The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a relief package passed by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the third round of federal government legislation to support our economy in the wake of this crisis.
The CARES Act provides economic support to the business sector, employees, individuals, and families with:
- Immediate tax rebates of up to $1,200 per taxpayer;
- Forgivable, subsidized loans to small businesses;
- Direct loans to the hardest hit industries;
- The relaxation of income tax rules and deadlines;
- Ongoing financial aid to students, schools, and colleges; and
- Direct stabilization of money market mutual funds.
Highlights for Individuals, Families and Service Providers
Economic Impact Payment (aka Stimulus Checks)
The CARES Act provides an immediate tax rebate of $1,200 per taxpayer, plus $500 per child. These amounts (except the per-child payment) are doubled for joint returns. The payment is gradually reduced for incomes above those $75,000 tapering off altogether at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.
The payments will be issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), similar to a tax refund. If a person filed taxes in 2018 or in 2019, the payment will be made automatically to the bank account or address that the IRS has on file.
People on SSI are eligible for this benefit. These payments are not counted as income or assets for 12 months. This means that people with disabilities can accept these payments without putting Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other benefits at risk.
People on SSI with no qualifying children do not need to take action in order to receive their payments. SSI recipients with qualifying children, however, will need to use the Non-Filers portal.
Visit the IRS coronavirus website for updates and information.
For easy to understand information about economic impact payments and other benefits, visit the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment.
Unemployment Insurance (UI) Enhancements
Enhanced unemployment benefits under the CARES Act will add an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to Washington’s 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. It also provides an additional $600 per week to the state’s calculated benefit payment.
The $600 additional weekly Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments authorized by the CARES Act are to be disregarded in determining income for purposes of Medicaid eligibility.
Included in these extended unemployment benefits is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which covers those not usually eligible, such as the self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, or who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits. Up to 39 weeks of PUA are available to workers in Washington State who are immediately eligible to receive PUA.
Small Business Interruption Loans
If you have a small business that has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, the CARES Act extends the qualifications for borrowers and the size of loans available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. These loans will also help businesses pay for the increased medical, family, and sick leave that they will be required to offer employees.
The CARES Act extends Small Business Administration (SBA) loans—known as 7(a) loans—to any business, private nonprofit, or public nonprofit organization with under 500 employees. Borrowers can receive loans equal to 2.5 times their monthly payroll, mortgage, rent, and debt payment expense, up to $10 million. Borrowers can use these loans for a variety of business expenses, including: payroll, paid sick leave, mortgage, rent, utilities, and payments on existing debts.
The CARES Act also provides forgiveness of the loan amounts used for the costs of maintaining continuity during 2020 for payroll and debt payments, plus additional wages paid to tipped employees.
NOTE:There is much more included in the CARES Act, as well as other federal legislation and state policies that provide economic relief from the impacts of COVID-19. Stay up to date at the Washington State Coronavirus Response page.