On March 27, 2020, the United States House of Representatives passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The bill became law after the president signed it on the same date.
The primary focus of this bill is to position the nation’s health-care network to effectively treat the coronavirus (COVID-19), with a focus on providing hospitals the resources they need. There are additional areas of interest such as small business, families and individuals, education and labor.
The CARES Act is not perfect and this fact is recognized by members of the U.S. House and Senate. The American Counseling Association (ACA) recognizes the limited focus on mental health in this legislation. In the coming weeks, there will be a fourth, and likely, a fifth stimulus package. It is ACA’s goal to have our profession recognized in one or both of those bills.
In our March 25 update, we answered the question “What Does the CARES Act Mean for You and Your Clients.” Now that the Act is law, here is beneficial information on the stimulus package for you, your clients and for your family:
HEALTH CARE STIMULUS
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) ($425 million)
- The bill includes $250 million available for certified community behavioral health clinics.
- Contact SAMHSA at 1-800-662-4357 for additional information.
Extension and Expansion of Community Mental Health Services Demonstration Program
- The bill extends the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program through November 30, 2020.
Clarification Regarding Uninsured Individuals
The bill defines the meaning of “uninsured individual” as:
(a) An individual eligible under Medicaid expansion in a state that has not expanded Medicaid and
(b) Individuals enrolled under a state or federal health-care program, but who do not have minimum essential coverage or whose Medicaid eligibility is limited by the state.
Exemption for Telehealth Service
- Allows high-deductible health plans to cover telehealth and other remote-care services prior to a patient reaching their deductible.
SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT STIMULUS
Existing Small Business Association (SBA) Loans ($17 Billion)
- SBA will pay principal, interest and fees on loans for six months.
- This also includes 7(a), Community Advantage and microloans.
Paycheck Protection Program or PPP ($349 Billion)
- Maximum loan amount is $10 million.
- PPP will pay for payroll cost, employee salaries, interest payment on mortgages entered into before February 15, 2020, rent for leases entered into before February 15, 2020, utilities and interest on any debt prior to February 15, 2020.
- Only applies to businesses that already qualify as a small business.
- Eligible businesses include: 501(c)(3), veteran organizations and tribal business.
- Businesses must not have more than 500 employees at one location.
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals are eligible.
- A business may receive a PPP loan and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness
- Loans are eligible for payment deferment for a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year.
- The loan may be forgiven for the total spent on payroll cost, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments between February 15 and June 30, 2020.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) ($562 million)
- Provides up to $2 million for small businesses at an interest rate of 2.75 percent.
- Eligible businesses: small businesses, tribal businesses, cooperatives, non-profits and most private businesses.
- Until December 31, 2020, EIDLs can be approved based solely on an applicant’s credit score or an alternative method that will determine the applicant’s ability to repay the loan.
- EIDL will issue $10,000 to small business and nonprofits that apply for the loan within three days of the application. Businesses will not be required to repay the advance, whether or not they are approved for the loan.
Increased Eligibility for Bankruptcy
- For one year, businesses may file under Subchapter V of Chapter 11 if the business has less than $7.5 million of debt.
- Coronavirus payments will not be treated as income during the first year of bankruptcy.
Rural and Economically Distressed Areas ($275 million)
- Provides funding and resources to small business centers in order to provide assistance for needs businesses encounter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Need help or have questions?
For additional information on the above programs, contact the Small Business Administration customer service center at 1-800-827-5722 or visit the COVID-19 Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources page at www.sba.gov. Please be aware that SBA has yet to determine how it will administer these programs.
SUPPORT FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
Payments to Individuals
Payments are determined by the taxpayer’s 2018 return, if they have not filed their 2019 taxes.
- $1,200 payment to individuals reporting $75,000 or less.
- Individuals without children reporting more than $99,000 will not receive a payment.
- $2,400 payment to joint filers reporting $150,000 or less.
- Joint filers without children reporting $198,000 will not receive a payment.
- Note that the payments above increase by $500 for each qualifying child.
Withdrawals and Loans from Retirement Savings
- Certain early withdrawals of up to $100,000 from IRAs and eligible employer plans, for those individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, those who have a spouse or dependent so diagnosed or who suffer adverse financial consequences from quarantine, job loss or reduced work.
- Bill permits an individual to obtain, within six months of enactment of the bill, a loan up to $100,000 from an eligible employer plan.
Expanded Charitable Deductions
- Provides individuals with a $300 deduction for donations to charitable organizations.
- Limitations for charitable donations are suspended for individuals.
Delay of Payroll Tax Payments
Business Improvement Cost Write-Off
- Allows business to write off costs associated with improving facilities in the current year.
- The write-off allows businesses to amend their prior year tax returns to receive refunds and reduce their tax liability.
- USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) has provided additional dollars to support a variety of programs: Child Nutrition Programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. If you or someone you know needs food assistance, call your local food bank or 1-800-221-5689.
EDUCATION STIMULUS PROGRAMS
Safe Schools and Citizenship Education ($100 million)
- Funds are used to supplement the School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV)
- Helps K-12 schools and universities to:
- Clean and disinfect affected schools
- Assist in counseling, distance learning and associated costs.
Employer Student-Loan-Payment Tax Credit
Federal Work Study Program
The information provided here does not cover all of the policy included in the CARES Act. Our goal is to provide you with information we believe you would find beneficial. Stay tuned for future updates on the stimulus package that was signed into law.
ACA encourages you to research all information provided.
The federal government now has the task of implementing the programs listed here. Use the contact information provided for any questions that may arise. For tax questions, consult your local tax professional.
ACA will keep a close eye on the next stimulus package. We are currently working with our mental health colleagues to move forward a strategy that will support professional counselors and their clients’ well-being in the next stimulus package.
We will need your support and action to get our profession across the finish line. Please continue visiting the ACA website for updates and sign up for Voter Voice to receive and respond to Action Alerts that support the counseling profession.