Resources for Independent Contractors during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Above all, the ICBA is concerned for the health and well-being of our members, With the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, these are very unsettling and stressful times for everyone, but especially for independent contractors, like you.

We feel a tremendous responsibility to be a resource for you and help you navigate through this unprecedented situation.

If your sources of income have been affected by stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, we have potential solutions.

COVID-19 has brought about a lot of uncertainty around the globe. But the pandemic can be particularly stressful for independent contractors, many of whom are experiencing a drop or loss in income while entire industries slow down or come to a temporary halt. Although independent contractors and gig workers don’t have the traditional benefits safety nets of salaried workers, we’ve rounded up some resources and solutions that may provide relief and peace of mind during this unprecedented situation.

First, if you need resources on how to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, what to do to slow the spread, and what to do if you become ill with symptoms of COVID-19, refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for comprehensive info.

Here’s what you can do to tackle financial concerns:

The Coronavirus Bill

The good news is that many Americans will receive a stimulus check as part of the Coronavirus Bill. U.S. adult residents who make an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will receive the full amount of $1,200, plus an additional $500 per qualifying child under age 16. Married couples filing jointly who make $150,000 or less will receive one check for $2,400. The threshold for a taxpayer filing as head of household is $112,500 or less. The income thresholds are based on either your 2019 or 2018 tax return, depending on the most recent year you filed. Checks and direct deposits are expected to go out in early April. If you’ve moved since your last filing, make sure the IRS has your current information.

Government assistance options

Yes, you can apply for unemployment! As part of the Coronavirus Bill, gig workers, freelancers, and other self-employed workers will be eligible for unemployment benefits. The bill provides $600 weekly payments over the course of four months, plus the payment amount determined by your state of residence. Even workers who have faced a sharp decline in earnings because of the pandemic may be able to file a claim. Apply for benefits via your state government. Also, find out if you are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Assistance via apps

If you are a gig worker, make sure to check with any app platforms you use to see if they are offering assistance to workers during the pandemic.

A later tax date

The IRS has extended the federal income tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020. If you are owed a refund, you should still file as soon as possible so that you can receive that money. However, if you owe taxes for 2019 or for your 2020 quarterly installments, you may want to wait to make those payments.

Loan assistance

Independent contractors and sole-proprietors (along with small business owners) can apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Check out the SBA’s COVID-19 resource guidance information.

Additionally, don’t hesitate to reach out to the financial institutions you already bank with. The American Bankers Association has a list of institutions and their announced coronavirus response and support efforts. Some tactics include waiving overdraft or early withdrawal fees, reducing or waiving interest fees, and providing personalized assistance in the form of deferred credit card or mortgage payments.

Defer bills

Take stock of your bills, including rent and utilities. Some state and local municipalities have laws in place that prevent landlords from evicting renters and prevent utility companies from shutting off services during the pandemic. And even if your area does not have these orders in effect, you can still reach out and ask for payment extensions. If you’re too stressed or can’t focus right now, enlist an app to do the work for you.

Student loan forbearance

Reach out to your student loan lender. First, it’s good to know that the Department of Education has nixed loan interest and payments for 60 days on federally held student loans. Plus, the Coronavirus Bill extends the option for borrowers to put off payments until September 30, 2020. None of this happens automatically, though. You have to contact your lender. These rules don’t apply to privately held loans, but you can still reach out to your lender and request assistance that fits your needs.

Community-generated resources

Research what’s happening in your community, too. For example, many cities have started informal virtual tip jar programs for restaurant and other hospitality workers. Make sure you’re on the list. If you frequently worked shifts at a restaurant, check with that business to see if they have their own virtual tip jar or another fund for paying staffers and giggers. Many communities have also put together lists of resources. Explore community social media pages and groups for leads. The Gig Workers Collective helps you connect with other gig workers and independent contractors to share resources and help each other out.

The ICBA will continue to provide information about coronavirus resources for independent contractors as we learn about them. So check back on our blog often.

In conclusion, the ICBA wants to help you through this crisis. If you have any questions or need direction, your fastest response is to email us at cs@icbassociation.org. Alternatively call us at 866-425-9935 and we will assist you as best we can or direct you to the appropriate party that can do it better.

Stay safe.