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20 April 2020

Anti-Crisis Shield 2.0 – new rules for entrepreneurs

On the night of April 16th and 17th, 2020, the government has approved an amendment to the set of laws under the common name Anti-crisis Shield, which entered into force on April 1st, 2020, following an accelerated legislative path, including consultation. An amendment, already signed by the President of the Republic of Poland, extends the possibility of exemption from ZUS contributions to companies employing up to 49 employees. At the same time, information about the government’s work on the Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0 and on a completely new program, called the Financial Shield for Companies, was confirmed.

Anti-crisis Shield 2.0 introduces several new solutions for entrepreneurs and employees and extends the scope of existing regulations. The arrangements for the new project were not consulted with the Social Dialogue Council. Below we present all of the crucial changes in the amendment.

Exemption from ZUS also for larger enterprises

As a reminder: the initial version of the governmental project introduced the possibility of applying for exemption from the obligation to pay ZUS contributions (for three months) for companies employing less than 9 people and self-employed and set the income criterion: PLN 15,681 (300% of average remuneration), provided that they had previously paid contributions. Only companies founded by February 1st, 2020, were eligible.

The amendment to the Anti-Crisis Shield extends this possibility to enterprises employing 10 to 49 people and abolishes the income criterion. Regardless of the income generated, the solution will be available to companies and self-employed persons who have previously paid contributions for themselves. The program will also cover companies established between February 1st and April 1st, 2020. The government has pledged to cover half of the ZUS contributions only on the condition that the employees covered by the support program maintain their jobs.

Note: payers employing between 10 and 49 people subject to social security will be exempted from paying contributions of 50% of the total unpaid contributions due on the monthly declaration of account.

Government support includes exemption from contributions to the

  • social security,
  • health insurance,
  • Labor Fund,
  • Solidarity Fund,
  • Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund or Bridging Pensions Fund.

The amendment to the Anti-Crisis Shield extends this possibility – in compliance with all applicable rules and restrictions – also to enterprises employing from 10 up to 49 employees. The government has pledged to cover half of the ZUS contributions only if the employees covered by the support program maintain their jobs.

Extended demurrage

Another extension of the originally adopted provisions concerns the financing of demurrages, including self-employed and employees under civil law contracts. The amendment provides for the possibility of re-granting the benefit, no more than three times (it was originally assumed that the benefit would be one-off). Re-granting the benefit will depend on demonstrating that the financial situation of the entrepreneur has not improved, and its payment will not be possible at the earliest in the month following the month of payment of the benefit for the first time.

The amount of the demurrage will not be taxed and covered by contributions, and the benefit’s value will depend on the type of contract between the employer and employee, under the provisions of the first version of the Anti-Crisis Shield.

Microloan for micro-entrepreneurs

Micro-entrepreneurs can apply for loans up to 5,000 PLN to cover the operating costs of business. This form of support was formerly addressed only to entrepreneurs employing up to 9 people. The amendment expands the group of eligible to micro-entrepreneurs who does not employ (thus also to self-employed). This loan will be canceled if they continue to operate for three months after receiving it.

The amendment also introduces the possibility of applying for financial support from the Polish Agency of Enterprise Development (PARP) in the form of loans, guarantees, and sureties, the subject of which is financing business activities. A condition of applying for assistance is a difficult financial situation, directly related to the introduction of an epidemic or an epidemic emergency state. The amount of support will be determined by the scale of the activity carried out by the company and the value of losses suffered by the entrepreneur during the period of the abovementioned states.

Employers and employees

The government decided to add further provisions allowing for interference in the employees’ working time and the amount of rest due. Under the art. 15x of the amendment, the employer may oblige the employee to remain ready to perform work in the workplace or another place designated by the employer outside of normal working hours. In this respect, the application of the Labor Code has been excluded. The employer may also instruct the employee to exercise his right to rest in the place designated by the employer. The above may apply only to employees of the sectors listed in art. 15x, including entrepreneurs conducting activities consisting in the provision of banking within the meaning of the Banking Law Act, enterprises conducting activities in the agri-food sector related to the production or delivery of food or enterprises ensuring the operation of critical infrastructure systems and objects within the meaning of the Crisis Management Act.

The scope of granting co-financing for employees’ remuneration in the case of reduced working time and introduced downtime has also been extended. From the moment of adopting the amendment, financial support will also be available to state legal persons as defined in the Act on Public Finance and Non-Governmental Organizations (i.e. associations and foundations that are public benefit organizations). Co-financing is due from the month of submission of the application, not from the date of submission of the application.

Also, for the duration of the epidemic, initial training in OSH will be able to be implemented entirely remotely, using electronic means of communication. This does not apply to special cases, like OSH training regarding workplaces.

Changes in taxes

Property tax

The Anti-Crisis Shield 2.0 introduces new possibilities of relief in tax liabilities for entrepreneurs affected by negative economic consequences (losses in financial liquidity) in connection with the pandemic crisis:

  • exemptions from property tax: land, buildings, and structures related to conducting business activities for part of 2020 (Article 15p);
  • extension of the deadlines for payment of real estate tax installments for April, May, and June, no longer than until September 30th, 2020 (Article 15q).

In the case of natural persons, this solution may apply to installments payable until May 15th, and in the case of legal persons, to installments of tax for April, May, and June, payable until the 15th day of each of those months.

The recent amendment introduces the possibility of exempting land, buildings, and structures from property tax also for non-governmental organizations.

PIT

The change in the PIT domain concerns the rules and allowed dates for granting a 1% tax for charity. Since the entry into force of the Act, a donation can be made in the tax return submitted by June 1st, 2020 (or in a correction of the tax return submitted by that date), contrary to the previously eligible deadline: April 30th.

CIT

The amendment also includes provisions regarding CIT. It introduces an extension to September 30th, 2020, of the deadline for preparing local transfer pricing documentation and the deadline for submitting a statement on the use of market prices for entities whose tax year or financial year started after December 31st, 2018, and ended before December 31st, 2019.

Besides, capital groups, which will suffer losses in 2020 as a result of a coronavirus pandemic and will not, therefore, meet the profitability condition, will be able to maintain the status of a tax capital group.

VAT

The second version of the Anti-Crisis Shield removes the zero tax rate for the supply of computer equipment and multimedia devices (which could help to equip schools with the equipment necessary to provide remote education).

New rules for the delivery of registered letters – hybrid delivery

According to the announcement, a registered letter will be able to be delivered to a mailbox without having to apply to the post office, while the courier shipments will be able to be delivered without the obligation to obtain confirmation of receipt.

However, the new regulations also introduce the concept of “hybrid delivery”. According to the amendment, the operator designated for enforcing the provision of postal services (Poczta Polska) accepts a registered parcel, and then moves it and delivers it in the form of an electronic document to the addressee without the need for a personal signature.

The new procedure for the delivery of registered letters will be in force – as per the amendment – until September 30th, 2020.

Tax reliefs

The new regulations are also intended to assist entrepreneurs in obtaining concessions in the repayment of tax liabilities in connection with COVID-19, by indicating that failure to collect interest for late payment from tax arrears will constitute public aid aimed at remedying serious disturbances in the economy (referred to in the Communication Commission – The provisional framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic (2020 / C 91 I / 01).

The introduction of these provisions will enable the entrepreneur to apply for public aid up to the maximum amount of 800,000 EUR (from the current 200,000 EUR).

Exemption from the tax on civil law transactions in trading cryptocurrencies

From July 1st, 2020, sales and exchanges of virtual currencies will be exempt from the tax on civil law transactions (within the meaning of Art. 2 paragraph 2 point 26 of the Act of March 1st, 2018, on counteracting money laundering and terrorist financing).

Amendments proposed by the political opposition

  • The possibility of suspending the repayment of a student loan taken until the end of the 2019/2020 academic year for the period indicated in the application, but not longer than 6 months.
  • Extensions of the validity dates of student IDs and academic IDs of academic teachers, as well as doctoral student IDs for the period of suspension of the university’s activity and 60 days from the moment of resumption of activity by the university.
  • The possibility of evicting perpetrators of domestic violence even during a nationwide emergency or epidemic state.
  • Foundations, associations, and cooperatives will be able to make binding decisions during the nationwide epidemic state with the use of electronic communications.

Other significant provisions contained in the amendment

  • Telecommunications operators will be covered by the right to provide the proper Minister with data concerning the location of persons covered by quarantine (covering the period of the last 14 days).
  • Financial benefit for farmers and their families when they are quarantined, hospitalized or epidemiologically supervised – a monthly benefit of 50% of the minimum wage, 1,300 PLN (provided that unable to maintain their work).
  • Securing funds to prevent COVID-19 from being enforced under civil proceedings, acts of court bailiffs or administrative enforcement authorities.
  • Unlimited internet for access to gov.pl portal and online medical services enabling remote diagnostics, also e-learning services.
  • A one-time subsidy from the state budget in the amount of 87 million PLN to support eServices in health care.
  • Accelerated implementation of the Broadband Fund and the Polish National Educational Network (originally planned for 2021).
  • Extension of administrative deadlines related to the expiration date of the licenses (driving license, driving authorization, periodic training, medical and psychological tests to work as drivers) – 30 days from the date of cancellation of the nationwide emergency or epidemic status.

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