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$2 Trillion COVID19 Relief Package Signed into Law

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From NPR:

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/27/822062909/house-aims-to-send-2-trillion-rescue-package-to-president-to-stem-coronavirus-cr

Quote

President Trump Signs $2 Trillion Coronavirus Rescue Package Into Law

President Trump has signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

In an Oval Office ceremony Friday, the president thanked Republicans and Democrats "for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first" to pass the legislation. Trump was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. No Democrats were present at the signing.

From NPR: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/26/821457551/whats-inside-the-senate-s-2-trillion-coronavirus-aid-package

I'm sharing these two bits of news because a few key portions of the stimulus bill apply to freelancers in the film industry:

Quote

Cash payments: Estimated to total $300 billion. Most individuals earning less than $75,000 can expect a one-time cash payment of $1,200. Married couples would each receive a check and families would get $500 per child. That means a family of four earning less than $150,000 can expect $3,400.

The checks start to phase down after that and disappear completely for people making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000.

Extra unemployment payments: The $260 billion estimated cost is subject to change based on the number of people filing for unemployment.

The bill makes major changes to unemployment assistance, increasing the benefits and broadening who is eligible. States will still continue to pay unemployment to people who qualify. That amount varies state by state. So does the amount of time people are allowed to claim it.

This bill adds $600 per week from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state. That boosted payment will last for four months.

For example, if an out-of-work person is receiving the national average of about $340 per week, under the new federal program their take-home pay will be $940.

The legislation also adds 13 weeks of additional unemployment insurance. People nearing the maximum number of weeks allowed by their state would get an extension. New filers would also be allowed to collect the benefits for the longer period.

Gig workers and freelancers: Typically, self-employed people, freelancers and contractors can't apply for unemployment. This bill creates a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the end of this year to help people who lose work as a direct result of the public health emergency.

Tax returns: Some people have not filed their 2019 tax returns, but that's OK. The filing deadline has been extended to July 15. The IRS also says that people who have filed or plan to can still expect to receive a refund if they are owed one.

Student loans: Employers can provide up to $5,250 in tax-free student loan repayment benefits. That means an employer could contribute to loan payments and workers wouldn't have to include that money as income.

For those who own small businesses in the film industry (ie: rentals, post, etc):

Quote

Emergency grants: The bill provides $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 to provide emergency funds for small businesses to cover immediate operating costs.

Forgivable loans: There is $350 billion allocated for the Small Business Administration to provide loans of up to $10 million per business. Any portion of that loan used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books or pay for rent, mortgage and existing debt could be forgiven, provided workers stay employed through the end of June.

I'll share what I find about how to get help from the government as the information arrives in this thread.

In the mean time, can we keep this thread clear of discussion? Anyone can contribute helpful links in regards to the bill, but let's keep this as thread as a resource for fellow DP's who have been effected by COVID19.

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They could ink and sign it right in front of me, I'm still in total denial that I'll be getting a $1200 check in my mailbox. One thing the government loves is loopholes, just check out the 13th amendment!

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So the problem for us freelancers is that, you have to prove you were working for someone when everything got shut down.  

The $1200 check, is based on what you made last year on taxes. If you didn't file last year or this year, you aren't getting a check. 

The checks aren't being sent out for 3 weeks! That means it won't be till the end of April before we get anything. Meanwhile, they're forcing all people who OWE taxes for 2019 to PAY what they owe NOW. They aren't letting those people slide to the July tax filing deadline, no sir. You pay them now or you won't get that $1200 check. 

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They are printing this money out of thin air ..  .. there will be repercussions.. have to be .. better spend that $1,200 quick before it only buys you an apple.. if this was the answer Zimbabwe would be top of the G7.. dollar might be saved only that everyone else is doing it and it might win the least ugly contest .. 

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13 hours ago, Max Field said:

They could ink and sign it right in front of me, I'm still in total denial that I'll be getting a $1200 check in my mailbox. One thing the government loves is loopholes, just check out the 13th amendment!

8 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

They are printing this money out of thin air ..  .. there will be repercussions.. have to be .. better spend that $1,200 quick before it only buys you an apple.. if this was the answer Zimbabwe would be top of the G7.. dollar might be saved only that everyone else is doing it and it might win the least ugly contest .. 

Again, please keep opinions out of this thread. There should only be information and links shared here regarding help for cinematographers during the COVID-19 economic crisis.

9 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

So the problem for us freelancers is that, you have to prove you were working for someone when everything got shut down. 

The stimulus bill expands Unemployment Insurance to cover self-employed individuals. Depending on the individual State's Unemployment system, how you prove which job(s) you've lost varies. Some may have been given a verbal lay off (ie the producers told everyone in person that the show is being canceled), some may have it in writing (email from producers saying show is canceled), and others may just have no calls coming in (in this case, citing industry news sources and showing history of work compared to today can indicate the unemployment).

Regardless, the bill directly says that self-employed individuals are covered under the federal expansion of Unemployment Insurance.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748/text#H97CF349D361342F895E939CF0579F8A0

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748/text#H94475F15C4074D4388A3AA2FA6EAC731

9 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The $1200 check, is based on what you made last year on taxes. If you didn't file last year or this year, you aren't getting a check. 

Meanwhile, they're forcing all people who OWE taxes for 2019 to PAY what they owe NOW. They aren't letting those people slide to the July tax filing deadline, no sir. You pay them now or you won't get that $1200 check. 

For 2019, the tax deadline has been pushed to July 15th. One can file their 2019 taxes to use for the stimulus bill, but they are not required to pay the 2019 taxes until the July 15th deadline.

If one hasn't filed their 2018 taxes yet, then they should do so now. However, the above 2019 tax deadline changes do not apply to 2018 taxes and the individual will most likely have to pay what is owed in taxes plus whatever penalties apply. The text of the law (H.R. 748) does not directly say that 2018 taxes must be paid before receiving any benefits of this legislation.

It's generally assumed by all that one must pay all taxes eventually; if an individual wants to receive tax-payer money, they should be paying their taxes.

9 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The checks aren't being sent out for 3 weeks! That means it won't be till the end of April before we get anything.

Some states, counties, and cities across the country are banning evictions, some banks are allowing deferrals on mortgages/loans, and the Dept. of Education has suspended payments to federal student loans until 9/30/2020. These short term measures are being put into place to soften the financial burden Americans have until the relief comes.

None of this means that those payments disappear; like the tax deadline, they're just pushed back until later. A mortgage or student loan will simply end later than expected, for example.

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1 hour ago, AJ Young said:

Again, please keep opinions out of this thread. There should only be information and links shared here regarding help for cinematographers during the COVID-19 economic crisis.

If you can break the politics rule, we can break your rules.

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6 hours ago, AJ Young said:

For 2019, the tax deadline has been pushed to July 15th. One can file their 2019 taxes to use for the stimulus bill, but they are not required to pay the 2019 taxes until the July 15th deadline.

Right, but it doesn't cover businesses or "employer" taxes. Many professionals have their own businesses, that's how they deal with liability and reduced tax burden. Businesses need to pay by the April 15th deadline. The "extension" is only for personal taxes. 
 

6 hours ago, AJ Young said:

Some may have been given a verbal lay off (ie the producers told everyone in person that the show is being canceled), some may have it in writing (email from producers saying show is canceled), and others may just have no calls coming in (in this case, citing industry news sources and showing history of work compared to today can indicate the unemployment).

Look at it from my examples please. 

I had a booking to shoot a short film in March. It was a week-long project that was going to net some decent money. There was a text message that said "project canceled" and that was it. There is no way you can quantify those losses, it's impossible. There is no contract, no texts or e-mails to quantify the amount that I would have earned. That stuff generally doesn't come until a few days before the shoot and it was suppose to happen this previous week. 

How about this one. You're currently on a project and you haven't been paid because payroll isn't operational. I have that same problem right now. I'm owed several thousand from a freelance gig and they aren't paying. How do I quantify that? Send the IRS invoices? They don't care. 

I also rent cameras, so now my rental business is dead. I usually average 4 - 6 rentals a month, but I don't keep electronic records. I keep a paper trail for insurance reasons, but it could all be made-up. There is nothing to verify that I've lost 3 months worth of business on that front, it's impossible for me to tell the IRS that. 

So unless you're working on big shows that had the ability to send out notices of "shut down" before they closed house, unless you have verified contracts that show what you were suppose to earn, unless you have proof that's what you NORMALLY earn, I have a feeling the IRS is going to walk away from giving any benefits. I'm anxious to see what happens when people apply. I'm ok because I have another source of income that's steady for now. 
 

6 hours ago, AJ Young said:

Some states, counties, and cities across the country are banning evictions, some banks are allowing deferrals on mortgages/loans, and the Dept. of Education has suspended payments to federal student loans until 9/30/2020. These short term measures are being put into place to soften the financial burden Americans have until the relief comes.

Yes, but that doesn't work. People are being sent letters from landlords demanding they hand over the government checks when they're received as payment. Do you think landlords aren't going to kick your ass to the street the moment the economy is back up and running? If you don't pay, all you're doing is prolonging the inevitable future of you being kicked to the curb. 

Suspending student loans is great, but for instance, my student loans were not federal. So I don't think that's going to help everyone sadly. 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Right, but it doesn't cover businesses or "employer" taxes. Many professionals have their own businesses, that's how they deal with liability and reduced tax burden. Businesses need to pay by the April 15th deadline. The "extension" is only for personal taxes.

Here is the actual press release from the IRS: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-day-now-july-15-treasury-irs-extend-filing-deadline-and-federal-tax-payments-regardless-of-amount-owed

Quote

Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

In regards to Unemployment Insurance, what qualifies as losing employment is defined in the law (LINK)

Quote
  • They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms of it and are seeking diagnosis;
  • A member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • They are providing care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • They are providing care for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to COVID-19;
  • They are quarantined or have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  • They were scheduled to start employment and do not have a job or cannot reach their place of employment as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak;
  • They have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • They had to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Their place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • They meet other criteria established by the Secretary of Labor.

The three bolded items directly apply to nearly everyone in the film industry.

In terms of your short that you lost (sorry, by the way), you at least have the text message that the project has been canceled. Though nothing was agreed on payment, you can reference your historical wages for similar gigs via prior invoices, tax returns, etc. Regardless of how much you would've been paid, the federal government will give you $600 a week so long as you can continue to show that you are unemployed and actively looking for work.

In my prior experience with California Unemployment, you actually receive a call from the Employment Development Department to discuss your eligibility; this is where I've been able to explain my situation and how the film industry operates when it comes to hiring and turnover.

1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

How about this one. You're currently on a project and you haven't been paid because payroll isn't operational. I have that same problem right now. I'm owed several thousand from a freelance gig and they aren't paying. How do I quantify that? Send the IRS invoices? They don't care. 

If you have an employer who hasn't paid through their payroll because it isn't operational, then you should contact the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and explain that your employer is not paying you on the regularly scheduled paydays. Failure to pay you within the California Labor Code is a misdemeanor.

If a company hasn't fulfilled an invoice to you, then I recommend keeping in as much contact with them as possible, particularly the accounting department and project manager you've been working with. The Freelancers Union has an excellent resource for client nonpayment. If this issue still can not be resolved, then you may have to go through small claims court, but at this point you may need to get a lawyer involved. 

1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I also rent cameras, so now my rental business is dead. I usually average 4 - 6 rentals a month, but I don't keep electronic records. I keep a paper trail for insurance reasons, but it could all be made-up. There is nothing to verify that I've lost 3 months worth of business on that front, it's impossible for me to tell the IRS that. 

In terms of a rental business, showing historical data isn't too difficult if you've already got a paper trail with your insurance company. However, if your rental business isn't established as a company and does not file taxes as a company, then it is considered part of your individual income and won't increase your amount of unemployment from the federal government (it's max $600/week).

If you do have a legally formed business and are seeking funds to fulfill payroll, pay bills, etc, then I recommend visiting the US Chamber of Commerce's Coronavirus Small Business Guide.

1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Yes, but that doesn't work. People are being sent letters from landlords demanding they hand over the government checks when they're received as payment. Do you think landlords aren't going to kick your ass to the street the moment the economy is back up and running? If you don't pay, all you're doing is prolonging the inevitable future of you being kicked to the curb.

A landlord has no legal jurisdiction over the government checks.

Landlords are legally owed rent payments and banning evictions for a short period of time doesn't mean rents for those months are no longer owed; banning the evictions gives renters time to gather funds to meet their financial obligations to pay rent while they wait for the unemployment and stimulus checks.

Eviction laws vary by state and unpaid rent is the biggest grounds for eviction. However, it's becoming clear (in CA) that late payment during the COVID-19 economic crisis will not qualify for eviction so long as the rent is paid eventually in a reasonable amount of time.

Only law enforcement can enforce evictions and, in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has banned evictions and the enforcement thereof. LINK

 

I hope these links and resources help you during this tough time! We're all in this together.

Edited by AJ Young
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Thanks for the explanation AJ, looks like new data was published Friday that my normal go-to places haven't been updated on. 

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10 hours ago, AJ Young said:

Again, please keep opinions out of this thread. There should only be information and links shared here regarding help for cinematographers during the COVID-19 economic crisis.

The stimulus bill expands Unemployment Insurance to cover self-employed individuals. Depending on the individual State's Unemployment system, how you prove which job(s) you've lost varies. Some may have been given a verbal lay off (ie the producers told everyone in person that the show is being canceled), some may have it in writing (email from producers saying show is canceled), and others may just have no calls coming in (in this case, citing industry news sources and showing history of work compared to today can indicate the unemployment).

Regardless, the bill directly says that self-employed individuals are covered under the federal expansion of Unemployment Insurance.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748/text#H97CF349D361342F895E939CF0579F8A0

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748/text#H94475F15C4074D4388A3AA2FA6EAC731

For 2019, the tax deadline has been pushed to July 15th. One can file their 2019 taxes to use for the stimulus bill, but they are not required to pay the 2019 taxes until the July 15th deadline.

If one hasn't filed their 2018 taxes yet, then they should do so now. However, the above 2019 tax deadline changes do not apply to 2018 taxes and the individual will most likely have to pay what is owed in taxes plus whatever penalties apply. The text of the law (H.R. 748) does not directly say that 2018 taxes must be paid before receiving any benefits of this legislation.

It's generally assumed by all that one must pay all taxes eventually; if an individual wants to receive tax-payer money, they should be paying their taxes.

Some states, counties, and cities across the country are banning evictions, some banks are allowing deferrals on mortgages/loans, and the Dept. of Education has suspended payments to federal student loans until 9/30/2020. These short term measures are being put into place to soften the financial burden Americans have until the relief comes.

None of this means that those payments disappear; like the tax deadline, they're just pushed back until later. A mortgage or student loan will simply end later than expected, for example.

The subject of your post just says the Gov is bring in a $2T rescue package .. and my post is very pertinent to that .. you didn't say this was a thread only about freelance cinematographers .. ???

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On 3/28/2020 at 4:51 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

Thanks for the explanation AJ, looks like new data was published Friday that my normal go-to places haven't been updated on. 

Glad I could help! We're all in this together and information changes by the day. I'll keep sharing what I find out when it comes to financial support people in the film industry. 🙂

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California! For those filing for unemployment in, those already receiving unemployment, and those who are no longer unemployed (yay!):

Remember that any money you received from unemployment insurance is considered as income and you will have to pay taxes on that when you file in 2021 (for 2020).

What has worked for me is to save 30% of what you've received. Of course, times are hard so you can save that 30% LATER, but just remember how much you need to save for when taxes are due.

The tax form you will receive is called a 1099G and it will have the total amount you've received.

You can elect to have the taxes taken out ahead of time when signing up, but a lot of people (myself included) miss this step.

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Here are some more updates about CA Unemployment and the federal stimulus:

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-04-07/california-workers-newly-eligible-unemployment-benefits-delays

Key notes from the LA Times Article:

Quote

Under federal rules, people will receive benefits backdated to when they became unemployed because of the coronavirus, not to when they apply. So in the end, workers should not receive less money due to the delays.

---

Loree Levy, deputy director of the California Employment Development Department, said the best thing people who fall into the expanded pool [freelancers, gig economy, and furloughed employees] can do at the moment is wait to file their claims and allow the state to clear the overwhelmed pipeline of those who would normally qualify for unemployment.

Updates about the federal stimulus and CA Unemployment will be shared on the EDD Website: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

According to the EDD:

Quote

As part of the federal CARES Act, the federal government has approved funding for additional UI benefits to workers impacted by COVID 19, including the self-employed. The EDD has received only overarching information from the U.S. Department of Labor but needs further details to finish building the programming for implementing these changes.

A facebook group was created, not by the state, for Californians to help each other with the unemployment process: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3296311573733137/

I'm in this group and some of the info is helpful, particularly the FAQ that is updated regularly.

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An update on the CARES act being implemented at a state level, particularly in California:

https://ktla.com/news/local-news/unemployed-californians-to-get-extra-600-in-weekly-benefits-starting-sunday-amid-coronavirus-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR368Mc40iRu1rIIG86QBWQyhr7Pbzn96YwQoald_xfNMfmmMZ4AdRoPgQY

Key note:

Quote

As unemployment claims hit a record high, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that out-of-work Californians will be getting an extra $600 on top of their weekly benefits starting Sunday [4/12].

It's becoming clear that implementing the CARES act in regards to unemployment and small business loans is easier said than done.

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58 minutes ago, Manu Delpech said:

In the meantime, folks in Canada can apply, and receive $2,000 two days later. Lord.

EVERYONE gets $2000/month. So if your unemployed, you ALSO get that money too. 

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Posted (edited)

UPDATE:
In California, people are starting to receive the additional $600/week on top of their regular UI benefits, as stated through the EDD website (LINK). (I personally have started to receive this on my unemployment)

For those who are self-employed, 1099, etc, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will launch on 4/28/2020 in California: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/pandemic-unemployment-assistance.htm

Additionally, the $1,200 stimulus checks are slowly starting to arrive via direct deposit to americans. However, some who are eligible have yet to receive the money, and finding answers via the IRS.gov website has been frustrating to most: https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/15/21222749/irs-coronavirus-get-my-payment-portal-payment-status-not-available-stimulus-explanation.

Edited by AJ Young
I had a typo
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UPDATE:
In California, for those who haven't been able to receive any unemployment benefits yet because they are considered self-employed and haven't worked any W2 jobs, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is now open as of 4/28.

https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/pandemic-unemployment-assistance.htm

---

STIMULUS CHECK:

Additionally, if you haven't received your stimulus check, you may need to enter your direct deposit info via the official IRS website:

https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

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On 3/27/2020 at 5:25 PM, Max Field said:

They could ink and sign it right in front of me, I'm still in total denial that I'll be getting a $1200 check in my mailbox. One thing the government loves is loopholes, just check out the 13th amendment!

You have to file your taxes to get the $1200. But I concur with the loopholes.

But that is peanuts. How are the guys with a $2k apartment that have been out of work for 2 months going to get by with $1200?

 

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

But that is peanuts. How are the guys with a $2k apartment that have been out of work for 2 months going to get by with $1200?

 

Exactly.. also still haven't gotten that check (And yes have paid my taxes)

Edited by Max Field

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