Coronavirus: Answering your questions about relief checks and more
Originally published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal
Throughout history, America has faced many challenges and crises, from World War II to Sept. 11. Today’s coronavirus pandemic is no different. Coronavirus is an invisible enemy which has uprooted our economy, livelihoods and our everyday way of life.
The effect of coronavirus in our country has already been devastating, with nearly 10 million Americans applying for unemployment over the last two weeks.
I’ve heard from many of you who are struggling to make ends meet, by no fault of your own, completely as a result of this pandemic.
I realize the gravity of this crisis – and I want to help, because I know as your elected representative, helping central and northeast Florida manage the consequences of a global crisis like this is what you sent me to Washington to do.
This is why I worked across the aisle on a bipartisan package to infuse $2.2 trillion into the pockets of American workers, hospitals, state governments and small businesses, the engine of our economy.
As a conservative, voting in favor of a bill with a $2.2 trillion price tag was a tough pill to swallow – but this crisis is unique in American history. In order to save the lives of our fellow Americans, both our federal and state governments have taken unprecedented actions that have temporarily halted our economy.
It’s also our responsibility to help make American workers and businesses whole again and it’s our duty to make sure our health care workers – the soldiers on the front lines of this war – have the resources necessary to kill this virus.
Many of you have reached out with questions on this stimulus package. Below are some frequently-asked questions:
‒ Who is eligible for a recovery rebate?
If you’re a U.S. resident with an income under $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 for married couples) and are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible Social Security Number, you are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. You are also eligible for an additional $500 per child under age 17. Social Security and disability recipients are eligible. The Treasury Department hopes to begin direct deposits and mail checks by April 9th.
‒ What if my income was above the threshold in 2019 but I’ve lost my job due to coronavirus? Can I still get a rebate check?
If your income in 2019 was in the phase-out range, you would still receive a partial rebate based on your 2019 tax return. However, the rebate is an advance on a tax credit that you may claim on your 2020 tax return. If your income is lower in 2020 than 2019, any additional credit you are eligible for will be refunded or reduce your tax liability when you file your 2020 tax return.
‒ Are individuals with little to no income or those on means-tested federal benefits like SSI eligible for a recovery rebate? What about seniors on Social Security or veterans only receiving disability payments?
Individuals with little to no income or those on means-tested federal benefits are eligible. Even individuals with $0 of income are eligible for a rebate if they are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible SSN. Seniors receiving Social Security or veterans only receiving disability payments are also eligible, if those payments don’t exceed the $99,000 threshold.
‒ Is the rebate taxable or will I have to pay back any amount if the rebate based on my 2018 return is larger than what it would be if I filed my 2019 tax year return before the checks are disbursed?
No, the rebate is not considered income. It is treated like other refundable tax credits, such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit.
‒ How does the aid for small businesses and nonprofits work?
As a former small business owner, my heart goes out to those struggling to care for your employees and stay afloat. You may be eligible for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) if you are a small business or a 501(c)(3) with fewer than 500 employees. Sole-proprietors, independent contractors and other self-employed individuals are also eligible for these loans. Loans can be forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent and utilities. The loan has an interest rate of one percent and the maximum amount is the lesser of $10 million or 250 percent the average monthly payroll. Principal, interest and fees will be automatically deferred for six months. All borrower and lenders fees have been waived.
Where can I apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?
You can apply for the PPP at any lending institution approved to participate in the program through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lending program and additional lenders approved by the Department of Treasury. This could be the bank you already use or a bank or credit union near you. You do not have to visit any government institution to apply for the program. Just call your bank or find SBA-approved lenders at SBA.gov. You can apply now through June 30.
To those of you on front lines of this virus, including our doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery store workers, farmers, delivery drivers, postal service workers, trash and sanitation workers, our National Guardsmen and women and the companies lending a hand to offer jobs to people laid off during this crisis: Thank you.
What makes us a great country and keeps us going is the kindness and care we have for our neighbors in times of crisis. Likewise, my staff and I stand ready to help.
The enemies’ bullets I’ve faced overseas as a combat veteran don’t discriminate between race, gender or political party. This virus doesn’t either.
I know America will face this challenge and rise above it, as we always do – because today and every day, we’re in it together.