TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Federal help is one step closer to becoming a reality for those who’ve been devastated by COVID-19.
On Friday, the House will vote on the $2 trillion bill approved unanimously by the Senate.
Under the measure, the federal government will send a check or money directly into a person’s account based on their income.
Individuals earning less than $75,000 a year will receive $1,200. While couples earning less than $150,000 a year will get $2400 plus $500 per child.
The assistance phases out for individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 a year and for couples making between $150,000 and $198,000 a year.
Bill Dendy, a CPA and money manager, says the government will base payments on the most recent tax return. “So for some people, it’s going to be the return filed for 2018. For several people, it’ll be the return filed for 2019.”
Unemployment insurance benefits will also expand by giving an extra $600 a week on top of the state’s maximum and by providing an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded eligibility after state benefits are exhausted.
The bill also will temporarily allow the self-employed, independent contractors and employees at non-profit groups to receive unemployment insurance.
Dendy says, “Your freelancers, people who work catering jobs on occasion that are now not employed are going to be able to get these unemployment benefits on the federal level.”
The expanded unemployment insurance benefits are taxable income like always, but the cash payments are tax free.
People will also be able to access their retirement accounts for COVID-19 related expenses without an early withdrawal penalty.
Student loan payments can be deferred for six months without penalty or interest.
Dendy says those out of work should treat this as relief — not a stimulus package.
“Hold onto the money. Don’t spend it on the wants of life,” he said. “Spend it only on the needs and start seeing what needs still need to be covered and what things can be deferred for a little while.”
For those still collecting a paycheck, he suggests building cash reserves in case things get worse.