Major Policy Developments, International Travel Resumes, and Latest SVOG News
November 12, 2021
In This Issue
- Employee Retention Tax Credit Curtailed as Infrastructure Bill Passes
- New Action Ahead on Shuttered Venue Operators Grants
- The Latest on COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Requirements
- COVID-19 Travel Bans Lifted: New Policies in Place for International Air Travel
- Speak Up Now to Preserve New Charitable Giving Incentives!
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress will be signed into law by the President on Monday, November 15, after which federal agencies will begin working to write and implement the fine print on the new investments. This summary by Independent Sector outlines key provisions including community and workforce investments, broadband access expansion, and energy efficiency grants that will be of interest to orchestras and the wider arts and nonprofit sectors. Along with these opportunities, as expected, the legislation repeals the 2021 fourth quarter access to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC).
The League and the wider nonprofit sector–and our collective memberships–continue to advocate for retention of the ERTC. The next opportunities for reinstatement–which would require a legislative vehicle to which this could be attached–will come as Congress considers the massive reconciliation spending package under negotiation and takes up a year-end tax package. Thank you to all the orchestra advocates that continue to speak up to Congress to support ERTC reinstatement! As a reminder, here are two immediate steps you can take:
- Please continue to contact members of Congress to explain how important the ERTC is for your orchestra and the workforce it supports. Talking points that can be personalized are available in the League’s ERTC advocacy campaign.
- Please also continue to share with the League the estimated fourth quarter value of the ERTC for your orchestra. The information orchestras share with us through this very short questionnaire has been very helpful in our ongoing direct communication with key offices on the Hill.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is planning significant new activity on the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program for the coming weeks as it aims to complete issuing supplemental awards and begin a “Reconsideration 2.0” process for current grantees.
- Supplemental Invitations to Conclude November 17: The SBA plans to finish issuing invitations for supplemental awards by Wednesday, November 17. After that date, the League will confirm whether the SBA has finished the invitation process and will help escalate to the SBA’s attention any cases of missing invitations.
- Supplemental Grant Funds Disbursement Still Underway: Orchestras that are among SVOG grantees that have accepted a supplemental award invitation and are awaiting supplemental grant funds disbursement, please stand by. The SBA is working to speed up this process.
- Reconsideration 2.0 is Launching November 17: All SVOG grantees that have moved completely through the initial and (if eligible) supplemental award process will receive an invitation to provide updated revenue numbers, with three weeks available for responding to the invitation. Invitations will go out on a rolling basis starting on November 17, and the SBA will be hosting informational sessions to describe this process in more detail. The session for Live Performing Arts Organization Operators will take place on Tuesday, November 16, at 1:00pm Eastern, and grantees will receive coordinates for the session in a communication directly from the SBA.
The League remains in the dialogue with the SBA as the grant award, distribution, and reporting procedures continue to unfold. A summary and links to background information are available in the League’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grants Overview, and requests for assistance may be sent to the League’s Washington, D.C. office.
The League has created a COVID-19 Safety Protocol resource page, where orchestras can find a collection of links to federal resources outlining COVID-19 guidance specifically for employers, community-based organizations, and hosts of large gatherings. Some resources are in the form of recommendations, while others are shaped as mandatory rules. Among recent developments, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) implementing new minimum requirements for workforce vaccination or weekly testing, applicable to employers with more than 100 employees. Pending court action, these new requirements are set to be implemented in early December and early January, and are summarized in the League’s OSHA ETS Overview.
On November 8, 2021 country-by-country COVID-19 travel bans were lifted, which had affected artists and all other travelers coming to the United States from or through 33 countries. The new vaccination and testing policies in place are detailed in CDC guidance and summarized on a dedicated news page hosted by Artists from Abroad. As the pace of international travel picks up, orchestras are reminded to allow ample time for the guest visa petition process. O and P temporary artist visas can be filed up to one year in advance, and with many consulates backed up by multiple months, advanced planning is essential. Find out more about how the League can help your orchestra with the visa process.
As we enter the season of giving, please take action to maximize and preserve the universal charitable deduction! The opportunity for taxpayers that do not itemize their returns to take a charitable deduction was created under the 2020 CARES Act and was extended through 2021, allowing single filers to deduct up to $300 and joint filers to deduct up to $600 for cash contributions. As the year ends, remind donors of this opportunity to give more and share the IRS Tax Tip issued on September 28 that spells out how these giving incentives work. Please also speak up and use the League’s charitable giving advocacy campaign to call on Congress to permanently enact this incentive for donors to give more.