President Trump has signed into a law the $900 billion fiscal stimulus package and $1.4 trillion omnibus appropriations bill aimed at relieving effects of the pandemic and funding the federal government through fall of 2021.
The legislation includes $286 billion in direct economic relief for workers and families which breaks down as $166 billion in direct checks and $120 billion in additional unemployment insurance. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, checks could begin going out as soon as next week: individuals making up to $75,000/year will receive a payment of $600; couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200 with an extra $600 per child. Individuals out of work will receive an additional $300 weekly in benefits through March 14, while self-employed and gig workers are also eligible for employment benefits where state benefits have been exhausted.
Also included in the legislation is $69 billion for funding 1) vaccine procurement and distribution; and 2) COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
More money for the Paycheck Protection Program. A total of $325 billion is included for small businesses affected by the pandemic, including $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP has provided a lifeline for many businesses through the pandemic and GCSAA has lobbied Congress hard to appropriate additional funds and expand access to this program. We are pleased to announce that the legislation will allow smaller and harder-hit businesses to apply for a second round of loans – called the PPP “Second Draw” loan. To be eligible, businesses must not employ more than 300 employees and face a 25% reduction in revenue in 2020, as compared to the same quarter in 2019. Loans will not exceed $2 million. Additionally, Congress agreed to streamline the paperwork requirements for loans less than $150,000, which is about 80% of all loans. Congress also reversed a decision by the Internal Revenue Service to tax the forgivable portion of PPP loans, freeing up cash for businesses to use to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Congress expanded eligibility of PPP loans to nonprofit 501(c)(6) organizations that were previously ineligible such as local chambers of commerce and member-based organizations. GCSAA led industry efforts to also include our 501(c)(7) member organizations in the PPP. This included multiple joint letters to Members of Congress from CEOs. In addition, Maine members contacted Senator Susan Collins, who opposed allowing 501c7 groups to become eligible for PPP. While c7 groups were not ultimately granted eligibility, we will continue this fight.
Greater access to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). GCSAA was successful in expand the refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). The ERTC, which is aimed at helping keep additional workers on the payroll of businesses and nonprofits across the United States, offers a tax credit worth half of the cost of employees’ wages and health plans between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021, up to $10,000 per worker. Businesses qualifying for this credit must have either a full or partial suspension of operation as a result of government mandates limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to the novel coronavirus or a sufficient (50% drop in a calendar quarter compared to the same quarter of the year prior) decline in income compared to 2019.
Greater access to H-2B visas. The Fiscal Year 21 Omnibus Appropriations bill funds the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. It includes welcome news for the H-2B program. Congress included language giving the Department of Homeland Security the authority to increase the number of visas available, beyond the current 66,000 cap. The DHS can add as many as 69,000 visas next year, which is welcome news to employers looking for work in the spring. GCSAA will lobby the incoming Administration to add as many of these workers as possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues. GCSAA’s government affairs team will continue to work with Congress and the Executive Branch to provide as much relief to golf as possible.