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Sports Officials and the Coronavirus Bill

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4/15/2020 – As more information has become available, it is clear that each state will be implementing the federal CARES Act in their own way, on their own timeline. To better inform officials nationwide, NASO has created a list of state-by-state resources that we will be continually updating as new information becomes available.

REVIEW STATE-BY-STATE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR UNEMPLOYMENT RESOURCES

Make sure you check back regularly, and if you have information from your state that we don’t have posted yet, use the form on the page to submit it for inclusion.

4/3/2020 – We continue to monitor and seek out appropriate direction for officials.

Each state in the US has different rules for unemployment insurance (UI) claims processing. Each official will need to open a claim in the state in which they reside. In the past, most states did not allow claims for Independent contractors (ICs).

The CARES Act does state that benefits will be provided to independent contractors but this is new territory for UI claims. It may be several weeks until the federal government provides guidance to states and then the states need to implement the guidance. So even though the funding will be from the federal government, it seems that the claims will be processed by states. Find your state unemployment insurance website.

One helpful thing “to do” while waiting is to calculate/estimate the earnings from previous tax returns filed in 2019 (or 2018 if 2019 has yet to be filed). Again, we don’t know for certain that this will be needed, but in the state UI systems, benefits are calculated as a percent of earnings, generally using the prior five quarters preceding the job loss. With 50 different UI systems, there will be variances, but this could be something productive to do now.

For the purposes of completing UI claims/requests for benefits, often the “check box” is for “self-employed” which is sometimes interchangeable language with Independent Contractor.

To reiterate what we said earlier this week, when the time comes to apply, we continue to recommend that every official be careful to NOT name any of the organizations they are paid by as their employer. This statement could delay the claims process.

4/1/2020 – Limited information is currently available about the specific requirements and procedures that will be put in place for independent contractor/gig workers through the recently passed CARES legislation. Here is what we know right now:

  1. The Federal Government is still sorting out the guidance it will supply the states.
  2. Each state will handle the implementation of the legislation on their own, each state will have the freedom to determine exactly how, and whom will receive benefits.
  3. If it does get to the point where you are going to file please remember that you are an independent contractor and MUST file that way. DO NOT list any entity that you work games for as your employer, that will cause significant issues with your application.

We are continually speaking with Federal and State level experts to bring you accurate information you can use.

3-27-2020 – The Congress of the United States passed the stimulus bill, it was signed shortly thereafter by President Trump. NASO and Referee will continue to keep you updated on how it affects sports officials and the officiating industry.

3-27-2020 – The $2 trillion economic stimulus bill that passed the Senate Wednesday includes potential benefits and allowances for the self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers, which may include sports officials.

The bill, which still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President before it goes into effect, consists of more than 400 pages of legal language covering stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, student loan changes, different retirement account rules and much more.

At NASO we immediately went to work discovering how the bill impacts you, the nation’s working sports officials, and especially those sports officials who have lost income during the coronavirus pandemic. There is still much that is unknown, but we promise that as soon as it is clear how the stimulus package impacts sports officials, we will provide accurate information, clarity and guidance not only to our member sports officials, but to the entire sports officiating industry.

While it is much too early to provide guidance on the details of the bill, some potential benefits should the bill pass the House and be signed by the President may include:

  • Unemployment insurance payments that may benefit independent contractors (and others) under a certain income threshold during the crisis.
  • Loans for certain independent contractors with deferred or forgiven repayment.
  • Potential credits against federal self-employment taxes.

It is also very likely that any financial relief will require proper documentation. That is to say that independent contractors who don’t keep good financial records, or who don’t report income may not benefit at all.

We are actively communicating with the offices of various Senators and Representatives to get more answers and clarity. We are hearing that further information on the self-employed and gig workers will be forthcoming from the Department of Labor – maybe as early as next week. Included within will likely be instructions on how and where to file and what documentation will be needed.

It might be possible that sports officials who can demonstrate significant financial impact from the nation’s game cancellations will be able to apply for some form of unemployment assistance under the Federal bill. On the state side of things, requirements will differ by state and details will be likely be provided by your state’s unemployment office.

Bear in mind that not all officials will qualify. NASO will continue to follow up and provide answers as they pertain to sports officials. Check back often to both Referee.com and NASO.org and be sure to follow both organizations on Facebook and Twitter.

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