Read What’s Hot Around the Web: February 2021

A roundup of independent contractor news and insights

We’ve curated some of the top topics circulating the web regarding independent contractors over the last month. Right now, everyone’s talking about the COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill signed into law at the tail tip of 2020. With it comes another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans (yes independent contractors can nab these!), stimulus checks, and extensions on aid programs enacted earlier during the pandemic. Plus, with a new administration in the Oval Office, a flurry of executive orders are also garnering lots of attention. We’ve rounded up the details and provided links to more info.

PPP and your taxes

Whenever it’s a new year, we enter the dreaded tax time. We’ll pause while you go ahead and say Ugh! But we do have some good news when it comes to PPP loans. You can now deduct expenses related to the portion of PPP loans that were forgiven. Originally, when PPP loans first came to fruition during the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS had said that such expenses would not be deductible. For more info on PPP funds and other pandemic-related assistance and how those items affect your taxes, check out this Bench article. The piece includes info on an expanded list of expenses that are eligible for forgiveness. Newbies to the list include covered operational expenditures (like HR, software, cloud computing, etc.), certain expenditures to suppliers, and property damage costs (as a result of events in 2020). As always, you should run any tax questions and decisions by your trusted CPA.

PPP forgiveness

More good news regarding PPP! Trying to figure out the logistics of PPP loan forgiveness can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. But this month the Small Business Association (SBA) has created Form 3508S, a one-pager to streamline the application process of loan forgiveness. But you can only use this form if you received $150,000 or less. For more details on loan forgiveness in general, we recommend this handy guide from Yahoo Finance.

Another round of PPP

Yet more good news! The COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill added another round of PPP loans. Even if you secured an earlier round of PPP, you can apply again. And if you missed out on much-needed funds in 2020, you can apply this year. Once again, independent contractors are invited to apply. This Fundbox blog has the deets on applying when you’re self-employed.

Stimulus checks

We’d be remiss not to mention that you might have already received (if you were eligible) a small bit of funding in the form of a $600 stimulus check, or $1,200 if you’re married filing jointly. (For each child in your household under 17, you should have received $600 as well.) It’s possible another round of stimulus checks, this time $1,400 for individuals, may be on the way. But such a plan would need the help of the nation’s lawmakers to come to fruition. So stay tuned on that. If you’re still looking for your $600 check or direct deposit, you can check the status here.

Additional unemployment assistance

The recent relief package also provides a $300 a week federal enhancement to unemployment benefits through March 14 of this year. The law also extended (by 11 weeks) two programs that were set to expire when 2020 went poof. One such program gives self-employed (including gig workers) access to jobless benefits if needed. (Pre pandemic and before the CARES Act, unemployment for independent contractors was totally not a thing.) The other extended program offers emergency unemployment relief for an extra 13 weeks for folks who max out their state-offered jobless benefits.

Moratorium on evictions

President Joe Biden, via executive order, called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to extend an eviction moratorium for renters through March. This is helpful for independent contractors who’ve lost out on work during the pandemic. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 20 percent of tenants were behind on rent in December. The earlier moratorium on evictions was set to expire at the end of 2020. The executive order also asks federal agencies to extend a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures for homeowners.

The ICBA will keep you updated as more news unfolds about COVID-19 economic relief and future aid packages.