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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Biden extends Covid-19 regulatory relief

Federal Issues Federal Legislation Covid-19 Biden CARES Act SBA EIDL Student Lending American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Federal Issues

On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act), which will, among other things, extend certain emergency authorities and temporary regulatory relief contained in the CARES Act to address the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under a section titled, “Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship,” the Act will provide an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), extend the eligibility of certain nonprofit entities for covered loans under the PPP, and amend certain aspects of the program allowing for certain businesses to take second loans. However, the Act does not actually extend the PPP, which is currently set to expire on March 31 (covered by InfoBytes here). The Act also allocates nearly $10 billion through the Homeowner Assistance Fund to allow eligible entities to provide direct assistance for mortgage payments, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs to help prevent delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures. Moreover, a provision related to fair housing activities provides $20 million “to ensure fair housing organizations have additional resources to address fair housing inquiries, complaints, investigations, and education and outreach activities, and costs of delivering or adapting services, during or relating to the coronavirus pandemic.” Additionally, the Act provides $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments, including $5 billion for supplemental targeted EIDL advance payments for the hardest hit.

In addition to providing Covid-19 relief, the Act also includes, among other things, a section that modifies the treatment of student loan forgiveness. Specifically, Section 9675 will exclude from gross income any amount of student loan debt that is modified or discharged (in whole or in part) after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2026. The tax exemption will include federal, private, and institutional loans. According to a press release issued by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the provision is intended to “ensur[e] borrowers whose debt is fully or partially forgiven are not saddled with thousands of dollars in surprise taxes.”

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