In a well- publicized poll last September, Donald Trump appeared to be winning over small business owners by a pretty comfortable margin. This was seen, by many, as a response to Obama-era anxieties over issues like a raised minimum wage, health care, and concern with government over-regulation.

Yet many experts, like the generally unpolitical Rhonda Abrams, author of many books likes The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies, were adamant that his proposals would do little for the many small business owners out there struggling with taxes or trade. With his election last night as President, it's time to look at those polices and see what exactly they are.

Regulations

One big promise Trump has made is cut some of the red tape that businesses often have to face in their infancy before they can get a product to their customers. The only problem is that Trump hasn't specified much about what tape he plans on cutting. He's been most vocal on opposing the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which will probably help out if you run a coal-mining operation. Here's the scoop on what other regulations Trump might untangle.

Minimum Wage

While flip-flopping extensively on the issue, the alternative Trump finally offered to raising the minimum wage has been a combination of offering tax credits to families for child care expenses and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), that supplements the wages of low-income employees. On the plus side, this would shift responsibility to the government to pay for the rising costs of their employee's well-being, read about that here here. The downside? It's essentially a pricey welfare scheme that might not fare well with a Republican controlled Congress.

Taxes

Here's the note that many pro-Trump small business owners have talked about as a key plank behind why they supported the now-President elect. Danny Koker, star of the reality TV show "Counting Cars," endorsed Trump during an appearance on FOX Business, saying that "as you work harder, and as you try to become more and more successful, you seem to become more and more penalized whether it's with taxes or with regulations." Trump has promised tax cuts for business income but it will only apply to small businesses that are large enough to pay their own income taxes. If you pay income tax on a "pass-through," as in as part of your personal income tax, it isn't likely Trump will do much.

Health Care

Trump promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which would demand employees make tax-deductible contributions to pay for their health insurance instead of obligating all businesses with fifty or more employees to ensure coverage for their employees. Here's an idea of how HSAs work and here's a review of current policy.

Trade

Another big issue Trump railed against as a candidate was trade: namely raising tariffs on imports and potentially sparking trade wars with potential exporters. Which means if you're a man manufacturer and your customer base is mostly domestic, you might enjoy less stiff competition. But if you're one of the 293,000 small and medium-sized companies who export, you might get hit hard.

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.