An Overview of the American Rescue Plan

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On March 11, 2021, a new COVID-19 relief package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, was signed into law. The $1.9 trillion relief package builds on many of the same programs established by the CARES Act and subsequent relief bills. Booksellers can access this FAQ about some of the main provisions.

Below is an overview of some of the most important provisions for booksellers.

To ensure your bookstore is getting the most out of federal small business relief, see the American Booksellers Association’s list of current federal relief with deadlines. Feel free to contact ABA’s Advocacy Team at [email protected].

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

  • Allocates an additional $7.25 billion for PPP loans.

Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grant

  • Allocates an additional $15 billion for targeted EIDL grants for businesses in low income communities with an economic loss greater than 30 percent and no more than 300 employees. Includes a specific set aside for businesses with an economic loss greater than 50 percent and no more than 10 employees.

Community Navigator Pilot Program

  • Establishes the Community Navigator Pilot Program to provide grants to Small Business Administration (SBA) partners to deliver free services to small businesses. The goal is increasing awareness and participation in SBA COVID-19 programs.
  • Prioritizes women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses, and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.

Tax Credits

  • Extends the payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave for eligible businesses that voluntarily provide paid leave through September 30, 2021.

    • Expands qualifying paid leave taken after March 31, 2021, to include time taken to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and to recover from any side effects of the vaccine, among other expansions for paid family leave.
    • Resets the per employee limit for paid sick leave after March 31, 2021. (Employees who already took their maximum 80-hours of paid leave prior to March 31, 2021, will be eligible to take additional leave moving forward.)
    • Increases the maximum family leave credit employers can claim per year per employee from $10,000 to $12,000.
    • Establishes a non-discrimination rule so the tax credits are only available to qualifying employers who provide leave to all employees equally.
  • Extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit through December 31, 2021.

    • Makes startup businesses established after February 15, 2020, with annual gross receipts of up to $1 million eligible for the tax credit starting July 1, 2021.

      • Caps the maximum credit at $50,000 per quarter per employer.
    • Includes a provision on “severely financially distressed employers” that have  experienced a decline in gross receipts of more than 90 percent compared to the same quarter in 2019 starting July 1, 2021.

      • Allows these employers to treat all wages paid to employees (working, or not working) as qualified wages, regardless of the number of full-time employees. (Under circumstances outside of this provision, businesses with more than 500 employees can only count wages paid to employees not working.)

Unemployment Benefits

  • Extends all CARES Act and Families First Act unemployment programs through September 6, 2021, including $300 per week federal benefit on top of the regular state benefit.
  • Makes the first $10,200 in 2020 unemployment benefits tax-free for households with incomes under $150,000.

Health Insurance Subsidies

  • Temporarily expands subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act through 2022, increasing subsidies for people already eligible and offering new subsidies for higher-earners who previously did not qualify. (See here for more information on how to take advantage of this opportunity.)
  • Temporarily decreases the cost of COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) which generally allows someone who lost a job to purchase insurance offered through their former employer. From April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, the government will pay the entire COBRA premium for people who lost a job or had their hours cut.

Individual Relief Checks

  • Provides $1,400 per eligible individual and per qualifying dependent.
  • Makes adult dependents (including college students) eligible for $1,400 (though the payment goes directly to the taxpayer, not the qualifying dependent).
  • Limits full payments to individuals making up to $75,000, heads of household making up to $112,500, and joint filers making up to $150,000, with payments completely phasing out at $80,000, $120,000, and $160,000 respectively.