September 22, 2020
Stimulus check 2: Will you get an extra $1,200 payment from the IRS?

Stimulus package: 6 benefits a new relief bill could still bring


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If Congress does pass another stimulus bill, here’s what else you could get, in addition to another direct payment.


Sarah Tew/CNET

President Donald Trump seemed to acknowledge that the three memoranda and one executive action he signed last weekend — which includes a payroll tax cut — don’t address all the measures that both sides of the aisle want to accomplish with a new economic relief bill.

“I am ready to send $105B to the states to help open schools safely with additional PPE,” he tweeted, amid an ongoing debate about school reopenings. A new economic relief bill is also expected to send a second stimulus check of up to $1,200 for qualified Americans. There may also be consideration of an eviction moratorium and additional unemployment benefits in a final package.

Trump blamed Democratic leaders for the holdup on finalizing a bill,  but Democratic leaders say his administration isn’t taking negotiations seriously. 

“The lives and livelihoods of the American people as well as the life of our democracy are at stake,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement earlier this week, emphasizing that when Republicans meet them halfway on the total cost of the package, they’ll return to the negotiation table

But the Senate is on recess through Labor Day and the House is out for an additional week after that, so it’s unlikely a bill will pass this month. If talks resume in September and a final bill is passed, here are some of the benefits that could come your way. This story updates frequently with new developments.

1. A second stimulus check to encourage spending

What it is: A payment sent to qualifying individuals and families, based on annual income, age, number of dependents and other factors. The first stimulus checks authorized under the CARES Act have been sent to over 160 million Americans — as a check, as a prepaid credit card or via direct deposit. But there have been problems, and after three months some are still waiting for their stimulus payment.

How it could help you: The payment isn’t taxable and you can use it however you want — to pay for food, housing, clothing and so on. The idea is that spending the checks will help the economy recover faster.

Why we think a second check will pass: The CARES Act authorized payments of up to $1,200 per eligible adult and so does the $1 trillion HEALS Act. The House of Representatives’ $3 trillion Heroes Act also called for $1,200 stimulus payments, but for more people. The White House supports another round of checks, which makes sending out payments a likely part of the final bill.

$100 bills

The HEALS Act proposes to give eligible Americans the same size stimulus check as those issued in March.


James Martin/CNET

2. A different unemployment benefit for workers out of a job

What it is: An additional weekly check for people who applied for unemployment for the first time or were already collecting unemployment. The CARES Act provided an extra $600 per week, but that benefit officially expired on July 31. Lawmakers from both sides want to renew this.

How it could help you: An extra weekly payment on top of the ordinary unemployment benefit gives individuals and families a leg up. Cutting it off or reducing it could be devastating for unemployed workers and the economy.

What Trump’s memorandum brings: It seeks to create a program to provide $400 per week, with a (retroactive) start date of Aug. 1, and calls for it to end when the program reaches “$25 billion or for weeks of unemployment ending not later than Dec. 6, 2020, whichever occurs first.” The plan requires states picking up some of the cost, but some governors say the administration’s plan doesn’t go far enough. There’s also a question as to how many people it can realistically cover given the $25 billion limit, and the fact that an act of Congress typically is required to authorize this type of spending.

Where negotiations stood before: Republicans support the extension, but at a reduced rate. Democrats support a resumption of the now-expired $600 rate and have balked at the Senate proposal, which would extend benefits based on 70% to 75% of lost wages, starting at $200 a week and over time increasing to $500 a week with state assistance. The benefits expired without a short-term extension in place.

3. Payroll Protection Program to encourage businesses to retain employees

What it is: Intended to help you retain your job, the Paycheck Protection Program provides forgivable loans to small businesses as an incentive to keep employees on the payroll. 

How it could help you: The PPP is intended to encourage businesses to keep employed workers who would otherwise have lost their jobs during the pandemic. The program got off to a rocky start, and it’s not clear the PPP met the goals Congress set for it. 

Why we think it could get extended: The Republican proposal will target the hardest-hit small businesses, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said during the rollout of the bill. That includes those with revenue losses of 50% or more over last year. 

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A tax credit could encourage employers to retain employees.


Angela Lang/CNET

4. Employee retention tax credit could help pay workers

What it is: Under the program, an employer can receive refundable tax credits for wages paid to an employee during the pandemic. The employer can then use the credits to subtract from — and even receive a refund for — taxes they owe.

How it could help you: Again, it’s not a direct payment to you, but the program encourages businesses to keep workers on the payroll.

Why we think it could happen: The HEALS Act includes further tax relief for businesses that hire and rehire workers, and the Democratic-backed Heroes Act also builds on the tax credits that were part of the initial CARES Act. And there’s additional bipartisan support besides.


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5. Return-to-work payment of as much as $450 each week

What it is: A temporary weekly bonus for unemployed workers who secure a new job or are rehired, on top of their wages. As proposed by Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, the bonus would be $450 a week.

How it could help you: Under Portman’s plan, the weekly bonus would go to laid-off workers who return to work.

Why we think it may not happen: The White House in May expressed interest in the bonus and Portman continues to support the idea, but it’s not part of the proposal Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators presented.

Until we know for sure what the final stimulus bill will bring, there are some resources to help you through the financial crisis. We look at coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurancewhat you can do if you’ve lost your jobwhat to know about evictions and late car payments; how to take control of your budget; and if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

6. An eviction moratorium, but it’s uncertain

What it is: There have been two proposed parts, at one point or another. The first is to stop landlords from evicting tenants, which was part of the now expired CARES Act. The other is a plan to help renters pay rent and assist landlords with their mortgage and other expenses in light of reduced rent money coming in. The US faces a potential eviction and housing crisis that could cause up to 40 million people to lose their homes. That’s about 12% of the US population.

How it could help you: The rental assistance program would temporarily help you pay rent if you qualify, put a hold on evictions for a year and help cover the costs rental property owners face because of rental payment shortfalls. The earlier protections have lapsed.

Where it stands now: Trump’s executive order regarding evictions doesn’t actually keep evictions from happening. There are currently no federal eviction protections, though some states may have some.

“The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall take action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to promote the ability of renters and homeowners to avoid eviction or foreclosure resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19,” the executive order reads.

“It’s less of an executive order and more of an ‘executive suggestion,'” Schumer tweeted Aug. 10.

Eviction protection wasn’t part of the Senate proposal, but has been a topic Trump has pushed for inclusion. As with unemployment insurance, Congress had initially looked to extend this separately while it worked on the final bill.

What’s the story with Trump’s payroll tax cut?

What it is: Trump has for months pushed the idea of including temporary payroll tax cuts in the next stimulus package. The directive Trump signed includes deferring certain taxes retroactively from Aug. 1, through December for people earning less than $100,000.

How it could help you: If you have a job, a payroll tax cut would let you keep more of your earnings from each paycheck for now. The plan would not help those who are unemployed and don’t receive a paycheck. The 32 million people who were claiming unemployment insurance as of July 18 wouldn’t benefit. Workers and employers would still need to pay those taxes the following year.

Will it stick? Trump signed a memorandum Aug. 8 to enact the payroll tax cut, but it isn’t clear if he has the legal right to do so. Typically, financial decisions like tax cuts are authorized by congressional vote, not a presidential order. We’ll have to wait and see if legal action is brought against the order. Neither the proposed Heroes Act nor the Senate plan includes a payroll tax cut.

Julie Snyder contributed to this story.





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