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Q&A: I've Lost My Job. How Will the Stimulus Plan Help Me?

Q&A: I've Lost My Job. How Will the Stimulus Plan Help Me?

Deseret News (Salt Lake City) | By Kevin G. Hall

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday the largest government economic rescue plan in the nation’s history, a $787 billion package of spending, tax cuts and tax credits that’s designed to help pull the nation out of what’s becoming the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes everything from money to refurbish public housing to incentives for energy conservation. The 1,000-page plan aims to create and preserve jobs, and also to accelerate the transformation of key economic sectors.

While the plan provides some benefits directly to individuals, the main way it’s intended to help Americans is to promote economic activity nationwide. The stimulus is but one part of a multifront attack by the government on the recession.

Other parts include the mortgage-relief program that Obama will announce on Wednesday and the next phase of the bank bailout, to be announced soon. They’re all intended to work together, along with efforts by the Federal Reserve to kick-start the economy. However, individuals will benefit most once the economy resumes growth rather than from the stimulus itself.

Here are some answers to questions about what the stimulus plan might mean to taxpayers and consumers.

Question: Will I get a tax rebate like last year?

Answer: No. Taxpayers won’t receive checks this year. This plan involves a payroll tax cut, where employers will withhold less in taxes, meaning there will be a modest bump up in take-home pay until an income threshold is met. The cap is $400 for single filers and $800 for joint filers whose adjusted gross income falls below $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.

Question: What if I’m self-employed?

Answer: You must adjust your quarterly tax filings to capture this credit.

Question: I don’t earn a lot. How else does the stimulus plan help me?

A: The stimulus plan includes a temporary expansion of the earned- income tax credit for families with three or more children, and it allows more low-income families to receive a refundable child tax credit this year and next. For recipients of food stamps, the dollar amount of this assistance will increase by 14 percent.

Question: What about people who are disabled or living on their Social Security checks?

Answer: The Social Security Administration will be sending a one- time $250 “economic recovery payment” within 120 days for people in this category. Check the agency’s Web site, or AARP’s Web site, in the coming days for more details.

Question: I’ve lost my job. How does this help?

Answer: If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits this year, you no longer will have to pay federal taxes on the first $2,400 of these benefits. The bill also extends unemployment benefits that would’ve phased out in March through December, and it raises the average weekly benefit by $25 a week, to $325.

Question: I’ve lost my health insurance. Where do I get coverage for my family?

Answer: If you lose your job this year and choose to take Cobra coverage to keep your family covered on health care, the government will now subsidize up to 65 percent of the costs of your premium for nine months. If you lost your job any time after Sept. 1 and elected not to receive Cobra coverage but now want it, you can contact your former employer and it should be available. Help on Cobra premiums will be available to any worker laid off from Sept. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2009.

Question: I need to buy a car. Does the stimulus plan help me?

Answer: It doesn’t provide the steep tax credits some prominent economists had advocated but will allow you to deduct from your federal taxes the state sales tax that are associated with buying a car, truck, motorcycle or recreational vehicle. This benefit phases out for single tax filers who have adjusted gross incomes above $125,000 or joint filers above $250,000.

Question: There had been talk of a $15,000 tax credit for home purchases. Is this in the stimulus?

Answer: No. The stimulus plan expanded an existing program for first-time homebuyers, but didn’t expand it to everyone. It raised by $500, to $8,000, the tax credit for first-time buyers who purchase a home. Before, this credit had to be repaid if a home was sold within three years of purchase. That repayment no longer is required.

© 2009 Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

Talk about it. Join the “Stimulus Plan 2009” Community Group.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Suewynne1

    almost 5 years ago

    8 comments

    Bank Work$ A Free Bank Career Training Program-Next training session begins June 29, 9009. Call today!!310-273-6633 x241. To be eligible you must apply by June 19, 2009. Minimum age 18. Must speak and write English. Basic computer skills. No adult felony convictions. Contact lisa Meadows, Expo Center-City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Recreation and Parks, 3980 S. Menlo Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90037 lmeadows@jvsla.org

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Quew

    about 5 years ago

    8 comments

    to: B_ Houde
    Contact your employer immediately to get the company name and contact information that administers their COBRA benefits. They (the COBRA administrator) are actually supposed to contact you because you have 45 days to elect continuation coverage thru COBRA. They are supposed to contact yu with premium information and forms to elect COBRA.

  • 79bdd5_max50

    tonimc

    about 5 years ago

    12 comments

    I lost my job in March 07 and have not been able to find a job in my field, plus I have been sick, I have been on Cobra the entire time, now my Cobra is going to run out in March I had heard that they were going to make it that Cobra would be extended does anyone know about this?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    B_Houde

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Does any one know how to apply for the assistance with COBRA? I lost my job in December and need to file my COBRA documentation ASAP my son is having surgery next month and w/o this help I have no way of paying this. Any ideas??

  • 100_2332_max50

    myermania

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    How about recent college graduates looking for work but haven't found anything yet? I've applied to 25+ places and am forced to wait while my dwindling money supply dwindles even more. I had to quit my job at Walmart when I moved back home, and wouldn't you know that the great Walton had recently put a new clause in the company policy stating that you couldn't transfer to another store unless you worked there over a year...

    Anyway, is there any kind of hope for me in the stimulus bill? Thanks!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Bigbren51

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    what about the good jobs people can get but if you have a felony for 13years and it never goes away and if your credit is not good that will not help either what people like me can do about this kinda sitution, it something should be done to help us

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dorisonthelake

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I worked for a small business, so COBRA wasn't an option. I would have had to send my premiums to my former company. Would I be eligible for the 65% as well?

  • Christmass_07_max50

    jyoche

    about 5 years ago

    60 comments

    Thank you Penny. I did not know about the extension of unemployment benefits; mine where scheduled to end in March!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    mwresendes

    about 5 years ago

    6 comments

    What about the over 61 years old but do not want to take social security until at least 66 or 70. and are having problems being interviewed and hired. We have worked hard all our lives and now we have troulbe keeping or getting hired especially women who are professional and have always gotten less pay than men.

  • Dscn0046_max50

    Isaacs

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    what about the people who bust there ass and still under middle class with low paying jobs or not enough hrs.alot of job now adays only hire temps and part time wht happens to them who keeps getting put job to job with big gapes inbetween jobs with a family to souport .

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    pennyp

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    FYI

    Hope this info helps ........ Penny

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