Congressman Kildee, state officials discuss CARES Act

FLINT — During a telephone townhall held on March 31, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) and state officials discussed a recent coronavirus aid bill passed by Congress and how the legislation will aid residents of Michigan’s 5th Congressional District.

On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act, which is aimed at providing economic relief to workers, small businesses, hospitals and health care employees. As part of the aid package, many taxpayers will be receiving $1,200 in direct payments, while small businesses and unemployed workers will get additional help from the federal government.

Kildee, who voted to approve the $2 Trillion relief package, told residents that they should expect to receive checks this month.

“If you file with the IRS, or are a social security beneficiary, you should be able to receive the check automatically into your account,” he said. “Some individuals will get it in the mail.”

Below are main components of the CARES Act:

–Direct Payments to Taxpayers: The bill will provide $1,200 in direct payments to taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 per year and up to $150,000 for married couples. Parents would receive an additional $500 per child. Seniors, including those on Social Security, as well as non-tax filers and those on SSDI and SSI will also be eligible for this assistance.

–Expanded Unemployment Benefits: The bill will extend unemployment insurance eligibility by 13 weeks and include a four-month, $600 increase in benefits. The CARES Act also extends unemployment insurance benefits for self-employed, contractors and “gig” economy workers.

–Support for Hospitals, Health Care Workers: The bill provides $200 billion to support hospitals and frontline health care workers. Also, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers will be able to bill directly for telehealth services during the coronavirus crisis.

–Additional Small Business Grants: Small businesses will receive additional help, in the form of $350 billion in emergency loans and grants. The bill provides federally guaranteed support through community banks to small businesses, including loans that can be forgiven if businesses keep workers on the payroll instead of laying workers off.

–Loans for Large Businesses: Larger companies, including those in the airline industry, can apply for loans through the Federal Reserve. Large businesses that receive loans through the federal government will have to take additional steps to keep workers on the payroll, limit executive bonuses and ban stock buybacks.

Regarding the relief package, Kildee said that the stimulus check and small business loans are not taxable for federal purposes. Unemployment benefits, however, are taxable at the federal level.

Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), also said that unemployed workers will see the $600 unemployment benefit added to the amount of their CARES check.

Unemployed workers can file for benefits by visiting or calling 1-866-500-0017. Due to an unprecedented volume of calls, applicants are being encouraged to file online.

Small businesses looking for assistance can visit or contact the Michigan Economic Development Corporation at 888-522-0103.