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Taichung City Government distributes relief funds, enacts 10 initiatives to help everyone get through these hard times

Sponsored by the Taichung City Economic Development Bureau

With Covid-19 having an increased, significant impact on Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) raised the nation to a Level 3 alert status on May 19. On May 23, Taichung City Mayor Lu Shiow-yen held a press conference to announce relief funding for many businesses affected by the current pandemic situation, with the extension of last year’s nine relief plans plus one additional initiative to help those in need. A total assistance budget of over NT$790 million is available for applying businesses, including delayed business rents, young entrepreneur loan and interest payments and night market and marketplace vendor rental fees, plus tax deductions. “Taichung City Government Relief Funds Plus 10 Actions” was unveiled by Mayor Lu, who referred to the central government’s special relief budget proposal of NT$210 billion sent to the Legislative Yuan. During a May 15 pandemic-related meeting, the mayor also aggressively requested funding from this central government budget, as relief is urgently needed with many businesses shutting down due to the current serious situation. This relief plan offers two main benefits: 1) it extends last year’s nine relief policies, allowing for delayed payments of shop rental fees, and delayed loan and interest payments for young entrepreneurs; 2) businesses forced to shut down, including night market and marketplace vendors, can apply for assistance. On top of that, relief funding for many artistic performance groups and hot springs businesses will be processed as well, as part of an overall effort to help residents and win this battle together.

Mayor Lu said that this relief plan could assist with a wide range of financial needs, including basic livelihoods and arts and culture events. Measures include: 1. Rent-free benefits for all night markets and marketplaces from May 15 to June 8 as one of the measures offered by the city’s Economic Development Bureau, and Tourism and Travel Bureau. 2. The Economic Development Bureau hopes to halve night market and marketplace usage fees between June and September. This measure would also include traditional market merchants and other street vendors, in the hope of reducing their financial burdens.

3. The Economic Development Bureau has also established a special contact window for those in need of relief funds. Established last year, Taichung’s Relief Fund Counseling Office received nearly 2,000 calls over 74 days. In 2021, this service will again offer updated information from the central government and all are welcome to call regarding relief funding, subsidies and referral services.

4. Taichung City Government Water Resource Bureau is offering an installment payment policy for hot springs usage fees this year, with hot springs businesses only needing to pay 20% of fees as a first-time payment for this year. 

5. Other city government bureaus are also extending last year’s policy of “delayed payments and budget cuts for BOT, OT and outsourced venue rental fees”. Outsourced venue operators will cooperate with business suspensions in response to the growing pandemic situation, and will provide for royalty and rent reductions, deferred payments and other measures depending on the situation. In addition, for any non-discounted lease of non-public real estate managed by Taichung City Government’s Finance Bureau for business use, rents can be reduced between April 1 and Dec. 31 this year, with a 50% reduction of the general rental rate.

6. Taichung City Government Labor Affairs Bureau is continuing last year’s policy and has introduced the “Involuntarily Unemployed Workers’ Living Allowance and Children’s Education Allowance Expansion”. In addition to caring for workers who are unemployed or in difficulty due to this pandemic, it provides an individual living allowance of a one-month basic salary up to a maximum of two months. It also provides subsidies for workers’ children who attend school every month, of NT$5,000 per child in elementary and junior high schools, and NT$8,000 per child in senior high school and college.

7. The Labor Affairs Bureau has launched its “Extension of Interest Subsidies for Youth Entrepreneurship Loans for One Year” initiative to continue last year’s policy and to support young entrepreneurs. As long as the situation caused by the pandemic is stated in writing, this measure will cover interest subsidies for youth entrepreneurship loan applications this year of less than NT$3 million. For applicants enrolled (applying for subsidies) from this January to December, the subsidy period can be extended up to 24 to 36 months after review.

8. The Labor Affairs Bureau is also promoting its “work with peace of mind” policy. In response to unemployed workers during this critical pandemic period, and in addition to providing living and children’s education subsidies, 23 employment service locations in Taichung City provide peace of mind work services so that workers will have extra income during the transition period while seeking employment. Short-term work to maintain one’s livelihood is provided up to a maximum of 80 hours per month, and up to a maximum of six months per person.

9. Taichung City Government’s Local Tax Bureau has launched a “Tax Deferment and Exemption” program. If a business reduces its business-usage area due to reduced business and closes that area during the pandemic period, the housing tax originally levied at a “business” tax rate of 3% can be changed to a “non-domestic” tax rate on a monthly basis. Tax rates are levied at 2% for non-business use or 1.5% for non-business usage at home. During this period, if a company vehicle is not in use, license taxes can also be exempted, while entertainment businesses can receive deductions based on the number of days that they are not operating or entertainment facilities are not in use, with entertainment taxes reduced proportionally.

In addition, businesses or entertainment venues that cooperate with the city government’s anti-pandemic measure of compulsory business suspensions from May 15 will see a reduction of housing tax and suspension of entertainment tax in accordance with a list provided by relevant competent authorities such as the city Economic Development Bureau. Those who are affected by the outbreak and have difficulty making payments of these taxes can apply for an extension of up to a year, or installment payments of up to 36 installments.

10. Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau has launched its “Performing Arts Relief Subsidy Program”. Performing arts groups registered with the bureau may apply for performance-related project assistance (excluding actual performances), including music creation, script writing, dance creation, and teaching plan research and development. Assistance of up to NT$200,000 per execution plan case for lessons, publications, or filming projects will be granted after approval.

For more information about these relief plans, please visit Taichung City Government’s Economic Development Bureau official website: https://www.economic.taichung.gov.tw/1792622/post ), or call (04) 2228-9111, ext. 31139, 31141, 31142, 31143.

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