The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), along with the International Franchise Association and payroll processing companies Paychex and Intuit, are asking policymakers to help small businesses make payroll during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the federal government focuses its attention on America’s economic engine — small businesses and their millions of employees — direct funding of their payroll can help,” the group said in a letter. “The problem: It takes time to create new processes to distribute funds to small businesses — speed is of the essence here. An efficient and effective process would be to leverage established small business payroll processing that is already in place and can be marshalled immediately to protect jobs and preserve resiliency within the small business sector.”

The group said about 60 million people in the United States are employed by small businesses, and payroll processors account for roughly 40% of all payroll payments in the United States.

“We are also convinced that proposed direct payments to individuals will not prevent small businesses from laying off employees. Small businesses need to make payroll now – the clock is ticking,” the letter said.

The letter is addressed to President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, and members of Congress.

Last week, Moody’s Analytics said nearly 80 million jobs in the United States are at high or moderate risk due to the impacts of the coronavirus. The President and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, James Bullard, on Sunday said he thought U.S. unemployment could hit 30% in the second quarter.

Initial unemployment claims jumped 33% last week, the biggest week-over-week jump since the 2008 financial crisis.

“The payroll processing companies and the 45,000-plus CPA firms in America have long been partners in helping small businesses thrive in good times, and we have a role to play in the grave challenges we face today,” the group said in its letter.

It is also urging the creation of a central payroll funding account that small business payroll processors could use to allow small businesses to continue paying workers.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases had jumped to more than 33,000 in the U.S. Monday morning, with more than 20,000 cases in New York.

William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images

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