The federal government recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides relief to small businesses, independent contractors, sole proprietors and individuals who are self-employed. Various relief programs may be available to real estate brokerage firms and agents.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
A key provision in the CARES Act creates a temporary “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” program that extends unemployment benefits to those not traditionally eligible, including self-employed individuals.
The unemployment assistance may be available to individuals who are unemployed, or unable to work for the weeks impacted as a result of COVID-19 between Jan. 27 and Dec. 31, 2020. It provides up to $600 per week to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment insurance, such as self-employed workers and independent contractors, for up to four months. These benefits will be administered by the states, in accordance with this new federal law.
Kansas and Missouri both await federal guidelines to administer Pandemic Unemployment Insurance through the CARES Act.
As of April 7, the Kansas Department of Labor has said it has begun planning the implementation of these programs but is waiting on finalized guidance from the federal government. Independent contractors who file for unemployment at this time will receive a “not eligible” notification when applying. The department suggests independent contractors continue the application process, and although the application will be rejected at this time, the applicant will be in the queue to be processes later.
As of April 7, the Missouri Department of Labor is awaiting guidance from the federal government to fully implement the changes made by this new law. It is not currently prepared to accept applications from independent contractors at this time. It encourages people to check back at a later time.
Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Payroll Protection Plan
The CARES Act dramatically increased the role of the Small Business Administration (SBA) in efforts to assist in U.S. businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The two main vehicles for these relief efforts are the SBA 7(b)(2) loans – Economic Injury Disaster Loans – and the SBA 7(a) Payroll Protection Plan loan program. Both loans may be available to businesses with 500 or fewer employees that have been negatively impacted by the crisis. If qualifications are met, these loans can be 100% forgivable up to $10,000. See the details of each program on kcrar.com/caresact.
In addition to this federal relief, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has made two months of TeleHealth accessible at no cost to REALTORS® who don’t otherwise have a telehealth option available to them. NAR also offers a Center for Financial Wellness online for REALTORS® with resources for financial planning wealth building, business planning, and investing in real estate.