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5 things SC residents should know about the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief act

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South Carolina will be receiving billions of dollars worth of federal aid and stimulus checks after President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief law March 12. 

While the Palmetto State received substantially less than states such as California, Texas and New York, the historic aid package does provide South Carolina students, unemployed workers and most residents financial relief. 

Here's a breakdown of what money is coming to South Carolina and how it might affect you.  

How did South Carolina's congressional delegation vote on the relief bill? 

Not a single one of South Carolina's Republicans in the House or Senate voted for the $1.9 trillion relief bill. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the lone Democrat representing the Palmetto State in Washington, D.C., voted in favor of the aid package. 

While most Republicans were quick to decry it as reckless government spending, despite supporting former President Donald Trump's $900 billion COVID-19 relief package just months earlier, Democrats such as Clyburn saw it as a historic piece of legislation.

"This to me is as transformative as anything that I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Clyburn told NBC in discussing this third government COVID-19 relief bill.

Does the bill offer student loan forgiveness for South Carolina students?

Student-loan debt is not erased by Biden's stimulus plan. 

However, a provision that made student loan forgiveness tax-free was included by Democrats. If Biden were to cancel student debt in the future, the amount would not be taxed by the government.

Under current law, any student loan debt canceled by the government is taxed at the borrower’s normal income bracket. The exemption covers all government-held federal student loans and private student loans through 2025.

Democrats believe this paves the way for Biden, who has toyed with erasing somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000 per person worth of education debt, to take up the issue later in his presidency.

There are about 686,800 student loan borrowers in South Carolina, according to EducationData.org

Will I receive a stimulus check, and if so, when? 

South Carolina residents making under $75,000, and married couples making less than $150,000, can expect to receive direct payments of $1,400 per person and $1,400 per dependent.

The stimulus money is set to hit some bank accounts as soon as this weekend.

The best of health, hospital and science coverage in South Carolina, delivered to your inbox weekly.


Does the bill provide for continued unemployment benefits? 

The package keeps the existing $300 weekly unemployment benefit going through Sept. 6 and also provides a tax break on $10,000 worth of assistance payments. 

How much money will be given to South Carolina?

The Senate package designates $350 billion for states, cities, tribal governments and U.S. territories.

Around $3.8 billion, or a little more than 1 percent, of that money will go to South Carolina, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Cities and counties in the state will be splitting up $1.6 billion of that total. 

State and local government recipients can use the funds to cover costs incurred as a result of the pandemic by Dec. 31, 2024. The money would be distributed in two parts, with 50 percent delivered no later than 60 days from the law being enacted and the remainder delivered no earlier than a year later. 

State and local governments can't use the money for pensions or to offset revenue resulting from a tax cut enacted since March 3, 2021.

State and local governments could transfer funds to private nonprofit groups, public benefit corporations involved in passenger or cargo transportation, and special-purpose units of state or local governments.

All municipalities will receive funds based on population through the latest financial relief measure, though funding will come from two separate buckets of money, with some geared toward metropolitan cities and others toward towns and smaller cities.

Greenville County will receive $101 million, Richland County will be given $80 million, Charleston County is set to net $79.8 million and Horry County will get $68.7 million. 

The cities of North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Columbia and Charleston will receive the most — $43 million, $34 million, $26 million and $20.7 million, respectively. 

Reach Thomas Novelly at 843-937-5713. Follow him @TomNovelly on Twitter. 

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