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Am I Eligible for Benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act?

Apr23
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Am I Eligible for Benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act?

Because the CARES Act includes many different components, there are various answers to this question.

First and perhaps most important to many families is whether they qualify for the recovery rebate, also known as the stimulus.  Aside from having a qualifying income limit, all people who are included on the 2018 or 2019 tax returns must have filed using a valid social security number.  Those who only have an individual tax identification number (ITIN) are not eligible and if they filed with their citizen or legal permanent resident spouse who has a valid social security number, the entire household will be disqualified from receiving a stimulus payment.  This leaves out thousands of mixed-status families who are suffering as much as families made up of individuals who have valid social security numbers.

The CARES Act also provides protections for self-employed individuals in the form of tax credits.  This section of the CARES Act is not limited to those people who file using a social security number.  Rather, it applies to all tax filers regardless of whether they use an ITIN or social security number.  Although the benefit of this provision is merely a tax credit, it at least provides some benefit to those businesses run by non-citizens.

The last major provision of the CARES Act relates to unemployment insurance (UI).  Typically in order to qualify for UI, a person must have worked for the requisite number of credits while being “work-authorized”.  This generally means that a non-citizen must have a valid employment authorization document issued by USCIS.  However, regular UI is run by states that have varying requirements, which may or may not include having a valid work permit.  The Department of Labor has yet to issue guidance as to what immigration-related conditions will be required to receive UI under this provision.

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