WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate leaders announced a $2 trillion pandemic response measure on Wednesday that includes sending checks directly to people across the country impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
The package provides one-time payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child under the age of 17. Married couples will receive $2,400.
However, payments phase out for individuals making more than $75,000. For every $100 you earn above the limit, payment drops by $5.
Individuals making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000 will not qualify for a payment.
The amounts will be determined based on 2019 tax returns. If a 2019 tax return has not been filed, 2018 returns will be used. Last week, a Treasury Department request to Capitol Hill outlined a start date of April 6 with a second batch of checks going out on May 18.
According to the Tax Policy Center, 90% of Americans will qualify for a payment.
When will I get my check?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said they hope to start issuing checks within three weeks, with the remainder of the checks to be mailed by the end of May. However, the stimulus bill does not provide a specific timeline for payment distributions.
“We want to make sure Americans get money in their pockets quickly,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week. “As soon as Congress passes this, we will get this out in three weeks.”
The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 was signed on Feb. 13, 2008. However, checks were not mailed out until April.
A huge cash infusion for hospitals expecting a flood of COVID-19 patients grew during the talks at the insistence of Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, while Republicans pressed for tens of billions of dollars for additional relief to be delivered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal disaster agency.
Democrats said the package would help replace the salaries of furloughed workers for four months, rather than the three months first proposed. Furloughed workers would get whatever amount a state usually provides for unemployment, plus a $600 per week add-on, with gig workers like Uber drivers covered for the first time.
“It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed and workers in the gig economy,” Schumer said.
Republicans won inclusion of an “employee retention” tax credit that’s estimated to provide $50 billion to companies that retain employees on payroll and cover 50% of workers’ paychecks. Companies would also be able to defer payment of the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax.
Democrats pointed to gains for hospitals, additional oversight of the huge industry stabilization fund and money for cash-strapped states. A companion appropriations package ballooned as well, growing from a $46 billion White House proposal to more than $300 billion, which dwarfs earlier disasters — including Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined.
To provide transparency, the package is expected to create a new inspector general and oversight board for the corporate dollars, much as was done during the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program bank rescue, officials said.
Trump in recent days has sounded a note of frustration about the unprecedented modern-day effort to halt the virus’ march by essentially shutting down public activities in ways that now threaten the U.S. economy.