On Thursday, March 11, 2021, President Biden signed an historic $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package known as the American Rescue Plan Act. You may be (rightfully) thinking, “wow, that’s a lot of money, what’s in it for me?!” In fact, many Americans will receive direct stimulus checks aimed at helping to offset widespread economic strain caused by the pandemic. Whether you use the money to pay overdue bills or towards a new car is up to you, and either way the economy will theoretically be improved. In addition to the personal funds the federal government is sending to millions of households, the stimulus package contains three provisions impacting employers and employees:
As you likely recall, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided workers with COVID-19 related sick leave benefits (and employers with a corresponding tax credit), which expired on December 31, 2020. Although employers are no longer obligated to offer such leave, a prior stimulus package extended the tax credits for employers that voluntarily continued to offer the paid leave through March 31, 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act now extends those tax credits yet again, this time through September 30, 2021. Meaning, while providing employees with COVID-19 related sick leave is still not mandatory for employers, the dollar-for-dollar payroll tax credit incentive to do so voluntarily has been extended until the Fall. New with this stimulus package is the expansion of leave for which tax credits are permitted, to include for example, time off to obtain a COVID vaccine.
All in all, while nobody it getting a bajillion dollars, this latest behemoth of a stimulus package is sure to create lots of activity in both our personal and professional lives.