Introduction to the American Rescue Plan Act
The American Rescue Plan Act that passed in March 2021 is the third federal relief package and totals $1.9 trillion. It includes a wide range of benefits to create a path to recovery from the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The act is the most recent federal relief package and is one part of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which includes the American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan. It comes one year after the initial relief package of $2.2 trillion allocated through the CARES Act. The new plan extends some provisions from the previous relief packages, provides direct aid to states and localities and creates changes to tax policy.
Below is a preview of the benefits available to support families now as well as those coming up that individuals should be aware of:
- Emergency Broadband Benefit: The EBB is available for low-income families to receive monthly discounts on their broadband service through participating providers.
- P-EBT: The Pandemic EBT program provides assistance to children who qualify for free or reduced lunch who are attending school in a remote or hybrid model.
- SNAP: SNAP benefits have been increased by 15% through September 20, 2021.
- WIC: WIC Cash Value Benefit has been increased to $35 per month temporarily.
- Free school meals: All students are eligible for free school meals at participating locations.
- Increased prenatal care for undocumented mothers: Undocumented women are now eligible for comprehensive prenatal care and coverage for 60 days postpartum.
- Starting April 1, 2021, Green Card holders who have lived in the United States for at least five years no longer have to provide proof of work history to be eligible for Medicaid.
- People who were formerly in foster care between ages 18-26 could be eligible for direct cash assistance as well as housing and educational assistance through the Virginia Department of Social Services.
- Youth who have experienced homelessness or foster care are also temporarily eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and can begin claiming it at age 18, even if they are full-time students.
- Rental Assistance: Rental assistance is available through the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Tax Credits/Economic Supports
- Stimulus checks: There have been three direct economic impact payments, also referred to as stimulus checks. The most recent round provided direct payments of $1,400 and eligible people who have not received their checks may be able to claim them when filing their 2020 taxes.
- Expanded EITC: The Earned Income Tax Credit was expanded to include childless workers age 19 and older.
- Improved Child Tax Credit: The Child Tax Credit has been increased and made fully refundable. Additionally, families can expect monthly allowances starting in mid-July till the end of the year for half of their expected credit. They will receive the remainder when they file their 2021 tax return.
- Improved Child Care and Development Credit: The Child Care and Development credit has also been increased, made fully refundable and can cover up to half of child care expenses for children under 13.
Stay tuned for more information on these benefits, including how to apply and resources to help people file their taxes!
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