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covid-1245x122-CARES

Phase Three Stimulus Package Highlights

Summary

On Friday, March 27, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) economic rescue package. This third stimulus package, worth $2 trillion, introduces a host of provisions for healthcare, small businesses, and larger businesses (above 500 employees) including but not limited to certain travel-related businesses, such as hotels and airlines.  

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has also indicated they are considering a phase four stimulus package.  

Details

The CARES economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits, and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to help them continue keeping payroll while workers are forced to stay at home. The program would also help replace salaries of furloughed workers for four months. Those furloughed workers would get whatever a state usually provides plus a $600 per week add-on.

The package provides $1200 to all eligible tax filers, a $1200 rebate check ($2400 for a married couple), with gross incomes up to $75,000 or $150,000 for married couples. An additional $500 per child rebate is also available.

For eligible businesses that are not deemed "small" by the Small Business Administration, the legislation provides $500 billion to the Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund to provide loans, loan guarantees, and other investments. This program prohibits stock buy-backs, and the loan must be used to retain 90 percent of the company's workforce.

Small Businesses: The Paycheck Protection Program provides support to small businesses through loans for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees or that meet the Small Business Administration size standards.

  • The size of these loans would equal 250 percent of an employer's monthly payroll, up to a maximum of $10 million. Covered payroll costs would include salaries, wages, and employee group healthcare benefits, including premiums, retirement contributions, and covered leave. The costs to participate in this program are substantially reduced through fee waivers, an automatic deferral of payments for one year, and no pre-payment liabilities.
  • The SBA released a small business sizing tool to help businesses determine whether they would be eligible for certain loans and other programs under the CARES Act. Small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Loans would be immediately available through the more than 800 SBA-certified lenders including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. SBA will help streamline this process to make additional lenders available. The Treasury Secretary will also authorize new lenders to expedite delivery of capital to small businesses.
  • The Maximum loan for "SBA Express Loans" that provide borrowers with revolving lines of credit for working capital purposes will be increased from $350,000 to $1 million.
  • The legislation will expand eligibility for entities suffering from economic harm due to COVID-19 to access SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans and give SBA more flexibility to process smaller loans. Further, businesses who apply for these emergency loans will be given expedited access to capital through an Emergency Grant ($10,000) within 3 days to maintain payroll, provide sick leave, and to service other debt obligations.
  • Finally, SBA will be required to pay all principal, interest, and fees on all existing SBA loans for six months.

Information about how to apply for a small business disaster loan maybe found on the Small Business Administration's website.

Federal Agencies Update

Under the CARES package and the previous stimulus laws, federal agencies are required to publish guidance and other materials to help answer questions from both employers and employees alike.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Yesterday the IRS announced a "sweeping series of steps to assist taxpayers by providing tax relief on a variety of issues," ranging from "postponing certain payments related to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise to collection and limiting certain enforcement actions." The IRS will be temporarily modifying the activities listed in the announcement starting on April 1 and initially running through July 15.

The IRS also recently released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding IRS Notice 2020-18, which delayed the filing deadline for tax returns originally due April 15, until July 15. Notice 2020-18 superseded and expanded upon Notice 2020-17, which allowed certain individuals and businesses to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for 90 extra days.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): The DOL provided its first round of guidance relating to paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201, also known as phase II stimulus). The guidance includes a FAQ sheet and separate fact sheets for employers and employees, respectively. Frequently asked questions include "how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law."

The DOL also provided employee sick leave protections posters (federal and non-federal) that employers are required to post in places where employees can easily view them, as required by the Families First legislation.

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