Government Relief Programs for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19

illustration of person holding umbrella over couple to represent government relief programs

Last updated: May 13, 2020 at 8:33 pm EST

Governments around the world are rolling out financial relief measures and programs to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 (or "coronavirus") pandemic. Below, you'll find a list of available programs in different countries to help raise their visibility and keep you informed. 

We’ll be updating this resource as new government relief programs become available around the world. If we missed any, you can leave a comment or tweet at us with recommendations, and we’ll add them to this list.

Disclaimer: None of these programs are offered by Shopify directly. This is a list of locally-offered programs, not an application portal. Please contact your local government for any help or questions related to these initiatives. 

Americas

Canada

  • Wage subsidy: 75 per cent wage subsidy for businesses with revenue decreases of 15% or more, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. The subsidy will apply on the first $58,700 of annual salary, or $847/week. 
  • Emergency benefit: taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to: workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave; those who are sick with COVID-19; those taking care of a sick family member; and those self-employed individuals, including contract workers.
  • Commercial rent assistance: Will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
  • Emergency business account: Up to $40,000 in interest-free loans to small businesses and not-for-profit companies. Available to businesses with $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019, and operating as of March 1, 2020.
  • Defer tax filing: Businesses can defer the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. The government will defer GST, HST, and custom duties until June 30, 2020.
  • Small Business Loan (via BDC): Loans of up to $312,500 to businesses with revenues of less than $1 million. Up to $3.125 million for businesses with revenues between $1 million and $50 million. Up to $6.25 million for businesses with revenues in excess of $50 million.
  • Purchase order financing: Cover up to 90% of the purchase order amount to ease cash flow to your suppliers.
  • Provincial:
    • British Columbia: A one-time $1,000 payment if you’ve lost income because of COVID-19.
    • Saskatchewan: Three-month deferral to remit PST.
    • Ontario: Beginning April 1, 2020, penalties and interest will not apply to businesses that miss any filing or remittance deadline under select provincial taxes.
    • Quebec: Low-interest loans and loan guarantees of at least $50,000 
    • Nova Scotia: Defer payments until June 30 for all government loans and small business renewal fees
    • PEI: Defer rent payments for 3 months, and $500 per week for the period of March 16 to March 29, 2020 for those who are self-employed.

United States

  • Federal:
    • Small Business Administration: Overview of current available programs.
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loan: Low-interest loans up to $2 million through the Small Business Administration for states impacted by COVID-19.
    • Paycheck Protection Program:  Provides a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses. 
    • Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program: Allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork.
    • Debt relief: The SBA will pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020. The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months. 
  • State:
    • State of Massachusetts: Emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits. 
    • State of Florida: Up to $50,000 per eligible small business. Loans of up to $100,000 may be made in special cases. Interest-free for the first year and 12% per annum thereafter. 
    • State of Michigan: Grants up to $10,000 (less than 50 employees) and low-interest loans between $50,000 and $200,000 (less than 100 employees) 
    • State of Connecticut: Qualifying business or nonprofit organizations can apply for a loan of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser).
    • State of Iowa: Offers grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, in addition to offering a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due, and waiver of penalty and interest to businesses with between 2 and 25 employees.
    • State of New Jersey: Announced a suite of programs to support small businesses including low-interest loans and grants to entrepreneurs. 
  • Local:
    • City of New York: Zero-interest loans of up to $75,000 for businesses with less than 100 employees. 40% of payroll costs covered for businesses with less than 5 employees.
    • City of San Francisco: $10,000 for employee salaries and rent for businesses with less than 5 employees.
    • City of Sacramento: Zero-interest loans of up to $25,000.
    • City of Chicago: Low-interest loans up to $50,000 for businesses who’ve suffered more than 25% revenue decrease due to COVID-19 and have under 50 employees.
    • City of Los Angeles: Low-interest loans between $5,000 to $20,000 to help with job retention
    • City of Denver: Cash grants of up to $7,500 to businesses in industries particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus, including restaurants, retail shops, barbershops, and nail salons.

Europe

United Kingdom

  • Wage relief: UK workers placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. These will be backdated to 1st March and will be initially open for 3 months.
  • Deferred VAT and income tax payments: VAT payments due between March and the end of June will be deferred by three months. Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021,
  • Business interruption loan: 12-month interest free loans up to £5 million in value. 
  • Sick Pay relief: Small businesses can recover two weeks statutory sick pay per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. Employers with less than 250 employees are eligible. 
  • Retail business grants: The retail and hospitality grant scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. For businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000, you’ll receive a grant of £10,000. For businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, you’ll receive a grant of £25,000.
  • Small business grant: Receive a one-off grant of £10,000, if you’re eligible for small business rates relief or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet ongoing business costs.
  • Rates relief (Scotland): 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from April 1, 2020. 
  • SMB grants (Scotland): Grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19.

France

  • Defer tax debts: Small businesses can defer payment of tax and social debts with a simple email to their company tax department (SIE).
  • Suspension of bills and taxes: Suspended water, gas, electricity and rent bills for the small businesses impacted heavily by COVID-19, as well as the suspension of taxes and social contributions.
  • Solidarity fund: Financial aid of € 1,500 available to business owners who make less than € 1 million in turnover, and is forced to close or has experienced a loss of more than 70% in March 2020 compared to March 2019.
  • Wage reimbursement: Eligible for compensation equal to 70% of gross salary (around 84% of the net) to employees. Employees with minimum wage or less are 100% compensated. Businesses will be fully reimbursed by the State, for wages up to 6,927 euros gross monthly.

Germany

  • Short-time work allowance: Recieve a short-time work allowance, if a minimum of 10% of your workforce if affected.
  • Emergency assistance: Businesses with up to five (full-time equivalent) employees can apply for a one-off payment of up to 9,000 euros for a period of three months. Businesses with up to ten (full-time equivalent) employees can apply for a one-off payment of up to 15,000 euros for a period of three months.
  • KfW loans: If your company has been active in the market for at least 3 years or has two financial statements, you can apply for a loan for investments and working capital. For small and medium-sized companies up to 90% risk assumption.
  • Tax relief: Defer tax liabilities from income and corporate tax and sales tax until the end of 2020. Tax prepayments can also be adjusted for income and corporate tax. 

Italy

  • Self-employed allowance: Self-employed workers are paid a monthly allowance of 600 euros for three months for the municipalities affected by COVID-19.
  • Redundancy fund: Employers, including companies with fewer than 5 employees, who suspend or reduce their business are eligible to receive 50% of their previous wages for the maximum duration of 9 weeks. 
  • Rent relief: a tax credit equal to 60% of the rent in the month of March is awarded to shops and shops.

Netherlands

  • Bridging loans for small businesses: The government is offering the ability to receive a loan or an overdraft on your bank account for SMBs that are missing income or production due to COVID-19.
  • Shorten working hours for employees: For businesses with employees, the government is offering the ability to shorten working hours and request unemployment benefits.
  • Defer tax payments: For SMBs and self-employed businesses there is a 3-month postponement to pay their taxes. These taxes include income taxes, corporation tax, VAT returns and payroll taxes. For income taxes and corporation taxes entrepreneurs can also ask for a reduction.
  • Compensation for the self-employed and SMBs: SMBs and self-employed businesses that need to close their business because of COVID-19 will be compensated €1500 net per month to a maximum of €3500 net for the coming three months.

Spain

  • Defer tax debts: Small businesses can defer payment of tax debts, or settle them in installments, an interest-free period of six months.
  • Paid leave: Workers that do not provide essential services will continue to receive their full remuneration, both their base salary and any extras they are entitled to between March 30 and April 9.

Sweden

  • Short term leave subsidy: Employers receive more than 90% of employees' salaries who have to take short term leave due to COVID-19.
  • Sick pay relief: The government will temporarily take on the full cost of all sick pay costs in April and May. Self-employed persons are also compensated by receiving a standardized sickness benefit for days 1 to 14.

Denmark

  • Compensation for canceled events: Events that were to be held between March 6 and March 31, 2020, are eligible for compensation as long as this compensation does not result in a profit.
  • Temporary pay compensation: For permanent employees, the salary compensation constitutes 75% of the total salary costs to a maximum of DKK 23,000 per full-time employee per month. For hourly workers, the salary compensation amounts to 90% to a maximum of DKK 26,000 per hour, per month.

Belgium

  • Tax relief: Spread out VAT, withholding tax, and corporate tax payments and be exempted from the usual fines.
  • Relief for self-employed: Persons who are self-employed as their main activity are eligible EUR 1,266.37 per month if you do not have a dependent family member and EUR 1,582.46 if you do. 

Switzerland

  • Bridging loans: Up to CHF 500,000 loans that are 100% secured by the federal government. The interest rate on these bridging loans is currently 0%.

Asia

Japan

  • Financing support: 100% guarantee on loans if year-over-year sales decrease by more than 20%, and 80% if year-over-year sales decrease by 5%.
  • Productivity subsidies: IT tools leading to improvements such as the efficiency of back-office operations are eligible for a subsidy between 300,000 to 4,500,000 yen.

Singapore

  • Jobs support: A rebate of 8% of the wages, up to a monthly wage cap of $3,600, for three months (provided by July 2020).
  • Wage credit: The government will co-fund wage increases for Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of up to $5,000.
  • Corporate income tax rebate: A 25% rebate of tax payable, capped at $15,000 per company.
  • Property tax rebate: A 15% property tax rebate for qualifying commercial properties.

South Korea

  • VAT break: VAT break for businesses earning 60 million won or less a year.
  • Financial support: The Special Financial Support for Small Merchant and SMEs will increase from 1.2 trillion won to 4.6 trillion won, and SME support from 0.03 trillion won to 0.63 trillion won.
  • Rent relief: Landlords will receive a 50% income tax break.

China

  • Tax relief: Two exemptions of personal income tax on COVID-19 prevention-related income; five exemptions for three taxes (value-added tax, corporate income tax, custom duties) on business activities related to supplying COVID-19 prevention materials; four exemptions for six taxes, and two fees on public welfare donation related to COVID-19; and corporate loss carry-forward period extension for businesses impacted by COVID-19. See the official site for more policies.
  • Financial support: Thirty policies issued by People’s Bank of China, Ministry of Finance, Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, Securities Regulatory Commission, Foreign Exchange Bureau (official site).
  • Local government policies
    • Beijing: An extension on the tax reporting period; import goods and materials may be exempted from import tax.
    • Shenzhen: Waived two months' rent for state-owned enterprises, reduced loan rates.
    • Shanghai: Tax incentives, reduced credit/loan rates to SMBs, postponed individual tax reporting period.
    • Guangzhou: Waived two months' rent for state-owned enterprises and SMBs, provided bank loan support to SMBs, and prompt employment allowance.
    • Suzhou: Employment allowance, return 1 to 3 months of unemployment insurance, loan rate adjustment.
    • Qingdao: Postponed social insurance period, reduced SMBs tax. 
    • Ningbo: Allowance for families with kids where both parents are employed, tax and rent allowance for SMBs in two months, allowance for canceling exhibitions.
    • Fuzhou: Reduced loan interest for SMBs, opened online service portals for financial organizations.
    • Chengdu: Enhanced financial tax support, allowance given to new industries like 5G, cloud computing to insure their working operation, waived rent for tourism, accommodation, and catering businesses.
    • Hangzhou: Reduced the cost of enterprise financing, provided rent subsidies to employees, reduced health insurance rate.

Hong Kong

  • Cash payout: $10,000 cash payout to Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or above.
  • Tax relief: Reduced salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for 2019 to 2020 assessment year by 100%, subject to a ceiling of $20,000.
  • Low-interest loans: Low-interest loan (up to $2 million) with a 100% government guarantee for enterprises, which will be open for application for 6 months.

India

  • Emergency Loan: Collateral-free loan of 3 lakh crore rupees with a moratorium of 12 months for micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Oceania

Australia

  • Cash flow assistance: Provides up to $100,000 to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible businesses.
  • Tax deduction: Instant asset write-off threshold increased from $30,000 to $150,000 for businesses with annual net sales of less than $500 million until 30 June 2020.
  • Support for apprentices and trainees: Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of apprentice or trainee wages for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020 (up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee).
  • JobKeeper Payment: Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months.

New Zealand

  • Wage subsidy scheme: Available for businesses struggling to pay employees in all sectors and all regions that can show a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020. Affected businesses can receive a subsidy of $585.80 per week for a full-time employee (20 hrs or more) or $350.00 per week for a part-time employee (less than 20 hrs) to a maximum of $150,000.
  • Leave and self-isolation support: Available to support people financially if they need to self-isolate, cannot work because they are sick with COVID-19, or cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate or who are sick with COVID-19. The payments will be $585.80 per week for full-time and $350 per week for part-time workers. 
  • Business cash flow and tax measures: Measures include the discretion to remit use-of-money interest for heavily affected businesses, increasing the provisional tax threshold from $2,500 to $5,000, increasing the small asset depreciation threshold from $500 to $1,000 and to $5,000 for 2020/2021, and removing the hours test from the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) from July 1, 2020.
Illustration by Leonard Peng
Topics: