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What Does the $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill Mean to You?

March 11, 2021

On Thursday, March 11th, President Biden signed into law the $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill in an attempt to help pull the country out of a growing financial crisis stemming from the COVID-19 virus.  As we wrote last week, the Democrats were able to fast track the bill through the budget reconciliation process which allowed them to pass the bill in the Senate without any Republican votes.

The stimulus bill provides for additional government spending, expanded jobless benefits, stimulus checks to certain individuals in the amount of $1,400, subsidies for health insurance premiums for laid off workers, money to help combat the disease through vaccination and testing programs, and additional money for state and local governments.  A key component missing from the bill was for a $15 federal minimum-wage mandate that was removed from the bill by the Senate Parliamentarian (click here to read our prior article).  The 600-plus page bill covers much more, but this article just highlights some of the provisions that may impact employers and/or their employees.

Key Components of the Bill

Stimulus Checks

A third round of stimulus checks will be in the mail as soon as this weekend.  Eligible individuals will receive checks in the amount of $1,400. Singles earning up to $75,000 will receive the full $1,4000, with the payments phasing out completely for individuals making over $80,000. Couples making up to $150,000 will get the full $1,400 per person, with those amounts phasing out entirely for couples earning over $160,000. The children and adult dependents of eligible individuals are also eligible for $1,400 payments.

State and Local Government Aid

The bill includes $350 billion in aid for state and local governments. Many Republicans balked at this provision saying it amounted to a bailout for poorly managed state budgets. Democrats argued the money was necessary to offset higher costs and lower tax revenue.  Because the bill passed through the budget reconciliation process, Republican concerns were moot. The bill also provides an additional $5 billion for states and municipalities to provide emergency housing to combat homelessness.

Unemployment Insurance

The bill extends benefits for self-employed workers and individuals who have exhausted their standard jobless benefits, as well as supplemental unemployment benefits through August 2021.   

COVID-19 Vaccines and Testing

The bill includes $160 billion for COVID-19 vaccine and testing programs and creates a nation-wide vaccine distribution program that offers free vaccines to all U.S. residents.  Additionally, it provides funding for the creation of community vaccination centers.

Health Care Coverage

The bill covers 100% of the costs of health insurance for laid-off workers.  This benefit runs through September 2021.

Paid Leave for Employees

The legislation also provides employers who voluntarily provide FFCRA paid sick or paid family leave with refundable tax credits through September 30, 2021.  The bill does not require employers to offer the paid leave benefit and only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.

Rental Assistance

The bill extends the ban on evictions and foreclosures through September 2021, and provides $45 billion to assist low-income families with  rent, mortgage and utility bill payments.

Tax Credits for Individuals and Families

The bill expands tax credits for lower income families and increases the child tax credit to $3,000 from $2,000 per child (ages 6-17) and to $3,600 per child under the age of 6. 

Small Business Aid

The legislation also includes $1.25 billion in assistance for venue operators and $25 billion to assist restaurants.

EIDL and PPP Loans

The bill includes $15 billion for various Economic Injury Disaster Loans and an additional $7.25 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans (click here to read our prior article on these types of loans).

We have only highlighted the relevant sections of the Act we think are most relevant to our readers.  Please click here for a link to the actual law to learn more about its details and other benefits not covered.

The Act has just been released and there is much still to learn about its applications and its practical impact.  We suggest you seek qualified counsel to help guide you. 

The subject matter of COVID-19 posts is often very technical.  It is also an evolving area of law and very fact specific.  Our goal here is to simply alert you to some of the key issues involved.  We urge you to seek competent legal counsel before applying these ideas to your specific situation. Since March 2020, we have had a team of attorneys focusing on COVID-19 related developments and they continue to stand ready to help you with any issues involving the pandemic.