DC Tax Flash: Bill To Provide $2,000 Virus Relief Payments Blocked in House

Tax Alert

An attempt today by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to win unanimous consent to approve legislation (H.R. 9046) that would deliver $2,000 in direct payments to taxpayers was blocked by Republican leaders, leaving still in doubt the fate of the year-end virus relief package (H.R. 133) approved earlier this week. The president has criticized the massive year-end bill (entitled the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), which includes $600 direct payments, as inadequate and in need of revision.

It remains uncertain when or if the president will sign the year-end bill. In a statement released by the president yesterday, he urged Congress to increase the relief payments and eliminate certain spending provisions, but he did not explicitly say he would veto it.

The president has several more days to consider the legislation. However, if he does not sign it before next Tuesday (and if Congress does not take additional action), the federal government faces a partial shutdown starting at midnight on December 28, 2020. That's when the current temporary funding law will lapse if not supplanted by the permanent FY 2021 funding incorporated in the year-end bill.

As described by the Ways and Means Committee, the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act (H.R. 9046) that was blocked today in the House would:

  • Increase the value of the economic impact payments (EIPs) provided in the end-of-year COVID relief package so that each eligible family member receives $2,000, up from $600; and
  • Apply the same, broader eligibility established in the end-of-year package to mixed-status families where one spouse has a Social Security Number (SSN). As specified in the latest COVID relief legislation, these families are eligible for the EIP amount for each family member with an SSN, and can claim the corresponding amount for the first round of economic impact payments when they file their 2020 taxes.

The House may reconsider the CASH Act and hold a roll call vote next week.

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