Summary of Legislation and Rulemaking Impacting Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19: CARES Act

Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP is a respected law firm based in Chicago, comprised of partners and associates recruited from nationally-known, highly-respected large firms. They have been providing guidance and clarity as legislation has been passed to address the effect of the coronavirus. Following is information about the recently-passed CARES Act. Because the firm is based in Illinois, it will include some expanded information on state matters. Consult your own state for particulars of how the CARES Act will roll out in your state.

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The impact of COVID-19 has affected everyone in the United States.  In response to the widespread economic consequences suffered by small businesses and their employees, the federal government and state and local governments have taken measures to mitigate the impact, including, on the part of the federal government, enacting the 880 page Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”).  Below is a brief summary of the various more significant measures adopted in the last thirty days impacting small businesses, together with links to more detailed summaries we have prepared addressing items of particular interest. It is also expected that the administrative agencies responsible for implementing the measures will adopt administrative rules providing clarity and guidance. We will continue to provide updates as details become available.
 
If you have further questions or are dealing with specific challenges related to the effects of the coronavirus, please reach out to your Fox Swibel attorney or contact the firm at [email protected], phone (312) 224 -1200 .
 
LOAN AND GRANT PROGRAMS
 
Federal
 
CARES Act 7(a) Loan Program
 
On the federal level, the Cares Act, which, among other things, established the Paycheck Protection Program to expand and modify the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) existing small business loan programs. Specifically, the CARES Act provides up to $349 billion to expand the SBA’s 7(a) loan program for small businesses through December 31, 2020, ease the eligibility requirements and provide for loan forgiveness under certain circumstances. These loans are made through private financial institutions but are 100% federally guaranteed by the SBA. All current SBA lenders are immediately eligible to make loans under the new program. Money can be used for operating costs including payroll costs, continuation of health care benefits, insurance premiums, rent, employee compensation (up to $100,000 per employee) and mortgage interest payments (but not principal). 
 
Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Grants
 
Congress has also separately made a total of $7 billion in loans directly available through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) program. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that are not able to be paid because of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. General terms of the Economic Injury Disaster loans are as follows: Maximum loan amounts up to $2 million. Interest rates of 3.75% for small businesses, and 2.75% for non-profits. Maximum terms of 30 years, depending on each borrower’s ability to repay. EIDL loans are separate from 7(a) loans, and a borrower cannot receive both loans for the same purpose.

State (Illinois)

Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity

At the state level, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has launched a Hospitality Emergency Grant Program available to hospitality businesses. Grant funds are available for payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology. Bars and restaurants that generated $500,000 – $1 million in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, while bars and restaurants that generated less than $500,000 in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000. Hotels that generated less than $8 million in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000.
 
Applications for awards will be accepted until 5 PM on April 1 and winners will be chosen by lottery. 
 
DCEO, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is also establishing an Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund for small businesses located outside of Chicago (City of Chicago loan programs are discussed below) to offer low-interest loans of up to $50,000. To qualify, businesses must employ fewer than 50 employees and have had less than $3 million in revenue in 2019. Loans may be used to support working capital, and will have loan terms of 5 years with no payments due for the first 6 months.
 
For more information on, and to apply for the above DCEO programs, please visit here.
 
State Treasurer
 
The Illinois State Treasurer has also made up to $250 million available to financial institutions (at near-zero deposit rates) to make loans to small businesses and non-profits in Illinois. The loans would have to be used by small businesses and non-profits to provide bridge funding, pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. 
 
Terms and requirements for these loans are as follows: Interest rates not to exceed 4.75%. Eligible businesses or non-profits must (a) have been shut down or limited due to COVID-19, (b) have less than $1 million in liquid assets or $8 million average annual receipts, and (c) be headquartered in Illinois or agree to use the funds in Illinois. More information can be found here.

A list of currently approved financial institutions that are participating in the state’s small business loan programs can be found here.
 
City (Chicago)
 
Finally, at the city level, the City of Chicago, together with public and private partners, has established a $100 million Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund, which will provide small businesses with low-interest loans. Applications for the fund will begin to be accepted on March 31, 2020. 
 
The Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund’s loan terms will follow the following guidelines: Loan terms of up to 5 years. Loan amounts of up to $50,000, sized based on revenues before the COVID-19 outbreak. Loan proceeds are required to be used for working capital, with at least 50% of proceeds applied toward payroll Businesses must retain workforce at 50% of pre-COVID-19 levels To be eligible, businesses must have (a) suffered more than a 25% revenue decrease due to COVID-19, (b) 50 or fewer employees, (c) gross revenue of less than $3 million in 2019, (d) a Chicago business address or Chicago business license, and (d) no pre-existing tax liens or legal judgments. Businesses interested in a loan should complete the form found here.
 
For more information on these Federal, state and city programs please see here or contact David Morris or Xiang Siow or the Fox Swibel attorney with whom you regularly work
 
EMPLOYMENT RELATED MATTERS
 
Paid Sick Leave
 
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes a number of provisions that will directly impact employers, in addition to public health measures.  One section of the new law requires employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to an employee who is unable to work or telework due to certain COVID-19 related circumstances. The paid sick leave provisions in the law apply only to private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers. The amount of pay for the mandated sick leave is limited.  In addition, the Department of Labor has issued a notice that must be posted by employers.

Family Leave Act (“FMLA”)
 
The new law also expands the circumstances that qualify for FMLA leave to address the current coronavirus health threat. Like the paid sick leave provisions, the new FMLA expansion applies only to private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, plus covered public employers.  However, employers with fewer than 50 employees (which is the threshold for the traditional FMLA requirements) will be able to apply for an exemption if compliance would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.  The legislation provides for leave to care for minor children due to closure of the child’s school or unavailability of a regular child care provider and provide for paid leave after the first two weeks at a reduced rate of pay.
 
For further information on employment related COVID-19 matters please see our two articles on how COVID-19 legislation will affect leave policies [(1) and (2)] and our article regarding the Department of Labor’s guidance on the FFCRA or contact Fox Swibel’s employment law department leaders, Steve Brenneman or Kelly Smith-Haley, or the Fox Swibel attorney with whom you regularly work.
 
PAYROLL TAXES
 
Small and medium sized employers “who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS.  The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees.  If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and child care leave paid, employers will be able file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS.”  For the IRS notice, please see here.
 
In addition, an employer that is forced to suspend or close operations due to COVID-19, or otherwise has a significant revenue decrease, and continues to pay its employees while not currently working will be able to claim a refundable tax credit, known as the Employee Retention Credit,  against Social Security taxes or Railroad Retirement Tax Act taxes equal to 50% of qualified wages up to $10,000 paid to each employee, beginning in the first 2020 calendar quarter in which the employer’s gross receipts declined by greater than 50 percent of the corresponding calendar quarter of the prior year, and ends with the calendar quarter following the calendar quarter in which the gross receipts exceed 80 percent of the corresponding calendar quarter of the prior year.  An eligible business who receives a “7(a) loan” is not eligible for the credit.
 
The CARES Act postpones the due date for the employer’s share of payroll taxes (6.2 percent) related to Social Security and Railroad Retirement for businesses. The deferred amounts would be payable over the next two years, with 50 percent due on December 31, 2021, and the remaining 50 percent due on December 31, 2022.
 
For further information on tax related COVID-19 matters please contact Fox Swibel’s tax department leader, Terry Stein, or the Fox Swibel attorney with whom you regularly work.
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These measures are likely the first of a number of measures to address the coronavirus emergency. Fox Swibel will continue to monitor these changes and stands ready to advise clients during this unusual time.  If you have questions about employers’ obligations and best practices in light of COVID-19, please contact any of the Fox Swibel attorneys listed above or the Fox Swibel attorney with whom you regularly work.

About Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP Founded in 2000, the lawyers at Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP are comprised of partners and associates recruited from nationally-known, highly-respected large firms. Fox Swibel provides streamlined “Big Law Boutique” client services to a wide range of leading businesses and business owners, from entrepreneurs to global institutions in the banking, investment funds, hotel, manufacturing, private equity, construction, real estate, retail, and restaurant industries. The Firm’s practice is principally focused in areas related to commercial transactions and litigation such as banking and corporate finance, bankruptcy and restructuring, business litigation, corporate and securities transactions, construction law, employment law, intellectual property, real estate, and tax-related matters. For more information about Fox Swibel, click here.

EMERGENCY FUNDING OF COBRA HEALTH COVERAGE CALLED FOR BY LEADING UNION

Domino Effect for Workers as COVID-19 Layoffs Lead to Lost Healthcare and Uncertain Futures

Hanover, MD– One of the largest and most influential construction unions in the country is calling on Congress to subsidize COBRA health plans for 11 million US construction workers who may lose their jobs as the COVID-19 virus spreads and wipes out the 6th largest employment sector in America.   

“The construction industry is the backbone of the US economy. If Congress fails to take additional steps to support blue-collar construction workers, the short term and long term consequences will be dire for every industry. Supporting construction workers begins with ensuring they have access to medical care and prescriptions by shoring up the health coverage that thousands are losing every day as layoffs sweep across the industry,” said Ken Rigmaiden, General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).  

The IUPAT estimates that at least 50% of construction sites across the country have already been shut down, and fears that number could rise as high as 90%. As the union works with industry stakeholders to develop new best practices and safety protocols for active jobs and essential job sites, it is calling on Congress to do its part in protecting the health of the millions of families that face potential loss of coverage in the construction industry and beyond.   

Sonya Stalnaker, an IUPAT District Council 78 painter from Winter Garden, was laid off from her job as a Buena Vista Construction Company (BVCC) painter at Disney. With the news of indefinite closures, she’s worried about how losing her paycheck and her health insurance will impact her family. Sonya cares for her 95-year-old grandmother, a nephew with cerebral palsy, and helps out with her two nieces.  

“The extra money from unemployment doesn’t cover the expenses I’ll have to take out of pocket if I lose my healthcare,” she said. “I’m a hard worker but with nowhere to work, I’m going to lose insurance, and as it stands, COBRA would be more than my rent.”

On March 24, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), a federation of 55 international labor unions representing 12.5 million workers, issued an executive council statement that also advocates for emergency subsidies to cover COBRA health insurance payments. 

Nationwide trends indicate that sites could be shut down entirely. Major U.S. construction stoppages in San Francisco, Boston, and Pennsylvania, in addition to nationwide private and local site shutdowns, have workers experiencing anxiety and uncertainty.

“Congress had a chance to grant real relief to this vulnerable workforce and didn’t. These financial assistance proposals are a band-aid when we need a tourniquet. Working people are being hit with wave after wave of setbacks – finances, healthcare loss, and now an indefinite date for a job to go back to. The IUPAT is demanding urgent assistance for America’s working people before they are bled dry and before this economy bleeds dry,” said IUPAT General Vice President Jimmy Williams. “We’re already behind and the clock is ticking. Congress and the Senate need to get in front of this with bold action and subsidize COBRA benefits so that the millions of workers facing the very real possibility of indefinitely losing their jobs have a very real option for health coverage.”

“In the midst of a pandemic, it is more important than ever that our nation ensures workers can go to the hospital without fear of financial ruin,” said Michelle Hennessey, a commercial painter and mother of two. “Any worker who has been laid off; is immunocompromised and unable to work; or is responsibly participating in isolation or quarantine shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and the health and safety of themselves, their family and the public.”

In addition to the subsidization of COBRA health plans, the IUPAT’s Bold Action Platform for Working Families urges Congress to secure retirement plans affected by the crisis and invest in American infrastructure to quickly put construction workers back to work.

Remodeling Show & DeckExpo offers resources; 18-Hour virtual Build Aid conference for remodelers starts April 1

Remodeling Show & DeckExpo has compiled a few of the best industry-related resources on tackling COVID-19 for construction professionals & business owners. Check them out below, and don’t forget Build-Aid—a free 18-hour conference to help remodelers survive now and thrive later—starts tomorrow. Sign up →http://buildaid.live

Worth-reading: Free Resources for Construction Professionals

This 18-hour virtual conference runs from 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. April 1-2. This free event to help support is designed to support the remodeling community to explore various ways your business can navigate these tough times, and position yourselves as a leader when the world begins to recover and re-build.

This online event brings together 24 renown speakers, experts and authorities to help guide you through the current challenge. The conference includes:

  • Session Hall: Where each presentation will be live-streamed to your desktop or mobile device.
  • Sponsor Pavilion: Visit virtual booths to learn more from our partners that helped make this possible.
  • Networking Lounge: Connect with speakers, staff and other attendees, or catch up on news and thoughts from our social media feed.

Visit buildaid.live for a list of speakers, to sign up and for the full schedule and agenda.

Listen up: Podcasts

Also available is a bank of podcasts that address and explore how remodelers are navigating through the Coronovirus crisis. Click the links below for more information!

The ceramic industry comes together at UNICERA in Istanbul

Followed closely by the global ceramic industry, UNICERA Istanbul International Ceramic, Bathroom, Kitchen Fair gathered the ceramic and kitchen industry on the same platform between March 10-14, 2020. The exhibition displayed a variety of product groups such as bathroom products, floor-wall coverings, ceramic processing technologies, kitchen and decoration products, packaging, and storage. 50,130 people visited the exhibition in five days, which presented the innovative products of more than 1,200 brands.

The fair was organized by CNR Holding subsidiary, Istanbul Trade Fairs with the cooperation of TSF (Turkish Ceramics Federation), TIMDER (Trade Association for Sanitary and Building Supplies), and  MUDER (Kitchen and Bathroom Furniture Industrialists and Importers Association) and the support of KOSGEB (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization of Turkey).

The 2021 trends were introduced

Gathering the leading and exporting brands of the ceramic and building industry, the largest specialized exhibition in Turkey, UNICERA Istanbul showcased the most innovative products, materials, and technologies of the industry. Not only Turkish brands but also international brands that lead the ceramic industry participated in the exhibition, where the 2021 trends were introduced. Welcoming exhibitors and visitors on the 100 thousand square meter area this year, the exhibition displayed a variety of product groups such as bathroom products, floor-wall coverings, ceramic processing technologies, kitchen and decoration products, packaging, storing.

Kitchen products also drew great attention

Taking place concurrently with the exhibition, Kitchen Turkey Special Section displayed all the kitchen products from A to Z including electronic devices, kitchen sinks, ventilation systems, washing and cooking units. 

DOL Updates Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act

In the days since the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18, 2020, employers and advocacy groups have raised a number of questions about how the law will be interpreted and enforced.  With surprising speed, the U.S. Department of Labor, which is responsible for enforcing the law, has issued guidance in various forms that is designed to clarify the FFCRA.  Below are some of the key takeaways.

  • The FFCRA becomes effective on April 1, 2020, and its provisions expire on December 31, 2020.
  • The FFCRA applies only to current employees. This means an employee who was laid off or furloughed before April 1, 2020 is not entitled to FFCRA leave (unless, of course, the employee is recalled to active service).
  • The DOL will observe “a temporary period of non-enforcement of the FFCRA” for the period through April 17, 2020. However, even during this period, employers must make reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the law, including promptly remedying any violations.
  • Determining whether an employer is under the 500-employee threshold to be covered by the FFCRA includes:
    • Employees on leave;
    • Temporary employees and day laborers;
    • The common employees of “joint employers” under the test used under the Fair Labor Standards Act (in general, this balancing test looks to whether the potential joint employer hires or fires the employee, supervises and controls the employee to a substantial degree, determines rate and method of pay, and maintains the employee’s employment records – but no single factor is determinative);
    • The employees of all entities making up an “integrated enterprise” under the test used under the Family and Medical Leave Act (in general, this test considers whether separate entities have common management, interrelation between operations, centralized control over labor relations, and the degree of common ownership or financial control).
  • In calculating the two weeks of paid sick leave due to eligible employees under the FFCRA:
    • An employee is entitled to leave for his/her average number of hours in a two-week period, including any overtime.
    • Part-time employees should receive pay based upon the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work; if the part-time employee’s normal hours are unknown or their schedule varies, then employers must use a six-month average.
    • All such leave is subject to the FFCRA caps of
      • $511 per day / $5,110 aggregate for employees taking leave because they are subject to a quarantine or isolation order, have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a diagnosis.
      • $200 per day / $2,000 over the two week period if the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order, caring for a child whose school is closed or whose regular care provider is unavailable, or experiencing a substantially similar condition that may arise as specified by HHS.
  • For the expanded family leave, the initial two weeks (10 work days) are paid (per the paid sick leave noted above), after which the employee receives another 10 weeks of 2/3 pay for the hours the employee would have been scheduled to work.
  • Recordkeeping: Employers are required to create and maintain appropriate documentation of leave taken by employees under the FFCRA, including the employee’s name, qualifying reason for requesting leave, statement that the employee is unable to work or telework for that qualifying reason, and the dates for which leave is requested / taken. The documentation also should include the source of any quarantine or isolation order applicable to the employee (by a public official or health care provider), and written documentation of a school closing or care provider’s unavailability.
  • Employers may, but are not required, to allow employees to take FFCRA leave intermittently. The employer’s option to allow FFCRA leave to be taken intermittently includes where the employee is teleworking (for example where an employee is unable to telework her normal shift due to a qualifying reason).  If the employee is not teleworking, for the two weeks of paid sick leave, an employee must continue to take the sick leave each day until either the employee uses up the full two weeks or no longer has a qualifying reason for taking the leave.
  • The DOL has published the written notice that must be posted in covered employers’ workplaces. The notice is available here.  As with most posted notice requirements, this notice should be posted in a conspicuous place in the workplace.  In addition, the DOL states that employers may satisfy the posting requirement by emailing or direct mailing the notice to employees, or posting it on the company’s internal website.
This article was co-written by Steven L. Brenneman  and Kelly Smith-Haleywho are Chair and a Partner, respectively, of the Employment Law Group at Fox Swibel and editors of the Illinois Employment Law Letter.

About Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLPFounded in 2000, the lawyers at Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP are comprised of partners and associates recruited from nationally-known, highly-respected large firms. Fox Swibel provides streamlined “Big Law Boutique” client services to a wide range of leading businesses and business owners, from entrepreneurs to global institutions in the banking, investment funds, hotel, manufacturing, private equity, construction, real estate, retail, and restaurant industries. The Firm’s practice is principally focused in areas related to commercial transactions and litigation such as banking and corporate finance, bankruptcy and restructuring, business litigation, corporate and securities transactions, construction law, employment law, intellectual property, real estate, and tax-related matters. For more information about Fox Swibel, click here.

No sanding, no skim coating with TEC’s new high-flow, super-smooth, self-leveling underlayment

AURORA, Ill. – TEC® is now offering Level Set® 500 HF Self-Leveling Underlayment, the flooring industry’s most advanced high-flow solution to achieve an exceptionally smooth surface without time-consuming sanding or skim coating. 

Based on next generation technology from TEC, no other self-leveling underlayment (SLU) has a faster flow or provides a smoother surface for today’s thinner floor coverings. The ultra-smooth surface of Level Set 500 HF means contractors can eliminate skim coating and sanding, which can cut labor costs by up to two-thirds. In addition, testing shows flooring adhesive coverage can increase by up to 20 percent* to further add to the cost and labor saving benefits.

TEC Level Set 500 HF Self-Leveling Underlayment employs high-flow technology

 “This new high-flow technology represents a tremendous step forward for today’s installers,” said Greg Schad, Director of Product Technology for TEC. “Contractors are facing rising labor costs and shortened timelines. Our Level Set 500 HF is an outstanding high-flow SLU that will help them deliver a superior, smoother surface in a shorter amount of time. This will lower costs and allow them to turn over each job faster to maximize their profits.”

The Level Set 500 HF is a high-flow SLU that pours like water and is pumpable for interior applications. The product provides installers with both extended working time and longer healing time to provide an unmatched level of surface smoothness. 

The new underlayment pours like water and is pumpable

In comparison, traditional SLU products have a consistency more like syrup that needs to be sanded where the pours don’t heal together properly. They also can leave voids that need to be filled in with a patch or skim coat. 

Level Set 500 HF is ideal for fast-track applications and is walkable within 2-3 hours for ceramic tile installations. Moisture-sensitive floor coverings can be installed in 15 hours, which is a significant improvement over the 24 hours cure time typically needed for traditional SLU products. 

 “We constantly monitor the industry to see what flooring contractor professionals need,” Schad said. “What we’ve found is a strong demand for simpler products to make the installer’s job easier. The traditional SLU products just didn’t deliver a truly flat, and ready-to-go surface for the installation of flooring adhesive. Installers either must skim coat and/or sand the traditional product before installing the flooring. We developed Level Set 500 HF to address those concerns.”

The ultra-smooth surface of Level Set 500 HF means contractors can eliminate skim coating and sanding, which can cut labor costs by up to two-thirds.

Level Set 500 HF is compatible with all types of floor covering – wood, vinyl planks and sheet goods, linoleum, rubber, ceramic and porcelain tile, VCT and more.  The product also is suitable for any substrate – concrete, pavers, cement backerboard, hardwood, plywood, gypsum substrates, tile, terrazzo, metal, VCT and OSB. 

“As a longstanding manufacturer of cement-based technologies for flooring installation, it’s a natural fit for TEC to bring advancements in self-leveling through this exciting innovation,” Schad said. “It truly represents a next generation solution that will be the foundation for many new products for our customers.” For more information, watch the Level Set 500 HF video or visit www.tecspecialty.com.

*Results may vary depending on adhesive and substrate.

CTDA: U.S. Customs will allow U.S. importers to defer duty payments.

In a letter to members last week from Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) Executive Director Rick Church, CTDA announced that U.S. importers would be permitted to defer U.S. Customs duty payments due to new rulings related to the Coronavirus crisis. The letter reads:

In view of the current pandemic and associated economic crisis, we are monitoring developments by which our members can save on expenses.  These include the possible deferral of payments for federal obligations that are normally payable on a set schedule. As many of our members import large quantities of ceramic tile or other products from various countries, we have paid particular attention to policy changes involving international trade.

One such policy change involves Customs’ announcement this week that it will approve importer requests for the deferral of their payments of import tariffs and associated fees, such as the Harbor Maintenance Fee and Merchandise Processing Fees.  This is a deferral, not an elimination or reduction of such import fees. Customs announced this policy change in the following Customs Service Message (“CSMS) issued this week to its port directors and certain other parties 

CSMS #42097586 – Additional Days for Payments due to COVID-19

Due to the severity of  Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will approve on a case by case basis additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes and fees due to this emergency.  Please note we are working on a future message that will provide further information.  Please watch your CSMS messages.  

NOTE:  CBP has confirmed that the March 20, 2020 debit authorizations for the Periodic Monthly Statements and the daily statements have been transmitted to the Department of Treasury.  Please work directly with your financial institution if you wish to prevent these funds from being withdrawn. 

Requests should be directed to the Office of Trade, Trade Policy and Programs:

[email protected].

If you are interested in pursuing duty and import fee payment postponement, we suggest you contact your licensed customs broker.  Should you have any other questions, please contact CTDA staff at [email protected] or 630-545-9415 and we will do our best to get you an answer

LATICRETE Introduces First-ever Modular Tile and Stone Installation Adhesive System, LATICRETE SELECT-BOND


The industry-first adhesive system is built upon a versatile standalone adhesive in addition to optional kits for specialized enhancements 

March 30, 2020, Bethany, Conn. — LATICRETE, a leading manufacturer of globally proven construction solutions for the building industry, has introduced LATICRETE® SELECT-BONDTM, an industry-first, versatile tile and stone adhesive system that includes optional kits for specialized enhancements. Useful for both thin bed and large heavy tile applications, the polymer modified adhesive system offers versatility as distributors and contractors no longer need multiple adhesives for their various project types. Designed to be used alone or with one of three optional, pre-measured adhesive system kits, LATICRETE SELECT-BOND can reduce distributor inventory by 65% and helps ensure installers always have the right product for the job.

“LATICRETE SELECT-BOND is a unique innovation that delivers real value to the distributor and installer,” said Jon Scott, LATICRETE Senior Product Manager. “A first-of-its-kind product, LATICRETE SELECT-BOND is a game changer for all tile and stone adhesive needs. The base adhesive works well for the majority of applications and the enhancements allow customization never seen in the market before.”

    When used alone (without an additional adhesive system kit), LATICRETE SELECT-BOND provides a one-step installation for ceramic tile, porcelain tile, marble and stone on floors and walls, and is approved for use over exterior glue plywood for interior installations. The product meets both ANSI A118.4 and A118.11 and is available in 25-pound bags. 

To increase the versatility and enhance the performance of  LATICRETE SELECT-BOND, users can add a Non-Sag, Rapid Curing or High Performance (to meet ANSI A118.15 requirements) adhesive system kit. These adhesive system kits are pre-measured and come in a water soluble packet so additional measuring and calculations are not necessary to provide consistent performance.

For more information, visit www.laticrete.com.

Addressing Fraud during the Coronavirus Crisis

With all the disruption of business as a result of the Coronavirus, companies are vulnerable to fraud. Matters can simply slip through the cracks as a tile contractor is dealing with urgent issues on cash flow, employees, state orders on what can and cannot be opened, and simply staying healthy. It is important, however, to ensure your business does not become a victim of fraud.

There are many types of fraud that affect businesses, but two schemes that are likely to occur during the current crisis is ACH and credit card fraud. Below are a couple of suggestions to protect your business.

ACH Fraud: One of the biggest concerns is Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) fraud. ACH is a system that enables the exchange of funds between businesses and individuals through the use of checks, wire transfers, and direct deposits. Criminals need only two pieces of information to commit ACH fraud: your business checking account number and your bank routing number. This means that anyone who has a check from your business may have all the information needed to steal money from your account through an ACH transfer, either by phone or online. Criminals are increasingly targeting small and mid-sized companies, because they often have less-sophisticated security systems than larger companies.

Many business owners assume the same rules of personal banking apply to commercial business accounts, but this is not the case. The law protecting electronic transfers apply only to personal bank accounts, not business accounts. For a personal account, the individual may have up to 60 days to report any fraud. In contrast, a commercial business has much less time to report cases of fraud. Many commercial claims must be reported within 24 hours. The burden is on the business owner to notify the bank immediately if there is a disputed transaction. 

There are a number of precautions a business can take to minimize the risk of being a victim of ACH fraud. The bottom line, and best single precaution, is that every business should check its account every day to ensure there are no suspicious activities. 

Credit Card Fraud: As a tile contractor, you handle credit card transactions every day. With the current issue on limiting business because of the Coronavirus, you may be handling more telephone and online transactions. If a customer orders tile online or calls in a credit card, you will not be able to use the chip and EMV terminal to protect against fraud. You can, however, avoid liability in these types of transactions by changing the way you handle phone and online orders.

The credit card companies recognize that the convenience of a credit card is important when buying online or over the telephone. Accordingly, the credit card issuers publish rules on how to handle “card not present” transactions. These rules are usually in the agreements you sign with the credit card issuer. The rules will require you to enter the card verification code (CVC) that is on the back of the credit card. The rules may also require you to verify other information, such as addresses and zip codes. You need to strictly follow the card issuer’s transaction authorization procedures. Any variation could leave you responsible if the transaction is fraudulent. It is recommended that you follow the requirements for all the credit cards you accept and train your employees on how to follow them to the letter. Complying with these rules will reduce the chances of you being responsible in case of fraud.

Notice: The information contained in this blog is abridged from legislation, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel. 

UofCTS offers discounts on course tuitions through April 30

Due to the current pandemic situation that is requiring many employees to stay at home until the virus gets under control, University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) has had many requests to make the UofCTS Online courses available at a lower cost so that company employees can be productive and take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about their trade and job skills while at home.  

The list price for UofCTS Online Tuitions is $150 per tuition per course.  Members of CTDA, Fuse Alliance, and NTCA can purchase course tuitions for $100 each.  This special offer brings the cost down to just $75 each when courses are purchased through one of the respective associations.  TTMAC is offering a similar offer based on their member tuition costs. The UofCTS Online course tuitions gives you 24/7 access for 14 days where you can come and go at your own pace. This special offer is in effect until April 30.

The Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile course teaches the basics of tile including terminology, usage, how it is manufactured, how it is installed, describing all of the various installation products, how to assist customers, professional upselling, and how to maintain tile. Throughout the course professional sales techniques and tactics are taught.  This course is designed to give salespeople the tools they need in order to increase sales and avoid customer false expectations.  It introduces tile installers and sales representatives to industry standards.  It teaches how to professionally assist clients with selecting tile and the various types of installation products and systems.  It teaches how to professionally upsell buy giving your customer a choice.  This course can be completed within 6 to 8 hours on average.

The Understanding the Basics of Natural Stone course teaches the basics of natural stone including terminology, the geology of the various types of stone, usage, how it is quarried, processed and fabricated. The course describes how stone is installed with all of the various installation products.  The course teaches how to assist customers, professional upselling, and how to maintain natural stone. Throughout the course professional sales techniques and tactics are taught.  This course is designed to give salespeople the tools they need in order to increase sales and avoid customer false expectations.  It introduces stone installers and sales representatives to industry standards.  It teaches how to professionally assist clients with selecting natural stone and the various types of installation products and systems.  It teaches how to professionally upsell buy giving your customer a choice. This course can be completed within 6 to 8 hours on average. 

The Tile Installer Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification course teaches installers, setters and helpers, and technical service and sales representatives industry installation standards, practices, and proper installation methods for tile applications.  The course applies to ceramic tile, porcelain tile, stone tile, glass tile and other types of adhered tile materials.  The course covers how to inspect and prepare substrates. How to achieve full thin-set contact.  How to layout and install tile for various types of applications.  How to grout with various types of grout.  And a lesson on how to avoid potential problems and failures. 

The ITS Verification course has an extensive section for teaching installers how to install Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels and showing the tools that will be needed.  It demonstrates and provides in detail on how to install the large thin tile panels on walls as well as on floors.  The course also describes how to install glass tile, shower pans, steam showers, swimming pools, and other applications. This course can be completed within 5 to 6 hours on average.

The The Complete Guide on Developing Tile & Stone Specifications with Architects course is complete. This course is a must take” for anyone doing or interested in doing architectural sales.  It covers everything from how to write what we call “bullet proof specs” (ones that can’t be easily changed), how to find and track projects, and how to develop relationships with architects and others to help ensure making the sale. Upon completion of the course the student is provided with a procelain tile specification template and a natural stone specification template.  This course requires 2 tuitions for registration. This course can be completed within 5 to 6 hours on average.

UofCTS Online educational courses are available through many key organizations in the tile and stone industry where members receive special discounts.  Courses can be purchased through CTDA at www.ctdahome.org, through Fuse Alliance at www.fusealliance.com, through NTCA at www.tile-assn.com, and through TTMAC at www.ttmac.com, or at the UofCTS website at www.uofcts.org.

As is clearly understood by successful businesses, the fastest way to increase profits and avoid problems is through education. Once installers or employees are trained, they will become more confident, credible, and effective in their jobs.  With proper training of your employees, there will be less costly failures and problems, and more sales, profit and repeat business.  The return on your investment is never ending. 

To see video previews of each of the courses visit the www.UofCTS.org website at https://uofcts.org/online-courses/.

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