Oregon Congressman Shares Latest News On Stimulus Payment.

Courtesy of Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

Today, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched a new web tool to allow for quick registration for the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments to those that don’t normally file a tax return.

Here’s some information from the IRS:

How do I use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool?

For those who don’t normally file a tax return, the process is simple and only takes a few minutes to complete. First, visit IRS.gov, and look for “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here.” Then provide basic information including Social Security number, name, address, and dependents. The IRS will use this information to confirm eligibility and calculate and send an Economic Impact Payment. Using the tool to get your payment will not result in any taxes being owed. Entering bank or financial account information will allow the IRS to deposit your payment directly in your account.  Otherwise, your payment will be mailed to you.

“Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info” is secure, and the information entered will be safe. The tool is based on Free File Fillable Forms, part of the Free File Alliance’s offerings of free products on IRS.gov.

Who should use the Non-Filers tool?

This new tool is designed for people who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who don’t receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits. Others who should consider the Non-Filers tool as an option, include:

Lower income: Among those who could use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool are those who haven’t filed a 2018 or 2019 return because they are under the normal income limits for filing a tax return. This may include single filers who made under $12,200 and married couples making less than $24,400 in 2019.

Veterans beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients: The IRS continues to explore ways to see if Economic Impact Payments can be made automatically to SSI recipients and those who receive veterans disability compensation, pension or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and who did not file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 tax years. People in these groups can either use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info option now or wait as the IRS continues to review automatic payment options to simplify delivery for these groups.

Social Security, SSDI and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries with qualifying dependents: These groups will automatically receive $1,200 Economic Impact Payments. People in this group who have qualifying children under age 17 may use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info to claim the $500 payment per child.

Students and others: If someone else claimed you on their tax return, you will not be eligible for the Economic Impact Payment or using the Non-Filer tool.

Coming next week: Automatic payments begin

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 and chose direct deposit of their refund will automatically receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and $500 for each qualifying child. Individuals who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits, SSDI or who receive Railroad Retirement benefits but did not file a return for 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive a payment in the near future.

Also coming next week: Get My Payment shows Economic Impact Payment date, helps with direct deposit

To help everyone check on the status of their payments, the IRS is building a second new tool expected to be available for use by April 17. Get My Payment will provide people with the status of their payment, including the date their payment is scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them.

An additional feature on Get My Payment will allow eligible people a chance to provide their bank account information so they can receive their payment more quickly rather than waiting for a paper check. This feature will be unavailable if the Economic Impact Payment has already been scheduled for delivery.

More Information on Economic Impact Payments

The IRS will post additional updates on IRS.gov/coronavirus on these and other issues.

OFFICE OF STATE FIRE MARSHAL EXTENDS SELF-SERVICE AT OREGON GAS STATIONS THROUGH APRIL 25.

Press Release from the Oregon State Fire Marshal today:

The Office of State Fire Marshal is extending a temporary rules change that allows Oregon gas stations to provide self-service on a voluntary basis, in order to address shortages of workers experienced by gas retailers statewide.

The rules change was first announced on March 28 with an expiration date of April 11. Today, State Fire Marshal Jim Walker extended the deadline to April 25.

“We appreciate the patience of all Oregonians and businesses with this temporary suspension of rules, which now allow for self-service at Oregon gas stations,” said Walker. “These changes provide station operators flexibility to manage their operations and help to make refueling safer for both customers and service station attendants, while keeping stations open at a critical time when COVID-19 is impacting gas retailers who serve our many essential workers statewide.”

The change allows station attendants to help these customers while avoiding face-to-face, hand-to-hand contact. It also applies physical distancing measures. Attendants will continue to sanitize equipment and fuel nozzles and continue to help customers with their refueling as needed.

Self-service is not mandatory, but having it as an option allows some gas stations to continue their operations with less staff and allows Oregonians who have to travel to still drive without concern they may not be able to find gas.

Unattended self-service is permitted when a gas station owner exhausts all staffing options. Stations that do not have an attendant on duty are required to post safety signs for physical distancing and instructions showing customers how to operate a fuel pump correctly.

This extension of the self-service rules change does not affect areas of the state that are already authorized for self-service refueling under Oregon law.

Information about the extended rules change for self-service gasoline can be found on the OSFM website.

For additional information and for media questions, please contact the Oregon Emergency Coordination Center Joint Information Center (ECC JIC): Tel: 503-373-7872; media.covid-19@state.or.us.

Recreational Hunting And Fishing Closed To Non-Residents April 10.

Press Release from the Oregon Division of Fish and Wildlife:

April 9, 2020

SALEM, Ore.— ODFW is closing recreational hunting, fishing, crabbing and clamming to non-residents due to concerns about travel to Oregon to participate in these outdoor activities. Such travel could spread the virus and put more of a burden on Oregon’s rural communities.

As of Friday 11:59 p.m., non-residents may no longer participate in these activities in Oregon. The restriction extends until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it is deemed safe to travel into Oregon. This order does not apply to anyone living in Oregon for less than six months who has not yet established residency.

Some states, including Washington, have closed hunting and fishing to limit the spread of the virus. While seasons remain open in Oregon (except for Columbia River salmon/steelhead fishing), resident hunters and anglers should not be travelling to participate. ODFW is hearing concerns from rural communities about people visiting to hunt and fish and placing additional burdens on these communities’ limited resources.

“Rural communities are concerned about the potential impact of COVID-19 on medical and emergency services, search and rescue and their citizens. Some have asked us to close seasons to reduce travel,” said ODFW Director Curt Melcher. “We would like to keep seasons open to give locals an outlet during this difficult time, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to travel to these communities. Stick close to home and fish at your local lake, pond or river and do not go crabbing or clamming unless you live on the coast, and then only to places where access is still open.”

ODFW monitoring has shown that while Oregonians are still participating in fisheries, clamming, shed hunting, and wildlife viewing it is in significantly lower numbers and that the majority of participants are doing it close to home and practicing social distancing. “We appreciate that many Oregonians are taking the Stay Home, Save Lives order seriously,” added Melcher.

ODFW field staff monitoring participation in the field have seen out of state license plates and out of state angling and shellfish licenses in use. Staff are also fielding numerous calls from non-residents inquiring about plans to come to Oregon to hunt or fish.

“ODFW believes this action restricting non-residents will help local communities enforce the restrictions on out-of-state travelers violating the order, and putting local resources and residents at risk,” said Melcher. “We appreciate everyone’s understanding at this difficult time and look forward to seeing you outdoors again in the future when this passes.”

ODFW anticipates there will be opportunity for non-residents who have already purchased a 2020 license to participate in hunting, fishing or shellfish opportunities later in the year. ODFW will refund non-resident spring bear and spring turkey tags and reinstate preference points for spring bear hunters. Please contact Licensing at odfw.websales@state.or.us, (503) 947-6101 to arrange for a refund.

Non-residents interested in applying for a fall controlled hunt may still apply online at  https://odfw.huntfishoregon.com/login and the deadline to apply remains May 15, 2020.

Oregon residents who do choose to hunt, fish, crab or clam are reminded to:

  • Stay close to home rather than travelling far. The Governor’s Executive Order says hunting and fishing are OK, but to limit travel.
  • Practice social distancing and stay six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household, including when outdoors.
  • Check access where you are headed as the area may be closed. State Parks are closed, counties have closed some parks and boat ramps, beach access is closed in some areas and national forests and BLM lands have closed recreation sites.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Carry needed supplies with you to minimize non-essential stops—including buying your license/tag online instead of making a trip to a license sale agent if possible and bringing all needed food, water and sanitization supplies with you.

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Media Contact: Michelle Dennehy, (503) 931-2748, Michelle.N.Dennehy@state.or.us
Licensing Contact: (for refund or questions on licensing): 503 947 6101

Oregon COVID-19 Emergency Coordination Center Releases Advisory To All Oregon Residents Tonight.

Oregon COVID-19 Emergency Coordination Center – Joint Information Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 9, 2020

Media contacts:
Bobbi Doan, Public Information Officer, Joint Information Center, 503-373-7872
Chris Havel, Joint Information Center, 503-931-2590

Message from the outdoors to Oregonians: stay home for now

Sunny, warm weather typically sends Oregonians out in droves to their favorite outdoor recreational destinations. However, the message from state leaders, health care workers, and those on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 outbreak is: please continue to stay home to save lives … even when it’s sunny.

State parks, many federal trailheads, and all private and public recreational campgrounds are closed to prevent people from congregating and to protect the staff that maintain these areas. Some local parks are still open, but physical distance of at least six feet needs to be maintained to stay safe. Whether indoors or outdoors, the virus can still be easily passed from person to person, even if individuals are not showing symptoms.

All non-essential travel (such as for boating, hunting, or fishing) should be short and minimal, if at all. Oregonians who do not live at the beach should not travel there; most public access points are closed. Minimizing travel will lessen the chance of spreading COVID-19, especially to rural communities that do not have the hospital capacity to treat an influx of patients from other parts of the state.

Visiting a closed area poses a danger to the visitor, the limited park staff, and the area itself. Parking and restrooms are closed and trash collection has been suspended. Parking illegally may result in a citation or your vehicle being towed.

For now, the best way to get outside while keeping yourself and others safe is to stick close to home:

  • Backyard picnics on the lawn or patio with those in your immediate household
  • Walks or jogs in your neighborhood while maintaining physical distance
  • Gardening, washing your car, or just soaking up the sunshine in your yard

It is crucial for the health and safety of Oregonians to follow Governor Brown’s directive to stay home in order to save lives. The most recent trend show that, if Oregonians maintain current social distancing measures, the state will slow the spread significantly and help Oregon hospitals meet demand. Now is a critical time to stay the course so we can continue this progress.

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Recreation links:

National Parks:https://www.nps.gov/state/or/index.htm

US Forest Service:https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/home/?cid=fseprd716206

US Bureau of Land Management:https://www.blm.gov/oregon-washington/covid-access-restrictions

US Army Corps of Engineers:https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/

US Fish and Wildlife Service:https://www.fws.gov/home/state-by-state-closures.html

Oregon State Parks:https://bit.ly/OPRD-covid

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:https://myodfw.com/COVID-19

Oregon Department of Forestry:https://www.oregon.gov/odf/Pages/COVID-19.aspx

Oregon Recreation and Parks Association:https://www.orpa.org/page/covid19

Idaho Power parks:https://www.idahopower.com/community-recreation/recreation/

Portland General Electric parks:https://www.pge.com/recreation

STATE AGENCIES ASK OREGONIANS TO VOLUNTARILY REFRAIN FROM OUTDOOR BURNING WHILE COMMUNITIES RESPOND TO COVID-19

Press Release from Oregon Emergency Management Division tonight:

(SALEM, Ore.) — In response to the “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus, a coalition of Oregon state agencies are asking Oregonians to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office (OSFM), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recognize that many Oregonians use fire as a necessary tool to manage their lands, including industrial forest landowners, farmers, small woodland owners, and rural residents. However, it’s important to weigh possible effects on the wider community before choosing to burn. Please be a good neighbor. Smoke from fires during the current pandemic may result in the following negative consequences for the public and first responders:

  • Smoke inhalation can cause upper respiratory symptoms, which could be incorrectly attributed to COVID-19, leading to unnecessary testing or self-isolation.
  • Exposure to smoke and other forms of air pollution can increase the risk of contracting infectious respiratory disease such as COVID-19, increase the severity of existing respiratory infections, and worsen underlying chronic respiratory conditions.
  • There is a severe shortage of personal protective equipment to reduce smoke exposure at this time.
  • First responders and other emergency services are operating at a reduced capacity and have limited resources to respond to out-of-control burns.

COVID-19 affects the respiratory system. Fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the most common symptoms. While some people with COVID-19 are hospitalized, most patients recover at home, where smoke from a nearby outdoor burn could worsen their condition. To avoid additional health impacts, all people in Oregon are asked to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning activities until further notice.

Burning that can be delayed includes:

  • Debris burning around one’s property
  • Burn barrels
  • Industrial burning
  • Slash and forest burning
  • Agricultural burning that would impact neighbors and can be delayed

Local officials may already have prohibited outdoor burning in your area. If you must conduct outdoor burning, please first check with your local fire agency to see if outdoor burning is still allowed. If it is, please follow best burn practices, which can be found on the website of the Office of the State Fire Marshall.

DEQ, ODF, OSFM, and ODA encourage the public to use the following alternatives to burning when available:

  • Recycle paper products when possible
  • Compost or chip yard debris on site
  • Haul to a yard debris composting or recycling site
  • Reuse old lumber

For more information, visit:

ODF – https://www.oregon.gov/odf/Fire/pages/Burn.aspx

DEQ – https://www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/Pages/Burning.aspx

ODA – https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/NaturalResources/Pages/Burning.aspx

OHA COVID-19 website – https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19

This is a rapidly evolving situation. The latest COVID-19 response and protocols information is available at the Oregon Health Authority | COVID 19 Updates webpage. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

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SBA Paycheck Protection Program For Small Businesses And Their Employees Begins Today.

As part of the stimulus package just signed by President Trump, SBA loans are available beginning today designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

A business can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. 

The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.  Full details at the website

COVID-19 Relief Package Payments Scheduled To Begin April 13 Per Oregon Congressman.

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and released an update today on the status of the COVID-19 Relief Package:

“I want to give you updated information as I understand it right now for when you might receive your direct payment of $1,200 from the COVID-19 relief package, and what you may need to do in order to receive it.

The Department of Treasury determined that beginning April 13 they will begin sending out the COVID-19 payments through direct deposit information submitted with your last tax return. If the IRS doesn’t have that information on file, the best way to receive the benefit would be to file your 2019 taxes.

Just yesterday, we received great news. According to the Treasury Department, if you receive Social Security benefits, your check will automatically come to you. 

This came after pressure from my colleagues and I on the Ways and Means Committee, who are continuing to fight for those in need to receive direct cash assistance. We are also looking to build on this progress and make the same automatic payment available to some Veterans and those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

As of today, here is the latest estimated timing from the IRS on economic impact checks: 

-The IRS will make payments to people through direct deposit in mid-April (likely, the week of April 13th). In order to be in the first round the IRS has to have direct deposit information from either your 2019 or 2018 tax filing.

-About 3 weeks after those deposits are made (the week of May 4th), the IRS will begin issuing paper checks to individuals.

-The paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week, which could take up to 20 weeks to get all the checks out.

-The checks will be issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order—starting with people with the lowest income first.

-The IRS is encouraging taxpayers to file their 2019 returns to the maximum extent possible. As taxpayers file their 2019 returns electronically, the IRS will post updated tax information weekly to its files and then send this information to another agency that will issue weekly payments.

-The IRS expects to create a portal by the end of April/early May that will allow taxpayers, once they have been authenticated, to: (1) find out the status of their rebate payment and (2) update direct deposit information.

-For SSA beneficiaries who do not file returns, Treasury and the IRS announced on the evening of April 1st that these beneficiaries will not need to file a “simple tax return” to receive their rebate. Recipients will receive their rebate just as they would their Social Security benefits.

-For other taxpayers who do not file returns, the IRS expects to release the “simple tax return” soon. The IRS expects it will contain only a few questions, including name, Social Security Numbers, dependents, and deposit information. There also will be other IRS guidance accompanying this simple tax return.”