A pandemic lifeline has arrived from Congress. The crushing financial impact from coronavirus has prompted the government to provide a $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the escalating crisis.
U.S. representatives and senators voted to give individuals, small businesses, corporations and municipalities money to cope with the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Please keep in mind that if you used direct deposit to get your tax refund, that's how you will get your money. If you mailed your return to the IRS, you will get a check in the mail. That could take several weeks, so be patient. Here's a breakdown:
Individuals: The government will provide direct payments of $1,200 per adult ($2,400 for couples) who have income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married filing jointly). This is based on your adjusted gross income from your 2019 return. The amount will phase out for those with incomes up to $99,000 ($198,000 married), plus $500 per child.
Additionally, the government will enhance unemployment benefits, which are administered by individual states. Benefits are generally a percentage of income over the past year, up to a certain maximum of lost income (about 45%), and most states pay benefits for 26 weeks. The government will provide out-of-work Americans with an additional $600 per week on top of what state unemployment programs pay and will extend payments for four months.
Importantly, the emergency lifeline will expand unemployment eligibility to include self-employed — independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers, temporary and part-time workers, estimated to be 57 million of the U.S. workforce, or more than a third of the working population who collect $1 trillion in income. These folks have traditionally been shut out of the benefits and protections that employees or even other small businesses are able to access.
Small businesses: The government will provide 30 million small businesses (those with fewer than 500 employees) that employ 60 million workers with a pool of loans, including: $350 billion in the form of federally guaranteed loans that would be forgiven over time (if businesses keep workers on payroll during the crisis) and $17 billion for the Small Business Administration to cover six months of payments for small businesses with existing loans.
These loans will be made by banks and financial institutions to qualifying small businesses and would be guaranteed by SBA. No one loan can be over $10 million, and firms will need to certify employee retention, and allowable uses of the loan include employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, mortgage payments and any other debt obligations.
Large corporations: The legislation will provide $450 billion in loans or in loan guarantees to eligible American businesses, states and municipalities. Banks and financial services companies will become agents of the U.S. Treasury to make the loans to qualified businesses. There will also be $58 billion in loan guarantees to U.S. passenger and cargo airlines, a portion of which could convert to a grant, and $17 billion for businesses important to maintaining national security.
Companies participating in these programs will be restricted in their ability to engage in buybacks for the term of the government assistance plus one year, must comply with limits on executive compensation, and loans cannot be forgiven. They will also have to maintain employment levels as of March 15 while loans remain outstanding.
Additionally, the plan calls for $240 billion for hospitals and health-care service support, a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund for state, tribal and local municipalities, $10 billion in transportation aid to airports, and $20 billion to other transportation infrastructure (rail/bus/car).
Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is a CBS News business analyst. She welcomes comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.