What You Need to Know About the Latest COVID Relief/Stimulus Bill

by Matt Roberts, MFM, CFP®, CAP®, Planning Officer | December 29, 2020

nullA coronavirus relief bill, dubbed by some as the “Coronavirus Stimulus 2.0” bill, was signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday night, December 27 as part of the $2.3 trillion, 5,000+ page Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. It includes a $900 billion COVID relief package, avoids a government shutdown, and extends unemployment benefits.

President Trump’s delay in signing the bill may translate into a gap in benefits for more than 12 million Americans. However, benefits are retroactive so all Americans will receive what is due to them. President Trump is also encouraging the $600 stimulus checks to be raised to $2,000, which will require a separate bill which is being considered by some Senate leaders.

Here are key provisions of the stimulus bill.

Personal Income Tax Changes, Extensions & Charitable Giving

  • The hurdle to deduct medical expenses has been permanently lowered to 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).
  • The bill extends the Qualified Charitable Contribution of $300 per taxpayer as an above-the-line charitable contribution into 2021 (please note that joint filers can deduct $600 in 2021, which is not the case for 2020).
  • The bill extends limitations for cash gifts to charity (Donor Advised Funds are not eligible) to 100% of AGI in 2021. Cash gifts are normally limited to 60% of AGI.

Additional Recovery Rebate Checks

  • Qualified taxpayers will receive a check for $600 per taxpayer with an additional $600 per child under age 17.
  • The amount begins phasing out $75,000 (single filer), $150,000 (joint filer), and $112,500 (head of household filer).
  • Eligibility is based on the 2019 tax return, but will be “trued-up” based on the 2020 tax return (please note there is no clawback if 2020 income is higher than 2019 income).
  • Those who qualify based on their 2019 tax return will receive a check. If you qualify based on your 2020 tax return, you get a refundable credit at filing.

Extension of Unemployment Benefits

  • Regular unemployment benefits are extended another 11 weeks.
  • Unemployment benefits are extended to self-employed individuals through April 5, 2021.
  • Regular unemployment benefits are increased by $300/week for 11 weeks.

What isn’t included?

  • The temporary waiver of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) in 2020 will not be extended into 2021.
  • No relief was offered for unwanted 2020 RMDs (i.e., there will be no further opportunities to return the unwanted RMD to avoid the taxation of the income).
  • No further student loan relief for federally backed student loan.

If you have questions about whether or not the “Coronavirus Stimulus 2.0” bill affects your unique situation, call you financial planner.