Coronavirus News and Updates
The coronavirus pandemic has already had an immense and far-reaching impact on families and individuals across the world. As the situation develops, we'll continue to provide relevant updates on key financial topics, as well any changes that may specifically impact MMI clients.
New coronavirus stimulus package in the works
July 27 - A new, $1 trillion coronavirus relief package may soon be on the way. Per NBC News, the proposed legislation includes "temporary and reduced extension of unemployment benefits, another round of stimulus checks, liability protection for businesses and funding to help schools restart."
The proposal calls for a repeat of the $1,200 stimulus payments that went out a few months ago, as well as an extension on the federal moratorium on evictions. At this moment it seems unlikely that the $600 per week unemployment enhancement included in the original relief package will be reinstated, although negotiations are ongoing. As of June 27, there were over 32 million active employment claims in the United States, per the Department of Labor.
Expanded unemployment benefits end July 31
July 26 - Many of the consumer benefits and protections included in the CARES Act have begun to expire. One of the major provisions of the coronavirus relief legislation was a $600 per week increase in unemployment benefits. That increase is scheduled to end on July 31, however, due to the wording of the provision, the last actual payout of the enhanced benefit may have been July 25/26 for most qualified recipients.
Congress has the option to extend or replace these benefits, though no decisions have been made at this time.
Major Credit Bureaus Offering Free Weekly Credit Reports Through April 2021
April 23 - To help consumers monitor their credit and ensure that information is being reported correctly during this crisis, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are now offering free weekly credit reports for all consumers through April 2021. Traditionally, each of these major credit reporting bureaus has offered only one free copy of each consumer's credit report per year. You can request a digital copy of your report from each bureau through annualcreditreport.com.
Note: your free credit report does not include your credit score. That must still be purchased or acquired separately.
IRS Launches Site to Help Connect Individuals to Stimulus Funds
April 15 - The IRS has launched a new Get My Payment feature on their website to help ensure consumers receive their economic impact funds quickly. You'll need to provide some basic information from your most recent tax return, but the site will allow you to enter direct deposit banking information for the funds.
By default, the IRS will automatically send your stimulus funds via direct deposit only if you received a refund on your last tax return and provided direct deposit information for the purpose of that refund. Otherwise, the check will be sent by USPS to the address you provided on your last filed tax return. Using the Get My Payment feature authorizes the IRS to send your funds electronically to the checking or savings account of your choice.
IRS Begins Distribution of Stimulus Funds
April 9 - The Treasury Department has estimated that most eligible Americans will receive their stimulus funds within the next few weeks, although there may be some delay for those receiving their payment by paper check. Here are some important things to keep in mind about the stimulus:
- Most residents are eligible for the stimulus, provided you aren't a dependent on someone else's tax filing.
- The full stimulus amount is $1,200 per individual. You're eligible for the full amount if your adjusted gross income doesn't surpass $75,000 for an individual or $150,000 for a married couple filing jointly.
- You don't have to do anything to receive the funds. If you've recently elected to receive a tax refund via deposit direct, the IRS will use that same account to electronically deposit your stimulus funds. Otherwise they'll mail a check to your last known address.
For more information, visit IRS.gov/coronavirus.
CARES Act Signed into Law
March 27 - The $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill has been signed into law. There are a lot of moving parts (and a lot of money) included in this aid package. For consumers, the most immediately noteworthy are:
- Stimulus checks - Individuals making less than $75k a year will receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Payouts will begin in April.
- Expanded unemployment benefits - On top of state-supported benefits, workers applying for unemployment will be eligible for an additional $600 per week for the next four months.
- Aid for gig workers - The bill also creates the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to assist with self-employed people who wouldn't be eligible for traditional unemployment benefits.
- Student loan deferment - All federal student loan loans have been set to 0% interest and deferred through September 30, 2020.
Check out this breakdown from NPR for the full details of what's included in the CARES Act.
Federal Student Loan Relief Approved for National Emergency
March 22 - The U.S. Department of Education has announced measures to assist student loan borrowers during the coronavirus national emergency. The following details relate to federal student loans only.
- Effective immediately, the interest for all federal student loans has been set to 0% until September 30, 2020.
- All federally held student loans have automatically been placed into administrative forbearance until September 30, 2020.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has also directed the Office of Federal Student Aid to temporarily cease garnishment and collections activity on federally-held student loans. This pause will last until at least September 30, 2020. Borrowers who had wages garnished after March 13, but before the freeze went into effect, will be refunded.
Income Tax Filing Deadline Delayed to July 15
March 21 - In response to the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the IRS has announced that the deadline for filing your 2019 tax returns has been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.
If you're owed a refund this year, it's still strongly recommended that you file as soon as possible. If you can file electronically and opt to receive your refund via direct deposit, that's the best way to go. As with many other industries, there's a good chance that IRS operations will slow down soon, so acting fast and staying digital is the best way to ensure your money gets to you as fast as possible.
We have temporarily suspended in-person counseling
March 13 - In an effort to reduce risk and help slow the spread of coronavirus, we have temporarily suspended all in-person counseling sessions. Our services will continue to be available over the phone and online.
Like many organizations, MMI has moved toward an increasingly decentralized workforce over the past ten years. Giving our team members the option to work from home isn't just a perk - it makes a huge difference when disaster strikes.
Over 95% of our counseling and support staff already work from home and we're working to increase that number every day. We realize how incredibly disruptive this outbreak has already been on so many lives, which is why we're so committed to being here to support you through whatever financial challenge you may face.