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Idaho Business Law Idaho Rebounds: Back to Work Bonuses During Coronavirus

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Business Attorney

State and local governments in Idaho have been working hard to help Idaho businesses get back on their feet after the shutdowns that have occurred during the Coronavirus pandemic. Let’s face it, being a business owner in and of itself is not an easy thing to do. The effects of the Coronavirus have made being a business owner much more difficult. The good news is that Idaho has a program called Idaho Rebounds: Our Path to Prosperity. The program is assisted by an advisory committee to the Governor that is made up of some government officials and several successful Idaho business owners and employees.

This committee created and received support from the governor in instituting a return-to-work bonus system. The purpose of this article is to talk about this system and how many small Idaho business owners can benefit from the program.

What is the Return to Work Program?

Many of the federal stimulus programs have created as many problems as they have solved. For example, when it comes to unemployment benefits, according to the advisory committee who cited to a recent study, more than 60% of Americans who were out of work because of the pandemic earned more with the enhanced federal unemployment benefits than they did from their normal wages. Because of this, there is little to no incentive for these workers to return to work. Simply put, they can make more money staying unemployed than they can by working, so they are highly motivated to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

To offset this problem, and to help motivate workers to end the short-term enhanced unemployment benefits which will get people back into the workplace in Idaho, a one-time bonus will be provided to each qualified employee who returns to work. Idaho employers can apply for the bonuses for their eligible employees. These employees can be awarded up to $1,500 as a full-time worker and up to $750 as a part-time worker.

Where does all this money come from. Idaho received and set aside $100 million dollars in federal Coronavirus relief funds to cover this bonus program. This ensures that the program will work efficiently and won’t cost Idaho taxpayers any additional money through the Idaho State Tax system.

Governor Little said that “A strong economic rebound cannot occur without workers returning to their jobs.” He also stated, “The new return to work cash bonuses will counteract the federal payouts and incentivize our workforce to get back to work safely.”

How Does an Employer Applies for the Bonuses?

The Idaho State Tax Commission has been designated and is set up to handle all applications under the return-to-work bonus program. In order to apply, an employer needs to establish a secure Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) Account to protect their personal and business information on the applications that are submitted for its employees. Small businesses who are interested in being a part of this program can begin the process immediately. However, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with the first round of applications being accepted on July 13th for employees who returned to work from May 1st through June 14th.

The steps to apply are laid out simply on the Idaho return-to-work bonuses website. To summarize here is how an employer applies for the program:

  • Step 1- Log in to your TAP account
  • Step 2 – Skip to step 3 unless you are a third party filing on behalf of your authorized client - Third parties, select your client from the client list
  • Step 3 – Click the ‘Return To Work’ link in the “I Want To” section at the top right
  • Step 4 – Complete and submit your application
  • Once the application is submitted it will be reviewed on a first-come first-serve basis and the bonuses will be paid out to each employee in the amounts determined. The determination is based upon the number of hours worked by each employee. In other words, full-time employees would receive a larger bonus than part-time employees because of the number of hours worked.
Who is Eligible to Apply

Perhaps the biggest question on everyone’s minds is who is eligible to apply for this bonus. Eligibility is an easy determination to make. Any Idaho employer with Idaho employees who stop collecting unemployment and return to work can apply for a return-to-work bonus. Eligibility as an employee includes anyone who worked with an eligible Idaho employer. This means any non-governmental employer who issues W-2s to Idaho employees directly or through a contract with a professional employer organization.

The eligibility requirements are also listed on Idaho’s return-to-work website. To summarize these requirements, Idaho employers can apply for the bonuses for their eligible employees who satisfy or meet the following criteria:

  • The individual employee is required to be a resident of Idaho who has worked for an eligible Idaho employer during the 2020 calendar year
  • The employee must submit a request for and not be denied Idaho unemployment benefits during the Coronavirus pandemic starting on or after March 1, 2020
  • The employee has to have completed at least four consecutive weeks of work for a private or non-profit employer
  • The employee must have returned to work with the eligible Idaho employer any time from May 1, 2020 through July 15, 2020
  • The employee’s wages must be at most $75,000 or less annually
  • The employee’s position or employment must be intended to continue beyond four weeks

An employer can file multiple applications as more of their employees qualify for the bonus. In other words, an Idaho employer does not need to file all the applications for every employee all at once if certain employees are eligible at different times.

The payments of the return-to-work bonuses will be made to the employees directly approximately one week after the application is approved. Approval may take several weeks depending on the volume of applications received by the Idaho State Tax Commission.

If you have additional questions you can go to the Idaho Rebounds - Return to Work Bonus website which is located here.

Enlist an Idaho Business Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho business lawyers can help you with any of your business structure or operation needs. Whether you are seeking to create a new business or review a current business, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho business problems.

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