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Coronavirus: government updates

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Coronavirus: government updates

Update 4/1

Today, the Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) outlined temporary taxpayer relief initiatives recently implemented to support Hoosiers during the statewide COVID-19 health emergency.

“Now is the time where we have to find new ways to support our fellow Hoosiers and assist them during this challenging situation,” explained DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “The entire DOR team cares deeply about the work we do and serving Hoosiers, and this is a time when we double down on our commitment to serve.

“Our team has been aggressively looking for ways to implement flexibility across all service functions while preserving revenue collection operations, which are vital to funding state services provided to Hoosiers – all with the goal of helping our fellow Hoosiers. We believe our ‘Helping Hoosiers’ service enhancements do exactly that.”

DOR’s COVID-19 service enhancements include:

Filing, Payment & Registration Extensions

  • Extending certain individual and corporate filing and payment deadlines.
  • Extending certain motor carrier permitting, registration and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) filing and payment requirements.
  • Extending expiring Registered Retail Merchant Certificates (RRMC) to June 30, 2020.
  • Implementing case-specific penalty adjustments for late filing and payments.

Expedited Refund Processing

  • Continuing all tax processing, ID protection, fraud detection and refund processing operations.
  • Reallocating resources to accelerate certain refund case reviews and approvals.

Debt Collection Relief

  • Suspending the creation of most tax filing bills, new warrants and liens. Prior audit and legal bills will continue to be issued to protect statutes of limitation.
  • Suspending creation of new sheriff and collection agency collection cases.
  • Suspending outbound collection call activity to focus additional resources on assisting Hoosiers with payment support and other customer-care questions.
  • Suspending creation of new levy and garnishment involuntary collection actions.
  • Canceling current levy and garnishment involuntary collection actions.
  • Offering installment payment plan agreements up to 60 months.
  • Working with Hoosiers to modify existing installment payment agreements.
  • Moving existing payment plan due dates to July 15, 2020, upon request.
  • Suspending payment plan terminations for missed payments.

Audit & Legal Protest Relief

  • Suspending all in-person field audit work and working collaboratively with all entities currently under audit via correspondence and teleconference to meet statutory requirements.
  • Suspending the non-filer desk audit letter distributions.
  • Modifying desk audit record verification requirements (including Schedule C expense verification).
  • Suspending all in-person protest hearings.
  • Extending the current 60-day legal protest window an additional 60 days for a total of 120 days.
  • Extending the current 30-day protest rehearing window an additional 60 days for a total of 90 days.
  • Adjusting all legal protest final decisions to delay triggering of downstream statutes of limitation.
  • Allowing the use of a valid/current Federal Power of Attorney form in lieu of Indiana’s State Power of Attorney forms in certain circumstances.
  • Eliminating all possible remaining requirements for wet signatures.

Hardship & Offer-In-Comprise (OIC) Support

  • Relaxing certain record submission requirements for new case creation.
  • Extending the time frame for record submission on all pending hardship cases until July 31, 2020.
  • Extending new hardship and OIC case processing deadlines.
  • Supporting all requests to adjust payment plan terms.

Customer Service Options

  • Except for in-person services, all tax processing systems and operations are operating smoothly. Customer Service team members are here to help via phone, correspondence, email and online services Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. local time.
  • Call DOR’s individual customer service line at 317-232-2240.
  • Call a specific District Office using the contact information at dor.in.gov/3390.htm.
  • Call DOR’s Motor Carrier Services at 317-615-7200.
  • Contact a specific DOR business unit using a list of phone numbers and email addresses available at dor.in.gov/3325.htm.
  • Email DOR using the online form at dor.in.gov/3392.htm.
  • Take advantage of our online services by visiting dor.in.gov/4331.htm.

Tax Policy Assistance

  • Contact the DOR Tax Policy team to assist with any questions or needed clarifications by emailing taxpolicy@dor.in.gov.

“We recommend Hoosiers continue to comply with all tax filing and payment requirements, be responsive to DOR correspondence and to contact our team if they have questions or need assistance,” added Commissioner Grennes. “This situation is very fluid and we will continue to look for ways to help Hoosiers during this very difficult time.”

Any changes to this guidance, additional modifications to normal operations or changes to tax filing and payment deadlines will be posted on DOR’s website, as well as DOR’s social media accounts.

 

Update March 31

Indy Parks Director, Linda Broadfoot emailed “a word of caution” regarding parks use during this time of physical distancing.  “Our park trails are still open, but when you visit a park, please make sure you are following CDC guidance,” which stresses 6-foot distance between people, staying home if you are not feeling well, and avoiding touching surfaces.

“We’ve had to close playgrounds and shelters to discourage people from gathering and from touching surfaces,” informs Broadfoot. “Choose areas that are not crowded, and try to visit during off-peak times. Maybe visit a park you haven’t been to before that isn’t quite as populous; and please… never, ever park on the grass.

Indy Parks meal service sites information is available by calling 317-327-PARK or email IndyParksCS@indy.gov.

Katie Carlson, the Community Yoga instructor at the Garfield Park Burrello Family Center leads a 5-minute relaxing flow yoga session to do at home. Plans are in place for a longer flow session starting this week.  

Access the sessions here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=227026102036265

 

Mayor Joe Hogsett joined leadership of the Indy Chamber today to announce nearly $3 million in investments committed for a Rapid Response Loan Fund for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including $1.5 million from City of Indianapolis sources. The Indy Chamber also issued a challenge to top area businesses and financial institutions to provide additional funding and support toward its $10 million goal for the fund. More information on the Rapid Response Loan and the process to apply is available at response.indychamber.com/loans.

“It’s clear that restrictions are necessary to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but we know that small businesses and their employees are hurting as a result,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “As we face this pandemic, leaders from public, private, and philanthropic organizations must work collaboratively and fight for the continued success of our community. History has shown that when Indianapolis faces significant hardship, our community rallies together. Today’s announcement is one of many steps our city’s leaders are taking in order to support and preserve the businesses that form the backbone of our economy.”

$1 million in loan capital contributed by Capital Improvement Board (CIB) is earmarked for the food and beverage industry, two industries significantly affected by the first wave of the COVID-19’s business impact. CIB-funded loans will offer working capital to existing food and beverage industry entrepreneurs to keep their businesses afloat, providing bridge loans while traditional financing or disaster recovery loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration materialize.

"Our restaurants and bars are part of what fuels Indianapolis as a convention and event city. We want to do our part to help our partners in the entertainment and restaurant industries be there to welcome our convention business back when it returns,” said Andy Mallon, executive director of the Capital Improvement Board.

Also in today’s announcement, the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank has committed $500,000 toward this fund.

“To keep our focus on making critical investments in public infrastructure throughout Indianapolis, there must be thriving neighborhoods and thriving neighborhood businesses,” said Sarah Riordan, Executive Director and General Counsel for the Indianapolis Bond Bank. “Small business is a driving force for a growing community, and our commitment today is one in the future of our great city.”

In addition to contributions from the City of Indianapolis, Indy Chamber President and CEO Michael Huber issued a call to action for top area funders to invest in this loan fund with a target goal of $10 million. Private and philanthropic funds raised will extend to all eligible small businesses in the 9-county region.

“Time is of the essence for local entrepreneurs and small businesses,” notes Huber. “While federal loans and tax credits will provide significant relief, our businesses need more immediate financial support. We are calling on all major employers, financial institutions, and philanthropic organizations to join us as we invest in the livelihood of our small business community.”

Anthem has committed $1 million dollars to this fund.

“It is imperative that we do everything we can to support the nearly 43,000 small businesses in the Indianapolis region during this time of uncertainty,” said Anthem President and CEO Gail K. Boudreaux.  “As an Indianapolis-based company for 75 years, we are committed to improving the health of our community and the health of our local economy at this crucial time.”

Other initial funders include the Indy Chamber ($300,000) and LISC Indianapolis ($75,000). Today’s total announced commitments of $2.8 million add to the loan fund’s existing $840,000 balance, bringing the fund to just over $3.7 million toward a $10 million goal.

The Rapid Response Loan Fund will be administered by Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) and other partners. BOI, a program of the Indy Chamber, recently pivoted its focus to emergency assistance for small businesses affected by COVID-19 via free one-on-one business coaching and access to lending capital. Indy Chamber staff, as well as faculty and alumni of the IU Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, leaders of the Indianapolis Bar Association, communications professionals at Vox Global, and other subject matter experts are on call to field small business questions via the Chamber’s Rapid Response Hub.

For more information on loan requirements and steps to apply, visit response.indychamber.com/loans.

 

Taylor Schaffer
Deputy Chief of Staff - Communications
Office of Mayor Joe Hogsett – City of Indianapolis

taylor.schaffer@indy.gov

P: (317) 327-2793  C: (317) 694-0463
www.indy.gov

 

Update March 27:

A note from Prosecutor Ryan Mears:

In recent weeks the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our community in unprecedented ways, affecting nearly every aspect of life as we know it and the Criminal Justice system in Marion County is no exception. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is working to keep our community informed on matters regarding criminal cases and crime prevention tips.

Walk-in assistance at all Prosecutor’s Office locations is no longer available until further notice. General questions or requests for assistance in contacting the appropriate Deputy Prosecutor should be directed to mcpo@indy.gov.

The restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus have impacted hearing dates for pending criminal cases and availability of our crime prevention programs. See here for current updates: https://bit.ly/2x467h7

Traffic cases
All traffic court cases are being continued by the Court until April 6 or later. Due to the volume of cases, court staff will not be updating the chronological case summary before Traffic Court reopens on April 6.

Criminal cases
Jury trials may be rescheduled until April 15, 2020, or a later date. Other Court hearings may be rescheduled until April 6, 2020, or a later date, including bench trials. For specific case information visit mycase.in.gov or contact the Criminal Courts Division at 317-327-1447.

Prospective Jurors are advised to call 317-327-8992 to check the status of their summons.

Child support
All child support hearings will be continued until May 6 or later. The Prosecutor’s Office continues to make child support services available by phone at 317-327-1800 or email at familyadvocate@indy.gov.

CyberSafe presentations
All presentations at schools and youth centers have been canceled until further notice.

Neighborhood and community outreach
Attendance at group meetings by our staff has been suspended. Our Neighborhood Outreach Coordinators will continue to share information and be available by email. If you would like to request remote attendance by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office contact Neighborhood Outreach Anitra Tyler atanitra.tyler@indy.gov.

Second Chance Workshops
The April 24 Second Chance Workshop at the Warren Township Trustee’s Office has been postponed. Individuals who registered will be contacted with the new date once it has been set. Questions regarding our Second Chance Workshops can be directed to secondchance@indy.gov.

James E. Waters Community Mediation Center
Volunteer mediator training is on hold until further notice.

AG Curtis Hill warns Hoosiers to beware fake coronavirus (COVID-19) tests

Attorney General Curtis Hill is warning Hoosiers of scammers taking advantage of the scarcity of COVID-19 tests by falsely claiming to be able to provide testing.

“Consumers are at risk not only of losing money from these scams,” Attorney General Hill said, “but of getting dangerously false information about their infection status. We’re working to protect Indiana residents and ensure better outcomes.”

There are currently no tests that can be self-administered at home to find out whether someone has COVID-19.

The only tests currently available in Indiana require a doctor's order and specimen collection done by a medical professional. At this time, there is no FDA-approved blood test to determine whether someone has COVID-19.

Because conditions are constantly changing regarding the availability of testing and decisions about who qualifies, Hoosiers should keep up with the latest information by consulting credible sources.

The Indiana State Department of Health's COVID-19 Call Center can be reached 24/7 at 877-826-0011, and the agency regularly updates the coronavirus.in.gov website.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains online information about testing, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also provides in-depth information related to these topics.

As always, if you encounter suspected scams, you may report them online to the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. If you need additional information regarding the Office’s Consumer Protection Division, please call 1-800-382-5516.

 

Government Updates March 26

From Indianapolis Mayor’s Office:

Last week, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the launch of a new tool on the city’s Indy.gov website that connects individuals, businesses, and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with community resources. The guide, which simplifies information from a variety of different sources, has already helped thousands of residents connect with food and employment services, along with other programming. Since its launch, the site has been updated with more than a dozen new tools, assets, and community supports.

Since the initial launch, the city has rolled out additional pages, new content, and a Spanish language version of the resource guide. New social media assets with information about the city’s recent travel warning advisory and “Stay-At-Home” order can be found on the main page of the site. The Office of the Mayor is committed to real-time updates and the further addition of new information throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Individuals who are unable to navigate the city’s website can call 317-327-4MAC between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to talk to a customer service representative.

 

Attorney General Curtis Hill today offered guidance to consumers who purchased tickets to events that have been canceled or postponed in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  If you have issues securing remedies promised by the entity from which you bought your tickets, the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division may be able to help you. Here’s what consumers should know:

  • Consumers who purchased tickets for events should consult the terms and conditions of their purchases to determine whether the purchases are refundable. If you are not sure, contact the venue where you purchased the ticket in an effort to get the remedy you are looking for.
  • In circumstances where the terms being offered by the entity are not what was previously advertised, report those issues to the Attorney General using our online complaint form.
  • Consumers who see unexpected charges related to a cancellation should first contact the company. If that is not successful, contact your credit card company. Then file a complaint with the Attorney General using our online complaint form.

If you have questions for the Office’s Consumer Protection Division, you may call 1-800-382-5516.

 

 The Indiana Election Commission welcomes public comments on today’s order and other topics related to the June 2, 2020 Primary Election. Members of the public may submit comments to elections@iec.in.gov.

Governor Holcomb moved the primary from May 5th to June 2nd.

The complete order detailing each change is available at https://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2404.htm.

 

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service actions to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency include: 

  • Launching a new coronavirus webpage to proactively inform the public about USDA’s efforts to keep children and families fed 
  • Investing in a public-private partnership to feed rural children impacted by school closures due to COVID-19; 
  • Allowing states to issue Pandemic EBT (electronic benefits transfer, similar to food stamps) to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures;  
  • Providing administrative flexibilities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to allow for social distancing; and  
  • Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits to increase recipients’ purchasing power during the national emergency.  

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation business and industry hotline is receiving a high volume of inquiries. We are working to respond to these inquiries as soon as possible to provide insight or guidance on essential businesses based on Gov. Holcomb's Executive Order 20-08 issued March 23, 2020.


This Executive Order mandates Hoosiers to remain in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety. The order is in effect from March 25 to April 7.

We urge businesses, employees and the general public to please review the details and resources provided below:

  • If you’re an employee, please check with the leadership of your company for any additional information regarding whether they qualify as an essential or non-essential business.
     
  • If you are a business/employer please review Gov. Holcomb's Executive Order here, which outlines essential functions. Essential businesses are outlined beginning on page 5.
     
  • If you have general questions regarding the Executive Order, view the FAQ page here
     
  • We understand that while the Executive Order highlights a wide variety of businesses, it does not address every type of business or industry. We encourage businesses to review the Executive Order and to consider if their service or product meets the basic threshold of an essential business, which: 
    • Contributes to the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and essential businesses deemed essential in the Executive Order.
    • The primary purpose of the Governor's Executive Order is to protect Hoosiers and request they remain at home to combat the spread of COVID-19. While not every service or business is explicitly outlined, we recommend businesses take a "common sense" approach to determining if your business contributes to the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and businesses deemed essential. 
       
  • Employees of essential businesses are not required to provide any documentation. Law enforcement will not be stopping drivers on their way to and from work, traveling for an essential activity such as going to the grocery store or just taking a walk. 
     
  • For non-essential businesses and Hoosiers impacted by this ongoing public health emergency, we encourage you to visit iedc.in.gov/response to explore resources available to you. 

General questions from the public or healthcare provider inquiries about COVID-19 may be directed to the ISDH COVID-19 Call Center at the toll-free number 877-826-0011 (available 24/7) or email epiresource@isdh.in.gov.

We appreciate your patience.


Thank you,

IEDC Response Team

Office of Public Health and Safety (OPHS) and the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) joined Midwest Food Bank, grassroots partner B4UFALL, and local churches pop-up distribution sites. Families will be able to drive up to three distribution sites across the city to receive fresh, nutritious food, free of charge on Wednesday (3/25) and Friday (3/27) from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. and Saturday (3/28) from 1-3 p.m.:

Site #1: Hovey Street Church of Christ

2338 Hovey Street

Indianapolis, IN 46218

Site #2: Barnes United Methodist Church

900 West 30th Street

Indianapolis, IN 46208

Site #3: Friendship Missionary Baptist Church

1301 N. Goodlet Ave

Indianapolis. IN 46222

Residents and affected workers impacted by COVID-19 restrictions should visit the city’s resource guide, which can be viewed at indy.gov/covid. Spanish speaking residents can view the resource guide here.   call 317-327-4MAC between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to talk to a customer service representative.

 

Indiana Election Commission has issued an order making it easier for Hoosiers to vote in the June 2nd Primary Election. Governor Holcomb previously moved the primary from May 5th to June 2nd.

Commission’s order included the following changes, which will apply to the June 2nd Primary only:

 

·       Moves all election dates by 28 days.

 

·       Avoids reprinting ballots and other forms that have the May 5th, 2020 date.

 

·       Allows everyone to cast an absentee ballot by mail without having a specific reason to do so.

 

·       Grandfathers applications already received for an absentee ballot, which did not state an excuse permitting the person to vote by mail.

 

·       Permits county election boards to conduct meetings electronically rather than in person.

 

·       Encourages counties to appoint medical professionals to act as traveling absentee boards to help voters confined in medical facilities to cast a ballot.

 

·       Permits family members and caregivers of a confined voter to personally deliver and return a ballot.

 

·       Allows county election boards to consolidate voting locations and vote center sites and to take spacing measures to ensure the safety of voters.

 

·       Loosens restrictions on students who wish to serve as poll workers or absentee board members.

 

·       Allows county election boards to begin expeditiously counting ballots at 6 a.m. on Election Day.

 

·       Advises county election boards that election results must be determined by 3 p.m. on June 12th. 

The Commission will meet again on April 22nd, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

 

Eligible Hoosiers can register to vote online, check their registration status, and request an absentee ballot by visiting  www.IndianaVoters.com.

The complete order detailing each change is available at 

https://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2404.htm.

 

AG Curtis Hill advises Hoosiers to exercise caution when making donations during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Attorney General Curtis Hill said today that individuals should exercise caution when considering making charitable donations during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Hoosiers, by their very nature and values, tend to be a generous people eager to help their neighbors in times of crisis,” Attorney General Hill said. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous scammers attempt to take advantage of such good-heartedness. These con artists aim to trick unsuspecting donors out of their hard-earned money by posing as legitimate charities.”

To avoid falling victim to deceptive schemes, Attorney General Hill said, Hoosiers should follow these tips:

  • Carefully scrutinize requests from organizations seeking donations purporting to be for charity.
  • Don’t let names that sound like well-known charities confuse you or trick you into an immediate donation. Beware of callers who claim to be endorsed by the state.
  • If reached by phone, do not agree to donate money without further research into the organization. Don’t be pressured to make a donation over the phone.
  • Research each organization or cause to which you might wish to donate.
  • Do not share personal information or financial information in response to unsolicited emails, texts or phone calls.
  • Be sure to ask how much of your donation will go directly to the program you want to help.
  • If you are making a donation, make it by check or credit card rather than cash.
  • Don’t assume solicitations on social media or crowdfunding sites are legitimate — or that hyperlinks are accurate — even in posts shared or liked by your friends. Contact your friends offline and request information about links they share.
  • Go to a charity’s verified website and consider donating directly through the website. Legitimate donation websites should begin with “https” rather than just “http.”

Go online to report charity scams to the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. If you need additional information regarding the Office’s Consumer Protection Division, please call 1-800-382-5516.

 

AG Curtis Hill: What to do if you bought a ticket for an event canceled due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Attorney General Curtis Hill today offered guidance to consumers who purchased tickets to events that have been canceled or postponed in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Hoosiers who were looking forward to gathering with friends and enjoying concerts, sporting events and other activities with their peers have surely been disappointed by this wave of cancellations and postponements,” Attorney General Hill said. “To make the best of this difficult situation, we want to help consumers obtain any refunds or other remedies that are available to them.”

If you have issues securing remedies promised by the entity from which you bought your tickets, the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division may be able to help you. Here’s what consumers should know:

  • Consumers who purchased tickets for events should consult the terms and conditions of their purchases to determine whether the purchases are refundable. If you are not sure, contact the venue where you purchased the ticket in an effort get the remedy you are looking for.
  • In circumstances where the terms being offered by the entity are not what was previously advertised, report those issues to the Attorney General using our online complaint form.
  • Consumers who see unexpected charges related to cancellation should first contact the company. If that is not successful, contact your credit card company. Then file a complaint with the Attorney General using our online complaint form.

If you have questions for the Office’s Consumer Protection Division, you may call 1-800-382-5516.

For up-to-date information about the coronavirus pandemic, please visit the Indiana State Department of Health website at www.in.gov/coronavirus/. You may also call the department 24/7 at 1-877-826-0011. 

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