By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

State Programs For COVID Relief

SBA Loans, Unemployment, Grants And Deadline Extensions


March 25, 2020

The State of Montana has taken measure to provide relief to Montanans that are financially affected by the COVID-19 emergency. Specifically, the state has facilitated small business loans, streamlined unemployment benefits, opened up Federal Emergency Management Agency grants and delayed driver’s license renewal and tax filing deadlines.

As of last week, small businesses across Montana impacted by the novel coronavirus are now eligible to apply for emergency loans through the Small Business Administration. They can apply for up to $2 million in 30-year loans with an interest rate of 3.75 percent. Eligibility is determined on a number of criteria such as size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. Rates are based on the financial condition of the applicant and funds can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

Businesses may now apply directly to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program here:

On the unemployment side, the state made filing and receiving benefits easier and quicker last week. The new rules allow a claimant directed by their employer to leave work or not report to work due to COVID-19 to qualify as being temporarily laid off and eligible for benefits. Workers who must quarantine or who need to take care of a family member due to COVID-19 are also considered temporarily laid off and eligible for benefits.

The actions also removed the mandatory waiting period between filing and receiving benefits, so employees without income can get benefits immediately across the state.

Montana employers will also receive help through these rules. Individual claims will not be chargeable to a specific employer’s account. The rules also include a provision that could extend the time employers have to file wage reports and pay unemployment insurance contributions if the delay is related to COVID-19.

People who think they are eligible for these benefits can apply for benefits online at: or contact the Unemployment Insurance Division over the phone at: 406- 444-2545.

The Montana Motor Vehicle Division announced considered measures to provide relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic to Montanans. An executive order, drafted and requested by Attorney Tim Fox, requested implementing a grace period for licenses that expire in March, April or May of 2020 to be extended by 90 days. On March 17, Governor Bullock signed the executive order implementing the grace period.

Furthermore, vehicle registrations can be renewed online at Driving tests are on hold at the present time in order to limit people traveling to MVD offices across the state.

Lastly, the state has delayed tax filing deadlines to July 15 to keep their deadline the same as the federal government’s. The US delayed their tax filing deadlines as well although they encourage people expecting tax returns to file sooner rather than later in order to have the money available amidst the ongoing emergency. The delay also applies to businesses.


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