This week the IRS began issuing economic impact payments as part of the CARES Act. These payments are up to $1,200 for individuals and up to $2,400 for joint filers (with an additional $500 for dependent children). Payments are based on your 2018 or 2019 tax returns and phase out for individuals making over $75,000 and joint filers making over $150,000.
Millions of Americans received direct deposits of these payments this week. If you have not received your payment or are unsure if you're eligible, you can update your information with the IRS. A general FAQ is here. You can update your information to expedite your payment from the IRS here.
At this time, the IRS is not taking phone calls to help people navigate this process. If you need specific guidance to resolve an issue or have questions, you should contact your congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives. You can find out who your congressperson is and get their phone number here.
If you do not have access to a bank account, the state of Illinois and local non-profits have developed two programs to help. First, you can cash your check without fees at participating banks. Second, the same banks are offering no or low cost checking accounts. You can learn more about both programs here.
As of Friday, May 1 Governor Pritzker is requiring all individuals over 2 years old are required to wear a face covering or mask when in a public place where they can't maintain a six-foot distance.
N95 masks and surgical grade masks should be reserved for healthcare workers. For everyday use, you can make a face covering using an online pattern or with a scarf. The face covering should cover your nose and mouth and should be relatively snug to the face. Be sure to wash your covering between use and do not take it on and off while using it. Face coverings are to enhance, not replace, other social distancing practices. Please be sure to maintain a 6ft distance between yourself and others, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands often. The CDC has developed an FAQ here.
Renter & Homeowner Information
Illinois has suspended evictions until June 1st and the Illinois Commerce Commission has suspended utility shutoffs for gas, water, and electricity until May 29th. More information on these suspensions are here.
Under the CARES Act all federally backed mortgages (including those issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) are not allowed to be foreclosed upon and are eligible for mortgage forbearance. More details from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau are here. You can check if your mortgage is held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac with these links.
Many other mortgage companies are also offering temporary relief on mortgage payments. Please contact your mortgage servicer directly.
Property tax notices and appeals are resuming. Notices for Palatine Township were sent on May 5 and appeals are open until June 6th. The 2018 Tax Sale for tax delinquent properties has been suspended. Information on both property taxes and the tax sale is here.
IL State Parks
As of Friday, May 1 some Illinois State Parks will reopen. You can learn more about the park openings here.
Most Cook County Forest Preserves remain open with guidance for how to safely enjoy the parks. You can learn more about which Forest Preserves sites are open and what visitor guidelines look like here.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney General have issued guidance on avoiding COVID-19 related scams and fraud. You can learn more about their guidance here.
In Illinois, the Attorney General cautions residents to not purchase any products claiming to cure, treat, or offer home tests for COVID-19. The office also suggests avoiding calls claiming to be Social Secuity or FEMA, avoid online offers for Starbucks gift cards, and avoid air duct cleaning services as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
You can contact the Illinois Attorney General's fraud hotline at 1-800-386-5438.
Expanded unemployment insurance: the CARES Act expands unemployment benefits in two ways. First, for those who are eligible for Illinois Unemployment Insurance, you will now receive additional money in your benefit (an additional $600 per week) and your eligibility period has been extended by 13 weeks. Previously, Illinois unemployment insurance had waived the waiting period, redefined "actively searching for work," and expanded to cover those who are unable to work because they must care for someone else. Details on the Illinois Unemployment Insurance program are here.
Second, Pandemic Unemployment Compensation has been added for those who don't traditionally qualify for unemployment insurance (including self-employed, freelance, and gig workers). Details on Pandemic Unemployment Compensation are here.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security is experiencing high call volume, they are processing applications for those whose last names begin with A-M on Sunday (online only), Tuesday (online & phone), and Thursday (online & phone). They are processing applications for those whose last names begin with L-Z on Monday (online & phone), Wednesday (online & phone), and Friday (online only). Details on this can be found here.
Vehicle Stickers & Driver's Licenses
Driver Services facilities are currently closed.
Renew your vehicle sticker: You can renew your vehicle sticker online. You can learn more about how to renew and what information you need here. Also, fees for paying with an e-check are waived until August 2020.
Expired driver's license or ID card:
If your driver's license or ID card expired after March 16, 2020, your ID card is automatically extended and will remain valid for 90 days after the Driver Services facilities reopen. You can obtain a duplicate driver's license, driving record, or renew through the Safe Driver Renewal program online. You can get more information on this extension and what services are available here.
REAL ID Extension:
Nationally, the deadline for REAL ID, the new standard from the Transportation Security Administration for security at airports, has been extended until October 1, 2021. More information on the program and its extension is here.
Gov. Pritzker issued EO 2020-36 easing access to marriage licenses and ceremonies via video conferencing. You can now receive your license and solemnize your license by a two-way audio and video link. The 24 hour waiting period, the 10 day return deadline, and the 60 day expiration period for marriage licenses have all been suspended. The Cook County Clerk is working to expand their services to meet demand. You can learn about the licensing changes here.
Earned Sick Leave
Unless the municipality you work in has opted out, those who work in Cook County are entitled to Earned Sick Leave, details on the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance are here.
Regardless, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers with fewer than 500 workers must also provide lead. Guidance from the Department of Labor is here.
Health Insurance Coverage
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, public and private insurance will cover the cost of COVID-19 testing without passing on any cost-sharing burdens to individuals.
Loosing your or your spouses employer based health insurance is a qualifying event for the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care). Please visit Healthcare.gov to see plans available in the Illinois Marketplace.
2019 Federal & State Taxes
Federal and state income tax filing deadlines have been extended until July 15th.
Give or Get Support
Give Support: A list of volunteer and donation opportunities is here.
If your home is unsafe, please call the domestic violence hotline at 1-877-863-6338 (Voice) or 1-877-863-6339 (TTY). The hotline is toll free, confidential, multilingual, and open 24-hour.
There are also services specific to provide food and emergency housing in the North and Northwest suburbs.
Northfield Township Food Pantry
Palatine Township Food Pantry
Wheeling Township Food Pantry
WINGS: Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence--847-221-5680 (24 hr hotline)