Thursday, January 7, 2021

Understanding the $900B Stimulus Package

On Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law an emergency stimulus package designed to deliver approximately $900 billion in COVID-19-related aid. This bill was passed by Congress after months of negotiation, and was attached to a $1.4 trillion spending package that will keep the government open for the fiscal year.

Notably, this bill provides funding for unemployment benefits, small businesses, direct economic payments to individuals, vaccine distribution and rental assistance. This article provides an overview of what is included within the emergency relief bill.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FUNDING AND EXTENSION

The bill includes funding for unemployment benefits for out-of-work Americans. Specifically, this bill allows unemployed Americans to receive $300 per week in federal funding in addition to the existing unemployment aid they may be collecting from their state, if those state-level benefits have not already run out. The additional unemployment benefits and extensions included within this bill would provide aid for 11 weeks from their expiration at the end of December 2020 through at least March 14, 2021.

Initial COVID-19 relief for unemployment benefits was introduced by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was enacted on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provided funding for states to waive any waiting week requirements for unemployment income (UI) benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide an additional $600 per week to all individuals receiving UI benefits for weeks of unemployment ending before July 31, 2020. President Trump signed a memorandum to extend a portion of unemployment wages after the initial $600 per week expired.

Additionally, the bill includes an extension of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is a program that allows workers who are not traditionally eligible to receive unemployment benefits, including self-employed and gig workers, to do so. An 11-week extension in base benefits through this program is also included within the bill.

AID FOR BUSINESSES

The bill includes approximately $325 billion in funding to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist U.S. businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Specifically, the bill allocates $284 billion in funding to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides forgivable small business loans to eligible applicants. Under the bill, certain firms that had already applied for, received and exhausted PPP funds will be eligible to apply for another PPP loan. To be eligible for a second PPP loan, a small business must have less than 300 employees and have sustained at least a 25% loss in revenue during any quarter of 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019. Additionally, certain small 501(c)(6) organizations have become eligible for a PPP loan with this round of funding.

The bill also provides the following with regard to the PPP:
  • Expansion of expenses eligible for loan forgiveness to include supplier costs and investment costs related to modifying facilities and obtaining personal protective equipment for safety
  • Simplified loan forgiveness process for businesses that have borrowed $150,000 or less in PPP loans
  • Confirmation that business expenses paid for with PPP loan funds are tax deductible
Businesses interested in applying for a PPP loan should contact their lender for more information.

The bill also directs $15 billion in funding for independent live-venue operators affected by COVID-19 and another $20 billion for small business grants.

Download Understanding the $900B Stimulus Package to read more about what is and is not included within the emergency relief bill. 

For more information on healthcare and employee benefits changes, contact HANYS Benefit Services by email or by calling (800) 388-1963.

This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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