President Joe Biden last week signed a $1.9 trillion relief package with a stated aim to provide relief from the effects of COVID-19.
The relief package — dubbed the American Rescue Plan — provides for stimulus payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans. Additionally, the bill provides additional unemployment aid and provides tax relief to families with children.
The stimulus payments could begin arriving in bank accounts this month, according to the White House.
The payments are $1,400 per household member, including children and adults. A married couple with two children would receive up to $5,600. To qualify for the full stimulus payment, individuals must make $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income; married couples can earn adjusted gross income of up to $150,000. Heads of households with adjusted gross income up to $112,500 will also qualify. Families earning more than these amounts will see payments drop. No payments will be made for adjusted gross incomes above $80,000 for singles, $160,000 for married couples and $120,000 for heads of households.
The law includes funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, testing and contact-tracing, and assistance for the restaurant industry and schools and universities.
Additionally, eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program has been expanded to larger nonprofit organizations based on the employee headcount at each physical location of the organization. Funding through Economic Injury Disaster Loans will not be subject to tax. It increases reimbursements from Medicare for certain hospitals and provides $8.5 billion for rural hospitals and medical facilities to offset COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue.
Churches and nonprofit ministry organizations remain eligible for PPP loans: GuideStone does not make loans available through the PPP. Interested churches and organizations should contact a Small Business Administration-approved financial institution (most banks and many credit unions are already SBA-approved lenders). Churches and ministries who want to pursue a PPP loan have until March 31, though Congress may act to extend the deadline.
“As a part of our ministry, we are privileged to provide churches and pastors with the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their churches. While we are not yet over the effects of the outbreak of the virus, this most recent COVID-19 legislation, unfortunately, includes much additional spending not directly related to the impact of the pandemic. Nevertheless, churches and pastors now have options available to them depending on their own situations and convictions.” GuideStone® President O.S. Hawkins said. “While we would never tell a pastor what he must do, it is good that the options are provided for pastors and churches who may wish to avail themselves of the opportunities available through this legislation.”
An unemployment benefit supplement of $300 per week will continue through September 6; that supplement was to have expired this month.
The plan will also increase the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child with an additional $600 credit for children under age 6.
Timothy E. Head is the Executive Officer of Denominational and Public Relations, and Harold R. Loftin Jr. is the Chief Legal Officer at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention