President Trump Signs Executive Order & Three Memorandums to Enact Eviction Protection, Extend Pandemic Unemployment Benefits, Defer Student Loan Repayment, and Delay Collection of Payroll Taxes
On Saturday, President Trump issued one executive order and three memorandums that enact eviction protections, extend enhanced unemployment benefits, provide student loan repayment options, and delay the collection of payroll taxes.
Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COVID-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners
This executive order aims “to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19”. It aims to do this by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of CDC to “consider” if temporarily halting residential evictions of tenants for failure to pay rent “are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19”. It also has the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development identify if there is Federal funding available “to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners who, as a result of the financial hardships caused by COVID 19, are struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations”.
Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019
This memorandum provides financial assistance for those who have lost employment as a result of the pandemic. It authorize a $400 payment per week, of which $300 is federally contributed and the remaining $100 comes from the state.
The Federal Government will draw funding for this through the Department of Homeland Security’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which “has more than $70 billion in emergency assistance funding available”. These funds will remain available “until the balance of the DRF reaches $25 billion or for weeks of unemployment ending not later than December 6, 2020, whichever occurs first”. After that time, this additional unemployment assistance program will terminate.
Memorandum on Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This memorandum will “continue the temporary cessation of payments and the waiver of all interest on student loans held by the Department of Education until December 31, 2020”.
Deferment of student loan payments was initially given by the CARES Act, but is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2020.
Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster
This memorandum directs the Secretary of the Treasury to defer payroll tax obligations with respect to any employee whose wages “during any bi-weekly pay period generally is less than $4,000, calculated on a pre-tax basis”.
Additionally, the Secretary of the Treasury is told to explore the possibility, including through legislation, “to eliminate” these deferred payroll taxes permanently.