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Governor Cuomo,

Tomorrow, small businesses across New York are required to make remittances to the state for the sales taxes they’ve collected in the preceding three month period. We’re writing to you along with small businesses across Astoria to request that this quarter’s sales tax remittance be waived for firms with fewer than 15 employees, that the remittance from businesses that have already paid for this quarter be returned, and those that have yet to pay be allowed to retain those funds to shore up their finances as they suffer from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York.

Small businesses in Astoria reflect the incredible diversity of our communities, from Greek tavernas and Arab bakeries to hookah bars and Asian groceries. They’re part of why so many people from across New York and around the country come to live and work here, and they’re the foundation of countless families who’ve made their homes here for generations. But that rich history is in serious danger due to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York. Revenues have plummeted, forcing layoffs and closures. Even businesses that were doing well before are experiencing serious hardship, and those that were barely hanging on are now facing an existential crisis. But so far, the state has not provided any kind of relief.

Current city programs are welcome, but inadequate. A cash grant available to businesses with fewer than five employees is only designed to cover 40 percent of payroll costs and is capped at $27,000. For most restaurants and bars, payroll subsidies are already too late. Many have already laid off staff, especially because benefits from unemployment insurance are in many cases greater than what firms could offer from reduced payroll. A zero-interest loan available to businesses with fewer than 100 employees is capped at $75,000, but imposing repayment obligations after the crisis ends will make recovery harder.

For both programs, businesses are required to demonstrate either that their revenue in the first two months of 2020 has decreased at least 25 percent, either over the same period in 2019, or over their average monthly revenue in 2019. The first criterion may allow businesses whose revenue decreased for reasons other than the COVID-19 outbreak to qualify for funds, diluting resources available for those most impacted by this crisis. The second criterion is almost impossibly restrictive. Most businesses are suffering revenue loss due measures in effect for less than one week.

Allowing small businesses to retain their sales tax remittances would be a simple, quick, efficient, and effective means of providing that relief. We strongly urge you to consider this request, not only for Astoria, but for neighborhoods across New York City and throughout the state.

Businsses

Kambri Crews

QED Astoria

27-16 23rd Ave, Astoria, NY 11105

Ebrahim Jaffer

Triboro Printing

2502 Steinway St, Astoria, NY 11103

Nicole Panettieri

The Brass Owl

36-19 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105

Lexi Beach

Astoria Bookshop

31-29 31st St, Astoria, NY 11106

George Spilke

The Highwater

34-20 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106

Sonny Solomon

Kurry Culture

36-05 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103

Nicholas Velkov

Yoga Agora

33-02 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106

Christine Yen

Bench Flour Bakers

43-18 25th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103

Philippos Sidroglou

Elias Corner

24-02 31st St, Astoria, NY 11102

Marina Costas

Paint By Flowers

24-09 41st St, Astoria, NY 11103