Last night, Congress passed a $2 Trillion relief package for Americans affected by the Coronavirus. Here’s what every freelancer should know about the bill and how it could affect you:
The bill establishes a “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” program that will provide workers who do not ordinarily qualify for unemployment insurance — such as freelancers, furloughed workers, and independent contractors — with a weekly payment equal to $600 per week, for up to four months.
Here is a direct link to the text of the law. Warning: It’s long!
These benefits are in addition to whatever benefits the freelancer might be entitled to under their specific state’s law.
The current estimate is that these payments will begin rolling in about 3-4 weeks from now. This is just an estimate and depends on how quickly the Treasury Department can begin processing everything.
Under current New York State law, freelancers and independent contractors do not appear to qualify for unemployment benefits because they are not employees. More information can be found here.
However, there are other resources.
New York City is offering no-interest loans of up to $75,000 to small businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decrease by of 25%, as well as grants to small businesses with fewer than five employees to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees.
The pre-application for these interest-free business loans is available here. Right now, it is unknown whether these loans apply directly to freelancers, but there is no indication freelancers are excluded from applying at this time.
Therefore, it is in your best interest to apply if you meet these qualifications:
- You are located within the five boroughs of New York City.
- You can demonstrate that the COVID-19 outbreak caused at least a 25% decrease in you revenue.
- You can show an ability to repay the loan.
- You have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgments against you.
Feel free to email me, call me at (646) 568-4280, or comment below if you have any questions.