What just happened?
On Friday, March 27, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the 247-page Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This is the third of five emergency supplemental bills that Congress has passed or is preparing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This relief bill is the biggest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history.
How does this legislation affect individuals?
The most noticeable effect for most Americans will be a rebate on their taxes that will come in the form of a direct payment.
Individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400, and an additional $500 per each child younger than 17. The payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
Individual workers who have been fired or furloughed (i.e., put on temporary leave due to special needs of a company or employer), would qualify for an expansion of unemployment benefits that would expand unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits of $600 a month, on top of what state unemployment programs pay. The maximum duration of unemployment benefits has also been set to 39 weeks
Last month state programs paid an average $385 weekly to unemployed workers. So with the added benefits, the average unemployed worker would receive $985 per week for 16 weeks, and then $385 for up to 23 more weeks.
Also qualifying are freelancers and gig workers, such as Lyft or Uber drivers, as well people seeking part-time work who have been furloughed. People who quit their job as a “direct result of COVID-19” would also qualify (states typically do not allow workers who quit to receive unemployment benefits).
[NB: A previous supplemental bill passed earlier this month expanded access to emergency paid sick leave to employees at companies with fewer than 500 employees.
Eligible full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) of fully paid time off (up to $511 per day) to self-quarantine, seek a diagnosis or preventive care, or receive treatment for COVID-19. They are also entitled to two weeks (80 hours) paid time off at two-thirds of their regular pay (up to $200 per day) to care for a family member or to care for a child whose school has closed, or if their child-care provider is unavailable…