The largest financial stimulus rescue package that the United States has ever seen was signed into law on March 27th. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is a $2 trillion aid package providing financial aid to families and businesses impacted by COVID-19. This stimulus package provides a host of benefits for businesses, as well as the average worker.
“We are cautiously optimistic that this will provide the cash flow that small businesses needed yesterday,” said Kevin Kuhlman, senior director of federal government relations at the National Federation of Independent Business.
What is In It for Small Businesses
Small businesses are struggling to survive. The government has provided loan options to help small businesses ride out the storm.
- The Paycheck Protection Program will lend $350 billion in government backed loans to companies (with fewer than 500 employees (including sole proprietors, independent contractors and anyone otherwise self-employed) to help them maintain their payroll, mortgage, and rent. Payments can be deferred by up to a year, and businesses will be able to apply for forgiveness of the loan (or a portion of it) based on the amount used during the eight weeks following loan approval. This loan is available through private financial institutions.
- The Treasury Department will be creating a loan department for mid-size businesses and non-profits.
- The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan is an established SBA loan program that is managed by the government rather than banks. Small businesses can receive up to a $10,000 cash advance if they are having a short-term cash emergency.
- Small businesses that already have SBA loans can receive 6 months’ worth of payments.
SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza addressed how critical it is to provide this relief for small businesses, saying:
“Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world. Our Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation.”
Which SBA Loan is Right for Your Business?
It can be overwhelming to decide which loan is the best option for your business, between figuring out who you need to contact and what information is needed for the loans. Below are some helpful tips on determining the right loan to apply for and how to apply for it.
- Do you need funds to cover the cost of keeping employees? You might want to look into the Paycheck Protection Program.
- Do you need a swift infusion of small amounts of cash to help get by? The Emergency Economic Grant might be right for you.
- Need help with keeping up with your current or potential SBA loan? The Small Business Debt Relief Program could help.
How CARE is Helping Big Businesses
There is also help for big business as well:
- $58B has been allocated for airlines. This will cover employees’ wages, salaries, and benefits.
- All assistance by the government must be reported.
- Any company receiving a loan under the program is barred from making stock buybacks for the term of the loan plus one year.
And all businesses, regardless of size, are eligible for a 50% refundable payroll tax credit. If the business is closed to comply with government orders or suffers a decrease in gross receipts of 50% or more compared to the same period last year, the company will qualify for a tax credit on wages up to $10,000 per employee.
Individuals Also Gain From CARE
- The act expands unemployment insurance; individuals will receive an additional $600 for four months. Unemployment will additionally be extended 13 weeks.
- Unemployment benefits are extended to self-employed and other groups that do not usually qualify for unemployment.
- Borrowers of home and student loans will be given more time to pay these loans.
- Banks can’t foreclose on homeowners until May 18th.
- Individuals making up to $75,000 will receive a $1,200 stimulus check; couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400.
- The 10% early withdrawal penalties on up to $100,000 of 401(k) or IRA distributions is waived
“This size of an increase is unprecedented,” says Wayne Vroman, an economist with the nonprofit research firm The Urban Institute. In 2009, following the Great Recession, a federal stimulus package increased unemployment benefits by just $25 per week, Vroman explains. “So $600 is in different league; it could go a long distance in stabilizing American household income and help to maintain purchasing power for the consumer sector of economy.”
Public Health Gets A Piece of The Pie
- Additional funding for community centers that provide healthcare services
- The telehealth program was reauthorized to extend the reach of virtual doctors’ appointments.
- There is $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. The bill also includes $80 million for the Food and Drug Administration to prioritize and expedite approval of new drugs.
- There is $100 billion allocated to hospitals responding to coronavirus.
- The CDC will receive $4.3B for programs and response efforts.
Only time will tell if the stimulus package can keep Americans engaged in the economy and businesses afloat during the pandemic. But there remains many resources for both businesses and individuals to take advantage of.