Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
March 27th, 2020. This page will be udpated as soon as more information is available.
Incredible news: The government is very close to approving a $2.2 trillion coronavirus recovery bill which will help hundreds of millions of people, including many of you and your clients. It will help small businesses stay afloat, provide access to new types of loans, save jobs, support those who are unemployed and put more money in nearly everyone’s pockets to help boost the economy.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a sweeping piece of legislation, unprecedented in its scope and is over 800 pages long. So we’ve pulled together this brief summary of some of the provisions most relevant for you.
We will update this page when the bill is approved by Congress and signed into law by the President.
WHAT THE “CARES” ACT MEANS FOR YOU
Small businesses — including independent contractors — are eligible for partially forgivable loans to help cover payroll and critical expenses
- As an independent contractor, you will be able to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program small business loan to use for payroll support, employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, or for insurance, mortgage, rent or utility payments.
- You will not need to repay the portion of the loan that you use for those types of costs (with a number of important caveats and details that you can learn about by clicking this link).
- These loans can be up to $10 million and the maximum term is 10 years. No personal or collateral guarantee will be required and there’s no prepayment penalty. Interest payments are completely deferred for 1 year and cannot exceed 4% after.
Every adult will get a cash payment of up to $1200, plus $500 per child, up to a certain income level
- The payments are available to all taxpayers who make less than $75,000 individually or $150,000 as a couple, based on your adjusted gross income from either your 2018 or 2019 tax returns.
- You do not need to apply, and checks are expected to arrive within three weeks.
Unemployment benefits will be increased by $600-per-week for everyone for up to 4 months — and are now available to independent contractors for the first time.
- New unemployment benefits will be made available for everyone affected by COVID-19, including agents and other independent contractors who were formerly generally ineligible for these benefits (coverage extends through December 31, 2020).
- The $600-per-week is added on top of each individual state’s unemployment insurance.
- The bill authorized an extra 13 weeks of unemployment insurance payments.
Small businesses can also apply for new financial support: emergency loans, loan-repayment relief and refundable tax credits
- Emergency grants for small businesses that have applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which acts to advance up to $10,000 of that loan to be distributed within 3 days.
- If you already have certain types of Small Business Administration loans, you can apply to defer up to six months of payments.
- There’s a fully refundable tax credit for affected businesses under 100 full-time employees to help keep workers on the payroll. The credit covers 50% of payroll on the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, paid for each eligible employee from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020. All employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shut-down order.
Other noteworthy provisions:
- All coronavirus testing is now free and COVID-19 treatment and future vaccines must be covered by insurance.
- There’s a temporary ban on eviction filings, a ban on foreclosures of federally backed mortgage loans and forbearance for certain borrowers.
- Early withdrawal penalties for withdrawals (up to $100,000) from certain retirement accounts for COVID-19-related purposes are now waived.
- Up to $300 of charitable cash contributions are now deductible, whether itemized or not.
The CARES Act is very welcome relief for everyone in the country who is struggling economically right now, and I’m very grateful for all of the provisions that directly apply to independent contractors and small businesses. We expect the bill to be approved by Congress and signed later today and if there are any changes to what we’ve outlined above between now and then, we will let you know.
I hope this news helps you end a challenging week on a positive note — and that you’re able to spend time with the people who matter most to you this weekend, whether stuck at home together or on the phone or over a video chat.