American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Signed into Law

Avery Jones

President Joe Biden’s fabled American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed into law March 12. The bill is intended to send America on its way toward pandemic relief, economic growth and more of a normal way of life.

The bill is worth $1.9 trillion and provides funding to numerous branches of government, different types of essential businesses and individuals to help jumpstart our economy.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be receiving $91 billion for various efforts against the Coronavirus. This provides the HHS with the resources needed to accelerate research, development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines. It will also aid diagnostic testing and increase the health care workforce.

$7.5 billion has been set for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This will help the CDC prepare, promote, administer, monitor, and track vaccines. The package provides around $105 billion more toward various federal public health and emergency agencies for research, disaster and relief funds for state and local governments, and other COVID-19 expenses.

The plan also has, in its terms, that every adult in America will receive $1,400 checks intended for financial relief. This is a property of this bill that Biden used to spread awareness and gain support.

According to CNBC, at the end of January, it was reported that 18% of renters in America were behind on rent. This is ten million Americans, and millions more are behind on mortgage payments. Biden’s hope is that this aspect of the bill will set Americans up for financial success as we continue to weaken and overcome the pandemic.

The $1,400 is meant to supplement the $600 provided back in December, but this is not the only measure of help for individuals. The bill also expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), two tax policies that will be instrumental in the growth of the economy as it re-emerges.

This will nearly triple the maximum EITC for childless workers and increase the amount of the CTC from $2,000 to $3,000. Additionally, the bill includes an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which increases the amount households can receive for a total of up to $4,000 for one child, or $8,000 for two or more children.

Other aspects of note in the package include $21.55 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance; $5 billion to support communities’ efforts to provide supportive services and safe housing solutions; and nearly $10 billion in funding through the Department of the Treasury to states, territories, and tribally designated housing entities to provide direct assistance to homeowners.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also notably includes the Restaurants Revitalization Fund, which is based on the original $109 billion Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act passed by the House last year, which provides $28.6 billion in relief for small and mid – sized restaurants.

There is also an additional $1.25 billion in funding for the $15 billion Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) program passed in December to provide relief to independent live music venues, performing arts centers, movie theaters and museums.

The bill extends and expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) through December 31, 2021, allowing certain businesses to claim the credit for a greater share of employee wages, and expands the credit to cover newly formed businesses.

On the matter of paid sick leave, the package provides an extension and expansion of the paid Sick and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave tax credits created in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. Specifically, it provides payroll tax credits for employers who voluntarily provide paid leave through the end of September 2021, this expands eligibility to state and local government that provide this benefit.

This bill will go down in history as one of Biden’s biggest accomplishments of his term. Although he has taken the time to congratulate himself and his team, and to celebrate, he does not forget that there is still work to be done.

“It’s one thing to pass the American Rescue Plan.” Biden said, delivering remarks just hours after the signing. “It’s going to be another thing to implement it. It’s going to require fastidious oversight to make sure there’s no waste or fraud, and the law does what its designed to do.”

Now that the plan has been passed and signed into law, the IRS is working to ensure they can get payments out this month, and Biden and his team are moving on to other matters on their agenda.