Coronavirus Updates

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bill signing ceremony for H.R. 748, the CARES Act in the Oval Office of the White House on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Earlier on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the $2 trillion stimulus bill that lawmakers hope will battle the the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

Yesterday (March 28) President Trump signed the $2 trillion economic relief plan to offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus pandemic. “I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first,” he said during the signing ceremony, according to Fox News. He noted, “I’ve never signed anything with a ‘T’ on it,” referencing the $2 trillion dollar amount.

So, what does the bill cover, what doesn’t it cover, and what does it mean for you? Here’s an overview of some of the bill’s highlights, including information about the stimulus payments families will get, and how unemployment benefits will change.

How much will it help your family? It depends on how much you make and how many dependents you have. Most adults will get $1,200, plus $500 for each child under 16. Although there was talk of two separate payments, this bill is only for one payment. Congress can vote on another stimulus package in the future. Single adults with Social Security numbers who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount, according to the New York Times. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less. If you make $99,000, or as a couple with no children, you make $198,000, you are not eligible for the stimulus payments. This payment is based on your 2019 tax returns. If you haven’t filed yet, you can use your 2018 return.

Do you have to apply to receive the payment? Not if the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information. If it does, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.

When will you receive the payment? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says most people will get their payments within three weeks. According to the bill, you will get a notice in the mail within a few weeks of your payment being disbursed. That notice will contain information about where the payment ended up and in what form it was made. If you couldn’t locate the payment at that point, that is when you should contact the I.R.S. using the information on the notice. If you haven’t filed tax returns in recent years, it could affect your payment. According to the I.R.S. website. “Those without 2018 tax filings on record could potentially affect mailings of stimulus checks,” the site says.

Will this payment be taxed? No.

What workers will be covered by the expanded unemployment program? This plan includes more workers than are usually eligible for unemployment, including part-timers and self-employed people. Those who are unemployed, are partly unemployed or cannot work for coronavirus-related reasons will be more likely to receive benefits. The amount you get varies depending on what state you live in. Under the plan, eligible workers will get an extra $600 per week on top of their state benefit. Again, this varies by state. Gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors are newly eligible for unemployment benefits.

What if you have contracted COVID-19 or you have a family member who has contracted it and you need to care for them?  If you’ve received a diagnosis, are experiencing symptoms or are seeking a diagnosis — and you’re unemployed, partly unemployed or cannot work as a result — you will be covered. The same goes if you must care for a member of your family or household who has received a diagnosis. Also, if you rely on a school, a daycare facility or another facility to care for a child, elderly parent or another household member so that you can work, and that facility has been shut down because of coronavirus, you are eligible. The same goes for if you are self-quarantined. You are also covered if you were immediately laid off from a new job and did not have a sufficient work history to qualify for benefits under normal circumstances.

The New York Times has a much longer explanation of what the stimulus package contains.

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