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Congress working on next wave of COVID-19 public assistance

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Congress is currently working on extending unemployment and give other supports, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen told constituents in a telephone town hall Tuesday, April 7.
On the line was Suzi LeVine, Commissioner for the state Employment Security Department, and representatives from the Washington Small Business Development Center.
Questions included how independent contractors can seek unemployment, and when federal stimulus checks will start arriving.
Stimulus checks will come starting next week by direct deposit for people who have their information on file with the IRS. People not on file with the IRS will receive paper checks by mail starting in early May.
A full $1,200 check will go to single people whose Adjusted Gross Income in their latest filed tax return is less than $75,000. (The figures double for married couples who filed jointly: it is a $2,400 check if their combined earned income is less than $150,000.)
Add $500 for each child under 17.
Lesser-sized stimulus checks will also go to people who reported earning up to $99,000 (single) or $198,000 (married).
Adjusted Gross Income is a tax calculation for the year’s income after deductions.
Payments will go to people reporting the lowest incomes first.
People on disability social security who did not pay taxes will get stimulus checks from the government, the officials said. The stimulus bill was designed so people did not have to file tax paperwork to get into the system, Larsen said.
LeVine said the Employment Security Department is working “night and day” to let more people file unemployment claims.
“The more prepared you are (with information), the faster we can get you your money,” LeVine said.
For independent contractors, the state is working to get that up and running around April 18. People can sign up at esd.wa.gov for emails for what steps they can take.
The state will pay unemployment retroactively to when you became eligible, as far back as late March, LeVine said.
People who receive unemployment benefits will get an additional
$600 a week through July 25 thanks to the current benefits package, LeVine said.
For health insurance lost to job loss, the state benefit exchange (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) lets you enroll in free and low-cost Medicaid known as Apple Health.

Small business loans and grants
The Small Business Administration has a new set of COVID-19 loans available for small business owners, and more recently the state launched a grant package for businesses with under 10 employees.
The loans are for 3.57 percent and can be amortized over 30 years.
The state Department of Commerce isn’t taking any more applications from businesses in Snohomish County, among others, “due to overwhelming demand,” Commerce says on the webpage for the new Working Washington Small Business Grants.
LeVine said she’s seen “a tectonic shift” in employment trends: Grocery stores, delivery services and cleaning services have begun hiring many more people.
More than 2 million have applied for SBA loans in the state.

CARES 2.0 Act
The first CARES Act passed in late March. A followup CARES 2.0 Act coronavirus relief bill is in the works, Larsen said, which would extend unemployment benefits and have support for “homeowners and landowners,” Larsen said.
“2.0” would be the fourth coronavirus relief bill Congress develops.
Larsen represents the Second Congressional District, spanning from Bellingham to Mountlake Terrace.

Town Hall additional information
C-SPAN might post a transcript of Larsen’s telephone town hall in the coming days. More information on that is at larsen.house.gov
Larsen’s website also has resources: larsen.house.gov

 

  

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