Economic Relief Is On The Way (Again)
Late into the day on December 21, Congress finally passed a much anticipated (and arguably long-overdue) second stimulus package. Signed by President Trump on December 27, the new stimulus package has already begun affecting Americans as we rang in the new year. Spreading $900 billion (notably much less than March’s $2 trillion deal) amongst businesses, hospitals, families and individuals, this economic stimulus package is designed to bring relief to those experiencing the financial hardships caused by the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this second stimulus package is less than what we saw in March, it still far surpasses the Americans In Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 - which offered $168 billion in relief to individuals and businesses.1
This historic bill is actually only part of a larger $1.4 trillion spending package and contains a staggering 5,600 pages. Below are some highlights of the bill’s coronavirus-related relief efforts that could affect you, your family, and your business soon.
Unemployment benefits as established in the original CARES Act are due to expire on December 31. With the newly passed act, those on unemployment can continue receiving an additional $300 in federal unemployment benefits for an additional 11 weeks.2
The CARES Act also established a pandemic unemployment assistant (PUA) program to 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).
This new act is set to extend the PUA program for an additional 11 weeks.2
Like the CARES Act, eligible American taxpayers will receive direct stimulus payments of $600 as part of the new bill. Just as before, those with incomes up to $75,000 will receive $600 payments, while families with children will receive $600 per child. That means that an eligible family of four will receive $2,400 in direct stimulus payments.2 The income limitation for those that are married and filing joint tax returns is doubled to $150,000.
Above these thresholds, the relief payments do not go away completely. There is a $5 reduction in stimulus payments for every $100 in additional adjusted gross income. The income used for these calculations is based upon the taxpayers' 2019 tax returns. If there is a meaningful difference in the taxpayers' 2020 tax return, that will be reconciled during this year's tax return. In short, if a taxpayer was phased out of receiving payments due to their 2019 income, yet their 2020 income was such that they should have received the relief payments, the value of the payments will be applied in this year's tax return.3 Below is a diagram from my friends @Kitces by @Levine illustrating how the relief payments and phaseouts work for nearly every kind of taxpayer and family.
Paycheck Protection Program & Small Business Loans
A popular program throughout the pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program will get the boost it needs to continue operating in 2021 - to the tune of around $284 billion. As a reminder, the PPP offers businesses under 500 employees assistance through forgivable loans that help cover payroll and other necessary operating expenses.2
Not seen in the CARES Act, this new package includes a “Save Our Stages Act,” which offers cultural centers, theaters, and other live performance venues $15 billion in government assistance.2
A point of contention for several months now, schools across the country have had to make a very tough decision - continue virtual learning or bring kids back for in-person classes? Money appointed to schools in the initial CARES Act went mainly to increasing technology capabilities for virtual learning and emergency financial aid grants to college students.
Around $82 billion will be split between the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.2
COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution & Testing
The FDA approved two COVID-19 vaccines in December, and the distribution of them has begun. Approximately $69 billion from the new stimulus package will go towards vaccination procurement and distribution, as well as statewide testing-and-tracing measures.2
The new stimulus bill has extended the CDC’s moratorium on rent evictions through the end of January.
For the millions of Americans past-due on their rent payments, the stimulus package includes $25 billion in rental assistance for qualified families and individuals.2
Food Assistance Programs
Food assistance programs, like SNAP, will receive around $13 billion in federal assistance.2
For many, the passing of a new stimulus package may feel nothing short of a Christmas miracle. For others, the benefits provided may be falling short of expectations. Of note, President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. is set to take office on January 20 and has already made it clear this will not be the end of government assistance amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
On December 22, he tweeted, “I applaud this relief package, but our work is far from over. Starting in the new year, Congress will need to immediately get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan.”3
While we do not know what additional relief may be coming, there is already talk of a third round of relief checks, to the tune of $2,000 per taxpayer, as part of a larger $3 Trillion dollar bill that will focus on infrastructure spending and restructuring the tax code.5 We are still a long way off from any law being drafted, passed, or signed into law. But it is possible a newly passed legislation under the Biden administration could bring some good (or bad) news to you, your family, and your business.
This may provide some additional opportunities to plan and adjust your wealth strategy, depending on your situation and circumstances. If you're in a position trying to understand how any and all of these moving parts may impact you, please do not hesitate to reach out. We'd love to have a conversation!
Matt Faubion, CFP®
Founder - Wealth Manager
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.