ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan announced the $1 billion RELIEF Act of 2021 that includes state tax cuts and an income tax credit to help Maryland families, individuals, the unemployed and small businesses reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This income tax credit would include $750 for families who applied for the Earned Income Tax Credit and $450 for individuals. No application is needed and it is in addition to the federal stimulus check.

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“It is clear to all of us that the primary focus of the 2021 legislative session must be providing additional immediate economic relief to the hundreds of thousands of struggling families and the tens of thousands of small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic,” Hogan said.

“This relief will go directly to more than $400,000 Marylanders in need,” Hogan said. “These checks can begin going out immediately as soon as the legislative RELIEF Act is passed by the legislature and I sign it into law.”

The payments will go to low-to-moderate income Marylanders, meaning families who make less than $57,000. The relief will be broken up into two rounds, with the first checks going out when the RELIEF ACT becomes law. The immediate check would be $500 for families and then $300 for individuals.

Marylanders would qualify for these payments if they:

  • Earn $50,954 individually, or $56,844 joint, with three or more children.
  • Earn $47,440 individually, or $53,330 joint, with two children.
  • Earn $41,756 individually, or $47,646 joint, with one child
  • Earn $15,820 individually, or $21,710 joint, without children.

These families would later get an additional $250 or $150 for individuals in a second payment.

As for the unemployed, the RELIEF Act would commit another $180 million in targeted tax relief for Marylanders who have lost their jobs by repealing all state and local income taxes on unemployment benefits.

The RELIEF Act also makes a $300 million commitment to supporting small businesses with a sales tax credit giving each business up to $3,000 per month for four months (a total of $12,000).

This will help 55,000 Maryland small businesses, the governor said.

The relief is automatic and based on the business’s monthly revenue and how much sales tax is collected.

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The RELIEF Act also extended unemployment tax relief for small businesses and stops any tax hikes in 2021. It also safeguards businesses against tax increases if they got a state loan or grant to help during the pandemic.

The Act will be introduced as emergency legislation, so that checks can go out immediately. The legislation was funded through a variety of sources, including leftover surplus from FY20, and budgetary actions taken by the Board of Public Works.

Hogan is asking the state legislators to vote quickly on this.

In a statement, Senate President Bill Ferguson said: ‘We thank Governor Hogan for talking with us over the past several months to incorporate our priorities for COVID recovery into his proposal. The members of the General Assembly have spent the interim putting together legislation to fix a broken Unemployment Insurance system, protect essential workers, provide aid to struggling small businesses and greater resources for family members in nursing homes. This Session, Democrats are focused on getting families and small businesses back on their feet; getting students back to school as soon as possible; and ensuring our seniors are safe so 2021 can become the year of rebuilding and recovery. We look forward to the Governor working with us to accomplish these goals and demonstrating for the country what the true value of bipartisanship can be.”

The new federal relief bill will also allocate nearly $15 billion for Marylanders, including $400 million for rent and utility bills, $1.2 billion for education, $130 million for childcare and $250 million for transportation.

Hogan’s communications director Mike Ricci said the state has already provided more than $700 million in emergency economic relief.

Colin Tarbert, the CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation, said his group has facilitated hundreds of grants for small businesses. He said any help could make a world of difference for mom-and-pop businesses that are struggling to pay basic expenses.

“These are small often family-owned businesses, and so just like a person who is working for a paycheck, they are working each day to make the revenue they need to cover their business expenses and their own personal expenses,” he said. “Most small businesses don’t have a huge amount of cash on hand to get them through.”

Watch the full press conference:

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Ava-joye Burnett