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DISCLAIMER: While I am not an employment or tax attorney, I did want to pass on this information. This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Further, this conveyance does not form an attorney-client relationship. If you are experiencing issues that you cannot resolve after good faith efforts with your employer please seek the counsel of a local employment law, criminal defense or family law attorney. Ask Amy if your questions concern family, criminal or juvenile defense law. If you have questions related to IRS laws or stimulus checks, contact a local tax attorney.

 

Stimulus Payments:

If you have filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, you do not need to do anything further to get your stimulus check. Likewise, Social Security recipients, senior citizens and railroad retirees do not need to do anything further. The government has all the information they need. If you provided the IRS a bank account on those tax returns the stimulus money will be deposited there. If not, it will be mailed to the address listed on those tax returns.

If you think you may need to do more this is the link to answer common questions:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child. Filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment.

The IRS is working on a portal where you can link your bank account for future payments should there be future economic-impact payments. This one-time payment is still available for the year 2020, so if you need to see an accountant or address some issues there is not a deadline. 

If you are separated and your spouse is likely to get the stimulus check contact a family law attorney to discuss your matter as soon as possible. The attorney may be able to seek court intervention to get you all or part of that economic impact paycheck.

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): 

This act provides emergency paid sick leave and is effective from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This applies to temporary, part-time and full-time workers, but not independent contractors. This act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons. It does not apply to employers with less than 50 employees or more than 500 employees.

Recipients will receive two weeks of pay at their regular rate due to stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders mandated by the state and federal government. Likewise, if you are unable to work due to medical reasons or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you are eligible.

The amount paid is capped at $511.00 per day or $5,110.00 over a two-week period. 

OR

Two weeks paid sick leave at two-thirds the rate of pay for taking off to care for an individual subject to quarantine. This amount is capped at $200.00 per day or $2000.00 over two-week period.

The employee must have worked for at least 30 days to be eligible. You may be eligible for an additional 10 weeks under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act, which allows paid leave if your child is sick or daycare/school is closed due to COVID-19 reasons.

Employers with less than 500 employees will receive a tax credit at the end of the year.  

Your employer cannot deny you these requests if they have already provided relief prior to April 1, 2020. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act went into effect April 1, 2020 and mandates new requirements.

If you are an employee requesting leave because you are sick, you must provide to your employer the following information:

  1. The date for which leave is requested
  2. The reason for leave
  3. A statement from you that you are unable to work due to COVID-19 and any additional reasons.
  4. There may be other applicable IRS forms, instructions and information to include and medical certifications to these statements.

If you are an employee requesting leave because you are caring for a child who is sick with COVID-19 or whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19, you must provide to your employer the following information:

  1. The name of the child being cared for
  2. The name of the school, place of care or childcare provider that has closed
  3. A statement from you that no other suitable person is available to care for the child.

If you are subject to quarantine due to an official government entity, you should reference that as well. 

If your employer let you go prior to April 1, 2020, closed, or were are furloughed, you are not eligible for these benefits but may be eligible for unemployment benefits. If your employer reduces your hours because they no longer have work for you to perform you may not be eligible for paid leave for the hours you are no longer scheduled to work. However, you would be eligible if your hours were reduced and a qualifying reason prevents you from working your schedule. The amount you are to be paid would be based on your fulltime work schedule.

If you are denied and believe you qualify you may contact the following:

1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243). The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing these provisions. If you have questions or concerns, you can contact WHD by phone or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

For other general questions see: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

 

Student Loans:

When the President signed the CARES ACT, federal student loan borrowers were provided relief in response to COVID-19. This does not apply to student loan borrowers who received loans from private institutions.

  • Interest rates are reduced to 0% through September 30, 2020.
  • Borrowers may request administrative forbearance through September 30, 2020.
  • Any scheduled auto-drafts will not be made.

These waivers of payment will not negatively affect your credit report, or your loan forgiveness program time period.

 

Car Payments, Credit Card Payments and Other Bills:

For any debt relief, contact your specific lender to ask about deferment of any payments due. If your lender is not providing deferment options, consider asking about other forms of assistance, such as interest reduction or restructuring your monthly payments. If you are able, continue to pay your bills.

 

 

Internet and Cell Phone Bills:

Many carriers are not stopping services due to non-payment at this time. Most providers are providing grace periods or working with their customers on a case-by-case basis, although you will be subject to the total amount once the shelter-in-place orders are removed. Contact your carrier to learn more about their policy or to arrange a payment plan based on what you can pay.

 

Evictions: 

Courts are not evicting tenants due to non-payment of rent due to the consequences of COVID-19. However, the payments are still due, and these expenses will add up. Upon the courts opening up, you may be subject to immediate eviction if you cannot cure the overdue rent. If you are able, please continue to pay your rent on time.

 

General Resources:

Many criminals will use this opportunity to take advantage of us. The following are some of the most common scams seen right now:

  • People promoting or selling fake cures for COVID-19.
  • Emails or other communication posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Websites or apps that share virus-related information and ask for bank account or credit card information.
  • Asking for donations for COVID-19 relief for non-existent individuals or charitable organizations.

The following are ways to report potential scams:

 

Ask Amy