Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Arizonans have proven that we are stronger together. Time and time again, I hear from Arizonans who are making a difference in their communities by donating blood, taking care of a friend’s child while they go to work, or bringing groceries to an elderly neighbor. But I also hear constantly from Arizonans who have been laid off or furloughed and are now unemployed. Millions of Arizonans are in desperate need of relief, right now. With my help, Congress passed a relief and support package to provide immediate federal assistance to Arizonans in need. It can be confusing, daunting, and unfamiliar to so many, so I wanted to take a minute to answer some frequently asked questions about the relief resources available to you and your families.
Am I eligible for the economic impact payment from the federal government?
Arizonans are eligible to receive this one-time impact payment if they have a Social Security number and meet certain adjusted gross income thresholds. Individuals whose adjusted gross income is $75,000 or less will receive $1,200. Married couples whose adjusted gross income is $150,000 or less will receive $2,400. If you are a parent with a child claimed as a dependent, you will receive an extra $500 per child. If you are claimed as a dependent on your parent’s tax return, you will not be eligible for a relief check. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will base qualification on 2019 tax returns if filed already or 2018 tax returns.
The payment amount decreases by $5 for every $100 you are above the $75,000 individual income threshold. For example, if you as an individual makes $80,000, you will receive a $950 check. Those who earned more than $99,000 a year or a married couple who made more than $198,000 a year do not qualify.
How will I receive my payment?
Payments are being sent out by direct deposit straight into bank accounts starting this week if the IRS has your bank account information on file from your 2018 or 2019 tax filing. A portal will soon be available on IRS.gov for regular tax filers to check their payment status, confirm their payment type, and enter their bank account information if the IRS does not already have it.
If you receive Social Security income or Social Security disability benefits, the IRS will use the information they have on file to ensure you get your relief check. Any individual under the income threshold, including those receiving veteran benefits, can confirm their eligibility with the IRS through irs.gov/help/ita/do-i-need-to-file-a-tax-return and provide their direct deposit information to receive their funds as quickly as possible.
If you qualify for a payment but the IRS does not have, or you do not provide, your bank account information, checks will be mailed out, but this will likely take significant time. Therefore, it is advised to enter your bank information into the portal at IRS.gov as soon as it is operational.
When will I receive my payment?
The Treasury Department began distributing relief payments on April 10 and is working to get all payments out in the coming weeks. Tax filers can now check the status of their economic impact payments at irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.
What kind of relief is available to small businesses?
There are two types of relief that small businesses can apply for. You may receive one or the other, but not both. The Employee Retention Tax Credit is an option for businesses that are not applying for the Paycheck Protection Program.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides small businesses and non-profit 501(c)3 organizations with 500 or fewer employees with loans of up to $10 million to pay a maximum of 8 weeks of payroll and overhead costs. Funds can also be used to pay health insurance, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. These loans will be 100 percent forgiven when used for these qualified expenses, but at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll. Businesses should consult with their financial institution for more details on what is needed to apply or visit SBA.gov to learn how to apply. We designed PPP to encourage employers to keep employees on the payroll, even if they are not working. There is no business too small. Self-employed, sole proprietors, and independent contractors can also apply for PPP.
The Employee Retention Tax Credit provides a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages per employee (including health benefits) paid by certain employers during the coronavirus crisis. This tax credit is not limited to small businesses. However, it is not available to any business that applies for a PPP. Any private employers, including non-profits, are eligible for this tax credit if their operations were partially or fully put on hold as a result of government orders due to COVID-19, or their business sees a decline in gross receipts by more than 50 percent in a quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. Learn more at IRS.gov.
In addition to one of the above, small businesses can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and a fully forgiven loan advance of up to $10,000 from the Small Business Administration. You can apply for both the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL, but the $10,000 loan advance will impact the amount of your PPP loan that can be forgiven. Find out if you are eligible at SBA.gov.
How do I know what to believe about coronavirus?
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the coronavirus. Do not believe everything you read or hear from friends or on the internet. Only trust information from trustworthy sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: CDC.gov, coronavirus.gov, or azhealth.gov. FEMA also created a rumor control website to dispel fact from fiction. Visit www.fema.gov/coronavirus/rumor-control for more.
The coronavirus pandemic is causing a lot of uncertainty and fear which is understandable. Congress and the administration are fully focused on implementing the CARES Act, but we will continue to monitor the health and well-being of Americans and the economy, and will take further action as needed. We will prevail—together.
Martha McSally is a Republican United States senator from Arizona.