Economic Assistance for Travel Agents

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Note: We’ll update this page as more information becomes available.  Post comments and questions below.

The new CARES Act provides financial assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19, including travel agencies and travel agents.  Our friends in the Disney travel agent community have been significantly impacted by the outbreak, so we thought it’ll be helpful to summarize the help available, and how to get started.

The Small Business Administration has two main programs in response to COVID-19:

Here’s a short summary of the two new programs, including their pros and cons.  We’re not accountants, so you should discuss these programs with your accountant or CPA to see which is best for your situation.

It’s also helpful to start gathering these documents:

  • Your most recent personal and business tax returns (1 year at a minimum, up to 3 years)
  • Documents related to payroll costs, rent, mortgage interest, utilities, and healthcare costs
  • Business registration documents, such as Articles of Incorporation

The programs cover small businesses (such as S-Corps and LLCs), independent contractors, sole proprietorships, and the self-employed.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (Available now)

Pros:

  • Immediate $10,000 advance that doesn’t have to be repaid, even if you don’t qualify for a loan
    • It’s a one-step process
    • You can apply for this advance and the Paycheck Protection Program at the same time, as long as the funds aren’t used for the same purpose
  • Loans of up to $2 million
  • Fewer restrictions on business expenses than the Paycheck Protection Program
  • Long payback time for amounts beyond the $10,000 advance (up to 10 years)
  • Interest rate capped at 4%

Cons:

  • Loans have to be paid back, even if used for payroll (unlike the Payroll Protection Program)

Paycheck Protection Program (Starts April 3, 2020)

Sample application form here.

Pros:

  • Covers expenses including payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utilities, and healthcare costs
    • The loan amount will be 2.5 times your average monthly payroll between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020
  • Loan will be forgiven if used for the expenses listed above, even though the loan amount is calculated using just payroll

Cons:

  • Only available for expenses through June 30, 2020
  • Applying is a two-step process, first through the SBA link above, and then through a participating lender bank
  • Payroll reimbursement per employee capped to a pro-rated amount equal to $100K annually
  • Non-payroll costs above 25% of the loan will probably not be forgiven

Besides these, there are other programs such as debt relief for existing SBA loans that may also help. If you’ve got an existing loan, check with your lender for details.

Again, we’ll update this page as more information becomes available. Let me know if there’s anything else we can help with: len@touringplans.com or leave your comments and questions below.

Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

4 thoughts on “Economic Assistance for Travel Agents

  • April 3, 2020 at 4:47 pm
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    Many of the travel agents in our Wisconsin based office work strictly on commission. We are considered employees by our company since they withhold Federal, State, Social Security and Medicare taxes from our earnings. Due to the coronavirus situation we are finding our income dropping to less than 25% of 2019. Is there any assistance available to commissioned travel agents under the recent government stimulus packages or through unemployment/underemployment benefits?

    Reply
  • April 4, 2020 at 9:04 pm
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    If they are paid with a 1099 MISC they should be eligible for the PPP beginning on April 10th.

    Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 7:37 pm
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    Danette, if you’re an employee and all of your pay is reported on a W-2, then your employer is eligible for the PPP. I’d suggest talking to your employer about whether they’re applying for that – the money they get that they’d use to pay you is entirely forgivable.

    If your employer isn’t participating in the PPP, then you’re probably eligible for the expanded unemployment insurance in Wisconsin. I’d check with Wisconsin to see if they’ve got everything set up to accept applications and process that – some states are ahead of others in figuring that out.

    Feel free to email me with specific questions – I’ll do the best I can: len@touringplans.com.

    Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 7:37 pm
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    I’m told that we should expect an expansion/extension of the PPP in the next bill that Congress takes up.

    Reply

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