The $900 billion pandemic relief package aims to bring much-needed funds...

The $900 billion pandemic relief package aims to bring much-needed funds to businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19. Credit: Bloomberg/Stefani Reynolds

President Donald Trump on Sunday night signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package that aims to bring much-needed funds to businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19.

The 5,593-page legislation extends or modifies many features of the CARES Act, Congress’ $2.2 trillion relief bill passed in March. It includes billions of dollars for schools, transit agencies and health care initiatives, such as vaccine distribution.

Here are some critical questions and answers on what kind of relief is provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:

How much money will individuals and families receive?

The funds going out to Americans are tax credits being advanced to taxpayers now based on their 2019 adjusted gross income.

Individuals with a Social Security number, who are not dependents, will receive up to $600 if their income was under $75,000. Couples will receive up to $1,200, with an additional $600 per qualifying child, if their joint income was under $150,000. The amount given decreases by $50 for every $1,000 of income earned above these thresholds.

Unlike the CARES Act, under this new relief package, families with mixed immigration status where one spouse has a valid Social Security number are now eligible for the payment. Their children can also receive $600 each if the child has a Social Security number.

What about those $2,000 checks that the House of Representatives approved Monday night?

The House passed increased relief assistance on Monday night, to an amount championed by Trump.

The provision increases the amount of money individuals and families receive in stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Trump had advocated that amount before relenting and signing the current bill.

On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to put the proposal up for a vote, saying the chamber would "begin a process" to address the issue.

How and when will I receive the money?

The IRS will use information from the most recent tax returns or Social Security data to provide the funds by either direct deposit or through a check in the mail to the last address on file.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, had initially said the money could be distributed starting this week but Trump’s delay in signing the legislation has cast doubt on this time frame. The bill gives the Treasury Department until Jan. 15 to start distributing the money.

What kind of help will businesses receive?

Billions of dollars have been set aside for small businesses in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers low-interest and, depending on certain criteria, forgivable loans through financial institutions.

Loans for this second round are limited to businesses with fewer than 300 employees which had a minimum of a 25% drop in gross receipts in a 2020 quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. The maximum loan for second-time borrowers is $2 million.

The qualifying expenses for which a PPP loan can be used have been expanded to include property damage, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures.

The new legislation provides $20 billion for new Economic Injury Disaster Loan grants for businesses in low-income communities, as well as $43.5 billion for continued Small Business Administration (SBA) debt relief payments.

What does this legislation do for unemployment benefits?

The relief package extends two federal unemployment programs, providing a weekly $300 supplemental benefit for 11 weeks and extending unemployment benefits to workers who are traditionally ineligible, such as independent contractors.

However, since Trump did not sign the legislation until after the two programs expired on Dec. 26, it is unclear how quickly they will resume or whether benefits will be made retroactive. As a result, workers may lose a week of benefits along with the supplemental $300.

Is there assistance for renters?

The relief package allocates $25 billion in rental assistance and extends the eviction moratorium through Jan. 31.

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