State: Posts should contact counties

ST. PAUL — Many American Legion Posts with bar and restaurant operations across Minnesota reported being denied by the Minnesota Department of Revenue for COVID-19 Business Relief Payments.

Why? Because the classification system counts many of them as social and civic organizations, rather than bars and restaurants.

“It’s a fairness issue,” said Department of Minnesota Adjutant Mike Maxa. “We were shut down just like bars and restaurants, but we are being punished now for having a charitable mission.”

The Department of Minnesota contacted the Governor’s Office, the Department of Revenue and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs on Feb. 18. During the meeting, Maxa and Communications Director Tim Engstrom explained what was happening and requested guidance.

The result: The next day the Department of Revenue issued a statement urging Posts with bar, restaurant or banquet operations to request COVID-19 relief through their county governments. This is the statement, slightly abridged for space (from the Legionnaire):

Posts urged to contact county ASAP for COVID-19 relief

Minnesota American Legion and VFW Posts that did not receive a direct COVID-19 Business Relief Payment from the Minnesota Department of Revenue earlier this year are urged to contact their local county as soon as possible to determine if additional COVID-19 relief is available.

In December 2020, Gov. Tim Walz signed a bipartisan COVID-19 Business Relief package. The law provided funding for direct payments from the Department of Revenue to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that met specific eligibility requirements. The law also provided $114,800,000 to counties. Each Minnesota county received a prorated appropriation based on population.

Each of Minnesota’s 87 counties have set up their own grant program to provide economic relief to local businesses and non-profits adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each county is responsible for establishing its own application process and requirements for these business relief grants. Because each county can set up the program to best meet their local needs, Legions and VFW Posts that were not eligible for a direct COVID-19 Business Relief payment will need to contact their local county for information on how to apply for this funding.

It is very important to note that the law directs any unspent funding in this program to go back to the state’s general fund on March 15, 2021, meaning Legions and VFW Posts will need to act soon. …

For questions about direct COVID-19 business relief payments from the Department of Revenue, email or call 800-657-3777.