Vice President Harris spoke about the new stimulus package at a food pantry in Jacksonville, Florida

Vice President Kamala Harris met with local representatives to discuss the hunger crisis in Jacksonville, Fla. As they toured the Feeding Northeast Florida distribution center. (Photo Credit... Frank M. Powell, Ceo/FM Powell INC.)
Vice President Kamala Harris met with local representatives to discuss the hunger crisis in Jacksonville, Fla. As they toured the Feeding Northeast Florida distribution center. (Photo Credit… Frank M. Powell, Ceo/FM Powell INC.)

By Staff Writer

On Monday, Vice President Harris spoke at the Feeding Northeast Florida, a food pantry, stressing the need for the relief package to help poor families of which almost 50 million people rely on.

How big are the stimulus payments in the bill, and who is eligible?

The stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number.

How does the relief bill affect health insurance?

The government insurance program COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, would for a period become a lot cheaper. COBRA may let some who loses their job buy coverage by means of their previous employer. However, it’s not cheap: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either.

Does the bill affect the child and dependent care tax credit?

This credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.

Are there any student loan changes in the bill?

There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You will not have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. read more.

How does the bill help people with housing?

       The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. Most of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act, and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That is on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities, and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance.

“The work that we did on the American Rescue Plan was designed with you mind,” Vice President Harris told a round table of local participants, including Representative Al Lawson, Democrat of Florida.

She also said that benefits for children on free and reduced lunch in schools would be extended through the end of the pandemic. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, she said, will also see an infusion of $880 million. Vice President Harris spoke of other benefits, including an expanded child tax credit and health care assistance.

“This is meant to be a public education campaign,” she said. “So, people know what they’re entitled to receive.

About Carma Henry 20922 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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