Weekly $300 unemployment benefits: How long they’ll last, what about taxes

March 8, 2021 0 By boss



The $400 a week is now $300 — and that’s not all.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Saturday saw the Senate passage of a new version of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, all but cementing funding for the third stimulus check and Child Tax Credit. In some last minute edits, the unemployment benefits provision received some adjustment (and so did the $1,400 stimulus check). The federal unemployment check bonus, which adds a set amount to whatever your state provides per week, will be extended to September. 

The plan would provide $300 instead of $400 in bonus benefits under the new changes. Though recipients would love $100 per week, the check would last until Sept. 6 instead of the initial end of August expiration. One reason for this change comes from the Senate not being in session at the end of August, which could cause issues if the bonus checks needed to be extended. 

With the longer payments, Senate Democrats also added a provision to make the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits tax exempt for households with incomes under $150,000 (and also create a way to recoup taxes paid on previous unemployment checks). Here’s everything you need to know about how the new package will help people who are unemployed. 

I’m an unemployed worker. How much extra money will I get under the new bill?

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package will extend enhanced unemployment benefits until Sept. 6, for $300 more per week on top of what your state pays. That’s down from the $400 federal bonus proposed by a previous bill, and down also from the $600 per week extended in the CARES Act.

The period between March 14 and Sept. 6 spans 25 weeks. If the payments were to pick up immediately, that’s $7,500 extra in federal unemployment insurance that you could count on, in addition to your state’s check amount. It isn’t clear at this point when states would start to issue the new benefits.

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Will the $300 extra unemployment bonus be retroactive? 

So far, there’s no indication the unemployment payments will be retroactive. That could change in the final bill, or it could be determined by the states. 

How many of the last $300 unemployment bonus checks are left?

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed in December added 11 additional weeks of enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the $300 weekly checks, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig workers and an extension to benefits provided by the state. The official expiration date for these benefits is March 14 — less than two weeks away — but there’s a phase-out period until April 5, since some recipients have yet to receive any payments from their states’ unemployment offices.


For millions of out-of-work Americans, unemployment insurance is a lifeline.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Taxes on the new and old unemployment checks

To help offset the loss of $100 per week (from $400 to $300) in bonus unemployment benefits, a tax “sweetener” would help keep you from having to pay taxes on the weekly insurance you receive, or at least reduce it. That’s been a huge issue with the previous payment rounds of $600 and $300, respectively. In the end, tax exemption — and the ability to recover taxes from the first two rounds — could help offset any loss of payment. Here are more details on what we know about tax exemption for unemployment checks.

What happens in October? 

Since being elected, Biden has said multiple times that there will be more relief coming, but he has yet to indicate when that will happen. If the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passes, there will likely not be any talk of extending benefits until the expiration date nears.


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