On Sunday (December 27), President Donald Trump signed the second stimulus package into law, putting $900 billion in play for providing relief from the pandemic’s economic toll.
The bill marks the second-largest federal stimulus package following the $2 trillion CARES Act approved in March at the start of the pandemic.
Congress passed the bill last Monday (December 21), following months of stalled negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. A bipartisan group of lawmakers worked on the new stimulus, in time before essential programs from the CARES Act were set to expire, including eviction protection and unemployment assistance. Here's what inside for millions in need.
Direct Cash Payments
From this second stimulus package, Americans can expect to receive a $600 payment to individuals who make less than $75,000, which is half the amount deposited in the spring. Families who meet eligibility requirements will receive an additional $600 per child. That’s $100 more than the first round. Individuals making more than $99,000 will not receive payments. Income thresholds are doubled for couples.
According to a report by CNN, the amounts an individual or household received will be based on 2019 incomes. If you filed your 2019 tax returns, are a recipient of Social Security or uploaded your bank information to the IRS online portal, you should expect to receive the funds automatically.
Undocumented immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers are still ineligible to receive payments, however, unlike the first round, their children and spouses can receive funds as long as they have Social Security numbers.
Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
People receiving unemployment benefits will receive a weekly $300 federal enhancement from now through March 14, 2021. This is half of the amount seen during the first round of stimulus in the spring, which ran out at the end of July.
The package also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program by 11 weeks. Both programs were set to expire at the end of the year, but will run through April.
Individuals who receive $5,000 in annual self-employment income can receive $100 a week in benefits.
Small Business Loans
The Paycheck Protection Program was reopened in the second stimulus package, after closing to new applicants in August. Businesses with less than 300 employees with at least 25% decrease in revenue during the first three quarters of the year are eligible to apply. Loan amounts borrowers can receive was lowered from $10 million to $2 million. The package also includes $12 billion specifically for businesses owned by people of color. Funding was expanded to nonprofits, local newspapers, TV and radio stations as well.
Theater and Live Venue Funding
The package includes a $15 billion grant program for theaters and other live venues that have been hard hit by the pandemic. The funds are earmarked for specific costs like rent, payroll, utilities, and personal protective equipment.
Schools and Child Care Funding
Schools serving grades K-12 and colleges received $82 billion in aid in the second stimulus. There’s an additional $10 billion for child care providers impacted by the pandemic.
Eviction protection for renters has been extended to January 31 of next year. There’s also $25 billion in rental assistance for individuals who fell behind on rent payments due to losing income during the pandemic.
While SNAP benefits eligibility requirements were not expanded, the second stimulus raises benefits by 15% for six months. The Pandemic-EBT program was expanded in the second stimulus package to include families with children under the age of six who receive food stamps. The program also provides funds to low-income families with school-aged children to take the place of the free and reduced lunch meals they would normally receive in school.
Food banks across the nation will receive $400 million, and nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels will get $175 million.
Funding for Vaccine and Hospitals
There is $20 billion set aside for the purchase of vaccine doses, so that they can be available at no cost. There’s also $8 billion dedicated to vaccine distribution and states will receive $20 billion to help with testing efforts.
$3 billion was added to the $175 billion hospital and healthcare provider fund for lost revenue caused by the pandemic.
Payroll Tax Repayment
Employers who deferred employees’ payroll taxes under the executive action Trump signed in August will have until the end of 2021 to increase their workers’ withholding to pay back the taxes owed. April 30 was the original due date.
Not included: Funding for State and Local Governments
Direct payments to state and local governments weren't included in the stimulus package after negotiations became contentious. The final package does provide funding relief for schools, highways, transit agencies and intercity buses. It also extends the deadline for state and local governments to spend the $150 billion in relief funds by a year.
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