After weeks of deliberation, it looks like we are on the verge of a federal coronavirus stimulus package that will — crucially — include independent workers in an expanded unemployment insurance program through June. Last week, the federal government signed a bill including freelancers in a paid sick leave and family leave program for those affected by COVID-19. While these are major victories, there’s still work to be done.
States and cities are still working on their own relief responses to the coronavirus crisis, and speaking to your representatives — some of whom you may see regularly in your neighborhood — can have a profound impact. Among the programs cities and states control are small business loans, state unemployment programs, and rent and mortgage moratoriums. In addition, while the IRS has officially moved the federal tax filing deadline to July 15, many states have yet to do the same, leaving taxpayers on the hook for state taxes on April 15 after all.
We know that independent workers are under the greatest threat right now; at the best of times, freelancers operate without traditional employee protections like health benefits and unemployment insurance. They do so because they believe their independence is worth the