What’s in the stimulus bill for carriers, brokers, owner-operators?

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) includes $2 trillion in economic stimulus funds. Included in the relief package is funding for state and local governments and industries hit hard by COVID-19, such as hospitals and airlines. But what’s in it for carriers, brokers and owner-operators?

Below are highlights of the stimulus package, which includes relief for both businesses and individuals.

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Help for businesses

Several trucking trade associations have sent out messages to their members this week encouraging them to take advantage of federal aid programs for businesses. Here are some of them:

Paycheck Protection Program – The PPP enables small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) to apply for $349 billion in forgivable loans. Businesses are eligible to borrow 250% of their average payroll expenses, up to $10 million, for meeting payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utility payments. Loan amounts will be forgiven if the company maintains payroll for 8 weeks after the loan is made and at least 75% of the forgiven amount is used for payroll. Loans are processed by Small Business Association lenders.

“I encourage you to inquire with your local bank or financial institution about applying for this great stimulus loan program,” said Robert Voltmann, president and CEO of the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), in an email to its members.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is encouraging its members to reach out to banks they’ve worked with in the past to see if they are participating in the program. They note that small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply today, while independent contractors and self-employed individuals can begin applying on April 10. (Independent contractors and owner-operators may also be eligible for unemployment. See below.)

“The PPP program is first-come, first-served, so please apply as soon as possible,” OOIDA said in its email to members.

The U.S. Treasury Department has put together a Fact Sheet with questions and answers about the PPP.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan – This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are experiencing temporary difficulties. Funds will be made available within days of a successful application, and the money will not have to be repaid. This program is for companies with fewer than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and people who are self-employed. Learn more.

SBA Express Bridge Loans – These loans enable small businesses who currently have a relationship with an Small Business Administration Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. Learn more.

Help for individuals

Many employees have already lost their jobs due to shutdowns brought about by the coronavirus. In March, millions of people applied for unemployment benefits. There’s aid in the stimulus bill for those individuals and other Americans who are still working.

Enhanced unemployment benefits – The stimulus provides an extra $600 per week for four months on top of normal unemployment benefits, which vary by state. It also extends the unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks.

Economic impact payments to individuals – A key element of the CARES Act is direct payments to individuals. For taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 per year (up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns) the stimulus provides $1,200 to individual taxpayers and $2,400 to couples. There’s also an additional $500 for each child age 16 and younger. That means a family of 4 would receive $3,400. Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes between $75,000 and $99,000 ($150,00-$198,000 for couples) are still eligible, but will receive lesser amounts.

If you’ve filed your taxes for 2019 or 2018 and provided the IRS with your bank account, the funds will be automatically deposited into that same account. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, visit the IRS’s Get My Payment web page.

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