On Thursday, March 26 the President signed a historic 2.2 trillion-dollar stimulus bill known as the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). The CARES Act demonstrates an amazing glimmer of bipartisanship and contains helpful provisions for all Americans. Here is what you need to know:
All adults earning less than $75,000 ($150,000 if married filing jointly) with a social security number will receive $1,200 ($2,400 per couple). You will receive an additional $500 for dependents. The IRS will look at your last filed tax return and use that address to mail or direct deposit information to make a direct deposit to your account. This will happen as soon as possible.
Unclear is changes in status. If the last filed tax return is 2018 because 2019 is not due now until July 15, there may be changes in address, dependents, or marital status. The new law applies to circumstances in 2020 so there may need to be adjustments down the road. Administer Justice runs a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic which is still meeting by phone. If you have questions call 847-844-1100. You can also learn more here.
The CARES Act greatly expands unemployment benefits. You will receive an additional $600 per week through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. Your unemployment must be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may receive up to 39 weeks and this additional pay will be retroactive if you are already unemployed.
Due to the high volume of unemployment claims in Illinois, the state is asking individuals with last names beginning with letters A-M to file claims online on Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday. You may file by phone between 7:30am – 6pm on Tuesday or Thursday. If your last name begins with letters N-Z you may file online Monday, Wednesday or Friday. You may file by phone on Monday or Wednesday. For more information and to place a claim go here.
You can help a charity
The CARES Act recognizes not for profits will be hit hard through decreased donations. The law provides a $300 allowance to incentivize giving. If you donate $300 to a charity, you will take that amount off your income when filing your return regardless of whether you itemize or not.
We hope you will take advantage of this provision. We invite you to consider supporting Administer Justice. $300 provides access to legal services for 10 of our vulnerable neighbors. The Act provides $50 million dollars to government legal aid, but nothing for the holistic legal services we provide.
How your support helps
Thank you to the 57 volunteers who have joined the Compassionate Care Campaign and called 435 of our vulnerable clients! Those calls have surfaced tangible needs. Needs like Maria.
Maria’s son drove her to Georgia for a temporary visit. He returned to work and then caught the coronavirus. Now he could not pick his mother up. She intended to be away only briefly. Maria had a court date. She needed a cane to move around. And she had multiple questions and concerns. Our volunteer connected Maria with both a lawyer to put her mind at ease with the court date and her legal questions. A client advocate reached out to Maria on practical needs, including a cane which is now on its way to Maria. And along the way we prayed with Maria and continue to pray for her. Unlike the government, we care about the whole person and seek to meet their legal, social and spiritual needs.
We value your support. Will you consider donating $300 to support 10 clients? Even $30 for one client makes a difference for Maria. You can DONATE HERE or text “AJ” to 302-300-4483.
Know your rights under the Families First Coronavirus Act
The law before this stimulus package, had protection for workers. This week the Department of Labor released a poster which employers are required to post with information for you. The Department also clarified the law takes effect on April 1.
Here is the released poster.
The CARES Act provides help for strained homeowners. If you are unable to make a mortgage payment, the law allows you to skip payments for up to 60 days. Beyond that time, you can continue to receive 30-day extensions up to a total of 180 days. You should work with your mortgage lender.
The state of Illinois has suspended evictions for failure to pay as part of the governor’s executive order through April 7. That order is expected to be extended.
Mandatory withdraws from accounts held by those over age 70 are suspended. The 10% penalty on a 401(k) withdraw in 2020 if for coronavirus related financial hardship is eliminated. You will still need to pay taxes on income.
There is much in the bill for businesses including partially forgivable loans, payroll tax deferrals, wage credits and much more that is beyond the scope of this article.
There is much confusion over daily changing information. Now is the time to root ourselves in the only thing that is constant – God. We invite you to join us for prayer every Tuesday morning at 8:00 am as part of our Compassionate Care Campaign. Instructions are on our web site. Remember God is an ever- present help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1) and He will see us through this storm.