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While each of us focuses on what we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus, we also have to figure out how to survive financially during this upheaval to our lives. The CARES Act signed into law will help.
You probably are aware of the $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent child (age 16 or less) payment coming your way if your adjusted gross income is within limits. Students who are age 17 and older and are dependents on their parent’s tax return will not receive payment through the CARES Act. If you are not on social security, you must have filed either a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return. If you did not need to file before, do it online now by going to IRS.gov and selecting a free file option or reach out to your tax professional.
If you are out of work, file for unemployment. The one-week waiting period has been waived and the federal government will supplement your NYS unemployment by $600 per week through the end of July. Given the sheer number of claims in our state you can try to call the NYS Department of Labor, but applying online at labor.ny.gov is recommended.
If you are self-employed and forced to close down, under the CARES Act you may also file for unemployment. Keep checking the NYS Department of Labor website for updates on how this will be rolled out.
Small businesses facing closure orders, who keep paying their employees, are able to receive payroll tax credits with their 2020 tax return and may delay a portion of current payroll tax payments. Other accelerated write-offs are also available. But, these tax benefits may be not enough or too late to help with cash flow. It is recommended that small businesses file for a “paycheck protection program” loan through the 7(a) loan program at the Small Business Administration (SBA). It will provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities which would be forgiven. Also, the SBA is required to cover all loan payments for all of their loan programs for six months.
The loan application process to the SBA is extensive and you will need to include current and past year financial statements of your business’s operations. There is an immediate $10,000 grant available since the SBA loan approval process will take time.
What else can be done? While not recommended, especially in a bear market, distributions from IRAs and retirements plans, including retirement plan loans, are possible and not subject to the ten percent early withdrawal penalty if less than $100,000. There are other caveats as well that one should discuss with their tax professional.
The details of how the CARES Act and other recent legislation will be carried out are still being determined. We can only imagine how overloaded our government operations will be in rolling this out.
Be well, stay safe and look out for folks in need.