WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package on Wednesday night with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill now goes to the U.S. House where it’s expected to pass, and President Trump has said he will sign it into law.
The measure includes financial aid for independent contractors and money for small business loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The bill authorizes $350 billion for the SBA 7(a) loan program. Under the terms, eligible businesses (500 employees or fewer) can get up to $10 million toward mortgage interest, rents, utilities and payroll costs. A portion of these loans will be forgivable.
Â “We worked with the drafters of this legislation to ensure that independent contractors and those living on a commission-based income will be eligible for the loans as well as the forgiveness provision,” say Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
The self-employed and independent contractors are also included in an expansion of unemployment insurance; it could provide benefits for up to 39 weeks. These types of work arrangements aren’t usually covered under traditional state unemployment benefit programs.
A few other bill provisions will also help those in the real estate industry, including:
- A delay in payment of employer payroll taxes – half due by the end of 2021 and the other half due by the end of 2022
- $500 billion to support large businesses affected by the virus
- A one-time payment of $1,200 to most adult Americans and $500 per child
“This is the largest financial rescue package in our nation’s history,” McGahn says. “Combined with two other relief packages that have already been signed into law and a likely fourth bill in the near future, this action represents a seismic and definitive action to help Americans and the economy through this national emergency.”
McGahn says that NAR worked closely with lawmakers and the Trump administration over the last several weeks to “ensure all three bills bring relief to the self-employed, independent contractors and small businesses … The real estate industry is responsible for millions of jobs and is key to our national recovery.”