By now we have all heard of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law last week. Broadly speaking it is aimed at helping individuals and businesses that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The CARES Act is enormous, both in the amount of money being disbursed — $2.2 trillion —and the size of the document itself, which came in at 880 pages. It’s complicated. That’s why we are devoting the next three days on these pages to help explain and go over it with you. Each day will focus on different aspects of the legislation.
We chose to use as a foundation for this explanation information from U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, presented in the form of columns, which have been edited for length and presentation.
DeFazio has served in congress since 1987, making him the longest-serving House member in Oregon’s history. His 4th congressional district includes Roseburg.
As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, DeFazio was a key negotiator of the bill and had a role in several of its provisions, including funding for FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and airlines and their employees and contractors.
As you will see, DeFazio presents the information in a straight-forward, comprehensive, easily understood way.
Today, as you see below, we focus on funds for those who are unemployed.
If you have lost your job over the last few weeks due to fallout from COVID-19, you are not alone. Just in the last week, more than 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits, and there are surely more to come.
The CARES Act included significant funding to improve and expand the unemployment insurance program, which is administered by the states, in order to help people who are suddenly and out of work.
Some things you should know about unemployment insurance, as you’ll see below:
- You are eligible for unemployment insurance even if you’re self-employed, an independent contractor, or a “gig economy” worker.
- You don’t have to be looking for work to receive unemployment insurance as long as your employer temporarily closes because of the coronavirus, and expects to reopen in the future. However, you must be able to work, stay in touch with your employer and be available to work when they call you back.
We encourage you to spend some time reading the information below, which also includes how to get more information if needed.
On Saturday the column will focus on small business owners. (Note: There is no Opinion page on Saturday so the column will run on the Business page).
There is funding in the CARES Act specifically earmarked to help small business owners with the immediate needs they may have to ensure they can keep paying employees and keep their businesses from closing permanently.
Saturday’s column will also cover, among other things, how to get capital to help retain employees; how to obtain a smaller amount of cash, quickly, to tide you over right now; and ways to ease your concerns about keeping up with payments on your SBA loan. There are also tips on how to get free counseling to help you navigate this uncertain economic time.
Sunday’s column will go over what has been the most discussed aspect of the CARES Act, which is the money the IRS is preparing to send out to most of us.
In a nutshell, most Americans will receive $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples) with an additional $500 payment per child under the age of 17, up to $3,400 per family. Other facts about the direct cash payments:
- The majority of Americans will get their money from the IRS via direct deposit using information from your 2019 tax return or 2019 Social Security statement.
- If the IRS doesn’t have your bank account information, don’t worry. The Department of Treasury is creating a web portal so you can provide your account information online.
- You keep the money. It doesn’t have to be repaid and it is tax-free.
These are obviously some of the most difficult times most of us have ever faced, individually or collectively. It is unlikely that the various monies and programs available through the CARES Act will solve all of your financial problems, whether you are working, unemployed or a small business owner trying to stay afloat. But it can certainly help.
We hope the information presented today, Saturday and Sunday will simplify some of this landmark legislation, and help you get started on availing yourself of the funding you are due.
We wish you luck.