Presidential Memos Address Coronavirus Issues
Over the weekend, President Trump issued a series of executive actions. Three of the four memos aim at extending CARES Act provisions that have expired already or will expire soon. The fourth seeks to mimic the payroll tax holiday for which the President has been advocating.
The four executive actions address the following areas:
- Unemployment Benefits – This memorandum authorizes an extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits legislated in the CARES Act. It lowers the weekly payment from $600 to $400. According to the action, states are responsible for 25% of the weekly payments while the remainder will be funded by the Disaster Relief Fund.
- Eviction Protection – Saturday’s White House memo addressing eviction protection directs the secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the CDC to “consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” It is not an extension of the CARES Act eviction moratorium and provides no financial assistance to renters.
- Student Loans – This memorandum calls for a waiver of student loan interest until the end of 2020. It only covers loans held by the Department of Education, as the White House does not hold authority over privately held student loans.
- Payroll Tax – This executive action offers a deferral on federal tax withholdings for those earning less than $100,000 per year, starting September 1st and lasting through the end of 2020. While the President has indicated he would like to explore a way of eliminating the deferred tax, the memo itself includes no tax forgiveness.
There is much uncertainty surrounding these executive actions, including questions about their legality and the source of their funding. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Lewis & Knopf accounting advisor with any questions or concerns.