Here are some proposals that are on the table.
In March 27th, President Trump signed the CARES Act in an effort to restart an economy that was brought to a screeching halt by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act provided over $2 trillion in much needed relief to businesses and included direct payments to individuals. Yet many businesses and individuals are still struggling.
On April 21st, just four weeks after the CARES Act was signed, another $370 billion bill was passed to replenish the small business relief programs. Now, Congress is working to find ways to provide more money and support to individual Americans.
There are a few major proposals in the works. Three of the proposals are aimed directly at putting very meaningful dollars in the pockets of Americans, and another is aimed at providing tax rebates for employees and employers. Each of the proposals is in the very early stages of development. Although it is highly unlikely that any would pass in its current state, here are the main points of each proposal.
Emergency Money for the People Act
This proposal calls for $2,000 per month ($4,000 for married couples) in direct stimulus checks for at least six months and up to one year. It would be paid to all U.S. citizens age 16 and over earning less than $130,000 per year ($260,000 for married couples). An additional $500 per child (maximum $1,500) would be paid to qualifying families.
While the CARES Act left out those who were claimed as dependents on another person’s tax return, such as college students, those dependents would be eligible to receive stimulus checks under this proposal.
Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act
This proposal calls for rent and mortgage payments to be waived, not deferred, for up to one year on an individual’s primary without any negative impact on his/her credit.
At the same time, a Relief Fund would be created and managed by the Department of Housing to pay landlords and lenders for losses associated with any waived payments. In return for receiving this support, landlords and lenders would be required to follow a set of federal guidelines for five years.
Automatic BOOST To Communities Act
The BOOST Act proposes issuing debit cards pre-loaded with $2,000 to every person in America immediately. That card would be re-loaded with another $1,000 every month until one year after the end of the COVID-19 crisis.
In this case, “every person” literally means every person. A married couple, regardless of income, with two children, regardless of age, would receive $8,000 ($2,000 x 4 = $8,000) the first month, and $4,000 per month until the program ends.
Getting America Back to Work Act
Aimed to promote hiring and retention, this proposal provides a refundable payroll tax rebate up to 80% of the employer costs, up to the median wage. It also would a bonus for rehiring any employees that were laid off previously.
The goal of this proposal is to keep employees on payroll and eligible for benefits while reducing the amount of time it would take businesses to restart their operations.
While states continue to extend Shelter-in-Place orders, there is mounting economic pressure to re-open as soon as possible. Yet, recent polling data shows that only 13% of Americans would “definitely” return to public places once restrictions are lifted. When states re-open, the American psyche may not be ready to see that as a sign to return to “normal” just yet.
In our view, very real progress towards a return to normal won’t happen until there’s a vaccine. While any of the first three programs would put very real dollars in the pockets of Americans, the cost to administer them would be colossal. Getting America Back to Work would be the easiest to implement and administer, but it would put the fewest amount of dollars back into the economy. It also would reduce funding for Social Security and Medicare, which are already drastically underfunded.
More help is needed and will be coming, but let’s not forget that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The impact that any of these proposals will have on future tax rates and inflation will be seen and felt by Americans in the years following this pandemic.
Frank Iozzo, CPWA®
President, Private Wealth Advisor
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