Ways you can do your part to stop the spread:
- Use curbside pickup or takeout at businesses and restaurants.
- Cancel or postpone out-of-state travel.
- Avoid discretionary travel, including shopping trips and social visits.
- Do not visit nursing homes or anywhere with sick or elderly residents, unless providing critical assistance.
- Remember to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Stay home if you're feeling sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Visit the CDC's website for more guidance.
- Follow the CDC's guidance for childcare and school administrators.
- Create a plan of action for your home.
- Be aware of the CDC's recommendations for college students.
- If you're planning a trip, view the CDC's travel health notices here.
- The State Department also regularly issues international travel guidance.
- Specific State Department travel advisories can be found here.
If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms - fever, cough or shortness of breath - and have been to China, Italy or Iran recently, or have been in close contact with someone else exhibiting symptoms, call your primary care physician immediately. If you are symptomatic, the CDC recommends calling your doctor first and receiving guidance before heading to the hospital, to prevent others from being exposed.
Also be aware that the CDC strongly advised against cruise ship travel worldwide. If you are over 75 or have underlying health conditions, the CDC also recommends that you avoid large crowds and nonessential travel.
For information about COVID-19 in Arkansas, click here.
The CARES Act
President Trump signed the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on March 27, and I know many of you have questions about what the bill means for you and your family. See below for a list of resources and helpful information on some of the main sections of the bill.
American Recovery Rebates
Every American with a valid Social Security number is eligible to receive a one-time tax rebate check. The full amount ($1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for couples, $500 for each child under the age of 17) is available for those with incomes at or below $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household, or $150,000 for joint filers. The credit phases out above those thresholds and will be phased out completely for single taxpayers with incomes exceeding $99,000 or joint filers with incomes exceeding $198,000.
Those who have no income, as well as those whose income derives entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs - such as SSI benefits - may still be eligible for a rebate. However, if a person over the age of 17 is a dependent on someone else's tax return, they will not be eligible for a rebate.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I get my check?
If you have already filed your 2019 tax return, your rebate will be based on that information, otherwise it will pull from your 2018 tax return. The amount will come in the form of a tax rebate and will be directly deposited into your bank account, if you included direct deposit information on your tax form. If you did not, your check will be mailed to you.
If you typically do not file a tax return, you must still file one to be eligible for the rebate. More information on free filing is available here.
I changed my banking information since filing my tax return. How will the IRS know where to send my check?
The Treasury Department is creating a website where taxpayers can provide their banking information to receive a direct deposit instead of a check. You will be able to update your information there.
When will I get my check?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a March 25 White House briefing that the department could begin sending payments in as little as three weeks.
Will I get a check if I owe back taxes?
Yes, rebates will not be offset by tax debt or any other federal debt.
I receive Social Security benefits, veteran benefits, or disability. Will I get a check?
Yes. As long as a person has a valid Social Security number, they can receive the credit – so this means workers, those receiving welfare benefits, Social Security beneficiaries, veterans and others are all eligible. However, you must still file a tax return in order to be recorded by the IRS for this rebate.
Click here for a list of more FAQs compiled by the IRS.
Small Business Assistance
The CARES Act creates a Paycheck Protection Program for small employers, self-employed individuals, and “gig economy” workers, with $350 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Paycheck Protection Program provides 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally-guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency.
If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. This proposal is retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. Some businesses that employ more than 500 employees across multiple locations are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program at each individual location.
The CARES Act also institutes an employee retention credit, providing a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages per employee (including health benefits) paid by certain employers during the COVID-19 crisis. This credit is available to employers:
If you're a lender, click here for more information.
If you're a borrower, click here for more information.
Click here to access the borrower application.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What businesses are eligible?
Where can I get this loan?
Through any existing Small Business Administration lenders and any lenders that are brought into the program through the Treasury Department. Talk to your preferred financial lender to see if they qualify.
What can the loan be used for?
When can I apply?
Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. The Treasury Department encourages people to apply as quickly as possible because there is a funding cap.
When is the application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program?
How do I receive loan forgiveness?
You must apply through your lender for forgiveness on your loan. In this application, you must include:
The CARES Act expands current unemployment benefits to individuals who are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits: self-employed, independent contractors, individuals with limited work history, gig workers and others.
Federal funding is now available for states to provide the first week of unemployment benefits to eligible individuals immediately. This allows individuals to apply and receive unemployment benefits as soon as they become unemployed, instead of waiting one week after becoming unemployed to apply for and receive benefits. This legislation also provides an additional $600 per week to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
The CARES Act authorized a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance of an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for individuals who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
These provisions sunset on December 31, 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I file for unemployment?
You can file an unemployment insurance application online here, call the hotline at 1-844-908-2178 or 501-534-6304, or file a claim at any Arkansas Workforce Center office. A valid government ID is required (driver’s license or passport). Due to an increased volume of applications, the online process is recommended.
Once you finish the application, you may need to call your local unemployment office to complete the process. Keep in mind that many others are doing the same thing, so expect longer wait times as local offices rush to catch up with the high demand.
My child's daycare closed/I'm taking care of a family member with COVID-19/I'm experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need to quarantine, am I still eligible for unemployment insurance?
Yes, if these circumstances are preventing you from working, you will be eligible for coverage.
I quit my job. Can I still receive these additional benefits?
It depends. If you were forced to quit your job because of daycare closures or COVID-19 exposure, you should still be covered under the bill. However, you cannot voluntarily opt-in by quitting for reasons unrelated to COVID-19. You must be laid off by your employer.
I'm already receiving unemployment benefits. Will I still be eligible for the additional coverage?
Yes. Even if you're already receiving unemployment benefits, your state-level benefits will be extended by 13 weeks. You'll also be eligible for the additional $600 weekly federal payment.