The federal government is quickly enacting new forms of federal relief in response to the COVID-19 crisis, with two relief packages signed into law and a third underway. Here is a summary of what's happened so far, including what kinds of relief are available for nonprofit organizations.
Chorus America is working with our advocacy partners to stay on top of the latest developments and advocacy alerts as the third relief package moves through Congress.
Relief Package #1: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (signed into law 3/6/2020)
The SBA's Economic Injury Loan Program has received additional funding to provide disaster relief loans related to COVID-19, with eligibility for nonprofit organizations. Local applicants should contact their local district SBA office to pursue this process. Applicants must be in a declared disaster area, and states have to first apply to the SBA to initiate eligibility. Here's the list of states that have completed the process so far.
Unemployment Benefits Guidance was expanded by the federal government on March 12, giving states the flexibility to expand their unemployment benefits coverage to include COVID-19 related worker displacement. These changes are being made state by state. Some states have announced their intention to also develop new support for self-employed workers who are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Consult your state department of labor for more details.
Relief Package #2: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (passed by Congress on 3/18/20)
New information is available from the federal agencies responsible for administering the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Both agencies are expected to release more details this week. The guidelines for implementation being developed will clarify what this will mean for nonprofits.
Mandated Paid Leave for Employees: Employers with up to 500 employees will be required to provide expanded sick leave and family medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19, including federal, state, and local government quarantines or isolation orders and caring for a child whose school has closed, and more. By April 2, the U.S. Department of Labor must write the guidelines for implementation, and will also set the date on which the requirements take effect. In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Labor has posted an overview of coronavirus-related topics, and an outline of the paid leave requirements.
Relief for Employers: Those employers required to provide emergency paid leave are eligible to recover the costs of employee leave and health insurance through a refundable payroll tax credit for which nonprofits are eligible. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for an exemption from paid leave requirements if providing the paid leave threatens the viability of the organization. The U.S. Department of the Treasury is currently writing further guidelines for implementation. In the meantime, the agency provides an overview of employer relief provisions.
Paid Leave for Self-employed Workers: The law provides for equivalent emergency paid sick leave and family medical leave for self-employed workers through an individual refundable tax credit. The U.S. Department of Treasury is currently writing guidelines for how self-employed individuals may claim the credit. Guidelines are expected to be released in the week of March 22.
Relief Package #3: Economic Stimulus and Relief Package (in process)
Congress is working to pass this massive emergency economic stimulus and relief package now. In partnership with our advocacy partners and national arts and culture organizations, Chorus America is calling for the following critical areas of federal assistance to be included in this third relief package:
- Support dedicated COVID-19 relief funding for the arts sector, administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, and full access to other forms of direct COVID relief provided to the nonprofit sector.
- Activate nationwide Disaster Unemployment Assistance for workers, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or whose individual or family circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19 or government containment efforts. Many arts workers may not otherwise have access to state unemployment benefits.
- Streamline the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance program and provide loan forgiveness options.
- Support multiple forms of enhanced incentives for charitable giving that supports the full breadth of the charitable sector, including an above-the-line tax deduction available to all taxpayers, whether they itemize returns or not.
Chorus America will continue to provide updates as this legislation passes, and as guidelines for implementation are then developed. We will also work with our advocacy partners to provide details on how choruses and choral artists can apply for this relief.