WASHINGTON, DC — Congressional lawmakers put the finishing touches on a $2 trillion stimulus bill to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, with cash and assistance for average Americans, Main Street businesses and hard-hit airlines and manufacturers, among others.
Highlights of the legislation:
Direct payments to individuals
Under the plan as it was being negotiated, Americans can expect checks from the government to help them cope with the economic devastation stemming from the coronavirus crisis. Individuals would receive $1,200, married couples would get $2,400 and parents would see $500 for each child under age 17.
The payments would start to phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not qualify at all. The thresholds are $112,500 as the head of household or $150,000 if married and filing jointly.
Americans who live in other countries may also be eligible.
One requirement for receiving the payments is need to have a valid Social Security number.
Student loan payments suspended
The Department of Education would suspend payments on student loan borrowers without penalty through September 30, according to the bill.
REAL ID deadline delayed
The deadline to obtain a REAL ID, federally mandated identification that will be needed for passengers to board aircraft, will be extended until at least September 2021 — a year past the current deadline, according to a draft version of the Senate stimulus bill.
Before the coronavirus pandemic swept across the US, states were preparing to issue residents “REAL ID-compliant” driver’s licenses or identification by the October 1 deadline.
Boost for unemployment benefits
The federal government would give jobless workers an extra $600 a week for four months on top of their state benefits, which range from $200 to $550 a week, on average, depending on the state.
Self-employed workers, those seeking part-time work, and workers who quit their job or can’t reach their place of work as a result of COVID-19 are among those eligible for benefits.
The legislation calls for sending out the payments “as rapidly as possible.” Eligible individuals will receive the funds electronically if they previously authorized refunds to be delivered to them that way. Otherwise, they will be sent out via postal mail.
The government will use 2019 returns if not filled will use 2018 informations. It also may use a 2019 Social Security benefit statement, or Form SSA-1099, or the Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement, or Form RRB-1099.
More important, the money will not be counted as taxable income. It will be considered a credit, so you can deduct the sum against your future taxes.