News roundup, April 2: Owner-op-focused guide to CARES Act benefits, FMCSA’s guidance on local/state shelter-in-place orders

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, April 2, 2020:

ATBS issues owner-operator-focused guide to the CARES Act

Update, April 9: ATBS updated their guide, available via this link, to reflect new information of the loan programs, some forgiveable, available in the act. You can download the new version via the link, which includes a comparison of the two major program, Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster loans, as well as PPP program use-of-funds guidelines and FAQs about the PPP. Original story follows. 

The business services firm ATBS notes that, for an owner-operator, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will stand to deliver between $2,500 up to $25,000 in financial relief. That’s the “bottom line” assessment of staff there after careful review of the 880-page piece of legislation signed into law in Washington, D.C., last Friday.

To the end of helping owner-operators understand just what may be available to businesses hit or soon to be hit hard by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, ATBS has issued a new “Owner-operators’ guide to the CARES Act,” available in ebook form by filling out the brief form at the link with your contact information.

Relief/stimulus could come in several forms, likely for most in this audience to proceed first with checks being distributed to most individual taxpayers and their families. “Payment amounts will be based on your 2018 adjusted gross income, filing status, and eligible children,” ATBS notes — your 2019 return if you’ve already filed.

Single filers will receive $1,200, twice that if married and filing jointly, and $500 for each dependent under age 17. Partial exclusion from portions of these payments begins at adjusted gross income levels above $75K for single filers, $112,500 for head-of-household filers, and $150K for those married and filing jointly. Filers above $99K, $136,500 and $198K, respectively, are excluded entirely.

Access a download of the firm’s guide via this link.Access a download of the firm’s guide via this link.

ATBS notes that depending on how 2020 plays out for the business, if you end up qualifying for a larger amount based on the final tally in your 2020 return, “you can claim a refundable tax credit amount on your 2020 tax return. If you are entitled to a smaller credit, it currently appears the IRS will permit you to keep the amount of the stimulus check you received and you will not have to repay it.”

Depending on how final rules shake out, though, that could change. Tax experts at the firm plan to issue updates to their new guide as they are made available.

As for the larger amounts ATBS estimated in its bottom line assessment, those could come from a variety of areas, including the mostly forgiveable loan program Overdrive touched on in reporting yesterday, and each with their own separate analysis within the new guide:

FMCSA issues guidance for state, local shelter-in-place restrictions
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued new guidance Wednesday directed at states and other governing bodies issuing shelter-in-place orders and other restrictions in regard to truck drivers who are delivering in areas hit hardest by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

FMCSA is suggesting that governments consider the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has identified truck and bus drivers, dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop workers and more as essential workers.

Additionally, the agency outlines the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control regarding truckers that said drivers “should stay in their vehicles as much as possible as supplies are loaded and unloaded, avoid being within six feet of others as much as possible when they exit their vehicles, and move to electronic receipts if possible.” CDC’s guidance for truckers adds that drivers should wash their hands and practice social distancing as much as possible when they have to stay in restricted areas to get rest.

“FMCSA realizes that long-haul drivers may be on the road for days or weeks at a time,” the agency’s latest guidance says. “The CDC has issued guidance that, when drivers return to their domicile location, they should follow the recommendations of the state or local officials in the areas in which they live. The CDC recommends that all people take precautions to stay safe and keep others safe, including washing their hands regularly, staying home when sick, covering their coughs and sneezes, and maintaining distance from others.”

Cracker Barrel offering free coffee, fountain drinks to truckers
To show its appreciation for truck drivers, Cracker Barrel is inviting drivers to stop by any of their locations for a complimentary coffee or fountain drink. Drivers can also enter locations to use the restroom and order food.

We would like to thank all the long-haul #truckers and delivery drivers out there for going the extra mile. Stop by any…

Posted by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store on Thursday, March 26, 2020

ITI offering free COVID-19 safety course for truckers
Instructional Technologies Inc. (ITI) is offering a free course for drivers on COVID-19 safety that helps drivers understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, how it could affect their work and safety, and steps to keep themselves and others safe.

The free online training module covers the most up-to-date information from the CDC on the symptoms of the coronavirus, ways to prevent its spread and what to do if you get sick. It also addresses driver-specific concerns, including:

  • Cleaning or avoiding high-touch areas inside and outside the vehicle
  • Important regulatory changes like Hours of Service and CDL expirations
  • Operational concerns like shipper closures
  • Reminders to avoid distracted driving and manage stress in challenging times
  • Lifestyle changes such as reducing contact in driver lounges, break rooms and at vending machines
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