Today, President Biden signed the sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, offering support to many individuals economically impacted by the pandemic, including music creators, copyright owners, and other small businesses. This vital legislation includes the following provisions that can help the creative community:
- Direct Payments: The American Rescue Plan provides a $1,400 payment to supplement the $600 already provided in December. Individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 will receive the full direct payments of $1,400 per person. Individuals will also receive an additional $1,400 payment for each dependent claimed on their tax returns.
- Unemployment Insurance Extensions: This bill extends the critical financial lifeline of enhanced unemployment insurance for the 18 million Americans that are currently relying on these benefits until September 6, 2021. It includes an extension of the federal unemployment insurance bump that is added to all unemployment benefits (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC), at the current law amount of $300. It also includes extensions of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expands eligibility for the self-employed, gig workers, freelancers and others in non-traditional employment who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance, as well as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which makes additional weeks of benefits available to workers who exhaust their state benefits. All other CARES Act and Families First Act unemployment programs are similarly extended until September 6.
- Unemployment Insurance Taxation: The package includes a $10,200 tax exclusion for unemployment compensation income for tax year 2020 for households with incomes under $150,000.
- Paycheck Protection Program: $7.25 billion added in funding helps provide forgivable loans to small businesses, sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals.
- Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program: $1.25 billion in funds will be added to this program. Eligible applicants will be able to access both the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and Paycheck Protection Program to address SVOG’s delayed start. These funds are critical to ensuring venues survive the pandemic and can offer live music again soon.
- Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants: $15 billion in new additional funding will provide hard-hit, underserved small businesses with increased flexible grant relief.
In response to Congress passing the bill yesterday, BMI joined the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other music industry groups to release this statement of support:
“The American Rescue Plan provides absolutely essential economic relief for workers in the American creative community who continue to face an uncertain path back to work due to the pandemic. This legislation’s extension of CARES Act and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation benefits into early September, as well as critical tax forgiveness for the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance claimed in 2020, will provide much-needed certainty for creative community workers and their families. We are also grateful for the inclusion of additional funds for shuttered venue operators and live entertainment businesses, and continued support for the Paycheck Protection Program.
We are hopeful that enactment of the American Rescue Plan is one more step toward a future where music and entertainment are again at the center of our lives and communities, and where creative community workers can put the hardship of the pandemic behind them. Until then, we will continue to work as one community to advocate for greater, enhanced relief and ensure policymakers at all levels understand American creators’ outsized contribution to our economy and our culture.”