Initiative Will Provide Financial Relief to Restaurants That Rapidly Hire Workers; Restaurants May Qualify for Up To $50,000 in Tax Credits   

“Fast Track” Option Allows Restaurants to Claim Credits Ahead of 2021 Tax Filing  

More Information and Application Portal Available Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of New York State’s $35 million Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit program, designed to help expand employment opportunities for workers and provide relief to COVID-impacted restaurants. Created as part of the New York State FY 2022 Budget, the program offers a tax credit for the rapid hiring of restaurant workers to reduce the restaurant industry’s pandemic-induced economic difficulties. Qualifying restaurants could receive a $5,000 tax credit per net new hire, totaling up to $50,000 in tax credits per business.   

“New York’s restaurants are not only the best in the world, they are vital to the state’s economy, employing thousands of people and showcasing cuisines that reflect our great diversity. Restaurants also serve as an entrepreneurial outlet and are often families’ gateways to the American Dream,” Governor Cuomo said. “The restaurant industry was among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, as public health and safety concerns restricted many of its service operations. With the state’s COVID-19 restrictions lifted, restaurants opening to full capacity, and tables filling up, this will support the much-needed hiring of workers by these establishments to meet their increased demand.” 

The Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit is available to small, independently-owned restaurants in New York City, or in areas that were designated as an Orange Zone or Red Zone for at least 30 consecutive days by the New York State Department of Health during the state of emergency related to COVID-19. Eligible restaurants will need to demonstrate COVID-related losses and show proof of hiring at least one full-time worker at the restaurant.   

Recognizing the need for restaurants to receive this assistance quickly in the economic wake of COVID-19, a “Fast Track” option will allow restaurants to claim the tax credit as an advance payment ahead of filing their 2021 tax returns. Under this option, restaurants will be evaluated based on their net new job growth during a truncated period, from April 1 to August 31, 2021.  

More information on the program, including the application and details about the Fast Track option, is available here.  

Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, “New York’s restaurants were among the most affected industries during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this program will provide relief to businesses in the hardest hit parts of the state. Through the Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit, the state can help get restaurant workers back into jobs while supporting the small businesses so integral to the fabric of communities across New York State.” 

Senator Anna M. Kaplan, Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business, said, “The pandemic has been devastating to New York’s small business community, particularly restaurants that were shut down for extended periods of time in hot-spot areas. The Restaurant Return-To-Work Tax Credit program, part of the State’s Business Pandemic Recovery Initiative, will help small restaurant owners to create new jobs, bring workers back quickly, and help our economy to build back better and stronger.”

Assembly Member Harry Bronson, Chair of the Assembly Economic Development Committee, said, “Restaurants are one of the keys to our economy, and equally important the backbone in many of our communities. These businesses, especially those in economically disadvantaged communities, or those owned by people of color, have been even more disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This package seeks to give these small businesses a fighting chance to emerge from this pandemic by helping both the business and the families they employee.” 

Assemblyman and Chairman of the Small Business Committee Al Stirpe said, “During the height of the pandemic, our family owned restaurants were devastated from the restriction put in place. In April, I helped approve a budget that included the $35 million Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit to aid restaurants that have suffered COVID-related loses and provide much-needed financial relief for these hardworking businesses. As Chair of the Small Business Committee, it is my hope that this program provides restaurant owners with an incentive to expand employment opportunities and get Central New Yorkers back to work.”

The Restaurant Return-To-Work Tax Credit Program is part of a comprehensive package of economic recovery initiatives announced in April as part of the FY2022 Budget to help restart the State’s economy and support the recovery of New York’s businesses. The $1 billion package includes assistance and relief for arts and cultural organizations, the tourism industry, restaurants, and the state’s small businesses, which represent 98% of all New York State businesses. Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of the $100 million New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit program to revitalize the stage-based arts and entertainment industry, which supports thousands of jobs and countless business that rely on live performances.  

Empire State Development launched NYSBusinessRecovery.ny.gov, a dedicated website featuring an interactive tool that can guide businesses through the state’s various pandemic recovery programs. The site also highlights additional resources available to support businesses seeking pandemic relief. It will be continuously updated by Empire State Development as more details and funding information become available.