Article by Kaylee Wagner
Photo by Dhaya Eddine Bentaleb on Unsplash
For many Americans, the last month has been filled with uncertainty and a lot of fear. Fear about the economy, fear for loved one’s health, and fear for what the future will look like. While it’s difficult to digest the whole picture and comprehend what our lives will look like once we begin again or what we will gain and lose from this pandemic, there is a considerable amount of good going on around us. There are many things actively taking place in the nation and our communities that show the silver lining of this situation.
While there are plenty of tragedies around us in the wake of COVID-19, there are also many beautiful and incredible acts of selflessness and courage that have occurred during the shutdown. Schools, organizations, and companies are providing lunches to children free of charge to make sure they do not go hungry. On top of this food banks, churches and many others are actively volunteering to give out food donations to families. There are also many individuals donating homemade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and even making monetary donations to organizations to ensure that people are protected and provided for during this time. Last, but certainly not least, we have the hard work of our nurses and doctors, as well as the delivery, factory, restaurant, and grocery store workers that are selflessly ensuring that our sick are cared for and our shelves at home remain stocked. Everywhere you look, you can see acts of courage and compassion that make getting through these troubling times a little easier.
In response to the economic downturn, we have seen our government come together to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Many of you have already received your stimulus check, which were sent out on April 15th. While the amount may change based on income and dependents under the age of 17, the stimulus has helped to provide peace of mind to many Americans. The payment amount according to the IRS is altered by the following guidelines. “The $1,200 Payment for eligible individuals with no qualifying children ($2,400 for married couples filing a joint return) will be reduced to $0 once adjusted gross income reaches the following thresholds: $198,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return, $136,500 for taxpayers filing as head of household, $99,000 for all others. Each of these threshold amounts increases by $10,000 for each additional qualifying child.” The money received from the CARES Act is not considered income nor will there be tax owed on the payment or an effect on your 2020 taxes. While there is no income minimum for the payment, those who have not filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 will have to go to the IRS Economic Impact Payment Website to check their eligibility and get their payment. You can also check your payment status and set up direct deposit if they have not already sent your payment.
Through the CARES Act, there have also been changes made to unemployment and programs set up for the self-employed to ensure that Americans still have a source of income while doing their part to stop the spread of the virus. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program provides an additional $600 per week, added a 13-week extension for those who reach the normal 26-week maximum, and waived the waiting week for opening a claim. For those who are self-employed and don’t qualify for UC Benefits, there is now Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) that will provide up to 39 weeks of benefits for more details please visit the PUA Website.
While there are still many uncertainties about what to expect, we can find peace in the good actively occurring around us. We will all pull through this together. Stay safe, stay well, and most importantly, stay hopeful.