We are consistently monitoring the recent changes of COVID-19 in the state and country. The safety and well-being of our team and community are at the utmost importance to us. We will continue to adapt our approaches as the situation evolves and additional government guidance is put into place. We ensure we will keep you all informed on changes with our organization or our tour. Please continue to consult the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for updates and information.
Over the past few weeks, we all have been met with an unprecedented public health crisis. We realize each one of you have been impacted by this in some way. We want to ensure that we are here for all of you by supporting you in numerous ways. We are ramping up our online presence and offering free webinars to the public to address the unmet needs of minority communities during these uncertain times. We realize our mental health is at stake, and we do not take that lightly. We will be offering resources that the public can utilize, like discounted virtual therapy sessions companies are offering, shareable Confess infographics for necessary precautions you can take, information on government relief, and more! We hope these powerful actions can help diminish some struggles our communities are currently facing. We are all in this together.
Federal Government Relief Information
What are the details of the tax rebate?
This comes in the form of a one-time tax rebate check of $1,200 per individual/ $2,400 per couple and $500 per child for those with a valid Social Security number. There are no earned income or tax liability requirements to receive these rebate checks. The full rebate amount is available for those with incomes at or below $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for married couples. Individuals making more than these thresholds will receive a reduced rebate check.
This income threshold will be calculated by using your 2018 or 2019 taxes, whichever you have filed most recently.
Arkansans that haven’t filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 but who have a valid Social Security number are still eligible, but the check won’t come automatically. There will be a process to contact the IRS to receive your check.
People not eligible for the Economic Impact Payment:
Single filers who earn more than $99,000
Joint filers with no children who make more than $198,000
Adults who are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2019 tax return
What are the changes to retirement accounts?
The CARES Act loosens rules on retirement accounts. Older Americans that are subject to mandatory required minimum distributions (RMD) from their retirement accounts, and have not already done so, would be able to keep their capital invested instead of being forced to cash out to draw on that capital without penalty, which would be suspended for 2020.
Similarly, the bill also waives the ten percent penalty on coronavirus-related early distributions from 401(k)s and IRAs, which applies to distributions made at any time during 2020.
What if you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19?
Arkansas provides unemployment benefits for a maximum of 16 weeks. The CARES Act adds up to $600 dollars per week to your benefits for up to four months and extends the time you can receive benefits by 13 weeks. These benefits will expire on July 31, 2020.
Unemployment benefits also have been enhanced to cover more workers including self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, who do not usually qualify for unemployment. Overall, the CARES Act provides $250 billion in funding for the expansion of unemployment benefits, the largest increase ever.
Have any benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) been expanded?
At the state level, Governor Hutchison has suspended work requirements for SNAP recipients at least through the end of April. The state is also expediting applications to help families access benefits faster.
At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has expanded SNAP eligibility to families with children who would have received free or reduced lunch if in school.
Additional measures include: allotting emergency supplements to states for the distribution of monthly SNAP benefits up to the maximum for eligible families; suspending the time limit on benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents; and waiving the physical presence requirement for applying for and receiving benefits under WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children).
Do you still have to pay your student loans?
The Trump Administration already ended interest accrual on federal student loans through September 30, 2020. The CARES Act paused monthly repayment requirements for federal student loans for six months with no penalty. The interest accrual stoppage is automatic, but students must contact the Department of Education to pause their payments.
Federal student loan borrowers also will lose no time towards loan forgiveness programs, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
In addition, a great new benefit of the CARES Act is that employers can now contribute $5,250 per year to help their employees pay off their federal student loans, which will not be taxed for the employee.
MAIN COVID-19 HOTLINE 1-800-803-7847
Do you not have enough food?
Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance
The Arkansas Food Bank
Worried you won’t have a place to live soon?
US Department of Housing and Urban Development at
Suicide & Mental Health Prevention Hotlines
Is there any relief on paying your mortgage?
The CARES Act prohibits foreclosures on any federally backed mortgages for 60-days, allows borrowers affected by COVID-19 to shift any missed payments to the end of their mortgage, with no added penalties or interest, for 180 days, halts evictions for renters in properties with federally-backed mortgages for 120 days, and gives relief to multifamily property owners through forbearance on any federally backed mortgage.
Will there be additional stimulus packages?
The legislation passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic so far has totaled roughly $3.3 trillion.
The four pieces of legislation have provided emergency funding for immediate health response to the pandemic, vaccine development, as well as funding for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the CARES Act and the second wave of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.
The bill proposes an additional $3 trillion in COVID-19 relief, including $1 trillion in funding for state and local governments, $200 billion for hazard pay, $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and another batch of direct payments to Americans.