On March 27, 2020, the White House and Congress came to an agreement and passed the largest relief package in recent United States history, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Spreading $2 trillion amongst businesses, hospitals, families and individuals, this economic stimulus package is designed to bring relief to those experiencing the ever-increasing threat of economic turmoil and downturn amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
After six days of back and forth between Senate Republicans, Democrats and the White House, all parties came to an agreement on this historical $2 trillion package. For perspective, this relief package greatly surpasses the $168 billion offered to Americans in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which was the last time an economic stimulus package was passed.1
If you’re wondering how this newly passed act may affect you, your place of employment or your local healthcare facility, we’ve gathered up the important numbers to know in this overview.
In an effort to extend unemployment benefits, eligible Americans on unemployment will receive an additional $600 per week for four months.2 This is done in an effort to help those who are currently out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic better achieve their full pay over the next four months.
This bill will allow unemployed individuals affected by the pandemic to receive unemployment insurance for an extended 13 weeks. In addition, it will allow out-of-work individuals to receive the enhanced unemployment benefits as outlined in this bill for four months.2
The bill has called for the creation of a pandemic unemployment assistant program that would offer unemployment benefits to those who have previously not been eligible - including those who have been furloughed by their employer, freelancers and gig workers (such as Uber or Lyft drivers).
In the final iteration of the bill, hospitals will receive around $117 billion in aid.2 In regards to helping healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill is meant to help workers gain better access to protective equipment, testing supplies and provide construction or facilities to house the growing number of patients in need.
Additionally, hospitals and healthcare providers will see a 20 percent increase in Medicare payments for treating those on Medicare with coronavirus.2
Some American taxpayers will be receiving direct stimulus payments of $1,200 as part of the new bill. Those with incomes up to $75,000 will receive the full $1,200, with the amount lowering and eventually phasing out for those who earn more than $99,000. Individuals earning $99,000 or couples earning $198,000 or more will not receive checks. Families who qualify with children can expect to receive an additional $500 in direct payments per child.2
To determine how much you will receive, the government will be basing your income level on your 2018 tax return, unless you have already filed your 2019 tax return.2 As a reminder, the tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020.2
Small Business Grants & Loans
A large portion of this stimulus bill will be going toward assisting small businesses who have been affected greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, $500 billion will go toward assisting businesses and corporations, with $29 billion going to the aviation industry and $17 billion to businesses that work in national security. The remaining $454 billion can be leveraged as loans for other businesses or municipalities. Companies that choose to take this government assistance must agree to stop any stock buybacks for the length of the loan plus a year. In addition, these companies must retain at least 90 percent of their employee levels between March 24 and September 30, 2020.2
This money will be overseen by an inspector general and a five-person panel, who Congress will appoint. In addition, any businesses run or partially run (at least 20 percent stake in the company) by the Trump family, or other senior government officials, will not be eligible to use these funds.2
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)
The CARES Act essentially suspended required minimum distributions (RMDs) for 2020 across the board. The bill stated that defined contribution plans, like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b) plans, and IRAs (Inherited IRAs too), may suspend RMDs in 2020. RMDs for 2020 were already a bit lower since 2020 is the first year in which the required beginning date switched from age 70.5 to age 72 – unless someone turned age 70.5 in 2019, in which case they owe an RMD by April 1, 2020. However, the new CARES Act allows account owners to skip both their 2019 RMD if it was their first year and had not yet made an RMD by April 1, 2020, and their 2020 RMD.
Millions of educators and students from K-12 through college have been affected by government orders to self-isolate. In an effort to assist school systems and institutions across the country, the government is granting $30 billion in emergency education funding.2
In addition, The Department of Education will be suspending payments so that borrowers would be allowed to put off paying their federal student loan payments without penalty until September 30th.2
Airlines have been hit hard during the pandemic and requested government assistance to help negate the crippling effects they’ve endured as a result. The relief bill will provide $32 billion in the form of grants to cover the wages and benefits of aviation employees.2
Here's how the $32 billion will be broken down within the aviation industry:
- $25 billion for passenger airlines
- $4 billion for cargo airlines
- $3 billion for contractors (workers who handle ticketing, cleaning, catering, baggage, etc.)2
Passenger airlines and cargo airlines will also receive additional help, $25 billion and $4 billion respectively, via loans or loan guarantees.2
In exchange for this assistance, the government has banned airlines receiving assistance from furloughing employees, making pay cuts, buying back stocks or issuing dividends to investors through September.2
State and local governments haven’t been immune to the financial hardships this global pandemic has caused. The stimulus package is offering $150 billion for state and local governments that have been working to combat the effects of COVID-19 in their communities.2
Food Assistance Programs
Anticipating a rise in demand for food banks as a result of the increasing unemployment rate, the bill has provided the Emergency Food Assistance Program with $450 million. Approximately $350 million would go toward purchasing food, with the remaining $100 million spent on the distribution of food to those in need. In addition, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories will receive $200 million for food assistance, and American Indian reservations will receive $100 million for food distribution.2
This is not part of the CARES act. However, many banks have been touting their mortgage payment relief. Please check with Lifeguard Wealth before proceeding. From what I have read, the cumulative payments are due in three months and the forbearance could have a significant negative impact on your credit rating.
While the news seems to be changing every day surrounding COVID-19 in America, this stimulus act is coming at a time when families and business owners alike are fearful of their financial future. If you still have questions about how this stimulus package may affect you or your business, you’ll want to get in touch with your financial advisor. Together, you can sort through expectations of what’s to come and the right next steps to take.
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