Like the federal government, states play a critical role in responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Legislators across the country are working to respond as quickly and effectively as possible, while balancing public health risks of legislative sessions for both legislators and the public. Most states typically begin their legislative sessions in January and adjourn for the year between March and May, but this is turning into an anything-but-typical legislative year.
Many states are racing to pass budgets, emergency COVID-19 supplemental appropriations, and other must-pass legislation as quickly as possible so they can adjourn earlier than anticipated and avoid unnecessary risk of exposure. Other states, especially those with legislative calendars scheduled to extend later into the year, have suspended their legislative sessions, with plans to resume once the virus is better contained. Some state legislatures, even those that have already adjourned, will undoubtedly reconvene to further address the pandemic. It may be necessary for legislators to come back to make budget adjustments. States should also follow the federal government in delaying tax filing and payment deadlines, though this can typically be done administratively.
While direct public health interventions and assistance to those in economic distress are the most urgent needs, tax policy will play an important role in this process, both in states’ efforts to provide relief and, ultimately, to cover the costs of these outlays. State procedures vary in the event of a failure to adopt a budget, though at this time most legislatures still appear to be striving to have budgets in place by the start of the next fiscal year.
The following table indicates when each legislature is next scheduled to meet, when it is currently scheduled to adjourn, what schedule adjustments are being contemplated or made in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the status of the state’s budget, and the state’s rainy day fund (RDF) balance as a percentage of the prior year’s general fund budget.
A state-by-state roundup of major state legislative responses to the COVID-19 outbreak appears below the table and will be updated periodically.
The legislature has approved and Governor Kay Ivey (R) has signed a $5 million emergency appropriation for COVID-19 response efforts. The legislature is currently in recess for its annual spring break. Committee hearings that were scheduled for March 25 have been canceled, and while the House is scheduled to meet March 26, a quorum is not expected. Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene March 31 to make a joint decision regarding future legislative meeting days. Governor Ivey has postponed primary runoff elections set for March 31 under powers authorized by the state’s Emergency Management Act and confirmed by the attorney general’s office. The state has not yet passed a budget for fiscal year 2021. The state has announced that they will follow the IRS in delaying income tax filing deadlines from April 15 to July 15. The Department of Revenue is also moving back the February, March, and April sales tax payment, but not filing, deadlines for small businesses affected by the pandemic (those with less than $62,500 in monthly sales in 2019). [Updated 3/20 with filing and payment extension.]
Alaska has approved $4.1 million in emergency state funding to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature remains in session, but the Capitol is closed to the public. Alaska’s Legislative Council has formed an Emergency Response Preparedness Subcommittee, which is developing plans for early adjournment of this year’s legislative session, originally scheduled to run through late May, should at least five of the 60 legislators get the coronavirus. Legislative attorneys have said the state constitution does not allow for remote voting.
While, at face value, Alaska’s rainy day fund reserves appear strong, the state’s finances have been severely impacted by the decline in oil prices due to Alaska’s heavy reliance on severance tax revenue. And the state faces a massive projected revenue shortfall of $2.5 billion heading into the next fiscal year (an estimate which predates the current crisis or the latest collapse in oil prices), putting legislators in the tough position of looking for new revenue sources as they prepare a budget for FY 2021. On March 18, the Alaska House rejected a $360 million supplemental budget bill which included $23.5 million in coronavirus response funding, drawing from the state’s dwindling Constitutional Budget Reserve. As of March 23, legislators plan for a “soft adjournment” on March 27, contingent on the passage of a new $4.5 billion budget. [Updated 3/23 with Senate budget introduction and plans to adjourn and 3/19 with details of House supplemental budget vote.]
Arizona legislators are working quickly to finalize a budget for FY 2021 using baseline FY 2020 funding levels, with no major policy changes expected other than to provide for emergency agency operations and social services in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Lawmakers have transferred $55 million from the rainy day fund into the public health emergencies fund. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in his January 2020 State of the State address announced his goal of using some of the state’s existing budget surplus revenue to cut taxes in FY 2021. But as the legislature proceeds in its plans to pass a baseline budget and adjourn early, tax changes that were being considered as part of a new FY 2021 budget have been put on hold.
On March 19, the House and Senate made progress on a scaled-down budget but were unable to come to an agreement on $50 million in coronavirus relief funding. Debate resumed March 23, and legislators hope to finalize the budget and adjourn quickly, with the understanding that special sessions will likely convene later this year to address regular legislative business after the immediate public health emergency subsides. [Updated 3/23 with new information on budget negotiations.]
The state has not announced plans to postpone this year’s fiscal session, which is set to begin April 8 and adjourn May 7. At that time, legislators are expected to consider a $5.8 billion budget for FY 2021. In early March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he wanted to transfer some of the state’s $54 million surplus into the state’s long-term reserve fund.
The legislature on March 16 approved legislation allowing Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to spend up to $1 billion for any purpose related to his coronavirus emergency declaration. The legislature then suspended its session until April 13. When the 2020 session resumes, legislators will need to enact a budget for FY 2021. California’s legislative session is scheduled to last through November. The state has announced that tax filing deadlines have been extended to July 15th. [Updated 3/20 with filing extension.]
The General Assembly suspended its session March 14, roughly midway through the 120-day meeting, and set a tentative return date of March 30 while acknowledging the recess might extend longer. About 350 bills are unresolved and the state budget has not been completed. The bipartisan Joint Budget Committee, comprised of six of the 100 state legislators, will continue to meet. Gov. Jared Polis (D) in his emergency declaration ordered funds be used for specific coronavirus response purposes.
The state has suspended its legislative session until at least March 30 but is still scheduled to adjourn on May 6. Lawmakers must still take up the budget and will also likely consider bills to lessen the coronavirus’ effect on the state’s economy. The state has announced that they will follow the IRS in delaying income tax filing deadlines from April 15 to July 15. [Updated 3/20 with filing extension.]
The General Assembly, which meets throughout the year, has been suspended indefinitely, after initially being suspended for one week through March 24. The legislature has yet to adopt a budget for FY 2021. In light of the pandemic, the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council reduced revenue estimates for both the current fiscal year and the upcoming fiscal year by a combined $93 million. However, estimates for both years remain higher than when the FY 2020 budget was approved last June.
Gov. John Carney (D) announced no-interest 10-year loans capped at $10,000 per month for qualifying restaurants, bars, and other hospitality businesses, to be used for non-personnel costs such as rent and utilities. Payments are deferred for nine months. This is for eligible businesses in operation for at least a year, with annual revenue below $1.5 million. Unemployment insurance benefits can be claimed by those working part-time provided they document their decreased hours and earnings. [Updated 3/20 with loan and UI benefit announcements and 3/19 with announcement of indefinite suspension.]
The legislature extended its 60-day session, which was originally scheduled to end March 13, in order to finalize a $93.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2021. The budget, which was approved unanimously by legislators on March 19 before they adjourned for the year, dedicates $300 million in reserve funds to address COVID-19 and earmarks $25.5 million in FY 2020 and $27.3 million in FY 2021 for coronavirus response. The budget has been sent to the governor, who has line-item veto authority. [Updated 3/23 with budget vote and adjournment.]
The General Assembly has suspended its session indefinitely, after both chambers agreed to an amended mid-year fiscal year 2020 state budget. Legislators approved shifting $100 million from the state’s $2.8 billion of reserves into the governor’s emergency fund for coronavirus response. However, the legislature must still pass a budget for FY 2021. Georgia also has postponed its presidential primary from March 24 to May 19. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the state generates about $5.2 billion of its revenue, or 28 percent, from April to June. With the slowdown because of the coronavirus outbreak, Georgia could face a deficit of more than $1 billion before the end of the fiscal year. [Updated 3/19 with $1 billion deficit estimate.]
The 2020 legislative session has been suspended indefinitely. Hawaii is currently operating under a two-year budget so will not need to pass a budget this year. However, legislators had been drafting a supplemental budget that they may consider should the 2020 legislative session resume.
Legislative leaders have expedited consideration of the fiscal year 2021 budget and appropriations bills in an attempt to end this year’s session before the original March 20 adjournment date. By law, the legislature must approve a balanced budget before it can adjourn for the year. A $2 million transfer to an emergency coronavirus response fund was recently approved by the legislature.
The General Assembly had been set to return to session March 18, a day after the state’s primary election, but decided against it in light of the coronavirus crisis. The state’s legislative session, which lasts throughout the year, has been suspended until March 24. With the rainy day fund nearly depleted, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) last month, before the extent of the coronavirus outbreak was known, said he wanted to put $50 million from an expected state surplus into the fund this year and $50 million into the fund next year. According to the Illinois Policy Institute, the state’s nearly-empty Budget Stabilization Fund would not even be able to cover 16 minutes’ worth of state spending.
On March 19, Gov. Pritzker announced the Department of Revenue is waiving penalties and interest for late sales tax remittance by qualifying restaurants and bars to help them maintain liquidity at a time when the state has required they shutter their doors to dine-in customers. Filing deadlines remain in place. [Updated 3/20 with sales tax remittance deferral information.]
The 2020 regular legislative session wrapped up last week, but some legislative leaders have called for a special session to address the coronavirus outbreak. This is a non-budget year for Indiana, as the state passed its fiscal year 2020-21 budget in April 2019. The state has announced that tax filing deadlines have been extended to July 15th. [Updated 3/20 with filing extension.]
Iowa’s legislative session has been suspended until April 15. Prior to suspending session, lawmakers passed a session law providing supplemental appropriations for July and August 2020 at current levels, but only to take effect if the legislature is unable to reconvene before the start of the new fiscal year. The same law also provides $91.8 million in additional funding for the current fiscal year, including for response to the coronavirus outbreak. The state has announced that tax filing deadlines have been extended to July 30th. [Updated 3/20 with filing extension.]
The legislature is working quickly to finalize a basic FY 2021 budget, coronavirus response measures, and a transportation plan this week with the goal of adjourning for the spring recess earlier than expected. Originally, legislators had planned to pass the budget and all other bills by an April 3 adjournment, recess for most of April, then reconvene for a brief veto session on April 27. The legislature this week has already passed several coronavirus response measures, including a bill providing an additional 10 weeks of unemployment benefits to assist Kansans who have been laid off.
The General Assembly skipped its Friday and Monday workdays but resumed session on Tuesday, March 17. The Capitol building is closed to the public, but essential business continued through March 19, when the Senate adopted a budget before adjourning for two weeks, a move criticized by Gov. Andy Beshear (D) because the Senate budget fails to include an additional $2 million Medicaid appropriation.
Both chambers plan to reconvene March 26 to approve a final budget, and conferees will meet in the interim to resolve differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill. Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chair Chris McDaniel (R), citing concerns about the economic damage Kentucky faces in light of the coronavirus, said Republicans would request a new budget forecast and amend the final budget with those forecasts in mind. Should the governor veto the budget—in whole or in part—lawmakers will reconvene on April 15 to consider an override. Kentucky, with one of the worst-funded pension systems in the nation and one of the most depleted rainy day funds, was already facing significant fiscal challenges before the coronavirus outbreak. [Updated 3/20 with new developments on the budget.]
Louisiana on March 16 suspended its session until March 31. When legislators reconvene, they will need to pass a budget for FY 2021. The Department of Revenue released guidance postponing February’s filing and payment deadline for sales taxes until May 20. No extension request is necessary to take advantage of the new deadline. [Updated 3/20 to mention sales tax filing and payment extension.]
The legislature adjourned March 17, nearly a month earlier than scheduled, with plans to return later this year, although no date has been set. Lawmakers agreed to an approximately $76 million supplemental budget that that includes an additional $1 million for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and adds $17.4 million to the budget stabilization fund. Maine is operating under a two-year budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 so has no immediate need to consider further budgetary measures this year. [Updated 3/20 with new details about the supplemental budget.]
The General Assembly adjourned March 18, three weeks earlier than scheduled, after passing a $47.9 billion state operating budget and a $440 million revenue plan to fund education reforms and emergency responses to the coronavirus outbreak. The revenue plan includes major tax changes, including a first-in-the-nation attempt at taxing digital advertising and an increase in the cigarette excise tax from $2.00 to $3.75 per pack. The vaguely worded, legally dubious digital advertising tax is expected to be vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), but the current vote tally on that measure is enough to override a veto. The revenue plan would also extend unemployment insurance to those quarantined or who have been laid off because of the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, Gov. Hogan has already signed legislation allowing the state to tap up to $50 million from its rainy day fund.
Maryland is among the states conforming its individual and corporate income tax filing and payment deadlines with the federal government, thereby extending them to July 15. In addition, business-related tax filing and payment deadlines originally set for March, April, and May—including for sales and use taxes, withholding taxes, admissions and amusement taxes, and certain excise taxes and fees—have been extended to June 1. [Updated 3/23 with tax filing deadline information.]
The legislature, which meets year-round, is currently still in session, and on March 18 passed a bill from Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speeding up unemployment payments to those quarantined or laid off because of the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Baker also announced the state will distribute $5 million in emergency funds for localities impacted by the outbreak. A budget bill for FY 2021 has not yet been introduced.
The Michigan legislature, which meets throughout the year, is currently in a pre-scheduled recess but plans to meet on an as-needed basis to consider the budget and other priorities. Both chambers plan to go back into session as scheduled on March 25. On March 17, lawmakers approved $125 million in emergency coronavirus response funding. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) also signed a bill to expand unemployment insurance benefits for those facing job loss or suspension due to the virus. The Michigan Department of Treasury has extended the deadline for sales and use tax payments from March 20 to April 20, effective immediately. The governor also issued an executive order extending the tax foreclosure deadline from March 31 to May 29 for properties with delinquent tax payments. [Updated 3/20 with information on extension of tax foreclosure deadline.]
The Minnesota legislature suspended its legislative session March 17, taking its spring recess three weeks earlier than planned. Legislators plan to resume session as previously scheduled April 14. Before adjourning they added an additional $50 million in emergency funding to the $21 million supplemental appropriation for state health agencies that was signed March 10. Minnesota is operating under a two-year biennial budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The Minnesota Department of Revenue has issued a sales tax remittance extension, from March 20 to April 20, for certain qualified businesses, although all business must file their March return on March 20 even if they defer payment. [Updated 3/20 with sales tax deferral information.]
Legislators voted March 17 and 18 to suspend the legislative session until at least April 1, but no official return date has been set. The state’s rainy day fund is filled to its statutory limit of $554 million, providing an important cushion for times of economic instability.
The Senate began its spring break a week early due to coronavirus concerns, allowing the House time to draft and pass its budget before its own recess set to begin March 19. The House also passed legislation to free up supplemental funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Both chambers plan to resume meeting the week of March 30 to finalize the budget, supplemental funding, and related priorities.
The state legislature is not in session in 2020. Many legislative interim meetings have been canceled. According to the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, Montana has $115 million in its Budget Stabilization Fund, a general fund surplus of $300 million, and $360 million in Unemployment Insurance Fund reserves. [Updated 3/20 with information about Montana’s fiscal standing.]
Nebraska’s 2020 legislative session has been suspended indefinitely. It is a non-budget year for Nebraska, but the Revenue Committee had sought to pass property tax relief legislation before the Unicameral’s scheduled adjournment date in late April.
The state legislature is not in session in 2020, and legislative leaders have said they currently have no plans to go into special session related to the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has declared a state of emergency and ordered casinos, restaurants, and bars to close for 30 days. Nevada’s state sales taxes and gaming taxes account for 47.4 percent of the state’s forecasted general fund revenue for FY 2020 and 2021. [Updated 3/23 with state of emergency declaration details.]
The state legislature suspended its session through April 10. Both chambers have passed emergency rules to allow normal legislative deadlines to be shifted, such as the requirement that all bills be sent from one chamber to the other by March 26.
The Assembly has canceled all committee hearings except those focused on coronavirus legislation, and on March 16 passed a package of 29 coronavirus response measures which the Senate is scheduled to take up March 19. The state has not yet passed a budget for FY 2021.
Lawmakers adjourned Feb. 20. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) recently vetoed about $150 million in infrastructure spending given the coronavirus outbreak. The state’s operating reserve is low, but before the extent of the coronavirus outbreak was known, the Tax Stabilization Reserve was projected to increase to $1.6 billion by next fiscal year. To access it, Gov Grisham would have to declare it “necessary for the public peace, health, and safety” and both houses would have to approve with a two-thirds majority. In light of the outbreak, the state has waived for up to four weeks the requirement of “work search” to apply for unemployment benefits. Tax filing and payment deadlines have been extended to July 15. [Updated 3/20 with new filing deadline.]
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has signed legislation dedicating $40 million to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The state is currently working on a budget, and the chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee has tested positive for the virus. The Assembly and Senate suspended session for two days but went back into session March 18, passing legislation requiring all public employers, as well as private employers with at least 100 employees, to provide 14 days of paid sick leave. As of March 23, the Senate and House are suspended but have signaled no plans to adjourn for an extended period of time. New York’s income tax filing and payment deadlines are tied to the federal deadline, so both deadlines have been extended to July 15. [Updated 3/23 with updated information regarding the legislative session, paid sick leave, and the extended income tax filing and payment deadlines.]
The legislative session is still to convene April 28 and adjourn mid-July. However, pre-session committee meetings are canceled until April 1. North Carolina is operating under a two-year budget so will not need to pass a budget this year. The executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper (D) expands unemployment insurance benefits and places limits on restaurants and bars in response to the coronavirus.
The state’s legislature is not in session in 2020 and will not need to pass a budget until 2021. Mirroring the federal government, the state has extended its income tax filing and payment deadline until July 15. [Updated 3/23 to with filing extension.]
The Senate has closed its offices until April 6, and the House until April 4. The House will not hold voting sessions or committee hearings until further notice. The state’s primary, which was scheduled for March 17, was postponed indefinitely. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on March 23 ordered a freeze in state government hiring, with an exception for positions directly related to coronavirus response, safety and security, and direct care or institutional services. He also ordered agencies to cut unnecessary spending by up to 20 percent for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next. [Updated 3/23 with governor’s hiring freeze.]
Following the legislature’s scheduled spring break March 18-20, both the House and the Senate will remain in recess through at least March 27, as someone on the floor tested positive for coronavirus. On March 16, both chambers passed legislation allowing the legislature to adjourn for longer than three days and to vote by proxy if needed.
Many are concerned about the state’s already-anticipated $85 million revenue shortfall going into FY 2021 and the further damaging effects low oil revenues and the coronavirus could have on the state’s finances. The state has announced an income tax payment extension to July 15, though the filing deadline remains April 15. Individuals may defer payment of up to $1 million in income tax payments, and corporations may defer payment of up to $10 million in income tax payments, until July 15. [Updated 3/20 and 3/23 with income tax payment extension and 3/23 with extended recess proxy voting information.]
The 2020 session adjourned March 8 as scheduled, but legislative leaders have said they will call a special session to pass a coronavirus response package when it is ready for consideration. The legislature formed a Special Joint Committee on Coronavirus Response, which held its first meeting March 18. The state has announced that they will follow the IRS in delaying income tax filing deadlines from April 15 to July 15. [Updated 3/20 with filing extension.]
The Pennsylvania legislature has not announced plans to postpone its session. Both the House and Senate are prepared to vote remotely. Pennsylvania has modified unemployment compensation benefits in response to the coronavirus by suspending the “waiting week” as well as waiving certain requirements.
Rhode Island previously suspended its session for the week of March 17 and recently extended the suspension for an additional week. When lawmakers return, they will need to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Rhode Island’s legislature meets throughout the year.
The South Carolina legislature canceled a recess originally planned for the week of March 16 to vote on $45 million in emergency funding for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed the bill into law March 19.
House Speaker Jay Lucas (R) told legislators to expect to be out of session for at least two weeks. When they return, they can expect quick passage of a continuing resolution to extend current funding levels through the beginning of the new fiscal year in the event a new budget is not adopted before July 1. The state has announced that tax filing deadlines have been extended to June 1. Of states to announce a postponement, South Carolina is one of only two not to meet or exceed the new federal deadline of July 15, though the state’s extension was announced before the federal policy change. [Updated 3/23 with budget developments and 3/20 with filing extension.]
The legislature wrapped up its business March 12 but is expected to return to the Capitol for a veto session March 30. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has spoken on the coronavirus situation and the steps the state is taking to address it. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have said they believe the state has enough funding to response appropriately to the coronavirus.
On March 20, Tennessee legislators passed a FY 2021 budget that scaled back many of Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) education spending priorities, instead dedicating $150 million for COVID-19 response efforts, adding $575 million to the rainy day fund, and appropriating an addition $30 million for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s response to the tornadoes that devastated Nashville and other parts of the state earlier this month. After passing the budget, legislators adjourned for the rest of the spring but hope to return June 1 to tackle other legislative priorities. [Updated 3/20 with details on budget passage and adjournment.]
The legislature is not in session in 2020, but various committee hearings have been suspended that were scheduled for March and April. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) declared a State of Disaster, freeing up funding to respond to the coronavirus.
Utah’s regular legislative session wrapped up last week as originally scheduled after policymakers rushed to pass legislation that allows them to meet in later special or interim sessions, and by electronic means if necessary. A subsequent special session is expected sometime this spring to respond to the coronavirus crisis and increase funding for education. Utah follows federal tax filing schedules, so filing and payment deadlines are extended through July 15.
The state legislature suspended its session until at least March 24 and cannot vote remotely, but legislators are ready to return quickly if called in for a vote on emergency appropriation measures. Before recessing, the House passed an emergency response package to the coronavirus outbreak, but the Senate adjourned before taking up the bill.
The General Assembly adjourned before states began to undertake robust responses to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, some legislators are calling for a special session to enact emergency legislation in response to the crisis. The General Assembly passed a $135 billion biennial budget that raised taxes to increase heath care, education, transportation, and other spending. The state has $2 billion in financial reserve funds leading into FY 2021. The administration has granted 60-day extensions of expired driver licenses, ID cards, and vehicle registrations, and has waived the one-week waiting period to access state unemployment insurance.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that he has requested an extension of the payment deadline for individual and corporate income taxes to June 1. However, the filing deadline remains unchanged, and interest will accrue, so he encouraged taxpayers who could do so to pay by the original deadline. Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can request to defer their March 20 sales tax payments to April 20. The Department will waive penalties for businesses whose requests are granted. [Updated 3/20 with income and sales tax payment information.]
The 60-day legislative session wrapped up earlier this month. Lawmakers approved the use of $200 million from the state’s rainy day fund for the coronavirus outbreak, with $175 million of that going to the public health system and the rest to a special unemployment fund for affected businesses and workers. Some proposed spending has been pared back so that the state reserves can continue to grow.
The Washington Department of Revenue announced it will, upon request, provide extensions for filing and payment of taxes due during the state of emergency, which began February 29 and currently has no set end date. Filing and payment extensions will be granted to businesses for business and occupation (B&O) taxes and real estate excise taxes, among others. [Updated 3/23 with tax extensions.]
The 60-day legislative session ended as originally scheduled on March 7 with passage of a budget for fiscal year 2021. The budget included an amendment dedicating $2 million in existing Department of Health and Human Services resources to create a Public Health Emergency Response Fund to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Wisconsin State Assembly adjourned for the year earlier this month, and the Senate previously was scheduled to wrap up between March 24 and 26 but has canceled the scheduled floor period due to the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Tony Evers (D) sought the legislature repeal a one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits that is part of state law. However, with the legislature not meeting because of the coronavirus outbreak, the governor announced an emergency executive order waiving the one-week waiting period without a legislative vote. The governor has proposed depositing half of the current budget surplus, (about $409 million) into the rainy day fund, with the rest dedicated to education, while legislative Republicans have proposed using some of the surplus for a $250 million tax cut. At an impasse, the surplus remains uncommitted. Without any action, by default, half of the surplus will go into the rainy day fund. The rest will go to the general fund and be available when the discussions begin on the next biennial budget next January. Leaders in the Senate and Assembly did agree to call an extraordinary legislative session later this spring.
Wisconsin’s income tax filing and payment deadline has been extended automatically from April 15 to July 15 for all individual and corporate income tax filers. [Updated 3/23 with tax extension.]
The budget session of the state legislature ended last week and the one tax measure passed was a 5 percent statewide lodging tax, estimated to raise $18 million a year. Both chambers also agreed to a plan capping withdrawal from the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, the state’s rainy day fund, at $150 million.
The District of Columbia
The D.C. Council unanimously passed an emergency bill March 17, which took effect upon passage, allowing the DC Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) to offer tax relief to retail businesses and hotels. It also allows the Council to meet and vote remotely. As an emergency bill, it is temporary in nature, does not require the approval of Congress, and will expire after 90 days.
On March 20, OTR announced property tax deferrals for hotels and sales tax deferrals for all other vendors that file sales taxes on a quarterly or monthly basis. Hotel property taxes for the first half of 2020 are now due June 30, and sales and use taxes (for businesses that are not hotels) are due July 20, although the March 20 and April 20 filing deadlines still stand, and the May 20 filing and payment deadline (for the April sales tax period) also still stands.
On March 23, Mayor Bowser announced an extension in the DC income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15. This extended deadline applies to the filing of individual and fiduciary income tax returns, partnership tax returns, franchise tax returns, and any associated tax payments.
Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has also directed $7.5 million from the Contingency Cash Reserve Fund (4 percent of the previous fiscal year’s general fund expenditures less debt service cost) for purchases related to the coronavirus outbreak. The District also has an Emergency Cash Reserve Fund (2 percent of the previous fiscal year’s general fund expenditures less debt service cost). Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt says the rainy day fund is at $1.43 billion, equivalent to 60 days of funding in case of recession or other downturn, and there is a well-funded unemployment insurance trust fund. An extension also was granted for Mayor Bowser to submit the 2021 budget, from mid-March to early May. [Updated 3/23 with updated tax filing and payment deadlines.]