As 2021 opens, it’s safe to say the COVID-19 pandemic is still an active player in the lives of Americans – indeed, the lives of all global citizens. Vaccines are becoming more readily available but lives across the country have forever been changed as a result of the spread of this virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), COVID-19 is responsible for 334,000 deaths throughout the country and the hospitalizations of hundreds of thousands more. Despite shelter-in-place orders and economic restrictions around the country early in 2020, the spread continued. This eventually led to fundamental changes to our economy that resulted in a severe financial downturn for millions. The Pew Research Center reports 14 million Americans lost their jobs due to lay-offs and company restructuring with an additional 9 million who were previously out of the workforce searching for work.

Luckily, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed in late March of 2020 and, with it, came several relief options for struggling Americans.

Direct Family and Worker Assistance

You’ve probably already experienced one of the most obvious and popular sections of the CARES Act – a direct economic impact payment. This provision provided a single lump sum to each adult American in the country in the amount of $1,200 per person and $500 per child in a household, given your income was less than $99,000. Many Americans were grateful for this direct action, but the money ran out quickly with bills piling up and no other income coming in.

However, as of December 2020, a new wave of economic relief is on the way including a second direct payment to adults in the amount of $600 each. Although this has already been passed by Congress and signed into law, a single line item was sent back to Congress for a debate and vote which would increase the direct payment amount from $600 per adult to $2,000 per adult. At the time of this writing, the bill has seen immense support spanning both sides of the aisle with a pass in the House of Representatives and a vote imminent in the Senate.

Small Business Support

The CARES Act also offered relief to small business owners who were impacted by the virus and subsequent economic downturn. As a provision of the act, business owners could apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loan (PPP loan) and/or an Economic Injury Loan to help pay for their business expenses, including paychecks for all their employees. Although the initial PPP loan application period has passed, another round of PPP loans could be available to struggling businesses very soon.

Don’t let the word “loan” scare you either. If you follow the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) guidelines when using your PPP funds, the entire sum may be forgivable.

Job Preservation

Unemployment has been one of the most difficult problems to tackle since the onset of the pandemic. With the CARES Act, though, job creators now have incentives to maintain and even grow their payroll, protecting jobs for Americans around the country. The CARES Act offers businesses a deferral on their payroll taxes, allowing them to utilize more of their payroll budget for ensuring paychecks go out to their employees. Similarly, employers can also receive a 50% credit on payroll wages up to $10,000. Other tax credits are also available for struggling businesses through the IRS.

Defending Consumer Rights in the Inland Empire and Beyond During COVID-19

The CARES Act was implemented to protect Americans during COVID-19, but with some corporations only getting bigger during the crisis, you may need a team to look out for your rights as a consumer. McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, has built a nationwide reputation on defending our clients’ rights from unfair business practices, especially those that actively seek to defraud customers of their hard-earned money. We’ve already secured a $203 million trial verdict against Wells Fargo for charging their customers unfair overdraft fees and class action settlements for deceptive overdraft and NSF fees in the amounts of $70 million and $35 million. Let us join your team. If you suspect your bank or credit union is charging you unfair or deceptive overdraft or NSF fees, contact us today or call (855) 976-3154.