Now that Congress is nearing the finish line on a second relief package, here is what’s expected to be in the final bill and when consumers and businesses will start seeing money in their accounts.
Most Americans are supposed to get $600 stimulus checks, plus supplemental $300-a-week federal unemployment benefits for those not working.
And small-business owners will get another shot at federal loan money.
The congressional package as of Monday totaled roughly $900 billion, including $325 billion in small-business support, roughly $280 billion in funding to the Paycheck Protection Program; at least a $600 direct payment to individuals; and $300 a week in supplemental federal unemployment insurance benefits for at least an additional 10 weeks.
Who is eligible for checks?
The same Americans who got stimulus checks last March should be eligible for this second round — people making less than $75,000 and married couples making less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income. As in the first round, folks with dependents receive extra money, including for children up to 16 years old.
Direct checks are estimated at $600 an adult and $600 a child, with the amounts decreasing for Americans making more than $75,000 in income and couples making more than $150,000.
Dependents over the age of 16 will not qualify, just as in the first round of stimulus payments. That means households won’t get payments for college students.
When do checks go out?
Checks should go out a few weeks after President Donald Trump signs the bill. Federal unemployment would pick up where states left off, as many benefits expire in the coming weeks.
If you file taxes and receive refunds electronically or through direct deposit with the IRS, your stimulus money may arrive sooner, as it lands right in your account.
Is there housing assistance?
Yes, Congress included $25 billion in emergency rental assistance, and extended the eviction moratorium until the end of January 2021.
What about restaurants?
The White House won a tax break for which Trump personally lobbied: the ability for businesses to deduct restaurant meals as an expense. The idea was to encourage Americans to support local dining establishments, and the deductibility lasts for two years.
Who else received a bailout? Who didn’t?
The airlines received payroll assistance, which will allow them to recall furloughed workers; student borrowers, however, received no extension on their deferred loan payments. Loan deferments are to end Jan. 31, 2021.
The latest legislation budgeted $45 billion for transportation, including $16 billion for another round of airline employee and contractor payroll; $14 billion for transit; $10 billion for highways; $2 billion for intercity buses; $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.
Student advocates fumed.
“We are not surprised that the Washington elite has once again turned a cold shoulder to the millions of Americans struggling through economic hardship,” said Autria Lindsay, spokeswoman with the Student Loan Defense Fund, a progressive think tank in Washington. “With Congress failing to even do the bare minimum for the millions of Americans struggling with student debt we can expect the crisis to deepen, ravaging the finances of millions of Americans.”
Prep for more PPP money
Local business leaders and accountants are urging clients to gather documentation for the next round of Paycheck Protection Program loans.
There’s a “fix” in the relief package for business owners who received or will receive PPP loans: They can deduct the money spent on business expenses on their taxes, according to Anselm Sauter, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s director of federal and state affairs. “That was a big win for our constituents.”
“The intent of Congress is that those would be deductible,” Sauter said. “This bill clarifies that.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration is expected to open the next PPP application window soon, although it’s unclear when. PPP loans less than $150,000 are mostly forgiven, if the right documentation is submitted.
Congress’ first round of PPP loans largely excluded minority- and female-owned companies. The Enterprise Center wants to arm entrepreneurs with the tools needed to ensure additional small business loans are equitably distributed.
“It is likely that the second round of PPP funding will have two additional requirements: businesses must have 300 or fewer employees, and must provide evidence that their revenue has dropped 30% or more as a result of COVID-19,” said Ian Lawrence, senior director at Philly’s Enterprise Center.
“Because minority-owned businesses have historically struggled to gain access to private capital and federal funding, it’s essential that they’re prepared to apply for the next round of PPP loans. That means having financial statements, payroll documents, and other paperwork in order and completed,” he said. “If Black and brown businesses do not take these steps in the coming days, they may be shut out of government funding again.”
The Enterprise Center has a form online to receive the latest updates and make an appointment for virtual application assistance.
The Business Center, also in Philadelphia, is offering virtual business plan courses for entrepreneurs, as well. Scholarships are available. Go to www.thebizctr.com for information.
Temple University’s Institute for Business and Information Technology is offering free assistance to businesses and nonprofits that need a digital presence. Applications are available at https://ibit.temple.edu/dt/apply/.
That could be a lifeline for such small business owners as Jacqueline Debose, who owns Markhi Kids Children’s Boutique at 5246 Market St.
“It’s been so slow,” she said. “I’m just trying to keep rolling, pay my credit card and other bills.”
“I don’t know what we’re going to do without help,” Debose said. She’d like to apply for PPP money but isn’t sure how to go about it without a tax accountant and other guidance.
A rule clarifying expenses related to PPP loans is in the new relief bill, allowing PPP borrowers to deduct the expenses on tax returns, overturning a Treasury Department decision.