Updated on March 16, 2021
Congress has passed another COVID-19 stimulus bill totaling $1.9 trillion. The American Rescue Plan of 2021 extends and expands on COVID-19 programs that provide additional relief to individuals and small business owners across the country. The legislation contains many of AVMA's COVID-19 relief priorities.
Over the past year, AVMA relied heavily on input and stories from individual member veterinarians to personalize our advocacy outreach and understand the importance of COVID-19 relief to the veterinary community. AVMA worked aggressively with Congress, leveraging the AVMA Ambassador Program and the AVMA PAC to stress the importance of including veterinary priorities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Key provisions impacting the veterinary profession in the American Rescue Plan include:
- Additional funding for small business support: The bill provides an additional $15 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and expands the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) grants to additional non-profits.
- Extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) through December 31, 2021
- Extended tax credit for employers that offer paid family and medical leave: The bill does not reinstate the mandatory paid family and sick leave from the CARES Act. Instead, it extends the tax credit to October 1, 2021 for eligible employers for the full amount of the voluntarily offered sick leave and family leave, health plan expenses, plus the employer's share of Medicare tax on the leave.
- Funding for preparedness: The bill provides $300 million for monitoring and surveillance of susceptible animals for incidences of SARS-CoV-2.
- Student Loans: The legislation includes a temporary provision that applies to the tax-free treatment of forgiven debt for qualified loans discharged between Dec 31, 2020 to Jan 1, 2026. Qualified loans generally include those guaranteed by the federal government. Regulations from the IRS will be forthcoming and will provide specific clarification on how this provision will impact veterinary borrowers, especially those in income-based repayment (IBR) programs. This provision would also apply to debt forgiveness through future legislation, administration action, or action by educational institutions within the specified time frame. Should President Biden provide student loan forgiveness through executive action, this provision would make the forgiveness tax-free.
Other notable provisions:
- An additional $300 of federal unemployment insurance benefits per week through September 6, 2021.
- Direct stimulus payment of $1,400 for qualifying adults and dependents subject to income caps.
- Funding for higher education to provide emergency financial aid grants to students and to cover revenue losses and increased costs related to COVID-19.
More information will be provided here as the government issues rules and guidance to implement these provisions.