COVID-19 legislation and relief programs

Updated on August 13, 2021

Signed into law in March 2021, the American Rescue Plan of 2021 provided $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 stimulus and relief spending. It extended and expanded existing COVID-19 programs to provide additional relief to individuals and small business owners across the country. The legislation contained many of AVMA's COVID-19 relief priorities.

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 provided an additional $15 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). It also extended the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) through December 31, 2021.
  • Extended tax credit for employers that offer paid family and medical leave: The bill did not reinstate the mandatory paid family and sick leave from the CARES Act. Instead, it extended 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 provided $300 million for monitoring and surveillance of susceptible animals for incidences of SARS-CoV-2.
  • Student Loans: The legislation included a temporary provision that applies to the tax-free treatment of forgiven debt for qualified loans discharged between December 31, 2020, and January 1, 2026. Qualified loans generally include those guaranteed by the federal government. Regulations from the IRS 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

AVMA members: Submit questions about the federal COVID-19 relief measures via coronavirusatavma [dot] org. The questions we receive will help us develop other resources for you.