UPDATE GITA: Chamber of Commerce to meet with SBA to review programs for businesses
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The local Chamber of Commerce will be meeting with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) on federal programs available to the local business community, impacted by Tropical Storm Gita, which left behind devastation 30-days ago, today.
US President Donald J. Trump last Friday declared American Samoa a major disaster area and among the federal programs that come with the federal declaration are loan programs by SBA, whose Administrator, Linda McMahon says the agency stands ready to assist local businesses.
“SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of American Samoa with the most effective and customer-focused response possible and with access to federal disaster loans to help businesses and residents affected by this disaster,” said McMahon in a Mar. 2nd news release.
There have been some inquiries to Samoa News from small business owners regarding federal programs available for businesses impacted by the storm. One small business owner, who didn’t want to be identified by name, said some of them — the small operators — aren’t sure what to claim for damaged caused by the storm, and they are “putting a lot of hope on SBA programs” to move beyond the storm.
Another small business owner said she operates her business out of her home, which suffered damage.
“The Chamber of Commerce is going to have a general meeting with the SBA where the type of assistance will be discussed,” Chamber chairman Paul M. Young said yesterday responding to Samoa News inquiries. He added that he would be able to provide more comments next week when “we meet with them”.
According to the SBA news release, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.
SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent, or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
Furthermore, disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate; and homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
Interest rates can be as low as 3.58 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations, and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years, according to SBA, which sets loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition.
IRS & PBGC
The major disaster declaration also provides tax relief from the US Internal Revenue Revenue Service (IRS) to those who qualify.
In a national news release this past Wednesday, the IRS announced that individuals who reside or have business in America Samoa “may qualify for tax relief” through the postponement of certain deadlines.
For example, certain deadlines falling on or after Feb. 7, 2018, and before June 29, 2018, are granted additional time to file through June 29, 2018. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Feb. 7, 2018, and before Feb. 22, 2018, will be abated as long as the deposits were made before Feb. 22, 2018.
The IRS says it automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area, which is American Samoa, and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.
More specific information can be found online at <www.irs.gov> and enter - AS-2018-01 - in the search box to get details.
With the IRS notice, and the declaration, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced Wednesday that the federal independent entity is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in response to the storm in American Samoa.
PBGC protects the pension benefits in private-sector pension plans, according to the agency’s website www.pbgc.gov
OTHER GITA RECOVERY NEWS
The American Samoa Department of Homeland Security – TEMCO continues to advise the public that Pre-registration for all those who were affected by Tropical Storm Gita in the village of Tafuna will continue at 7:30am-6:00pm, Thursday, March 8, 2018, per locations already publicized.
If you have any questions, please call 699-0411.
TEMCO: Why are we conducting a pre-registration? To help our people to register in a much streamlined and efficient manner with FEMA, going by villages and most impacted, starting with Tafuna.
Also — don’t forget to bring to pre-registration: A valid photo identification card, which can be a Voters ID, Hospital Card, Driver’s License, Immigration Card, CI and Vital Statistics State ID.