COVID-19 Financial Resources for Massage Therapists
AMTA’s Government Relations team has been reaching out to federal, state and local governments about the need for financial assistance for all massage therapists. We will be updating this page with these efforts, along with additional resources to help you navigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
What It Means for Massage Therapists
Thank you to the nearly 70,000 massage therapists, along with our families, friends, clients and patients who joined AMTA’s outreach last week to urge Congress to provide relief for our industry and the millions of other small businesses and self-employed Americans that are being devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our collective voices have helped educate Congress about the impact of COVID-19 on massage therapists, massage establishments, and massage schools and was part of the impetus for Congress to take additional action and address this crisis.
AMTA will continue communicating with our nation’s leaders and federal agencies regarding the CARES: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and we will update you on this page as we learn more. We want to assure you that we will provide specific details on how to access these benefits as more information becomes available.
Here are the highlights as they relate to the majority of the massage therapy industry (as we know them so far).
The relief package expands the size and scope of unemployment benefits, including relief for workers who are self-employed, as well as independent contractors.
- $250 billion to expand unemployment benefits
- Self-employed and independent contractors will receive unemployment benefits (updates to come).
- Makes benefits more generous by adding $600 per week on top of what a state normally pays in unemployment and provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits. And, provisions will ensure state and local governments and non-profits can pay unemployment to their employees.
- Most of the unemployment provisions go through the end of 2020, in recognition of the temporary nature of this challenge.
The “Paycheck Protection Program” to incentivize small businesses to keep employees on payroll. The bill offers debt relief and a statutory requirement that the Small Business Administration (SBA) enact these programs with regulations no later than 15 days after the Act is signed into law.
Small Businesses 7 (a) Loans
The measure would establish a new Paycheck Protection Program to let small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals seek loans through the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program.
The measure would authorize $349 billion in total 7(a) lending from Feb. 15 through June 30, instead of the current $30 billion authorization for fiscal 2020.
It would also provide $349 billion for the SBA to fully guarantee loans under the new program, compared with a 75% or 85% guarantee for standard 7(a) loans.
Loans would be available during the covered period for:
- Any business, nonprofit, veterans group, or tribal business with 500 or fewer employees, or a number set by the SBA for the relevant industry.
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed workers.
- Hotel and food service chains with 500 or fewer employees per location.
Eligible recipients could receive loans for as much as $10 million or 250% of their average monthly payroll costs, instead of $5 million. Interest rates during the covered period would be capped at 4%.
Recipients could use the loans to cover eligible payroll costs — including salaries, commissions, regular paid leave, and health-care benefits — as well as mortgage interest and utility payments. They’d have to make a “good faith certification” that they’ll use the funds to retain workers, maintain payroll, and pay for rent and similar expenses.
They couldn’t use the funds to compensate individual employees at an annual rate above $100,000 or to pay for emergency sick or family leave under the second coronavirus response package.
The measure would waive rules requiring recipients to pay certain fees, provide collateral, or be unable to obtain credit elsewhere. SBA rules on company affiliates used to determine small business size would be waived for franchises, food or lodging companies with 500 or fewer employees, and businesses that get financial assistance from a small business investment company.
Approved 7(a) lenders could issue covered loans if they determine a business was operating with salaried employees or paid contractors as of Feb. 15. The measure would provide $25 million for the Treasury Department to set criteria to allow additional insured banks and credit unions to participate.
The SBA would have to assume that eligible loan applicants in operation as of Feb. 15 were adversely affected by Covid-19, and require lenders to let them defer payments for at least six months and as long as one year.
Loans would receive a risk weight of 0% under banking capital rules, meaning banks and credit unions wouldn’t have to set aside additional capital to cover them. Lenders that modify covered loans due to Covid-19 would be temporarily exempt from having to make certain disclosures related to troubled debt restructurings.
Recipients of SBA-guaranteed loans under the Paycheck Protection Program could apply for loan forgiveness over eight weeks for eligible payroll costs and for mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments.
The SBA would pay lenders for any canceled debt plus accrued interest. Lenders generally wouldn’t be subject to enforcement actions under the Small Business Act related to loan forgiveness.
Loan forgiveness would be reduced for businesses that fire employees or cut their pay. Businesses could receive additional forgiveness for wages paid to tipped employees.
Covered loans would have a maximum maturity of 10 years following a borrower’s application for forgiveness. The SBA would continue to guarantee remaining balances.
Canceled debt would be excluded from borrowers’ gross income for tax purposes.
The measure would provide $10 billion to expand the SBA’s disaster loan program from Jan. 31 through Dec. 31 to cover businesses, cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, and tribal businesses with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors.
The SBA would have to waive certain eligibility rules during the covered period for disaster loans made in response to Covid-19.
The measure also would authorize the SBA to advance as much as $10,000 to existing and newly eligible disaster loan recipients within three days of receiving their applications. Recipients could use the advance funds to pay sick leave to employees affected by Covid-19, retain employees, address interrupted supply chains, make rent or mortgage payments, and repay debt. They wouldn’t have to repay the advance funds.
The measure also would permanently expand the SBA’s disaster loan program to cover small entities affected by emergencies for which the president determines the federal government has primary responsibility, as President Donald Trump did for the coronavirus outbreak.
Money for families. This comes in the form of a one-time tax rebate check of $1,200 per individual and $500 per child. The rebate would be based on 2019 taxes, or for individuals who haven’t filed, against their 2018 taxes or 2019 Social Security statements.
Payments would be made through Dec. 31, 2020. They could be delivered electronically to accounts where a taxpayer had authorized deposit of a tax refund or other federal payment on or after Jan. 1, 2018. Notice would have to be sent to the taxpayer within 15 days of sending the payment. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a March 25 White House virus briefing that the department could begin sending payments in as little as three weeks.
A Social Security number would be required to claim the credit, although only one number would be required if one spouse was a member of the Armed Forces.
The full credit amount ($1,200 individuals, $2,400 couples, $500 for children) is available for individuals with income at or below $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household), and couples with income at or below $150,000.
The tax rebate amount will be reduced by $5 for each $100 that income exceeds the above income limits. That means for those without children, an individual will not receive any rebate if their income exceeds $99,000; and the same is true for couples with more than $198,000 of income.
- Loosens Rules on Retirement Accounts. Older Americans that are subject to mandatory minimum distributions from their retirement accounts are able to keep their capital invested instead of being forced to cash out to draw on that capital without penalty, which is suspended for 2020. Similarly, the bill also waives the 10% penalty on coronavirus-related early distributions from 401(k)s and IRAs, which applies to distributions made at any time during 2020.
- Delays Payroll Tax Payments for Employers: Employers are able to delay the payment of their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022, leading to approximately $300 billion of extra cash flow for businesses.
- Restores Supports for Businesses Suffering Losses: The bill also allows businesses to carry back losses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 to the previous 5 years, which will allow businesses access to immediate tax refunds.
Encourages Businesses to Invest in Improvements: The bill fixes cost recovery for investments in Qualified Improvement Properties, which will allow Payroll Tax Deferral. The measure would defer employer payroll and railroad retirement tax payments through the end of 2020. Deferred funds would be paid over two years in 2021 and 2022. The delay would provide businesses with about $300 billion of cash flow, according to a summary from House Ways and Means Committee Republicans.
Deferral wouldn’t apply to employers with small business loan debt forgiven under the bill. The measure would defer 50% of self-employed Social Security tax payments. The measure would appropriate funds to cover any forgone revenue to the Social Security and disability insurance trust funds and Social Security Equivalent Benefit Account.
Employee Retention Credit
The measure would establish a refundable credit against employer payroll and railroad retirement taxes for certain employers that are hurt by the coronavirus but retain their employees. The credit would be for 50% of eligible employee wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021. It would be provided for as much as $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits.
Employers could receive the credit if a government order related to the pandemic requires them to partially or fully suspend operations, or if their gross receipts declined by certain thresholds. Alternate rules would apply for tax-exempt organizations.
Employers with more than 100 full-time employees in 2019 would receive credits for wages paid to employees while they aren’t providing services. Employers with fewer employees would receive credit for wages paid while operations were suspended or during the quarter in which the company had a significant decline in gross receipts.
Employers couldn’t receive the credit if they receive a loan under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program for 7(a) loans established by the bill (see above).
Employers couldn’t use the credit for wages for which they also receive a credit under the work opportunity tax credit or a paid leave credit established by the 2017 tax overhaul (Public Law 115-97). Wages taken into account for the paid leave credits established under the second coronavirus response law (Public Law 116-127) couldn’t also be used for the employee retention credit. The credit wouldn’t apply to federal, state, or local government employers.
The measure would appropriate funds to the Social Security and disability trust funds and the Social Security Equivalent Benefit Account to offset the reduction in revenue.
Individuals could withdraw as much as $100,000 from their retirement accounts in 2020 without being subject to a 10% penalty. Funds would be treated as a tax-exempt rollover contribution if repaid in the next three years. If funds weren’t repaid, they would be taxed as income over three years.
Individuals would be eligible to make withdrawals if they, their spouse, or their dependent are diagnosed with Covid-19, or if the pandemic hurts their finances, such as through layoffs or reduced hours.
Eligible individuals could receive loans for the lesser of $100,000 or the present value of their vested benefits in their employer retirement accounts in the 180 days after the bill’s enactment. The limit is currently $50,000 or half the account’s value.
Individuals affected by the coronavirus with retirement plan loans due by Dec. 31, 2020, would have an extra year to repay them. The measure would modify certain retirement plan and account minimum distribution rules for 2020.
The measure would create a $300 above-the-line individual charitable contribution allowance for individuals who don’t itemize their returns for tax years beginning in 2020.
The measure also would suspend for 2020 the limit on the individual charitable deduction, which is available to filers who itemize. The deduction is limited to 60% of individual taxpayers’ adjusted gross incomes through 2025.
The corporate charitable deduction limit would be increased in 2020 to 25% of taxable income, from 10%. A deduction for food inventory contributions would be increased to 25%, from 15%.
Employer student loan repayment assistance paid after the bill’s enactment and before Jan. 1, 2021, would be excluded from employees’ income tax. Repaid amounts would count toward a $5,250 limit on other forms of employer-provided education assistance, such as tuition and related expenses, that can be excluded from income.
The measure would allow business losses from tax years after Dec. 31, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2021, to be carried back five years. Net operating loss carrybacks were eliminated for most businesses by the 2017 tax overhaul. Separate rules would apply to real estate investment trusts and life insurance companies.
The measure would allow the full amount of net operating loss carryovers and carrybacks to be used for tax years beginning before Jan. 1, 2021. The deduction was limited to 80% of taxable income under the 2017 tax overhaul. A separate deduction limit would be established for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2020.
The measure would modify the effective date of changes to the net operating loss deduction included in the 2017 tax overhaul. Republicans have previously sought changes to the date language, which they say doesn’t reflect congressional intent.
The measure would also modify net operating loss deduction limits for pass-through businesses and sole proprietorships.
Other Business Provisions
The measure would:
- Allow companies to more quickly access their remaining alternative minimum tax credits. The 2017 tax overhaul eliminated the corporate AMT but made remaining AMT credits refundable over several years, ending in 2021.
- Allow businesses to deduct 50% of their interest expenses in 2019 and 2020, with adjustments, instead of 30%. Separate rules would apply for partnerships.
- Address the “retail glitch” from the 2017 tax overhaul, in which the depreciation schedule for certain restaurant and restaurant and retail businesses’ qualified improvement property was inadvertently lengthened to 39 years. The bill would classify qualified improvement property as 15-year property, or 20-year property under an alternative depreciation system. The classification would make the property eligible for temporary “bonus depreciation” established by the 2017 tax law, which would allow it to be written off immediately.
- Businesses to immediately expense these investments.
Unemployment and Paid Leave (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance)
The measure would provide an additional $600 per week in “federal pandemic unemployment compensation” to individuals receiving unemployment benefits. The extra payment would remain available through July 31, 2020. It would be excluded when determining eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The measure would allow individuals affected by the coronavirus to receive pandemic unemployment assistance for as long as 39 weeks, which would include any week for which they receive regular compensation or extended benefits.
Unemployment benefits under that program would be available to individuals who are in quarantine, caring for a diagnosed family member, or out of work because their employer closed due to the coronavirus. It also would be available to those who are self-employed, have limited work history, or otherwise wouldn’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Benefits wouldn’t be provided to individuals who can telework with pay or who are receiving other paid leave benefits.
The benefit provisions would apply retroactively to Jan. 27 and remain in place through Dec. 31. Compensation would be provided without any waiting period.
The measure also would provide an additional 13 weeks of pandemic emergency unemployment compensation to individuals who have exhausted regular benefits. Emergency benefits would remain available through Dec. 31.
States would be paid 100% of the total amount of unemployment benefits they provide, including administrative costs in certain cases. The measure also would fully reimburse states for providing compensation the first week of unemployment, without a waiting period. In addition, states would receive funding to reimburse nonprofits and government agencies for half of their costs of providing unemployment benefits.
In addition to increasing access to care for COVID-19 treatment, the bill removes limitations employers and individuals are facing on their HSA-eligible plans.
- Eliminates Red Tape for Employers and Individuals: The bill ensures that Americans can use all tax-favored health care accounts, like HSAs and FSAs, to buy over-the-counter medicines tax-free without a prescription. In addition, high deductible health care plans with HSAs will now be able to provide coverage, pre-deductible, for telehealth services.
We encourage you to continue to check this page for updates on how the massage community can tap into these resources, as well as those provided by individual states.
We truly value the amazing work you do as massage therapists, and we are working tirelessly to advocate for your needs during this tough time. We will get through this together.
Coronavirus Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources & Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
Small business owners in designated states are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here to apply.
Find more information on the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans at SBA.gov/Disaster.
Unemployment Benefits and the Coronavirus
The federal government is allowing states to change their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Each state’s rules may be different. Contact your state’s unemployment insurance program to learn about and apply for unemployment insurance.
Many utility companies are freezing shut-offs, meaning that if you are unable to pay your bill during the crisis, they will not shut off your utilities. Check with your utility company about deferring your payments.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as many cities and states, have placed a moratorium on residential evictions and foreclosures, so your landlord may not evict you even if you can’t pay rent. (You will still be responsible for paying back the rent owed when the moratorium is lifted.) Consider asking your landlord to reduce or delay rent payments. There is a letter template you may use here.
The federal tax deadline for filing and payments has been pushed back to July 15. Many states have pushed back their deadlines as well, however, this does not mean that every state has. You should check with your state treasurer’s office.
State-Based Updates: Financial Resources & Information
The AMTA team has been working to gather state-based financial resources to share with massage therapists impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage you to check this page regularly for new information and resources that pertain to your state.
California has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
Colorado has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
Connecticut has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
The Connecticut DOL is working on extending assistance to the self-employed. As such, self-employed/independent contractors have been instructed to file for unemployment insurance. Please note, the state is still working through the details of how they will roll this program out. This link will take you directly to the CT Department of Labor website to file.
Instructions for Enrolling in Unemployment.
Read all instructions on the website first, use the ID number provided (if you do not know your employer’s unemployment insurance number (list as self-employed), and please ensure that you set up a new account if you have not used the system before. After you complete the setup (allow 30-60 minutes; it’s easier on computer than phone), you may then enter your account, and select either direct deposit or the bank card option for disbursement of funds. DOL is recommending everyone use direct deposit, as the bank card option will take an additional 10 business days to process.
Also, there is also work being done to provide no interest loans; the best resource for this would be the CT Small Business Development Center.
For small business loans and business recovery information in Florida, you can access details and how to apply for loans here.
The City of Chicago has information and resources for assisting small businesses during this time. Small business owners and entrepreneurs can find resources on grants, loans, and financial assistance counseling online. The city has also put together the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund to support small businesses in the city with emergency cash flow through low-interest loans. Details and the application for the Resiliency Fund are available online.
Maryland has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
Massachusetts has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
For Self-Employed Workers in Michigan: The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance. Eligible employees are strongly encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA or by calling 866-500-0017.
A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can also be found online.
Minnesota has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
Nevada has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
The Governor of New Hampshire has issued an executive order changing the waiting period and definitions of those eligible for unemployment to assist those impacted by COVID-19. Access details in the executive order in the pdf online.
New York has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
The AMTA Oregon chapter has put together a list of financial resources for individuals and businesses in the state. You can access the resources in a Google document online.
Rhode Island has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
Texas Disaster Unemployment Assistance: Access information on eligibility and how to apply for DUA online.
Vermont has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/
Washington has opened up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for those currently uninsured. Apply at: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/