6-22-2020 **Please refer to Disclaimer Note on page 6. [original document: 5-21-2020]
Announcement Highlight from Diaconate: If you are looking for the information on the highlighted announcement on the Massachusetts Pandemic Unemployment program for sole proprietors and Schedule C contractors as well as regular applicants, this enhanced program is covered on page three in Green.
Massachusetts is currently in Phase Two of Reopening Plan
June 22, 2020 marked the beginning of step 2 of Phase 2 of the reopening plan. Now, restaurants can begin opening interior dining spaces with restrictions of six feet between tables, no more than 6 people per party, masks on for staff, and masks for diners except when eating. Offices can now go to 50% capacity, the MBTA line returns to FY20 levels, but with some standard restrictions. All personal service businesses (nail salons, massage therapy, tanning salons, skin care services, tattoo parlors, electrolysis studios and personal training) may open today with mask/social distancing in place. There is now a 3 week window for Phase Three, which was originally set for June 29, but has been pushed back to July 6 due to the Governor’s feeling that there would not be enough coronavirus data in place to make the next confirmation. FYI: as part of step 1, outdoor restaurant seating was allowed with standard mask/distancing restrictions.
New IRS retirement withdrawals allotment!
The IRS now (until further notice) allows for up to $100,000 withdrawal from IRA accounts without the 10% early withdrawal penalty. The funds have to be replaced within 3 years in order to keep from being hit with future tax related penalties. It is essentially taking a loan out from your own money, at zero interest.
Federal CARES ACT NEWS 6.22.2020
Due to discussions between the House, the Senate, and the Executive Branch, it looks like there won’t be another set of Stimulus checks/direct deposits/debit cards until around July 19, but this is subject to change.
Massachusetts Reopening Plan - previous phase information
Currently we are in Phase Two of a four phase reopening plan, the latest event being the reopening of office space in Massachusetts. However, in Suffolk County, in the City of Boston, some restrictions, including a curfew do apply. For the State, Essential Businesses, Manufacturing, and Construction resumed on May 18. On May 25, Lab Space, Office Space, Hair Service, Pet Grooming, Car washes, Remote Retail Fulfillment, and Curbside retail pickup are ok. By May 25, HCP’s, Beaches, Parks, Drive-ins, Athletic Facilities, Gardens, Zoos, Reserves were generally open with standard mask, glove, social distancing guidelines. Phase Two began June 8, 2020. We are now (see above) in step 2 of Phase two.
City of Boston Rental Relief Fund: UPDATED
There is an $8 million dollar rental relief fund online through the City of Boston geared towards those who aren’t eligible for other types of relief. About ⅔ of a million have already been paid out. There is a June 19, 2020 deadline for the pre-screening!
The CIty of Boston established NEW 4 million dollar small business relief program.
New Coronavirus Dashboard for Massachusetts [updated 6.22.2020]
The State of Massachusetts has been updating the information on the progress of the fight against the virus State-wide for quite some time, and they have added some new features to it. If you click on the top of the page, you will see a link in the page itself that corresponds to the last updated day. Each day will have a pdf document with information on the infection rate, hospitalizations, deaths and recoveries. The dashboard page is especially useful. You can also see the exact ICU and Hospital utilizations numbers for the State.
Counseling Support for Healthcare Workers
Emotional PPE is a free counseling service for any healthcare worker. It is based here in Boston, but has mental health counselors in multiple states: https://emotionalppe.org/
Updates to Citylife Diaconate CARES ACT & COVID19 fact sheets.
For those with rental leases or mortgages:
Under the CARES ACT, there are provisions for housing assistance.
(Section 4022) - Foreclosure Moratorium and Consumer Right to Request Forbearance - Basically there is not only an extension of the forbearance on a mortgage foreclosure, foreclosure proceedings are under a moratorium from March 18, 2020 for sixty days. Borrowers may request 180 days of forbearance. In addition, some banks and loan companies will allow you to apply for hardship relief. Keep in mind that this is not a mortgage forgiveness, however.
(Section 4024) - Temporary Moratorium on Eviction Filings. For 120 days beginning on the date of enactment, landlords are prohibited from initiating legal action to recover possession of a rental unit or to charge fees, penalties, or other charges to the tenant related to such nonpayment of rent where the landlord’s mortgage on that property is insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted in any way by HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the rural housing voucher program, or the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. There are also State restrictions on tenant evictions during this time.
Multilingual COVID19 information line & website:
Massachusetts Pandemic Response MEMA Maps:
Need to look for immediate assistance for a food pantry or a local resource that is location-based? Here is a map of resources that is continually being updated by the State of Massachusetts. MEMA_Map. It lists food banks, elder assistance, housing assistance, and resources for emotional support. Just type the address you are closest to, and you can zoom in and out on an interactive map with icons and a navigable map.
For those who have lost employment and need to extend their own healthcare coverage, there are COBRA resources, as well as MassHealth resources available.
External Links for COVID19-related relief:
COVID19 Sources of Relief Multi-portal. [Large multi-set of relief links]
Massachusetts text based COVID-19 relief: text COVIDMA to 888-777
The latest information on the Massachusetts reopening plan in four phases. As of May 18, 2020. This plan is subject to ongoing updates:
News on CARES ACT: As of May 19, 2020 the House of Representatives passed a 3T+ additional set of relief funds for businesses, families, and individuals, which is subject to Senate revisions. The tentative plans are for this to be acted on before the end of the month. There are plans for a second wave of stimulus checks to go out, and for families, it’s possible for there to be up to $3400 per family, $1200 per individual.
Federal CARES Act - Original History of the first pass of the Act. [this information was in the Diaconate’s last mass email and link] 4-20-2020
The Session of Citylife also wanted you all to know a bit more about some of the help available to those in need during this challenging and difficult time from the Federal CARES Act.
Title I, Section 1102 - Paycheck Protection Program - For Small Businesses, their owners may borrow substantial amounts in order to keep their employees working, with new guarantees and set amounts. https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--Fact-Sheet.pdf
As part of the aforementioned program, sole proprietors may also apply for up to $100,000 in loans that are forgivable, have a 4% rate cap, and there is a six month block of time where no funds need to be repaid. Seventy-five percent of the loan MUST be used for payroll relief. The rest can be used, with limitations, for related business expenses. See: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--Fact-Sheet.pdf
Title II, Subtitle A, Section 2104 - Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits - There is an additional $600 per week allotted to each State unemployment payment for the current duration of 4 months. Massachusetts already has some of the highest unemployment benefits among the States, and this bumps it up to a substantial level. There’s still a calculation made based on previous income, but it’s well worth checking out. We do know that there is a backlog locally of requests currently.
Section 2107 - There is also an additional 12 weeks of unemployment benefits extending out to Dec. 31, 2020 if state funds run out.
Subtitle B, Section 2201: All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible social security number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per child. This is true even for those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits. We expect that if you have filed a Federal Income tax form in 2018 or 2019, the IRS will use whichever was filed later, to be used for these calculations. These should be coming though in early to mid April 2020.
Section 2302 - for employers, there is a delay of payment for the payroll tax, which can be rolled over to half in 2021, and the other half in 2022.
Part II, Subpart A, Sections 3201-3203 - all testing and vaccines, as they become available, will be covered by all medical insurers at no cost to patients.
Section 3513 - Student loans will be deferred - Requires the Secretary to defer student loan payments, principal, and interest for 6 months, through September 30, 2020, without penalty to the borrower for all federally owned loans. This provides relief for over 95 percent of student loan borrowers.
Section 4022 - Foreclosure Moratorium and Consumer Right to Request Forbearance - Basically there is not only an extension of the forbearance on a mortgage foreclosure, foreclosure proceedings are under a moratorium from March 18, 2020 for sixty days. Borrowers may request 180 days of forbearance. In addition, some banks and loan companies will allow you to apply for hardship relief. Keep in mind that this is not a mortgage forgiveness, however.
Section 4024. Temporary Moratorium on Eviction Filings. For 120 days beginning on the date of enactment, landlords are prohibited from initiating legal action to recover possession of a rental unit or to charge fees, penalties, or other charges to the tenant related to such nonpayment of rent where the landlord’s mortgage on that property is insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted in any way by HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the rural housing voucher program, or the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. There are also State restrictions on tenant evictions during this time.
***Disclaimer Note: Please note that the aforementioned short descriptions provided on the CARES ACT are high level in nature, and our recommendation is for you to reference the full text of the CARES ACT prior to taking action (linked below):
Please also refer to your local state agencies (for current information) or seek legal counsel if you have specific questions about the CARES ACT.
The information below has more specific links on benefits available through state and federal governments. Some of these resources are COVID specific, and some are more generic. This information may be especially pertinent for those facing immigration related issues.
I. National Information and Resources
II. Massachusetts Information and Resources
III. Effect of receiving certain benefits on immigration status