(Mar. 27, 2020) On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 748, commonly referred to as the CARES Act. This act allocates approximately $2.2 trillion toward mitigating the negative economic, health, and safety impacts of the pandemic. Under the act, funds will be distributed to individuals, families, businesses, public assistance programs, American Indian tribes, and state and local governments.
The CARES Act is the largest emergency appropriations package in United States history, and affects multiple private sector industries and public institutions. It creates a plan for direct payments to qualifying individuals and families in the amounts of $1,200 per adult ($2,400 if filing a joint tax return) and $500 per child. Qualifying recipients are those whose 2018 tax returns demonstrate incomes not exceeding $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of households, and $150,000 for couples filing a joint return. Payments are phased out for persons whose income exceeds those thresholds.
Along with these payments to individuals, the act establishes tax relief for eligible businesses that suspended operations as a result of the pandemic. Businesses may also apply for loans from the Treasury Department. The opportunities and obligations under these loans vary depending on the sector in which a business operates and its size, which is determined by how many people it employs.
Additionally, each state will receive at least $1.25 million in funding to assist its response to the pandemic. States may receive additional funding on the basis of their population and other factors.
Part of the act also modifies oversight of the medical supply chain and improves access to treatment for coronavirus patients. Some relevant provisions include adjusting the inventory of the United States’ strategic stockpile of certain medical supplies, creating a system to prevent future interruptions in producing medical devices, and requiring health insurers to fully cover specific medical services related to the coronavirus.
This is the third piece of emergency legislation enacted by the federal government in response to the coronavirus. The first was the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, Public Law No. 116-123, which was enacted on March 6, 2020, allotting $8.3 billion in emergency funding to federal agencies. Then on March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Public Law No. 116-127, was signed into law, providing paid sick leave and expanding food assistance and unemployment programs.