An Updated Overview on How The CARES Act Can Help Dentists

May 21, 2020

Dental offices, along with virtually every other type of small business in America, have been experiencing a financial firestorm due to COVID-19. In response, the Federal Government has enacted legislation that provides for a $10,000 Loan and Payroll Protection Program designed to help small enterprises.

Below is an overview of the CARES Act. While many parts of this law have yet to see full implementation, this article aims to prepare you so that your business can take full advantage of it.

What is The CARES Act?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (HR 748), also known as the CARES Act, was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It is the third legislative relief package formed by lawmakers to counteract the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is designed to protect employers, workers, and businesses.

How can the CARES Act help dentists?

Below are some of the highlights from the American Dental Association (ADA) that dental professionals need to be aware of regarding the CARES Act:

  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) can support dental practices that appeal for an EIDL loan to receive an advance of not more than $10,000, which the Small Business Administration (SBA) must distribute within three days. This amount is considered a grant, and may be used to pay for employees’ sick leaves that are COVID-19 related, mortgage or rent, and other overhead expenses. However, The grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until the $10 billion funds are exhausted. And currently, these funds appear to be limited to agricultural businesses.
  • Employers may qualify for a portion of their federal small-business loans to be forgiven (tax-free) for amounts spent on payroll, sick leave, family leave and other overhead expenses between Feb. 15 and June 6, 2020, as well as certain other debt obligations incurred before Feb. 15, 2020.
  • The SBA will pay the principal, interest, and any related fees that are currently owed on certain SBA loans for a six-month period starting on the next due date. Loans that are already delayed would include an additional six months of payment by the SBA starting with the next payment.
  • If dentists, their spouses, or dependents are diagnosed with COVID-19 or experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or having work hours reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, the CARES Act allows for a withdrawal of money from retirement funds of up to $100,000 in 2020 without paying any penalty.
  • Federal student loan borrowers are not expected to make a payment until Sept. 30, 2020. During this time, no interest will accumulate. However, the payment suspension refers only to loans held by the Department of Education, not private loans. Regardless, borrowers should call their lender to check eligibility
  • For dental clinic employees who received assistance from their employers to pay off student loans, they will not have to pay income tax on any payment assistance, up to $5,250, that they receive between the enactment of this law up until Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Employers and self-employed individuals can delay payment of the employer’s share of the Social Security tax until Dec. 31, 2020. The deferred amounts would be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount expected to be paid by Dec. 31, 2021, and the other half by Dec. 31, 2022.
  • The act also allows for a one-time federal income tax rebate for eligible dentists and their employees in 2020. The rebate amount is $1,200 for individual tax filers and $2,400 for those filing a joint return. The amount of the rebate will be reduced for single filers making more than $75,000 and joint filers earning over $150,000. Also, a rebate of $500 is available for each child.
  • Emergency unemployment compensation benefits have been increased by as much as $600 a week, should dental office employees be laid off. This is in addition to state-funded unemployment insurance.
  • Furthermore, $1.6 billion has been set aside for the Strategic National Stockpile to purchase pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which would be allocated to state and local health agencies in areas with shortages.

This information continues to evolve. To learn more information about the dental industry’s response to this pandemic, visit cda.org/covid19 or ADA.org/virus.