Dear Idaho Residents,
I attended two conference calls yesterday. One with the Idaho Governor and his staff, and one with President Trump and several of his agency staff. As you may be aware there are major financial relief efforts currently underway to pump over two trillion dollars into the US economy at all levels. Diverse programs with broad funding are being made available to virtually almost every business, government, non-profit, church and citizen who wants or needs help to offset financial impacts from the COVID-19 crisis.
I am hearing non-stop from citizens on the impacts of not working and want to re-assure you that government at all levels, seems to be working to alleviate any temporary hardships. While long term impacts remain unclear, here is some initial information about the various programs where money is being made available. Since these loan programs are being initiated at the federal level, please do not contact me for more information on specific programs, but rather contact the various federal agencies directly as they have much more pertinent and updated information available. Some of the money will be distributed through state government and those agencies will be providing more details soon.
Below is a list of some of the changes and programs coming from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act (CARES) spending bill and other pertinent information that might be helpful:
Federal Tax Deadlines Have Changed: Income tax filing due dates have been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Payments of any amount that are due on April 15, can be deferred until July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest. This deferment includes all taxpayers, individuals, trusts, estates, corporations, and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. No forms need to be filed to qualify.
Idaho Tax Deadline Has Changed: The 2019 Idaho income tax filing and payment deadlines have changed from April 15, 2020, to June 15, 2020. This includes individuals, businesses, and entities, regardless of the amount owed. Penalty and interest won’t apply if taxpayers file their return and pay the income tax they owe by June 15. The deadline to apply for property tax relief programs has also been extended from April 15 to June 15.
Economic Impact Payments of $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child will be sent to all citizens with adjusted gross income below $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns. Social Security recipients who don’t file tax return are still eligible, and their checks will be based on information provided by the Social Security Administration. No action is needed in most cases.
Taxpayers who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the payment. Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment. More details can be found here: Economic Impact Payments Link
The Federal government added $269 billion to unemployment payments nationwide. In the state call, I learned that unemployment claims rose above 46,500, a 4400% increase! Phone lines are often busy, but citizens are asked to keep trying and be patient. The Idaho Department of Labor is working on hiring more staff and re-directing old staff to meet the increased call needs. The federal government is offering increasing benefits and broadening eligibility through new programs which Idaho can tap into for unemployed citizens. A few of the changes include:
- Eligibility for citizens not normally allowed to file for benefits.
- Extra $600/week for current unemployment recipients. Checks should start showing the increase by April 24. No action is required.
- An additional 13 weeks of benefits may be added to unemployment benefits.
- The first waiting week of no benefits will be waived.
- Self-employed, freelancers and contractors who lose work as a direct result of the public health emergency can now apply through the temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.
- Relief for government entities and NGO’s is being made available.
You will need to work with the Idaho Department of Labor to take advantage of these benefits. Go to their website (HERE) for the latest information and forms.
College Loans: Payments will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020.
- Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. Student borrowers should reach out to their loan servicers and apply for the special forbearance based on COVID-19. Loan servicers are creating a webpage that allows students to log in and apply for the forbearance. If you have student loans you are now paying on, you can get forbearance until September 30, 2020, including on interest.
- While there is a pause in payments, the Department of Education directed federal student loans to also enact a zero-interest rate during the same time period.
- The CARES Act provides money to help colleges and universities 1) Deal with the health impacts of COVID-19 on their students; 2) Move face-to-face courses to online and other delivery modes; and 3) Direct federal resources offered through the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program to students struggling the most in this environment. The bill also lets schools adjust financial aid so that students who may not be able to finish the semester due to COVID-19 can still obtain their grants and loans in the future
- Employers may contribute up to $5,250 annually toward student loans, and the payments would be excluded from the employee’s income.
- Colleges and universities have been given funds to help in the transition from “Face-to-Face” courses to “Online” courses. Funds are also available to help those students struggling with the changes.
- Students who are forced to drop out of school as a result of coronavirus would not be asked to pay back any grants of other aid they have already received. The education department will stop collections on student borrowers in default.
- The Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid customer care line remains open at 800-4-FED-AID. Additionally, questions on which the Department can be helpful should be directed to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Assistance for Small Businesses (500 or fewer employees)
The Paycheck Protection Program puts $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses for Americans employed by small businesses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. The program provides funds to pay for up to 8 weeks of payroll, including benefits. Funds can be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Funds are provided as loans, that will be fully forgiven if businesses follow certain rules. Check with your local bank for details.
Here is a link to the overview: SMALL BUSINESS LOAN OVERVIEW LINK
More FAQ’ on this program can be found here: LINK
- Emergency Grants: Grants up to $10,000 to provide emergency funds to pay for immediate operating costs.
- Forgivable Loans: The Small business administration will provide loans up to $10 million per business to be used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books, or pay rent, mortgage and existing debt could be forgiven provided the workers stay employed through the end of June.
- Relief for existing loans: Money is available to cover six months of payments for small businesses already using a Small Business Loan.
As you can imagine information is constantly being updated and there is a lot more that will be generated as each program comes online and works out the individual details. Because of the widespread reaching effects of our current economic situation, I encourage each of you to be patient but persistent to ensure you understand what you qualify for and when you can expect to receive some relief. No one seems to know when these programs will end but I am guessing they will not be permanently funded.
At the bottom of this newsletter, I have included additional information that is directly from the White House conference call’s summary report. Although it is long, there is some useful information and links in it.
Please keep the faith and stay strong in these crazy times!
Rep. Heather Scott
ATTACHMENT: WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL BRIEFING ON CARES SPENDING BILL
- The President has approved major disaster declaration requests quickly as the governors have requested – 51 governors have had their requests approved as of last night – meaning that requests from 23 states/territories were approved since the April 1 national update call.
- As of Tuesday, April 7, for 37 states that have requested, the President has approved 100% of National Guard deployment costs under Title 32 to assist w/ response & logistics support, while ensuring governors remain in command.
- Through Project Air Bridge, FEMA has continued to coordinate the transportation of critically needed personal protective equipment (or PPE) across the country. The air bridge is helping reduce the time it takes for U.S. medical supply distributors to receive PPE and other critical supplies into the country for health care professionals and other key professionals, including law enforcement. Learn more about Project Air Bridge and FEMA’s supply chain efforts here.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The CARES Act makes vital investments in the key elements of our public health response to the virus, with more than $100 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers and $27 billion in funds for vaccines, therapeutics, and personal protective equipment.
- Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund: On Wednesday, April 8, HHS announced new steps on the $100 billion provided by the CARES Act to support healthcare providers directly.
- HHS will begin the initial distribution of these payments to hospitals and healthcare providers across the nation distributed based on how much relative revenue they receive from Medicare.
- HHS has endeavored to make this process extremely simple and is expecting 500,000 providers will receive funding this week.
- The next allocation of funds will prioritize those providers that do not typically serve the Medicare population or where Medicare is not a dominant payor, like nursing homes and certain types of hospitals.
- CDC State and Local Preparedness Grants: CDC is working to distribute $1.5 billion in state and local preparedness grants, which, combined with the first supplemental, amount to a total of about $2.5 billion provided for state, tribal, territorial, and local needs.
- HHS distributed $186 million in CDC funds from the first supplemental earlier this week to assist with testing and surveillance activities.
- There is a set-aside in the CDC’s grant program for tribal health needs, and the CARES Act also includes more than $1 billion provided for critical response needs in Indian Country, including supplies, staffing, and increased telehealth capacity. More here.
- Mental Health: Recognizing that mental health is going to be a challenge, the CARES Act provides $250 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, $50 million in new money for suicide prevention, and $100 million in flexible emergency funding for states and tribes to use to address mental health needs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has now posted the funding opportunity announcement for that flexible emergency funding. More here.
- Administration for Children & Families: HHS’s Administration for Children and Families is receiving $6.3 billion in funding under the CARES Act, which it is working to operationalize expeditiously with a focus on supporting Head Start providers and augmenting LIHEAP, Child Care and Development Block Grant and Community Services Block Grant funds. This funding will help human service providers whether they serve vulnerable youth, families, or older Americans, are under strain. More here.
- Administration for Community Living: The Administration for Community Living also received $955 million to support aging and disability services programs, like getting meals to seniors. HHS has already disbursed some new money from the earlier economic relief legislation. More here.
U.S. Department of the Treasury
- Paycheck Protection Program
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) launched on Friday, April 3rd. The PPP program provides forgivable loans to small businesses with under 500 employees. As of Thursday, April 9, more than 454,000 loans totaling $118 billion across 3,500 lenders have been distributed.
- In order to ensure that every business is able to take advantage of the PPP, the Administration has requested to Congress an increase in PPP commitments to $600 billion—a $250 billion increase.
- The Employee Retention Credit is available for businesses not eligible for the PPP. This is a refundable credit of up to $5,000 per employee, who is retained instead of being laid off. More here.
- Updated guidance and frequently asked questions can be found here. A new lender application form can be found here.
- More information on the Paycheck Protection Program here.
- Economic Impact Payments
- Treasury expect that the electronic payment of $2,400 per married couple, plus $500 per child, will begin to be made around April 15. Treasury has banking information for some 60 million taxpayer, who will be a part of the first tranche of payments.
- Social Security recipients who do not file tax returns will automatically receive economic impact payments. More here.
- Treasury is establishing a portal for those who are not a part of the first tranche to provide their banking information and ensure that they receive their payment promptly. Treasury is also investigating ways to effectively get Economic Impact Payment funds into the hands of the unbanked.
- Coronavirus Relief Fund
- State, eligible units of local government, and Tribal governments will receive funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Treasury expects that the $150 billion provided to the Fund will be distributed no later than April 24.
- Treasury is developing a website portal for eligible governments to provide information necessary to be able to deposit the advance payments. The portal is expected to be online as early as Saturday, April 11.
- Treasury is developing guidance in advance of funding release regarding reimbursable expenses.
- Main Street Business Lending Program and Municipal Liquidity Facility
- Treasury launched a Main Street Business Lending program and a Municipal Liquidity Facility to support the flow of credit to American workers, businesses, States, counties, and cities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) will provide up to $500 billion in direct financing to states, counties, and cities to help ensure they have the funds necessary to provide essential services to citizens and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. More here. MLF term sheet and guidance can be found here.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
The CARES Act provides $9.5 billion provided for relief to farmers and ranchers. The Act enables support of agricultural producers who experience market losses due to COVID-19. USDA is actively monitoring all food and agriculture commodity markets and the supply chain of food from farm to table during the COVID 19 outbreak. USDA will provide more information regarding program delivery later this Spring. More information about USDA resources in response to COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus.
- On Thursday, April 9, USDA announced the first state, Michigan, has been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Act. The is a supplemental food purchasing benefit to current SNAP participants and as a new EBT benefit to other eligible households to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school. More here.
- Rural Economic Development
- The CARES Act provides $100 million for the ReConnect Loan and Grant Program. USDA extended the open application window through April 15th and will use the CARES Act funding to augment grant awards to qualified applicants. More information about the ReConnect Loan and Grant Program can be found here https://www.usda.gov/reconnect.
- The CARES Act provides $1 billion provided for the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program USDA will administer the increase in program level concurrent with the traditional program, a Notice of Funding Availability announcing the increased program level will issue in April/May. More information about the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program can be found here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/business-industry-loan-guarantees.
- The CARES Act provides $25 million provided for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. USDA announced a new award window for FY2020 will open from April 14th through July 13th. More information about the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program can be found here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants.
- Rural Economic Relief
- The CARES Act provides foreclosure and eviction relief provided for rural renters and homeowners. Effective March 19th, the Rural Housing Service is providing 60-day relief from eviction and foreclosure to all USDA multi-family housing tenants and single-family home mortgage borrowers. More information about USDA Rural Development’s actions in response to COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus.
- The CARES Act provides $15.5 billion in contingency funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Food and Nutrition Service intends to use all available flexibilities to service program participants, including exercising newly authorized waivers ease program operations and protect the health of participants.
- The CARES Act provides $100 million for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations program. The Food and Nutrition Service distributes food and administrative funds to Indian Tribal Organizations and state agencies to support nutritional needs of Native American families.
- The CARES Act provides $8.8 billion provided for the Child Nutrition Program. Funding supports ongoing activities under the existing program.
- The CARES Act provides $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The Food and Nutrition Service’s Emergency Food Assistance Program provides food and administrative funds to food banks to support the nutrition of vulnerable populations. Funding supports ongoing activities under the existing program. More information about Food and Nutrition Service actions to respond to COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19.
U.S. Department of Labor
On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The legislation, in part, created three new programs designed to provide unemployment benefits to American workers: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
- These programs are administered by each state workforce agency or equivalent. Depending on the state technology infrastructure and other factors, states may vary in the implementation and timing of first benefit payments to eligible individuals. Benefits are retroactive to dates as specified in guidance from the Department. This and future guidance is and will be available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/.
- The following is a brief summary of each newly established program pursuant to the CARES Act:
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation: The FPUC program allows states to provide an additional $600 per week in benefits to individuals collecting regular Unemployment Compensation or certain other benefits. The CARES Act specifies that FPUC benefit payments will end after payments for the last week of unemployment before July 31, 2020.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: States are permitted to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation. To qualify for PUA benefits, you must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation: The program covers most individuals who have exhausted all rights to regular unemployment compensation under state or federal law and who are able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work as defined by state law. Importantly, the CARES Act gives states flexibility in determining whether you are “actively seeking work” if you are unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restrictions.
- For more information on unemployment compensation, and links to your State Unemployment Insurance Office, please click here.
U.S. Department of Education
- Elementary and Secondary Education
- The CARES Act includes $13.2 billion in K-12 formula grants to States (Economic Stabilization Fund). This grant is distributed to states based on their share of ESEA Title I-A funds. State education agencies will then distribute at least 90% of funds to school districts and public charter schools based on their share of Title I-A funds.
- Under the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Education has streamlined the waiver application process for states to gain flexibilities to allow schools to repurpose existing K-12 education funds for technology infrastructure and teacher training on distance learning, among other flexibilities to move resources to areas of highest need during the national emergency.
- This action follows the Department’s announcement of a turnkey waiver process allowing states to cancel federally-mandated standardized testing. The Department has approved waivers for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Post-Secondary Education
- The CARES Act includes $12.2 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund to help institutions of higher education weather the costs associated with COVID-19. Funds will be available through September 30, 2021. More here.
- The Department has also provided additional flexibilities and regulatory relief for institutions of higher education, their students, and others effective through June 30, 2020, including waiving requirements relating to academic terms, approved leaves of absence, distance education, and student aid verification. Additional flexibilities provided under the CARES Act will expire on September 30, 2020.
- The Department also announced that any aid provided to students in the form of Emergency Grants to Students under the CARES Act will not be included in future determinations of a student’s eligibility for Federal Student Aid programs. In addition, institutions do not need to make adjustments to a student’s current financial aid award, even if these emergency grants result in an over-award.
- The Department of Education has established a dedicated Coronavirus webpage, which includes resources for institutions of higher education and for K-12.
U.S. Department of Commerce
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will distribute $300 million in fisheries assistance to states, Tribes, and territories in coordination with Interstate Marine Fishery Commissions.
- These funds will support commercial fishing, charter fishing, dealers, processors, aquaculture, and Tribal as well as subsistence sectors that have been directly or indirectly negatively impacted by covid-19.
- NOAA Fisheries is collecting information from fishermen, seafood farmers, and other seafood processing/distribution companies, as well as from the recreational fishing sector, on disruptions to supply and demand resulting from COVID-19.
- NOAA is assessing immediate and long term needs to secure and enhance the resilience of the US seafood and fisheries industries.
- For more on CARES and other NOAA COVID-19 related activities, visit here.
- The Economic Development Administration (EDA) received $1.5 billion to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.
- EDA will provide grants to communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with immediate and long-term economic recovery assistance.
- EDA grants will support a wide range of economic planning and technical assistance, innovation, capitalization and recapitalization of Revolving Loan Funds (RLF), and construction and non-construction assistance across the nation.
- The majority of the funding will be distributed out of EDA’s six regional offices, which are responsible for reviewing the eligibility and merit of applications through a competitive process.
- For more information on EDA and Disaster Recovery, visit here.
- The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will utilize $10 million to educate, train, and advise minority business enterprises concerning the impact of and recovery from the COVID-19.
- These grants are available to minority business centers and minority chambers of commerce.
- For more information on MBDA and Disaster Recovery, visit here.
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has released a series of FAQs for patent and trademark filers regarding USPTO’s previously announced extension of certain patent and trademark-related timing deadlines under the CARES Act. More here.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The CARES Act includes over $12 billion in new funding for HUD programs to provide additional funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
- Primary Allocations
- Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): The CARES Act provides $5 billion to enable nearly 1,240 states, counties, and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by it, including the expansion of community health facilities, childcare centers, food banks, and senior services. More here.
- Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG): The CARES Act provides $4 billion to address the impact of COVID-19 among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. More on homelessness assistance programs here.
- Tenant-Based Rental Assistance: The CARES Act provides $1.25 billion for additional funds for PHAs to maintain normal operations and take other necessary action during the period that the program is impacted by COVID-19, in addition to administrative expenses and other expenses for Section 8 programs, including Mainstream vouchers. More information here (COVID-19 FAQs for Public Housing Agencies).
- Public Housing Operating Fund: $685 million for PHAs to maintain normal operations and take other necessary actions during the period that the program is impacted by COVID-19; funds are to be combined with FY20 funds and awarded using the Operating Fund formula and may be used for both capital and operating expenses.
- Native American Programs: $200 million for activities and assistance under title I of NAHASDA and under title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, including Native American Housing Block Grants, to be distributed using the FY20 formula. More here.
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPSA): The CARES Act provides $65 million for additional HOPWA funds to maintain operations and for rental assistance, supportive services and other necessary actions. More here.
- The CARES Act also includes the following general provisions that affect HUD and HUD programs:
- Rescinds and appropriates funds for a youth homelessness demonstration under the “Homeless Assistance Grants” demonstration in the FY18 appropriations act;
- Allows for temporary hiring flexibility for HUD to prevent, prepare for, or respond to COVID-19;
- Provides a foreclosure moratorium for borrowers with Federally backed mortgages experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19;
- Provides the opportunity for multifamily borrowers with Federally backed mortgages experiencing financial hardship to request a forbearance; and
- Enables a temporary moratorium on eviction filings.
U.S. Department of Justice
- The CARES Act provides assistance to state and local law enforcement to assist in preparing for and responding to COVID-19. Specifically, the Act includes $850 million for the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program (Bryne-JAG). The JAG Program provides states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution, indigent defense, courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation, technology improvement, and crime victim and witness initiatives and mental health programs and related law enforcement and corrections programs, including behavioral programs and crisis intervention teams. More here.