Minnesota News

Senator Westrom Supports Bill to Keep Local Employers in Business Through Pandemic as it Passes Off Senate Floor

torrey westrom

(ST. PAUL, MN) – The Minnesota Senate passed the PPP tax conformity bill which will provide substantial relief to small businesses by ensuring they are not penalized for keeping their employees on payroll through the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed with overwhelming support, 55-12.  


Last year, the federal government passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to be an emergency measure to help small businesses keep their employees on payroll during the pandemic. Unfortunately, without Minnesota adopting the federal tax conformity passed by Congress last year, struggling business owners and also unemployed workers who received unemployment income, are now facing large state tax bills on this income or loans, if the Minnesota House leadership and Governor Walz won’t agree to this tax relief package.


“After such a difficult year, we can’t punish the Minnesotans who found themselves unemployed or Minnesota businesses who were able to find a way to stay afloat, as the Governor’s shutdowns seriously impacted every business sector in the state. This is a good measure to help rebuild Minnesota’s economy,” Senator Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) said.


Last year the federal CARES Act established the PPP program for small businesses experiencing hardship and revenue losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the program, loans would be forgiven if they were utilized to fund qualified costs and 60% of the loan proceeds were used for payroll costs. The federal government made it clear that forgiven PPP loans were not considered taxable income at the federal level, but they are at the state level according to Minnesota Law. 


This bill will bring Minnesota into federal tax conformity so that these forgivable loans are not subject to state taxes. Additionally, the bill will give some small businesses greater flexibility to file as C-corporations which will help reduce their tax burden. If the bill is not signed into law, Minnesota small businesses will be forced to pay millions on PPP loans that were meant to keep businesses alive. Without action, many of these struggling small businesses will have sizable state tax bills due on March 15th. The bill passed by the Senate includes a 30-day extension for business filings. Twenty-five other states, including every state that borders Minnesota and led by Governors of both parties, have already acted on PPP tax conformity. 


In addition to small business PPP tax relief, the legislation will provide tax relief for struggling Minnesotans who received expanded federal unemployment benefits. This relief is good news to the thousands of Minnesotans left unemployed during the pandemic through no fault of their own.