CENTURY 21 Real Estate Center is not a financial adviser, tax adviser, legal advisor or expert in any facet of the information provided below, in writing or verbally. All persons are to consult licensed professionals for planning and strategy for use of the programs described. CENTURY 21 Real Estate Center only offers this following information, copied or collated from other informational sites and has no liability to its accuracy or availability for any individual or corporate entity.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. These measures are meant to provide relief to those individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the outbreak of Covid-19. We’ve compiled an FAQ of what this means for independent contractors, specifically those in real estate.
We know there are many resources available to learn about the Act. However, we wanted to summarize some of the essential benefits – especially those that may directly or indirectly apply to your real estate needs. Here are some of the key pieces of the CARES Act and related measures and a FAQ regarding the Act as we know today:
Q. What is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act?
A. The CARES Act (also known as the “Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act” (Title II, Section A)) provides a substantial expansion of unemployment insurance and benefits for workers sidelined for specified reasons associated with COVID-19.
Q. Are independent contractors mentioned in the CARES Act?
A. The CARES Act creates the temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (the “PUA”), effective January 27, 2020, to remain in effect until December 31, 2020, which covers individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for unemployment insurance and benefits. For the first time in history, the law provides coverage for the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, part-time employment seekers, those who lack sufficient work history, or who have exhausted their unemployment benefits under existing schemes – provided they are able to self-certify that they are unable or unavailable to work because of COVID-19. Check the law for the specific COVID-19-related eligibility criteria.
Q. Can agents apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits under the CARES Act?
A. Yes. The CARES Act has been signed into law, but in many instances, the benefits are not yet available, and filers must wait until the state agency receives guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor or the state agency modifies its website, application and portal. Agents should check their appropriate local state agency website for further guidance and instructions on seeking Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits and whether benefits are available immediately.
Q. What information is needed to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits?
A. When applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, agents should identify as an independent contractor or small business seeking relief due to national disaster/Covid-19. The local state agency will tell agents all the information required for pandemic benefits.
Q. Do agents need the Company’s EIN?
A. The Company’s Employer Identification Number is not needed. Agents may need their social security number or if they operate as a small business, their business’s EIN.
CARES Act Assistance:
One-Time Government Payment:
Americans will receive a one-time direct payment from the government, which should arrive within three weeks. The payment will be:
· $1,200 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year
· $2,400 for couples making up to $150,000 per year
· $500 per child
· Gradually reduced amounts up to maximum income limits of $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples
Use this calculator to see the amount you are likely to receive.
Federal and state unemployment benefits have been expanded to give more assistance to a larger group of people.
· Benefits will be available for those who are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of COIVD-19.
· Eligible groups have been expanded to include independent contractors and self-employed individuals.
· The federal government will provide $600 per week on top of state unemployment payments. The federal assistance is available through July 31, 2020
· State benefits have been extended by 13 weeks to a total of 39 weeks.
For more information about unemployment benefits, click here.
Small Business Loans
A number of small business loan programs have been expanded or created under the Act. These include SBA Bridge Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The PPP is a powerful lifeline to small businesses and their employees, enabling eligible companies to borrow up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs, up to $10 million. These funds can be used to continue paying employees, providing benefits and covering operational expenses such as rent and utilities. The loan offers partial or full forgiveness based on the business meeting certain requirements.
For more details, click here.
Mortgage Payment Relief
Though not mandated by CARES, certain banks and government entities are offering mortgage payment deferral or forbearance (do not skip your payment without first consulting your lender).
· Borrowers whose loans are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may defer mortgage payments for 60 days. The deferred amount will be due upon loan maturity or sale of the property, whichever occurs first.
· The entities will also allow forbearance, in which the borrower may lower or suspend payments, initially for six months and potentially for up to a year. However, the full amount must be repaid at the end of the forbearance period.
· Late charges, penalties and reporting of past-due payments to credit bureaus are suspended.
· Fannie and Freddie also have halted all foreclosure sales until May 17, 2020.
· Many banks are offering similar programs but as of right now tend to be working with borrowers on a case-by-case basis.
Further guidance from the government should be forthcoming on a number of elements of the CARES Act. However, it is the recommendation of all the advisors we have talked with to act fast in your application process.
Please know that we are continually working to bring you updated information as it becomes available and clear to us and that we are working diligently to provide you with up to date information and details. We will get through this together and be stronger on the other side. Be safe!