Questions and answers about the COVID-19 relief package

The $900 Billion COVID-19 Bill president trumpDonald TrumpGOP talking point could become Biden’s ‘disappointing’ response on Russia House Oversight Committee opens investigation into 2020 New Mexico election audit Hunter Biden paid tax liability amid investigation into grand jury course: report MORE signed on Sunday as part of a $2.3 trillion package that included government funding to provide financial relief to millions of Americans suffering the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The measure renews some programs that briefly expired, while providing new help for struggling households and small businesses.

Here are answers to some of the most important questions about the legislation.

When will people start receiving the unemployment benefits provided by the bill?

Millions of Americans may have to wait several weeks before they start receiving some unemployment benefits included in the bill, many of which are extensions of the CARES Act in late March.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was revamped Sunday to provide more relief to temporary workers, contractors and others who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits. The bill also renewed the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment aid to workers who have already exhausted state benefits.

But because Trump didn’t sign the bill into law until after each program expired on Saturday, a break in benefits is inevitable.

About 14 million Americans were on track to receive benefits through the two programs as of Saturday, said Elizabeth Pancotti, a policy adviser for Employ America, a progressive organization. She said state unemployment agencies could take a month or more before they can restart payments due to the delay in approving and signing the bill.

“Some states can get through this in a week or two if we get guidance quickly from [the Labor Department]but allowing programs to lapse has created such a mess in many state UI offices that it could be 4-6 weeks before workers are paid,” he wrote in an email.

Michele Evermore, unemployment expert with the National Employment Law Project and a volunteer member of President elect Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP Senators Introduce Bill To Ban Russian Uranium Imports Energy & Environment: Ruling Blocking Climate Accounting Metric Halted Fauci Says Officials Need More Than .5B For COVID-19 Response MOREThe Labor Department’s transition review team said the Labor Department could prevent a gap in payments from the PUA and PEUC programs.

“In theory, it is possible that the dates of the contracts will change,” he said.

The legislative text means that states could modify contracts with the Department of Labor that govern federal aid, instead of signing new contracts. That could mean benefits continuing without a break, or at least avoiding missing a week of coverage once the dust settles.

The relief bill also provides an additional $300 per week in unemployment insurance through March 14, half of the original $600 weekly increase approved through the CARES Act that expired July 31. Pancotti said it could take more than a month for some workers to see the $300 weekly benefits.

Losing a single week of unemployment benefits from all three programs would mean that $11 billion would take time to reach recipients.

When will people receive the $600 direct payments?

The IRS has not released any information on the timing of the direct payments since Trump signed the bill on Sunday, but there are indications that the payments could begin within days.

A spokesman for the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee grassley chuckChuck GrassleyGOP Senators Seek Investigation of ‘Egregious’ Conditions at NJ Nursing Home GOP White House Hopefuls Receive Supreme Court Attention GOP Raises Red Flag on Supreme Court Nominee’s Guantanamo Job MORE (R-Iowa) said Monday that disbursements are expected to begin this week. treasury secretary steven mnuchinSteven Mnuchin Investigate Russia’s covert funding of US anti-fossil fuel groups. he said on Dec. 21 that he expects people to start receiving payments this week, though he made his comments before Trump waited until Sunday to sign the measure.

The IRS did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Hill on Monday.

The aid package provides for a second round of direct payments for most Americans of up to $600 per adult and the same amount per dependent child under 17 years of age.

The IRS is expected to send payments to individuals via direct deposit in cases where they have bank information for taxpayers. Otherwise, payments are expected to be sent to people through the mail in the form of paper checks and debit cards.

The IRS has until January 15 to issue advance payments of the refunds. People whose payments weren’t issued by then, or who didn’t receive some or all of their first payment, can get the amounts they’re entitled to by claiming a tax credit on their 2020 returns.

Individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 and married couples with income up to $150,000 qualify for the full $600 payment per adult and child. The amounts decrease by $5 for every $100 of income above those thresholds.

As was the case with the first round of payments enacted earlier this year, adult dependents are not eligible to receive checks.

The new law allows US citizens married to spouses without Social Security numbers to receive payments. Mixed-status households where at least one spouse has a Social Security number may also receive payments for any children with Social Security numbers. This change is retroactive to the first round of payments.

When Trump signed the law, he called for direct payments for adults to be increased from $600 to $2,000. Democrats support increasing the amount of direct payments for both adults and children, but most Republican lawmakers oppose increasing check sizes. Senator Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntCapito to bid for Senate GOP leadership White House warns he has to scale back virus response due to lack of funding Ukraine conflict a boon for defense industry MORE (R-Mo.) told reporters last week that he didn’t think legislation to increase the amounts to $2,000 would pass the Senate.

Can small businesses that already received federal aid apply for more?

Yes. The bill renewed several programs that have already proven successful in helping small businesses, most notably the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers forgivable loans to small businesses that keep workers on the books. .

Both businesses that have already received PPP loans and those that have not applied will be eligible for a new round of small business aid.

While the first two rounds had a combined total of $649 billion, the latest round is more capped at $284 billion. It also has more restrictions to ensure it reaches the companies with the most genuine needs and help root out fraud.

Forgivable loans are limited to businesses with up to 300 employees and a decrease of at least 25 percent in receipts in a given quarter relative to 2019. Businesses can obtain loans amounting to 2.5 times their monthly salary costs, although the figure rises to 3.5 for the hospitality industry, capped at $2 million across the board.

The Trump administration has just 10 days from the time of enactment to release the regulations, meaning the programs should be up and running in the first half of January.

There are good reasons to think that the implementation of the loans will be smoother than in the program’s chaotic and often frustrating debut in the spring, as smaller lenders had a tough time getting established quickly and the rules kept changing.

“In the first round, the banks were poorly equipped to run the process. They had no established portals,” said Stephanie O’Rourk, tax partner at CohnReznick.

“Now obviously they know and understand the process to pass on to the Small Business Administration,” he said, adding that they will still need time to update their systems with the latest requirements.

There are special exclusions for small and local lenders, to ensure that the big players don’t consume all the funds.

The law also set aside money for other forms of business relief, such as $20 billion for economic injury disaster loan grants and expanded access to employee retention credits.

How long will the new eviction protections last?

The new relief bill extends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) nationwide eviction ban through January 31, giving more than 10 million Americans another month of protection. The measure also provides $25 billion to fund rental assistance programs for renters who were unable to pay rent and owe landlords thousands of dollars.

Housing policy experts and consumer advocates have praised Congress for extending relief to struggling renters and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for stretching its own foreclosure ban on homes with federally backed mortgages. . Even so, tens of millions of Americans could still face eviction or foreclosure when those protections expire next year.

Experts note that tenants may need to take steps to avoid evictions under the moratorium and have urged states to help residents navigate the process. Tenants will also be responsible for any rent and fees owed to their landlords during the eviction ban.

The extended moratorium on the COVID-19 legislation was originally done through executive action, with the CDC declaring a health emergency. Biden could extend the moratorium after taking office on January 20.

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