What’s in the relief bill for you?
December 29, 2020
It took more than six months for Congress to get a COVID-19 relief bill to the desk of the president. That bill had wide bipartisan support but was held up over the weekend because the president was dissatisfied. That dissatisfaction left millions of people in anxiety.
Late Sunday night, however, the president signed the relief bill, despite his own reservations. This means that the people who were anxiously awaiting a relief payment to help put food on the table, an extension of their unemployment benefits, and an extension on the moratorium on evictions will receive the relief the bill provides.
And just what is that relief?
The bill offers a massive $900 billion in relief that will extend through September of 2021, according to National Public Radio (NPR). It also avoids a partial government shutdown, which would have happened on December 29, 2020.
The complex bill offers relief to the tune of one-time direct payments of $600 per adult and child. How to know if you’re eligible? To get the full amount ($2,400 for a family of four), CNBC reports, individuals may have earned no more than $75,000 in 2019 to receive the $600, and couples no more than $150,000 in 2019 to receive $1,200.
However, people who earned above these limits can still receive partial payments. Individuals who earned up to $87,000 in 2019 and couples who earned up to $174,000 are eligible for part of the relief check. Checks are reduced by $50 for every $1,000 exceeding the $75,000 and $150,000 adjusted gross income thresholds.
Dependents under age 17 are also eligible for $600 relief checks. Congress put no cap in the relief bill as to how many dependents can claim the relief checks. In practical terms, this means that a single mother earning less than $75,000 in 2019 who has three dependent children will receive a $2,400 check. Adult dependents do not qualify for a relief check.
CNBC also reports that to receive a check, individuals need a Social Security number. Unlike the CARES Act, this relief bill allows eligible members of mixed-status families to receive checks. This means that citizen family members will receive the check despite other members of the family not having Social Security numbers. The previous CARES Act disqualified an entire household if some members did not have Social Security numbers.
The relief checks will not be taxed. Relief checks will be sent via direct deposit to those who have provided the IRS with bank account information when filing taxes. Those who have not provided bank account information to the IRS will either receive a check directly or a pre-paid debit card.
And there’s good news if you haven’t yet received the first CARES Act check. If you are eligible and haven’t gotten your check, you will be able to claim a “recovery rebate credit” when you file 2020 taxes.
Unemployment benefits and other relief
The relief bill also provides $300 per week in enhanced unemployment insurance for 11 weeks, according to Axios. Unfortunately for those receiving unemployment benefits, the president’s delay in signing the relief bill means that they have lost a week of unemployment benefits. Why? Two of the pandemic-related unemployment benefits programs expired on Saturday, December 26, before the bill was signed.
Also included in the bill is badly needed help for small businesses and money for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Americans should stay alert for any fine-tuning of the bill. President Trump is still pushing for an increase in the $600 relief checks to $2,000.