The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on every sector of the American economy. Every day seems to bring more bad news: massive layoffs, a spiraling stock market, and increasingly drastic measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 that, while necessary, cause further economic damage.
In these dire times, there seems to be a consensus even from those normally antagonistic to governmental intervention that drastic government action is necessary and that some kind of direct assistance to taxpayers should be part of any relief plan.
This kind of cash infusion would have been unthinkable mere weeks ago, but there are now multiple proposals from members of both parties to provide this kind of relief. Here’s what you need to know about what could be on the way to you and your family.
How much money will be disbursed?
The Senate Republicans’ plan provides for one-time $600 payments for individuals with income under $2,500 and $1,200 for married couples at that level. (We assume this means yearly, but that feels very low.) Otherwise, individual taxpayers making up to $75,000 a year ($150,000 for joint filers) would receive a $1,200 check ($2,400 for couples). For every $100 in individual income over that threshold, the payment would be reduced by $5. There would also be $500 added for each child.
So, if you have two kids, and you filed jointly with your spouse, that seems like the one-time payment would equal $3,400.
This assumes, of course, that the Senate plan is voted into law, which, as of this writing, it has not.
The Treasury Department plan introduced by Secretary Steven Mnuchin calls for two waves of $1,000 checks for every American adult, plus $500 per child.
Proposals from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Maxine Waters would allocate $2,000 per month for the duration of the crisis, with the Waters plan specifying an additional $1,000 per month for each child in a household. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s bill allocates $1,000 for every American adult and $500 for every child.
Who will receive a check?
Some plans are universal and some are means-tested, which means they would only go to people who meet certain criteria. The Treasury, Sanders, Waters, and Omar plans are universal — rich families, poor families, and everyone in between would receive the same payments.
Other proposed plans limit who would be eligible for relief. The Senate GOP plan, for instance, dictates that means that individuals with incomes greater than $99,000 and couples with incomes greater than $198,000 would not receive any payments.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have, inexplicably, not released formal proposals of their own yet, but they have signaled that any relief should be “targeted,” a clear signal that they prefer means-testing to universal payments.
When will the checks be sent out?
The Treasury Department plan calls for two waves of checks, one in April and one in May, with a six-week gap between them. The other plans don’t specify dates in the same way, an acknowledgment of the reality that no one knows the actual timing because no one knows when a bill will actually become law.
And given the partisan differences that will need to be overcome in order for anything to be signed into law, there’s a nonzero chance that federal financial relief doesn’t come at all.
This story is developing.
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