State lawmakers hoping to help small businesses with COVID-19 relief bill

BOSTON — Castle Island Brewing celebrated their five year anniversary in 2020 with a pandemic and a huge hit in the hops.

“About a year ago this time, we went from 35 people down to five when we furloughed our staff when the bars and restaurants were shut down. We lost 50 percent of of volume overnight when bars and restaurants closed,” said founder Adam Romanow.

He said the business was able to secure a PPP loan in the first and second rounds of the federal program, but now they’re facing a huge tax hit.

“It would be brutal. Not only do we not have the resources after the year we just got through, but on top of that, we’re finally starting to see some signs of life on the market, bars and restaurants slowly coming back on line.”

State lawmakers are hoping to help businesses like Castle Island Brewing.

Passed in the house, the Senate Ways Committee is reviewing a COVID-19 relief bill that exempts businesses with PPP forgiven by the federal government from state taxes.

“We never counted on that money. We never thought that money was generated for taxable purposes. That money was to save small businesses and the people that they employed,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano.

The Senate and House have reached agreement on the bill that would also freeze unemployment insurance rates, provide tax breaks to jobless workers and create a paid COVID-19 emergency sick leave program. It also authorizes the governor to borrow $7 billion to pay for it and charge employers a surcharge over a longer term.

“We will be able to pay for it without having to raise taxes. We will still be able to provide the same level of services to our tax payers that we are providing now,“ said Mariano.

Congress already passed a bill giving PPP loan receivers a federal tax break, and large corporations in the state have been able to reap that benefit.

This measure will make sure small business are also included.

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