President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law Thursday, ensuring millions of Americans will receive an array of assistance as the coronavirus pandemic continues into its second year.
Although the economy shows signs of recovery — 379,000 jobs were added in February, according to the Department of Labor — 18 million people are still receiving some form of unemployment assistance, and millions are struggling to cover basic expenses like rent. The latest stimulus allocates money to a variety of federal and state assistance programs.
Here are seven ways the law could help you.
The plan includes the much-anticipated third round of stimulus payments. Direct deposits will start hitting bank accounts as early as this weekend, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Payments will be in the amount of up to $1,400 for individuals and up to $2,800 for married couples, plus an additional $1,400 per eligible dependent, with no cap on the number of dependents that can be claimed.
Calculate how much you could get with our stimulus check calculator.
Many provisions targeted toward helping those who have been laid off during the pandemic have been included in the law.
Chief among them: an additional $300 per week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits through September 6. The package also extends until early September both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for the self-employed, gig workers, and part-timers, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which continues unemployment for people who exhaust their regular state benefits.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
Several provisions aim to help families with children. One temporarily expands the Child Tax Credit. The maximum amount eligible parents can receive for a qualifying child dependent in 2021 is $3,000 annually, or $250 per month, per child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 annually, or $300 per month, for each child under the age of 6. The package calls for up to half of that credit to be paid out to families this year, with the other half claimable when you file your taxes next spring.
The act also raises the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to a maximum $4,000 in eligible expenses for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. To qualify, you must pay for child care in order for you and your spouse to work, and your child must be under the age of 13.
There was a lot of talk about the possibility of including student loan forgiveness in the bill. Although the American Rescue Plan does not forgive any debt, it does include a provision that lays the groundwork for future loan forgiveness. If the federal government decides to cancel student loans between now and 2025, the amount that gets forgiven will be tax-free.
Millions of people are behind on their housing payments. To help, the law provides $25 billion in rental and utility assistance and another $10 billion in mortgage aid.
Video by Richard Washington
The law puts another $7.25 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and another $15 billion in the Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help small businesses stay afloat. It also provides $28.6 billion to help restaurants, specifically.
The law includes a provision stipulating the government will subsidize premiums for laid off workers to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance through COBRA. The benefit lasts through September, for qualifying workers.
The law also temporarily removes the income cap on premium subsidies for people who buy health insurance through the federal exchange or state marketplaces. For the next two years, the amount those consumer pay for insurance will be limited to 8.5% of income.
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