I’ve combed through the new COVID-19 Relief Package II, and here’s the news from it that affects our nonprofits. I welcome your input about other legislative points you’ve seen.
Federal lawmakers struck a nearly $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus deal this past Sunday that includes another round of stimulus checks and badly needed jobless benefits for struggling Americans, ending a long standoff in Washington with one of the biggest rescue bills in U.S. history.
The deal includes restarting a $300 boost to the federal unemployment insurance benefit, extending eviction moratoriums for renters by a month, and issuing a $600 direct payment to most Americans.
The package includes an extension of the small business Paycheck Protection Program, which expanded eligibility to nonprofits. $300 Billion has been allocated to PPP 2.0 for a 2nd round of the Paycheck Protection Program. $284 billion is allocated to struggling small businesses, while $15 billion in PPP funds is allocated for direct support to “live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.”
The EIDL grant program will also receive an infusion, with $20 billion earmarked for businesses in low-income communities. The bill also includes a few key fixes for loans approved in the 1st funding round. The loan program will be open to initial applicants and 2nd-time borrowers, as long as they meet certain criteria.
The measure increased funding for vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing.
Hunger: During the worst hunger crisis the U.S. has seen in modern times, the measure would put $13 billion into boosting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by 15% and funding food banks, among other programs.
Housing: The bill boosts the New Markets Tax Credit program by providing additional Treasury funding for community development financial institutions. Approximately $3 billion of the funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) targets developments in low-income and minority communities.
The bill includes $25 billion in tax-free rental assistance and expands the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to build and redevelop affordable housing. It expands the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit to workers who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. The credit expansions are based on 2019 income levels.
Are eviction moratoriums extended? Yes. The bill offers $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and provides an extension of eviction moratoriums by one month through January 31. The loss in jobless aid and other stimulus relief would have put 30 to 40 million people at risk of eviction as moratoriums were set to expire in January, according to the Aspen Institute, a think tank.
Childcare: The bill puts $10 billion into child care assistance.
Charitable Deductions: The bill extends many expiring tax breaks, including (but not limited to) those making charitable contributions. (It’s broad, I know, but more details are expected soon.) The original Relief bill contained an added incentive for Americans to donate to charity. As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, lawmakers created a special one-time deduction to encourage other Americans with some cash to spare to make donations this year. The deduction, which expires on December 31, applies to tax filers who take the standard deduction on their federal tax return. The IRS estimates more than 87% of filers now take the standard deduction. Normally, only itemizers may claim their charitable contributions because the lump-sum standard deduction (currently $12,400 for single filers; and $24,800 for married filers) is intended to cover most deductions. But this year, on top of taking your standard deduction, you also may take a deduction for cash contributions up to $300, so long as you donate that money by December 31. (Note: It does not apply to non-monetary contributions such as clothing or food.)
Healthcare: The omnibus includes an agreement to protect patients from receiving “surprise” medical bills, a phenomenon that often occurs when providers drop out of insurance company networks. It also contains $250 million for telehealth.
Infusion for schools and child care: Included in the $82 billion total for colleges and universities is more than $4 billion for a governors’ relief fund, more than $54 billion for public K-12 schools, and nearly $23 billion for a higher education fund. As noted above, separately, the child care sector will receive about $10 billion in emergency cash.
Higher education compromise: The legislation includes a bipartisan agreement to forgive nearly $1.3 billion in federal loans to historically Black colleges and universities, deliver Pell grants to incarcerated students after a 26-year ban and simplify financial aid forms. The deal also repealed a 1998 law that prohibits students convicted of drug offenses from receiving federal financial aid.
Broadband: The bill invests $7 billion to expand broadband access for students, families, and unemployed workers, including $300 million for rural broadband and, as noted above, $250 million for telehealth.
New museums: The legislation authorizes a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino on or near the National Mall after Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked bipartisan legislation earlier this month that would establish the museums. As noted above, it contains $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. This allocation is in response to the call of shuttered independent venues across the country and is a crucial lifeline explained in the Save Our Stages Act in the COVID-19 Relief Bill.”
Funding for funeral expenses: About $2 billion will be set aside for FEMA to distribute to states to help families with coronavirus-related funeral expenses through the end of this month, waiving a 25 percent state match requirement.
The deal is too late for the nearly 8 million people estimated to have fallen into poverty since June.
Have you heard other facts about what’s in the legislation that affects nonprofits? Please let me know the details and your sources. Thanks.