The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges and financial hardship for small business owners across the State of Tennessee.

Confronted with the reality of declining or inconsistent sales and an uncertain economic outlook, many are forced to make difficult life and business decisions at a troubling rate. At the Department of Revenue, we hear from taxpayers in this position every day. For many of them, financial relief may be available. 

Gov. Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group have announced several programs intended to assist businesses and organizations struggling with the impacts of COVID.

One of those programs is the Tennessee Business Relief Program. The program was designed to assist those small businesses which were directly impacted by mandatory closures or which suffered a related and substantial reduction in sales.

The Tennessee Business Relief Program requires no application, and its relief payments are not loans that need to be repaid. Eligible businesses are simply asked to certify their business information with the department, and once eligibility is confirmed, a relief payment is issued.

More than 40,000 small businesses across a wide range of industries are eligible for the program. Restaurants, salons, hotels, and gyms are just a few examples of the more than 60 qualifying business types. A full list of eligible industries can be located on the department’s website at https://www.tn.gov/revenue/tennessee-business-relief-program.html.

Payment amounts are based on a business’ total gross sales and range between $2,500 and $30,000 per business. Because this program is focused on small business relief, eligible businesses must have annual gross sales of no more than $10 million.

To date, the program has generated $130 million in relief payments to more than 17,000 businesses. However, there are still many thousands of businesses who have not yet acted. The Department of Revenue has notified by email or letter those businesses it has been able to identify as potentially eligible for the program.

However, all business owners who believe they may qualify for a relief payment are encouraged to visit the department’s website to learn more about the program.

The deadline for businesses to certify is Sept. 25. With just a few weeks remaining, I strongly encourage all eligible business owners to complete this step as soon as possible. And if you know a small business owner who could benefit from this program, please help spread the word and awareness. The funding is available, and certifying is simple.

For more information you can also call the Taxpayer Services Division from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at (615) 253-0600, or email the department at revenue.support@tn.gov.

David Gerregano is the commissioner of the Department of Revenue for the State of Tennessee.

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