A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away, Major League Baseball was preparing for opening day, school children shuttled off to classrooms each morning, and Corona was best enjoyed ice cold. We’ll call this world March 5, 2020. It goes without saying, May 2020 is a much different world. If ever there was a human experiment testing the rapidity of change, we’re living through it.
As our new world continues turning, the Governor’s office is releasing executive orders at a rapid-fire pace. This week alone has seen orders providing property tax relief and the augmentation of workers’ compensation presumptions. Additionally, a budget that only 60 days ago screamed “my cup runneth over” is now projecting a $54 billion deficit.
Property Tax Relief
Executive Order N-61-20 states that counties must waive late payment penalties, fees, and interest for small-business and homeowners unable to timely pay their property taxes, however, property taxes still must be paid. It will extend through May 6, 2021 and covers the second half of this year’s property taxes that were due April 10 as well as the first and second payments for 2020-21 taxes due December 10 and April 10.
According to the Order, taxpayers will have to apply for a waiver and demonstrate that they suffered economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19. The State Controller’s Office and tax collectors are working to create a coronavirus form which will facilitate applicants submitting their requests. The Order does not apply to any taxes that are paid through an impound account nor does it apply to already delinquent property taxes.
Workers’ Compensation Presumptions
On May 6, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-62-20 extending workers’ compensation benefits to employees who contract COVID-19 while working outside of their homes during California’s stay-at-home order.
The order is retroactive to March 19, 2020 and extends through July 5, 2020. The Order creates a “rebuttable presumption” that workers, who test positive or are diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician within 14 days after performing labor or services at the direction of their employer outside their home, contracted COVID-19 in the scope of employment. In other words, if the order conditions are met, it is automatically presumed that the employee contracted COVID-19 during employment. This creates eligibility for the full range of workers’ compensation benefits, including full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity and death benefits.
A more in-depth discussion can be found at https://hrwatchdog.calchamber.com/2020/05/workers-compensation-benefits-extended-covid-19/.’
The Governor’s January budget had a surplus of $5.6 billion and a record reserve of $21 billion. Leap to mid-March and more than 4.2 million unemployment claims were filed. According to the DOF’s May 7 Fiscal Update, “COVID-19 has caused a national recession, a precipitous decline in income, rapidly rising health and human services caseloads and substantial COVID-19 driven costs.” The DOF projects General Fund revenues will decline by $41.2 billion and the overall deficit will be $54.3 billion.