The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has asked Gov. Tim Walz for a number of economic concessions to help state businesses and workers withstand hits to income and disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The chamber called on Walz to extend deadlines for paying income, property and sales taxes and to delay or eliminate state licensing fees.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the state Department of Revenue announced plans to give a 30-day grace period to businesses on the payment of March and April sales and use taxes.
Some of the moves mirror expected federal policies meant to soften the blow of the fast-moving virus that has left federal and state officials battling to stem the spread of COVID-19, the illness that has killed thousands worldwide and stands to multiply exponentially.
As government officials close schools and limit gatherings of people in restaurants, theaters and sports venues, chamber officials said businesses will need the boosts in working capital provided by delayed tax payments to keep from laying off employees.
The chamber wants state tax payments of individual and business income taxes due in April delayed as long as the federal government extends its filing deadline. In addition, the chamber hopes Walz will push the May due date for property taxes back 90 days as people try to cope with lost business, wages and possibly layoffs.
No price tag came with the chamber’s recommendations. The strategy largely delays the state’s collection of revenue rather than cutting it.
The proposal also comes with a plea to declare an economic disaster that allows the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to make federally guaranteed, low-interest disaster loans to struggling Minnesota business.
One program that apparently would not be repaid would be a state fund that helps Minnesotans defray the cost of health insurance deductibles associated with treatment of COVID-19. Because the pandemic hit early in the year, many residents have yet to meet out-of-pocket payments associated with their policies.