes or self-employment taxes until December 31, 2021. Keep in mind that businesses who take advantage of the payroll deferral or Employee Retention Credit will not be eligible for the SBA loans described above. More information regarding tax credits for the self-employed can be found here.

Artist Relief Fund: A coalition of national arts grantmakers announced the creation of an emergency initiative to offer financial and informational resources to artists and creative workers across the United States. The Artist Relief fund will distribute $5,000 grants to artists affected by COVID-19. More information on eligibility criteria can be found here.

State initiatives: States and local governments are also rolling out support for small businesses and the self-employed every day. The small business educators at Alice have compiled a detailed overview of these resources here. Check back often to see what may be available in your state.

Looking for information on COVID-19 assistance programs and resources available in a different country? You can also learn more about assistance programs and resources in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Canada.

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