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COVID-19 Aid for DZ / Skydiving Industry Workers in the US

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Written by Kolla

This is long. It has a lot of info. But if you are out of a job and income due to the current pandemic, read on. This was put together by Lauren Thacker, who graciously gave us permission to share. Thank you Lauren – this is amazing.

I know there’s a lot of conflicting information and rumors floating around for non employee jump staff and unemployment/government aid. Not just here at XP but at DZs all over the country. With the help of our HR and accounting department, I did a little research/fact checking. As of right now this is what you should expect and how to go about it:If you are a non employee skydiving contractor, not working because of Covid-19, you are considered a “self-employed/gig worker” and you CAN now file for unemployment. This is new and the information on your states UI website may not be updated yet, unfortunately this is keeping people from feeling like they should move forward with filing because they think they will be rejected. Don’t worry about that part just get started anyway!Whether you qualify or not depends on how much you worked last year and how well you kept records (more on that later), it is not necessarily dependent on how much you worked in the last month like employees who were just laid off. You may also be able to use scheduled future work that was canceled due to the Covid-19 crisis.Even if you’re not sure – APPLY ANYWAY and do it soon! If you don’t apply there’s no way you will be eligible for the $600/week of additional unemployment relief when it’s time to be distributed. It is my understanding that this $600/week is still considered regular unemployment insurance when you receive it, so you should plan to set some of it aside for your taxes next year (like normal) just to be safe.

  • Start by applying through the state you legally reside in, even if you’ve received payments from other places. You should be able to show later in the process that you made money in other states.
  • Create an account at any time through your states unemployment insurance website. Make sure it’s a .gov before you start adding your personal information. I had a hard time on my phone and had to switch to a desktop with access to my email.
  • After you verify your account you can start the application process, it takes about 15 minutes to complete if you’re not booted off. I did mine at 1:00am to try to keep that from happening and I still got booted once.
  • When given the option select that you were/are affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The phone lines aren’t being answered and the local offices will just have you go home or use an office computer on your own anyway.
  • Normally it takes 7-10 days to be approved, 2-3 weeks to start receiving the payments. However, this isn’t a normal time. You probably won’t be updated regularly if at all. When you log into your account to check it will look the same as the day before, so maybe you can help free up the servers for others applying by not constantly checking. The only message I received was a false reminder to register that I was seeking employment every week or risk my benefits being canceled.
  • Everyone filing affected by the Covid-19 crisis is exempt from having to register seeking employment weekly, it’s just not updated yet but you’ll see the automatic notifications anyway. The first payment came in today from being filed exactly 14 days ago. Online it still says that it’s pending approval. This was for regular unemployment only and if there happens to be a longer delay now that the system is busier, you should also receive retroactive payments for a part of the waiting period.
  • No one has been issued the additional $600/week yet and it is unclear if those payments will be retroactive since there was no promised timeframe.
  • PLEASE DON’T LIE about any information while applying, even if they don’t ask for details now. If you provide any false information or file under false pretenses you will get caught and you will have a hard time getting out of it if you need to appeal to collect anything later. If you don’t have a formal account of future work you can’t count it. The UI office will have access to what you were paid from any business last year with your SSN, so you can’t exaggerate it.
  • [This message was from Lauren her staff – see if you can get similar information from them] I’m happy to write a letter from the DZ of the amount of Tandems/Videos/FJC/AFF/Coach jumps etc. we have had to cancel so far, what would have applied to you, and what was projected over the next few months. I’m sure other DZs will do the same for any of their jump staff. If you’re having a hard time getting this information you can contact me and I’ll try to help – Lauren@flyxp.com
  • If you were hired for an event/weekend organizing, you should have an email discussing dates/pay/cancellation. Same with contracts.
  • If you had tunnel coaching that you had to cancel, you should have a confirmation of the time being booked, and later having to be canceled. No, you can’t book it and cancel it now.

For the $1200 stimulus/economic impact payments:

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  • Those who have already filed their 2019 tax returns should be the first round to be approved, next should be those who have filed their 2018 tax returns.
  • If you weren’t required to file taxes in the last two years you would need to file a “simple tax return” right away, so the government knows who to send the money to and where to send it.
  • The payment will be automatically deposited into the same bank account you used to receive a tax return if you qualified for/received one, or the address on your 1099 forms/where you received a paper check.
  • Approval and payments are expected to begin April 6th with no notification in advance.
  • This money is not considered income and you will not have to account for it when you file your taxes for 2020 next year.

*TAX DAY HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 7/15/20*

If you were waiting until the last minute and haven’t started the process for filing your 2019 (or 2018 😎) taxes by the original due date, get on it! You definitely have the time right now…

If you need help and would like to hire someone to help you, we have a few accountants very familiar with skydivers unique employment and tax situations with extra time on their hands. If you would like me to pass your information to them just send me an email with your contact info. You’ll have to discuss exact pricing with them depending on your specific needs but it should be around $125-150, less than a chain tax firm.

If you’re interested in getting things more organized for the upcoming year they could help advise you on bookkeeping, write offs, banking, and what type of company/corporation you should register/if you even need to. I know it may seem frivolous to spend time and money on this since none of us are working right now but this is the perfect time for you to get things organized for when we start back up!I hope this helps!

I miss you. I love you. I can’t wait to see you 💙
– Lauren Thacker

1 Comment

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