Financial Resources

Coronavirus and Your Finances- Guidance for Individuals, Small Businesses and Not-Profits

The federal government and many state governments have implemented major changes in order to help individuals, small businesses, and non-profits get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Agudath Israel has worked with its team of professionals and volunteers from around the country to provide detailed guidance on these changes and will continue to provide additional information as this evolves.

Please keep in mind that decisions should not be made without consulting your tax professionals, legal counsel and financial professionals. We have made the best possible effort to make sure this information is accurate and up-to-date, but the regulatory landscape is changing hour to hour.

Please click here for all this information on printable PDF.

If you need additional assistance after reading this document, email us at GovtPrograms@JewishChicago.info or call (773) 754-3130.

Guidance for Individuals

Stimulus Payments

The CARES Act will provide one-time non-taxable cash payments to most Americans. Most adults willreceive $1,200 for themselves and an additional $500 for every child, age 16 and under. The payment decreases for individuals with an adjusted gross income above $75,000, and fully phases out for individuals with no children if their adjusted gross income is $99,000 or above. Couples filing jointly are eligible for the full stimulus payment if theymake less than $150,000 annually; it fully phases out for families with no children at $198,000. Payments will be basedon your 2019 tax return, or if you have not yet filed this year, your 2018 tax return. You do not need to apply for thepayment as long as the IRS already has your bank account information. It will be direct-deposited to your account. If theIRS doesn’t have your direct deposit information, you can provide it here and tapping the Get My Payment button. Alternatively, they will mail you a check. You can track your refund using our Where’s My Refund? tool.

Pandemic EBT Funds

The federal government is giving stipends of over $300 per child to families with children eligible for free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program, such as KiwiKids. Many families have already received these funds, which were either added to their current EBT cards or to new cards that they received by mail.

If you not yet been funded, or if you feel that you may be eligible but have not applied yet, please reach out to kiwikids@agudahil.org for assistance.

Unemployment
In general, when a claimant files a claim for unemployment benefits, a weekly benefit amount (WBA) for that individual is determined using the amount of wages in the claimant’s work history. High earners will generally max out at $484 per week ($669 with dependents) for their WBA.
Underemployment: Employees that have not been laid off or furloughed but have had their hours cut can also be eligible for benefits. If a claimant receives more than $484 for a given week, they are not considered to be unemployed and are not eligible for benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: The CARES Act creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance(PUA) program through December 31, 2020    to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits. This includes those who are self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, andothers who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. Part- time workers are also eligible forbenefits.Specifically, the CARES Act provides that a “covered individual” includes anyone who self-certifies that they are able and available to work but is unemployed or partially unemployed due to any of the following:

  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is providing care for a family/household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is the primary caregiver for a child or other person in the household who is unable to attend school or another facility as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual is unable to work because a health care provider has advised the individual to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.

Some individuals are not eligible for benefits, such as those who have the ability to telework with pay or are receivingpaid sick leave or other paid leave benefits. Part- time workers are also eligible for benefits, but the benefit amount andhow long benefits will last vary from state to state. They are also eligible for the additional $600 weekly benefit. In Illinois, this additional unemployment benefit has been implemented and disbursement has begun.

Who Should Apply and How: Every individual in Illinois who is unemployed or underemployed should file a claim for unemployment benefits for regular unemployment, even if they believe they are not covered by the unemployment system. There are two reasons Illinoisans currently unemployed should file a claim for regular unemployment benefits with IDES, even if they have been told they’re not eligible.First, workers who are sometimes eligible are mistakenly told they’re not. Even if an individual’s employer does not consider the worker to be covered and doesn’t pay unemployment taxes on the individual’s wages, the individual can qualify for benefits if IDES determines he or she is covered under state law. An employer’s failure to contribute to the unemployment system will not impact a claimant’s eligibility for benefits. Although eligibility for benefits cannot be guaranteed, nothing prohibits people from filing a claim for regular benefits, as long as they truthfully complete the application.Second, to establish eligibility under the new PUA program, the claimant will have to demonstrate he/she is not eligible under the regular program. Applying for and being denied benefits under the regular program can help establish eligibility under the new temporary program. For more information, click here.For information on how to apply for unemployment, click here, and to apply online, click here.

Other key features of the new unemployment benefits include:

  • The amount of benefits includes the amount that would be calculated under state law plus $600 per week for up to four
  • Waiver of the usual one-week waiting

How much will I receive? How long will the payments last?

It depends on your state. In Illinois, unemployment benefits last up to 26 weeks. To calculate your potential benefits, click here to see the chart. It does not include the additional $600.This unemployment counts as taxable income and would affect other programs you may be on, except for CHIP andMedicaid. An employee who was already on unemployment and exhausted their benefits can still reapply and will beeligible for at least 13 weeks of the $600 increase.

Assistance with Unemployment and PUA: Most eligible applicants find themselves in need of assistance in navigating this process. To assist these individuals, a new full-time unemployment desk was established to work with applicants, government officials and the Illinois Department of Employment Security to ensure these individuals receive benefits they are eligible for. If you have unemployment questions, email unemployment@jewishchicago.info. For additional assistance with unemployment questions, email us or call our unemployment desk at 773-754-4052.
Retirement Accounts

Individuals may also be able to tap into retirement accounts. The provision waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes made on or after January 1, 2020. In addition, income attributable to such distributions would be subject to tax over three years, and the taxpayer may recontribute the funds to an eligible retirement plan within three years without regard to that year’s cap on contributions. Further, the provision provides flexibility for loans from certain retirement plans for coronavirus- related  relief.

Student Loans

Until September 30th, all payments to government held student loans will be automatically suspended.

Mortgage Forbearance and Rent Relief

The CARES Act legislation provides relief for homeowners and renters, ensuring that Americans’ homes are not threatened by the coronavirus. It enables payment forbearance for federally backed mortgages, requires a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for homeowners with such mortgages, and imposes an eviction moratorium for renters in federally supported housing.

If your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae, you can call their Disaster Response Network at 877-833-1746. You can look here if your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae.

If your mortgage is owned by Freddie Mac, you can visit the consumer page here.

For assistance with this process, please call Agudath Israel’s Mortgage Assistance Hotline: 718-435-1300 extension 120. Leave a clear message as prompted, and a SBCO Counselor will return your call as soon as possible.

In addition, many banks and credit card companies are willing to temporarily suspend other loan payments. Please contact your lender.

A note of caution: Mortgage forbearance does carry risk and should only be pursued if necessary. Borrowers will still have to repay their loans. In addition it can affect the borrowers credit rating (even if there’s no negative reporting to credit agencies) and even possibly lead to foreclosures.

 

EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

The City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services has a rental assistance program subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Rent and rent arrears payment is available for individuals and families that are in immediate risk of eviction.  Property owners must agree to participate in the program and cannot be a relative of the applicant or live in the household of the applicant. In addition, eligible applicants must demonstrate an ability to meet rent payments after assistance has been granted – based on the applicant’s current or anticipated income.

In order to be eligible, the household must have experienced a documented crisis or emergency within the last 90 days:

  • Temporary loss of income
  • Fire or flood
  • Court order to vacate (foreclosure or eviction)
  • Domestic violence

The DFSS Rental Assistance Program obtains its funds from the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)

For more information on how to apply, click here.

NEW: The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is launching a $150 million program with $5,000 grants to provide emergency rental assistance to Illinois tenants who are unable to pay their rent. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) is expected to reach approximately 30,000 renters who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The program will launch in August 2020 and run through the end of the year. Governor Pritzker will extend the ongoing residential eviction ban through July 31 to provide a smooth transition into the assistance program.

To address housing instability due to COVID-19, renters who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will be prioritized in the grants process.

Eligible tenants must:

  • Already carry an unpaid rent balance from March through present day
  • Certify that the reason they were unable to pay rent was due to a COVID-19 related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020.

The assistance will be paid directly to a property owner or landlord on behalf of the tenant and as a condition of accepting the assistance, landlords must agree not to evict the tenant for the duration of the ERA. Assistance will be available on a first-come, first-approved basis until the funds are exhausted.

 

NEW: EMERGENCY MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

IHDA is also launching a separate $150 million program for eligible Illinois homeowners with grants of up to $15,000to provide support with mortgage payments. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) is expected to assist approximately 10,000 eligible homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage. The program is also expected to launch in August 2020 and provide assistance through the end of the year.

Building upon efforts to mitigate housing instability, homeowners who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will also be prioritized in the grants process.

  • Homeowners’ income prior to the pandemic cannot exceed 120% of the area median income (AMI). Therefore, only homeowners with mortgage arrearages, or in forbearance, on or after March 2020 through present day may be eligible to apply.
  • Eligible homeowners must be able to certify that the reason they could not pay their mortgage in full was due to a COVID-19-related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020.

The assistance will be paid directly to the mortgagor’s loan servicer on behalf of the homeowner. Assistance will be available on a first-come, first-approved basis until the funds are exhausted.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

For a helpful Q & A, click here. Here is a summary:

The Act provides financial assistance to employees who are unable to work due to the closure of a child’s day care or school due to a Public Health emergency (the child must be below 18 years old). The employee will receive 2/3 of their salary capped at $200 a day. The first ten days of leave is unpaid, but one may use sick leave or other paid time off (PTO). The employee cannot be forced to use PTO. The program lasts up to 12 weeks.

If an organization has completely closed and there is no work for employees, they cannot go on family leave.

If parts of the organization remained open, those employees who would otherwise still be working and who have work to do, but cannot due to the need to care for a child, are eligible for family leave. Employers will be completely reimbursed as a tax credit. This act does not apply to employers who have more than 500 employees.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

The same Q & A linked before also provides guidance on this here. Here’s a summary: This Act provides financial assistance to an employee (as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act) who is unable to work due to either:

  • being subject to a quarantine or self-isolation order due to COVID-19 (the order can come from government or medical advice to do so); or,
  • caring for a family member who is in quarantine or self-isolation; or
  • closure of a school or childcare due to COVID-19

If the employee went on sick leave because he or she was quarantined/self-isolated they are capped at $511/day, and$5,110 total.

Food Programs

KiwiKids Free Breakfast and Lunch for Children

Kiwi Kids is distributing weekly packages for children 18 and under. There are no income eligibility requirements to receive this package.  Sign up for the KiwiKids emails  here.

Farmers to Families Box Program

Through the new federal Farmers to Families Box Program we have been able to provide communities across the country with produce and cholov yisroel milk. Information on local distribution is communicated via the Kiwi Kids email list.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels, which supports homebound seniors, provides kosher meals upon request.

The meals are prepared by Circle Chicago and certified by the cRc. The assessments required to qualify are now possible by phone. It can also be done by the Chicago Mitzvah Campaign on behalf of the applicant. For more information, contact Rabbi Aron Wolf at rabbiwolf@chicagomitzvahcampaign.com

Guidance for Businesses & Organizations

The Payroll Protection Program

This program allocated $249 billion to help small businesses retain their workers. While the funds were exhausted quickly, an additional $250 billion is being infused to assist those businesses that were not approved in the initial round. The program provides Small Business Administration (SBA) loans that may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls through the crisis or restore them afterward. These loans are potentially 100% forgivable if used to keep workers on payroll during the “covered period” of Feb. 15 – June 30, 2020. You must apply for forgiveness of your loan, and certain documentation will be required.

Your business may be eligible for a PPP loan if you have less than 500 employees. Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals who regularly carry on a business can also apply.

The maximum “loan” you can apply for is 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs in the 12 months prior to the loanorigination date, up to $10 million. There are exclusions, including employee compensation that exceeds $100,000 annually.

The loan may be used for operational expenses such as payroll, health benefits, paid leave, mortgage or lease payments, utilities, and interest on debt incurred prior to February 15, 2020.

Borrowers can qualify for loan forgiveness equal to the following costs incurred during the covered 8-week period:

  • payroll costs (includes parsonage, health care benefits, paid time off (PTO), and retirement benefits),
  • interest payments on covered loan obligations,
  • covered rent and utility

The following expenses are not included:

  • The amount of employee salaries that is above $100,000.
  • For educational institutions, payroll does not include qualified tuition reimbursement (QTR)

Forgiveness amounts will be decreased for any reductions in the number of employees or reductions in wages 25% or more when comparing the covered period of employment to that same period in 2019. The interest rate on the loan is 4%.

Loans will be made by SBA-approved lenders, which include most major national banks. The SBA is setting the guidelines, and the banks will be processing loan applications.

In general, you stand the best chance of being approved if you:

  • apply as soon as possible;
  • avoid the largest corporate banks that are less nimble and may prioritize other clients;
  • engage a bank your business/organization has an existing relationship with, preferably as a borrower (mortgage, line of credit etc.);
  • are persistent and advocate hard for your need with the lending institution;
  • are prepared and can respond immediately and provide any requested information and documentation
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLS)

EIDLs are low-interest SBA loans of up to $2 million that are being made available to small businesses that are suffering substantial economic injury due to COVID-19. The SBA is processing loan applications for small businesses and nonprofits. The application can be found by clicking here. Additional assistance can be found here.

Taking out an EIDL may impact your eligibility for a PPP loan, thus it may be advisable to pursue a PPP loan first. Applying for an EIDL, however, has other advantages, such as the Emergency Economic Injury Grant (see next section). It is possible to receive both the PPP and EIDL, if there’s no overlap of the covered expenses/time period for which the loan is being used. Please consult a financial professional before making any decisions.

Emergency Economic Injury Grants

These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19who are applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Applicants are awarded $1,000 per employee, up to $10,000. To accessthe advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under anycircumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.

New State Program for Small Business

NEW: BUSINESS INTERRUPTION GRANTS PROGRAM

The State of Illinois has launched the Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG)

The application for this program is available and prioritizes businesses in “Disproportionately Impacted Areas,” which include 60645 and 60659. Beginning June 26, applications were being accepted.

 

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has unveiled the first round BIG by providing $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures. DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July. The total program funding will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 million of which has been set aside for childcare providers, and is funded by the CARES Act.

 

In the first wave of grants, priority will be given to small businesses that have been heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic and are located in DIAs. Businesses eligible for the program must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount, since March and may continue to face depressed revenues or closure. Businesses must also have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020. An emphasis will also be placed on those businesses that are located in areas that have experienced recent property damage due to civil unrest, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Specifically, the program includes support for:

Businesses in DIAs – $20 million for businesses that are located in a subset of DIAs that have recently experienced significant property damage, providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each
Bars and Restaurants – $20 million for bars and restaurants unable to offer outside service, providing at least 1,000 grants of up to $20,000 each
Barbershops and Salons – $10 million for barbershops and salons, providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each
Gyms and Fitness Centers – $10 million for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19, providing 500 grants of $20,000 each

 

NEW: DISTRESSED CAPITAL PROGRAM

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s new economic recovery program will provide $25 million to support Illinois businesses that have sustained property damage as a result of civil unrest during the recent protests and demonstrations on or after May 25, 2020.

The Distressed Capital Program will reimburse the costs to repair structural damages, including repairs to storefronts and entrances, improving electrical systems, and restoring exterior work.

The program will prioritize small businesses, women and minority-owned businesses, underinsured or uninsured businesses, businesses that have a high community impact – such as grocery stores – and businesses in communities that have experienced historic disinvestment.

The Rebuild Distressed Communities NOFO will solicit applications from regional and local organizations that will perform outreach, coordinate local qualified vendors, and provide funds to cover the cost of repairs and building improvements for businesses in their region. The Distressed Capital Program also includes provisions to ensure BEP-certified contractors, including minority- and women-owned businesses, are the first in line to do the repair work.

DCEO will invite applications for the Distressed Capital Program with a NOFO made available on Monday, June 22.

Additional Assistance

If you need a business counselor to help guide you, you can turn to your local Small Business Development Center(SBDC), Women’s Business Center (WBC), or SCORE mentorship chapter. These resource partners, and the associationsthat represent them, will receive additional funds to expand their reach and better support small business owners with counseling and up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. There will soon be a joint platform that consolidates information and resources related to COVID-19 in order to provide consistent, timely information to small businesses.To find a local resource partner, click here. In addition, the Minority Business Development Agency’s Business Centers(MBDCs), which cater to minority business enterprises of all sizes, will also receive funding to hire staff and provide programming to help their clients respond to COVID-19. Not every state has an MBDC. To find out if there is one serving your area, click here.

Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closure due to Covid-19

There is a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by employers to employees when the workplace is fully or partially closed due to COVID-19 or gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to same quarter as last year. For employers of over 100 employees, the credit can apply to employees who are not providing services due toCOVID-19; employers of under 100 employees can apply to all employees. The credit is capped at $10,000 per employee and applies to compensation and health benefits through the end of 2020.

Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes

This allows employers to defer payment of the employer contribution to the Social Security tax over the next two years (first half due December 31, 2021; second half is due December 31, 2022). This cannot be combined with forgiveness of the PPP loan.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

The Act, which only applies to employers with under 500 employees, provides financial assistance to employees who are unable to work due to the closure of a child’s day care or school due to a Public Health emergency. The employeewill receive 2/3 of their salary capped at $200 a day. The first ten days of leave is unpaid, but one may use paid sick leaveor other paid time off (PTO). The employee cannot be forced to use PTO. The program lasts up to 12 weeks. If abusiness or organization has completely closed and there is no work for employees, they cannot go on family leave. Ifparts of the business or organization remained open, those employees who would otherwise still be working and who have work to do, but cannot due to the need to care for a child, are eligible for family leave. Employers will be completely reimbursed as a tax credit.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

This Act provides financial assistance to an employee (as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act) who is unable to work due to either:

  • being subject to a quarantine or self-isolation order due to COVID-19 (the order can come from government or medical advice to do so); or,
  • caring for a family member who is in quarantine or self-isolation; or
  • closure of a school or childcare due to COVID-19

If the employee went on sick leave because he or she was quarantined/self-isolated they are capped at $511/day, and$5,110 total.

If an employee is caring for an individual that is sick or quarantined, or has a child home due to school closure, then they are eligible for 2/3 of regular pay, capped at $200/day and $2,000 in total.

The employer will be reimbursed 100% through a tax credit.

Unemployment

Under the new stimulus package, eligible workers would receive an extra $600 per week on top of their state benefit. Part time employees are eligible as well. If your business or nonprofit is closed due to coronavirus, or you have cut their hours, your employees are eligible for unemployment.

This unemployment counts as income and would affect other programs the employee may be on, except for CHIP and Medicaid. An employee who was already on unemployment and exhausted their benefits can still reapply and will be eligible for at least 13 weeks of the $600 increase.

A nonprofit which opted out of unemployment insurance (and must reimburse government for claimed benefits) will splitthe cost 50/50 with the federal government. It is unclear if this split includes the additional $600, or if the federal government will cover that completely. A non-profit’s employee who was already receiving unemployment benefits beforethe passage of the bill and exhausted his or her benefits may reapply and be eligible for at least 13 weeks of the $600increase.

Other Resources and Local Programs

There are local programs to assist both individuals, small businesses and organizations:

  • There is a program specifically for the hospitality and restaurant For more information click here.
  • The Illinois Treasurer’s office is making low-interest loans available for small businesses and nonprofits. Details can be found here.
  • NEW: Cook County has recently launched the Community Recovery Initiative to provide emergency aid small businesses, independent contractors and nonprofits. To learn more, click here. To receive updates, including a notification of when and how to apply, complete this form.
  • The City of Chicago’s Small Business Resiliency Fund Program is also offering low interest loans and grants to businesses and nonprofits. For more information click here.
  • The City of Chicago has an Emergency Housing Assistance Grant Applicants will be entered into a lottery and can be awarded up to $1,000. To apply, click here.
  • For the City of Chicago’s rental assistance program click here.
  • NEW: FEMA reimburses agencies and nonprofit organizations for up to 75% of certain costs related to COVID-19 response. Only certain expenditures qualify (e.g. emergency protective measures, restoring facilities, which may include sanitizing them). For a checklist, click here. There is a VERY limited timeframe, so if think you may be eligible, you should apply as soon as possible. The applicant handbook is here. The FEMA fact sheet is here. For more information, click here. To receive an application for the Public Assistance Program, email: grants@illinois.gov. If you have any questions, please email FEMA-Recovery-PA-Grants@fema.dhs.gov or call the Grants Manager Hotline at (866) 337-8448. To receive an application, or for additional assistance, contact IEMA by email: PA.Grants@illinois.gov, or by calling (217) 782-8719.
  • NEW: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is awarding $20,000 grants to organizations. For more information and to apply, click here.

More resources: For additional updated information, visit Chicago’s business and employee page here.

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