New developments support the unlikelihood that further stimulus payments will be not approved, even though more and more legislators have joined the push for a fourth, and even fifth round of checks.
At least 25 states have dropped federal unemployment aid from the stimulus package, as businesses bemoan the inability to fill a surplus of job vacancies with enough workers. State senators and governors have argued that the economy has rebounded to enough of a level that good jobs are available and government aid is no longer warranted.
Additionally, new reporting by the Boston Herald found that 1.2 million stimulus checks were unspent, whether they were not cashed, paid back or refused.
Despite this, there is still evidence that financial assistance helped millions of people. A study done by the American Enterprise Institute showed that the stimulus payments and expanded unemployment insurance changed what would have been an increase in poverty into a reduction. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation also noted that “overall, the payments were effective in helping those who were financially affected by the pandemic as the majority of households who had lost employment-based income received a payment.”
Should the latest stimulus payment have been the last, there are still numerous ways to find relief through government programs if you need it.
Small Business Relief
There have been several government programs put in place to protect owners and employees of small businesses throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program is backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and provides funds for payroll costs including benefits. It can also be used for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to Covid-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020 and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.
One of the largest benefits is that the PPP loan can be entirely forgiven if employers meet the employee retention criteria. This requires keeping employee and compensation levels maintained in the same manner as before the loan, using the proceeds on payroll costs and other expenses only, and ensuring at least 60% of the proceeds are spent for payroll compensation.
In addition to PPP loans, there are also Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which provide for a loss of revenue related to Covid-19, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund which offers money to keep restaurants and bars afloat during recovery, a Shuttered Venues Grant and an option to receive several of these grants at the same time.
All information for these resources, how to apply and eligibility criteria can be found here.
See: 70% of Stimulus Cash Is Stuck in Checking Accounts – What’s the Smartest Thing to Do With Yours?
Find: A Petition With Over 2 Million Signatures Calls for $2,000 Monthly Stimulus Checks for Every American
Child Tax Credit Expansion
While the future of another check is unclear, for millions of parents a type of fourth stimulus will automatically be hitting their bank accounts in the next 6 weeks or so. Under the stimulus relief bill, parents who make under $75,000 a year and have a child under 6 years of age will receive $3,600 through the child tax credit.
Monthly payments of $300 will start to hit bank accounts July 15 and last through December, offering half the total amount of the tax benefit. The other half will be claimed when filing a 2021 tax return. Parents of children over 6 years of age up to 17 will receive $3,000 total. There is a push by the Biden administration to expand this credit through 2025, but as of now the credit is set to last until next year at tax time.
Details on income thresholds and eligibility can be found here.
Although many states have decided to end unemployment aid provided by the government, the federal supplement is still about $300 per week. This will last until September 6, 2021. There are still other programs available to people whose employment has been impacted by Covid-19. The stimulus relief bill extended the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed or gig workers. COBRA premiums can also be waived until September 30, 2021. More information on the different types of benefits and eligibility can be found here.
Homeowner Assistance Fund
The Homeowner Assistance Fund was created to prevent mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. The funds may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utilities and other qualifying expenses. Click here to see how much your state was allocated and how to request funds.
Keep Americans Connected services
The Keep Americans Connected pledge is a pledge signed by more than 800 companies that promises not to terminate service to any residential or small business customers due to their inability to pay their bills from coronavirus-related financial problems. The companies also agreed to waive late fees these customers might incur and to open its Wi-Fi hotspots to “any American who needs them.”
Federal Rental Emergency Assistance
$21.6 billion has been allocated for rental assistance with $.5 billion targeted to the highest-need areas where “job loss and high market costs have made it especially difficult for low-income renters.”
One of the largest benefits under the American Rescue Plan is funding that must be offered directly to renters when landlords do not accept payment assistance. It also prohibits the eviction of renters for nonpayment in months for which they receive the emergency rental assistance. In addition, the treasury is strongly urging landlords to not evict tenants for nonpayment of rent for 30 to 90 days longer than the period covered by the assistance as a condition of receiving payment.
To see how assistance is offered in your area, click here.
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