(LFC Comments: Thanks to our friends at AuburnTownship.org for this P.S.A. We learned a new term: “Gig workers”. They are independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers and temporary workers. Gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies, for example Uber or TaskRabbit, to provide services to the company’s clients. Wikipedia. )
ECONOMIC RESOURCES FOR GIG WORKERS AFFECTED BY COVID-19
Published Thursday, April 9, 2020
Gig workers around the world have seen their livelihoods upset with event cancellations, social distancing requirements, and other restrictions placed on our society. With the recent announcement of a $2 trillion assistance and relief bill, known as the CARES Act law, many small business owners, freelancers, and other members of the gig economy are looking to understand how the aid will benefit them.
As you are planning your own budget for the next few weeks and months, make sure you investigate all the options available to you.
Economic Impact Payment
This is probably the most straightforward way of receiving assistance, although the timeframe is still a bit shaky. At the time of publishing, the Washington Post reports that payouts may begin as early as April 9, 2020. The IRS will be depositing payments using direct deposit information or by check, depending on your 2018 or 2019 taxes.
If you haven’t filed your taxes for 2019 yet, the IRS advises that you do it as soon as possible so they have the most correct information on file. You can file now for free with TurboTax.
According to the IRS, individuals with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 a year will be eligible for the full $1,200 check. Reduced checks will go out to individuals making up to $99,000 a year (the payment amount falls by $5 for every $100 in income above $75,000).
Married couples are eligible for a $2,400 check as long as their adjusted gross income is under $150,000 a year. Reduced checks, on a sliding scale, will go out to married couples who earn up to $198,000. Each household will also receive an additional $500 for every child under 17.
Learn more about payout status and other questions here.
Expansion of Unemployment Benefits
If you are a freelancer or self-employed, the greatest help to you is the expansion of unemployment benefits if you are unable to work.
The CARES Act offers freelancers an additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance, bringing weekly payouts to the $800 to $900-a-week range when state benefits are added, to workers including the self-employed, for up to four months.
Please check your state’s requirements and limitations to determine your eligibility. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s site to get started.
Small Business Loans
If you are a small business or proprietorship, you may have even greater resources. It is important to note that these options do not necessarily combine with each other. Make sure to consult with a loan officer or small business attorney to determine which program is best for you.
Paycheck Protection Program
This option was delayed a bit for freelancers and those who are self-employed, but you can begin your application starting April 10, 2020.
Marketwatch outlines this program as a $350 billion forgivable loan program designed to ensure that small businesses do not lay off employees. It includes:
• A 50% refundable payroll tax credit on worker wages will further incentivize businesses, including ones with fewer than 500 employees, to retain workers.
• Looser net operating loss-reduction rules that will allow businesses to offset more.
• A delay in employer-side payroll taxes for Social Security until 2021 and 2022.
• Sole proprietors and other self-employed workers could be eligible for the expanded unemployment-insurance benefits the bill provides.
• A portion of the $425 billion in funds appropriated for the Federal Reserve’s credit facilities will target small businesses.
Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan
The bill also provides a $10,000 advance on an Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan that would not be required to be paid back, even for those who would not normally qualify for that loan. This applies to sole proprietors and freelancers, too. Learn more here.
Rent and Mortgage Payment Relief
Worrying about how to make rent or mortgage payments is a very real issue for many Americans right now. The CARES Act includes a nationwide eviction moratorium for any renters whose landlords have mortgages backed or owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other federal entities. The moratorium will last for 120 days from March 27th (when the bill was passed). Check out a summary of the terms here.
The best thing you can do is be open with your landlord about your ability to pay. Communicate with them sooner rather than later and offer to work out a payment plan – for example, paying $500 instead of $1,000 this month.
If you own your home, be sure to check with your personal mortgage lender to see about forbearance or loan modification options.
Food and Utility Assistance
The Freelancers’ Union has begun issuing $1,000 per household in financial assistance to cover essential expenses like food, utility payments, and other bills. There are a few requirements you’ll need to meet before applying, but you can learn more here.
• The New York Times wrote a comprehensive article that covers FAQs about the stimulus bill.
• Learn more about what the SBA is offering to small businesses.
• Senator Marc Rubio’s assistants put together a helpful one-sheet that breaks down the basics of how the bill is helping small businesses.
• If you want the full breakdown, read the entire CARES Act here.