Last Thursday, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill known as the “American Rescue Plan Act” into law.
The American Rescue Plan Act, aimed at stabilizing the economy and mitigating effects of the pandemic, includes many provisions that are vital to our community. These include direct economic impact payments, extended unemployment insurance benefits (including benefits for self-employed workers), and additional funding for small business loan programs. The bill also provides increased funding for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution, and support for state and local governments, schools, and public transit agencies.
Yoga Alliance supported this law on behalf of those within our community who will take advantage of its provision and appreciates your grassroots support. We are writing to share details on the new law and the programs and support measures that may be important to you, your family, and our yoga community.
Relief for Individuals and Families
Direct Economic Impact Payments
The Act creates a new round of economic impact payments to be sent to most Americans. It provides individuals with a $1,400 payment ($2,800 for married taxpayers filing jointly) plus $1,400 for each dependent for 2021, including college students and qualifying relatives claimed as dependents. For single taxpayers, the payment will begin to phase out for individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 and will complete phase out for single taxpayers with incomes over $80,000.
Extension of Federal Unemployment Benefits Program
The Act extends the enhanced Federal unemployment benefit measures that were set to expire this month. Those benefits, which apply to both laid-off workers and out-of-work self-employed and “gig economy” workers, include a $300 per week bonus payment through September 6, 2021. The law further ensures that the 40 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits in 2021 will not be taxed on the first $10,200 in benefits.
Expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
The Act expands the eligibility of the CTC to include 17-year-olds; increases the credit amount from $2,000 to $3,000 for children ages 6-17; and increases the credit amount to $3,600 for children under 6 years old. The Act further makes the CTC fully refundable for 2021. The increased credit amount phases out for taxpayers with incomes over $150,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, $112,500 for heads of households, and $75,000 for others. The measure further expands the EITC, a tax credit available to low-to-moderate-income workers, by nearly tripling the maximum EITC for workers without children.
The Act provides housing assistance in the form of rental utility assistance, eviction prevention measures, and emergency housing vouchers. Under a new Homeowner Assistance Fund, for example, Congress will provide funds to cover qualified expenses, such as mortgage assistance, utility payment assistance, and homeowners insurance premiums for those financially impacted by the pandemic.
Health Insurance Programs
The Act expands subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to make coverage more affordable for working- and middle-class Americans and makes coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments mandatory under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Act further provides COBRA continuation coverage premium assistance for eligible individuals until September 30, 2021.
Relief for Small Businesses
Additional Funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The Act authorizes an additional $7.25 billion for the PPP—a program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that provides forgivable loans to qualifying businesses to keep their workforce employed and cover other business expenses during the COVID-19 crisis. However, while the Act provides additional funding for the PPP, it does not extend the duration of the program. The SBA is currently offering PPP loans until March 31, 2021, and all applications must be submitted and approved by this date.
Additional Funding for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
The Act also provides $15 billion for the SBA’s Targeted EIDL Advance Grants Program to provide grants of up to $10,000 per business to small business in low-income communities that have been most impacted by the pandemic.
Extension of Paid Sick Leave and FMLA leave Tax Credits
The Act extends employer tax credits first made available by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in March 2020. The FFCRA required certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19 and created a refundable tax credit to reimburse employers for the cost of providing this leave. While the FFCRA requirements on employers to provide leave expired on December 31, 2020, the tax credit is still temporarily available for employers who voluntarily choose to provide FFCRA leave. The American Rescue Plan Act extended the availability of this tax credit through September 30, 2021.
Relief for Communities
COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing, and Sequencing
The Act provides billions of dollars for federal vaccine distribution programs and grant programs to support state and local vaccination initiatives. The Act also allocates billions for a national testing, tracing, and sequencing strategy, as well as for grants and assistance to state and local public health departments.
State and Local Aid
The Act provides approximately $350 billion in dedicated aid for state and local governments to bridge expected budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic and support essential services.
With many schools reopening after a nearly yearlong pandemic hiatus, the Act provides over $128 billion in funds for state and local education agencies to be used on health and safety investments and preparedness activities, among other initiatives.
Yoga Alliance is closely monitoring the implementation of the American Rescue Plan Act as well as other activity at the federal and state levels that may impact the yoga community, and we will not hesitate to advocate for our community’s interests. We will be sure provide additional updates as they become available.
In particular, Yoga Alliance continues to support the GYMS Act, a bipartisan bill that would authorize $30 billion to SBA to disburse grants to eligible fitness business, including yoga businesses, to cover expenses such as payroll, rent and mortgage obligations, and utility payments. The GYMS Act is similar to the relief bills enacted for restaurants and shuttered entertainment/arts venues, which were incorporated into the last two COVID-19 relief bills. Although the GYMS Act was not included in the American Rescue Plan Act, we remain committed to work with our allies to encourage Congress to pass the bill.
Please reach out to us with feedback, questions, or concerns at 1-888-921-9642 (YOGA) or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for the work that you do for your communities—always, and especially in these difficult times. Please be sure to visit us our resource website for further information.
Your Yoga Alliance