Sole-Proprietors and Contractors

We understand that sole proprietors, contractors, gig workers, and artists often have unique needs and financial situations, and that some resources aren’t always available to them. As such, we have compiled a detailed list of available tools. Note that unemployment insurance and forgivable SBA loans are currently available to most workers in these categories.

As always, carefully document your business impacts! It helps when you apply for federal, state, or local relief programs.

Utilities

Utilities providers are generally not disconnecting service for non-payment at this time. Additionally, many are temporarily waiving late fees for non-payment. In general, we recommend reaching out proactively to your utilities providers if you may miss a payment.

  • Puget Sound Energy is not disconnecting utility service for non-payment at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving late fees for non-payment. It will work with customers on options like payment plans and bill extensions.
  • Comcast Xfinity is not disconnecting internet service or assessing late fees at this time. Eligible customers can get more information and contact Comcast.
  • CenturyLink is not disconnecting internet service or assessing late fees at this time. Eligible customers can get more information and contact CenturyLink.
  • T-Mobile is not disconnecting small business customers due to inability to pay at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving any late fees that small business customers incur due to the COVID-19 situation. Eligible customers can find more information from T-Mobile.
Taxes

Several local jurisdictions are deferring B&O taxes in some way, and/or offering payment plans for certain small businesses and nonprofits.

  • Bellevue: Will defer Q1 and Q2 local business and occupation (B&O) tax payments for certain small businesses until October. This applies to businesses with gross receipts of less than $5 million annually. Find more information in Bellevue’s press release.
  • Issaquah: Will defer Q1 local business and occupation (B&O) tax filings for certain small businesses until July 31. This applies to businesses with gross receipts of less than $5 million annually. Find more information in Issaquah’s FAQ and press release.

Additionally, the Washington State Department of Revenue is offering filing extensions and penalty waivers for state-level B&O taxes. Eligible businesses can get more information and apply here.

Finally, the federal Internal Revenue Service has announced an extension of the April 15 tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, regardless of the amount owed. The IRS can provide additional information.

Unemployment Insurance

Temporary rules expand unemployment benefits to cover more people, including many sole proprietors, contractors, artists, and gig workers. At present, these rules also provide an additional weekly federal COVID-19 impact payment of up to $600.

Additionally, the Employment Security Department administers the state’s paid family/medical leave program, and has established detailed guides to guide you to the appropriate program for your situation.

The state is waiving the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8.

Health Insurance

Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s health insurance exchange, has opened a special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are or become uninsured. Some individuals be eligible for Apple Health (Medicaid). Check out the Healthplanfinder’s FAQ for more information.

Additionally, some recently laid-off workers may be eligible to elect COBRA coverage. This gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue their group health plan under certain circumstances, such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.

Grants

In general, in Washington State, municipal governments are not able to give direct grant funding to small businesses and nonprofits. However, the following options are available through outside entities and providers.

Bellevue City Council recently authorized the use of $185,000 in Federal CARES Act funding for a small business relief grant program.  This program provides $5,000 grants to small, Bellevue businesses and arts organizations to help overcome COVID-19 business disruptions.  Applications are now open and close September 17th, 2020. Eligible businesses will be randomly selected through a lottery. Eligible businesses must employ 2-25 people, have annual revenue under $5 million, and they must have sustained at least a 20% year-over-year drop in revenues resulting from COVID-19, with expenses not previously satisfied by other funding sources. Priority will be given to businesses that have not received funding from other sources. Details, application and assistance available at www.bellevuewa.gov/BizResources. Questions regarding this grant can be directed to City of Bellevue at bizsupport@bellevuewa.gov or 425-452-4114. Assistance completing the application in multiple languages can be requested at https://re.startup425.org/technical-assistance-request/

The Kirkland City Council is providing $750,000 in federal CARES Act funds for up to 150 one-time small business grants of $5,000 each. The grants provide support for small businesses and nonprofits that were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic during the second quarter of 2020 (April 1 to June 30). The City of Kirkland will accept applications from Wednesday, August 26 through 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16. If the City receives more than 150 qualified applications, the awardees will be randomly selected through a lottery. Details, application and assistance available at the City of Kirkland website. Questions regarding this grant can be directed to City of Kirkland at kirklandbusinesssupport@kirklandwa.gov. Assistance completing the application in multiple languages can be requested at https://re.startup425.org/technical-assistance-request/

Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants: Governor Inslee is offering a new grant program for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Up to $5 million will be awarded to small businesses statewide through a grant of up to $10,000 per business. Significantly more requests than awards will be available, so businesses are strongly encouraged to submit an application as soon as possible.

All in Seattle: Millions of dollars in grant funds will be available for small businesses and nonprofits in certain fields, meeting certain needs in the community. Find more information here.

Amazon has established a Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund, which will provide assistance for businesses with fewer than 50 employees or $7 million in annual revenue, as well as a physical presence near Amazon’s buildings in South Lake Union or downtown Bellevue. Funds are expected to be disbursed in early April.

Facebook has established a Small Business Grants Program to assist businesses in addressing the impacts of COVID-19. These grants will include both cash grants and ad credits.

Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund: Up to $5 million will be made available as small grants to small businesses across the state to help prevent closure due to COVID-19. The state Department of Commerce will coordinate an application process. Stay tuned for more details.

Seattle Foundation has established a COVID-19 Response Fund, which will initially assist nonprofit organizations that work with communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its consequences. Please note that this fund will not initially assist nonprofits that have lost revenue, though this may be considered in the future.

Loans (including Forgivable Loans)

Important Note: Federal funding for Small Business Administration loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and the Paycheck Protection Program is not currently available for new applicants. We recommend contacting an SBA lender anyway for more information if your organization is otherwise eligible and has not yet applied.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): These loans, offered by the Small Business Administration, are low-interest loans for businesses that suffer substantial economic impacts as a result of COVID-19. The loans can assist small businesses in meeting financial obligations and operating expenses. 

  • Right now, businesses applying for an Economic Injury loan can receive a forgivable advance of up to $10,000, even if the underlying loan application is not approved. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees will generally be awarded less than the full award.
  • This slide deck can guide you through the disaster loan program and includes step-by-step instructions on completing the application.
  • The Washington SBDC is offering webinars and other online training opportunities for the SBA application process.
  • You can also check out our webinars for more assistance.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) offers eligible small businesses a very low-interest loan of up to $10 million (determined by payroll). Loan payments are deferred by six months, and if you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll and operating expenses.

  • This program is open to small businesses, sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed individuals.
  • Loan applications must be made to a lender participating in the program.
  • The loan has a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%.
  • There are no prepayment fees, collateral requirements or personal guarantee requirements.
  • Find more information on the sample application and on the Treasury Department’s fact sheet.

Business Impact NW provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. Additionally, it has compiled an outstanding set of COVID-19 resources, including free, one-on-one business coaching.

Craft3 provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. Additionally, it is allowing existing Craft3 clients to revise their loan agreements (i.e. due date extensions, temporary payment reductions, etc.).

Mercy Corps Northwest is offering clients loan payment deferrals.

Legal Support

Communities Rise has launched a virtual COVID-19 Legal Clinic to assist small businesses and nonprofits in Washington state with COVID-19-related business legal issues. They have set up a new streamlined online platform to match clients and volunteer attorneys with minimal processing time.

Need one-on-one assistance?

We can help!

Complete our assistance request form, and a member of our Business Response Team will be in touch as soon as possible. Please understand that high volume may lead to a delayed response.