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'Help is on the way': What the COVID-19 stimulus package means to Guam residents

 

 
 

President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion bipartisan stimulus package on Friday, Washington, D.C., time, that will provide economic relief to individuals and companies.

The stimulus package will provide $1,200 checks to individuals, and more for families. It would compensate people who are laid off or furloughed because of the crisis, and it directs cash to hospitals and other medical facilities.

"Help is on the way," Del. Mike San Nicolas said.

On Guam, the local government will need to set up some programs and infrastructure so money can get to eligible individuals, according to San Nicolas.

San Nicolas explained the package, and how it will work for Guam residents. 

Direct cash assistance to households

  • $1,200 per adult earning $75,000 a year or less. This amount gradually reduces and phases out as income goes up.
  • $500 per child. 

This is a one-time payout.

"For a typical household you're looking at $2,400 for mom and dad and you're looking at it, you have three kids another $1,500. And so that comes out to a total of $3,900," San Nicolas said.

Who qualifies:

If you are on the 2018 or 2019 tax rolls, your name is included. You also need a Social Security number.

"You don't need to have paid taxes," San Nicolas said. "You need to have filed,"

In the rest of the country, this will be paid through the IRS. On Guam, the local government will need to reconcile the Department of Revenue and Taxation tax filers with the U.S. Treasury, San Nicolas said.

Unemployment

  • $930 a week for everyone who is unemployed, partly unemployed or furloughed because of the pandemic. This varies by state. On Guam, the figure is calculated using the average state benefit of $330 a week and adding an extra $600 a week for four months.

 

The federal government supports state unemployment programs, so there is already a mechanism in place to get unemployment insurance payments to individuals who live in states. On Guam, no unemployment insurance program exists.

For the pandemic unemployment insurance program, Guam will have to work out a program with the U.S. labor secretary, and the federal government will have to approve that program.

"We've created an opportunity for Guam to be able to access money that normally we would have lost out from because we don't have the existing infrastructure," San Nicolas said.

Rent, mortgage

If you have a federally backed mortgage, for as long as there is a declared emergency on Guam, you will not need to pay your mortgage, San Nicolas said. Interest will continue to accrue, but banks must give you mortgage forbearance for 180 days. 

"That passes through to renters, because in the legislation we also suspend evictions," he said.

More: COVID-19 cases not rising as fast as government projections

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Employers

Refundable payroll tax credit for employers who were either forced to shut their doors because of the emergency or whose gross receipts declined by 50% during the emergency. 

Hospitals

Expansion of Medicare accelerated payment program for hospitals.

Government of Guam

  • Along with other states and territories, access to a $100 billion in funds to pay for coronavirus-related expenses. 
  • $55 million in additional grants for insular areas such as Guam and the freely associated state for medical equipment and supplies.
  • $117 million available to help meet health expenses or offset budget losses.
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