Take Action, Get Help

MBO wants to help independent workers, freelancers, and gig economy workers take advantage of benefits to support people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn about new programs introduced through the CARES act, plus take advantage of existing resources to help independents thrive.

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Update: Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury and Disaster Loans (EIDL) loans have been newly re-funded; at this time the EIDL is not accepting new applications as it works through the backlog of existing applications.

Please use our calculator to learn which program – or which combination of programs – is best for you.

Key Benefits for Independent Professionals

Historically, the government has not recognized the independent economy in times of economic uncertainty.

Thanks to focused advocacy by MBO and other proponents, the CARES Act includes many provisions that will allow independents to weather the crisis, support families, and give them the control to continue working for themselves—the way they love.

For this analysis, we’ll focus on the provisions specifically for independents.

Guide to Benefits

What is it?

All individuals, including independent contractors, with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less ($112,500 for head of household filers, and $150,000 for married filing jointly) will receive recovery payments of $1,200. These amounts increase by $500 for every child. These payments are based on 2019 tax returns if filed, and if that tax return was not filed, on the 2018 return.

Who is eligible?

Payments are based on your 2018 or 2019 tax filing. Find out how much you can expect in your check with our easy-to-use Relief Payment Calculator »

How to obtain it?

Payments will be delivered automatically via direct deposit or mailed check; no action is required.

What is it?

This CARES Act benefit allows you to take up to $100,000 as a withdrawal from your retirement account with no penalty (the normal 10% is now waived).

Contact your retirement plan provider after carefully evaluating if this financial option works best for your needs. 

Who is eligible?

Individuals with qualified retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or IRA

How to obtain it?

Contact your retirement plan provider after carefully evaluating if this financial option works best for your needs. 

For customers using one of MBO’s Retirement Benefit Plans, follow the instructions below.

If on a retirement plan administered by Fidelity:

  • Contact Fidelity's customer service group at 800-294-4015 or visit Fidelity NetBenefits.

If on a retirement plan administered by E*TRADE:

Reach out to your MBO Partners support contact if you have additional questions.

What is it?

Tax deadlines for individuals and pass-through entities like Sole Proprietorships have been bumped back to July 15. This includes payment of quarterly taxes for the first and second quarters. 

If you do elect to pay your taxes on time, refunds are being expedited.

Pass-through tax entities may also take advantage of the Net Operating Loss (NOL) provisions outlined for corporate entities below.

Who is eligible?

All individuals and businesses can take advantage of the extended deadline.

How to obtain it?

No specific action is required, but we'd suggest checking with your accountant or tax preparation expert to understand if you should recalculate quarterly tax payments based on projected income changes. 

What is it?

Corporations defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, and all 2020 amounts may be paid in equal installment, one half at the end of 2021 and the remaining half at the end of 2022. Payroll taxes that can be deferred include the employer portion of FICA, the employer and half of SECA tax liability. Sole Proprietors may use this deferral at 50 percent.

Who is eligible?

Small businesses, and also independent workers who pay themselves within a corporate structure, such as a C- or S-Corporation, as well as pass-through entities, like Sole Proprietors.

Notably, this is not available for anyone who uses the SBA 7(a) loans designated for payroll.

How to obtain it?

You can defer the employer portion of FICA or, for self-employed Sole Proprietors, 50% of self-employment tax.

What is it?

The CARES Act provides five-year Net Operating Loss (NOL) carrybacks for tax years 2018, 2019, and 2020. Effectively, businesses, including sole proprietors, can use what will likely be a tax “loss” for 2020 and “carryback” that loss to their earlier income taxes to receive previous gains as refunds.

Who is eligible?

Small businesses, and also independent workers who pay themselves within a corporate structure, such as a C- or S-Corporation, as well as pass-through entities, like Sole Proprietors, who filed corporate taxes in previous tax years.

How to obtain it?

Contact your Accountant or Tax Preparer to calculate your probable business loss for 2020 and file amended returns to obtain refunds from previous years.

What is it?

The bill includes provisions for $350 billion of Federally guaranteed loans that are offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA). While these loans are structured to apply to small businesses that pledge to keep their workers, these loans are also available for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals as well.

Many workers can qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) with up to $10,000 in cash provided in as little as three days to make payroll, fund sick leave, or pay rent.

The SBA has indicated as of early April that "to ensure that the greatest number of applicants can receive assistance during this challenging time,"  the amount of your Advance will be determined by the number of your pre-disaster (i.e., as of January 31, 2020) employees. The Advance will provide $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000." 

Who is eligible?

Small businesses, and also independent workers who pay themselves within a corporate structure, such as a C- or S-Corporation, as well as pass-through entities, like Sole Proprietors.

How to obtain it?

Apply for an EIDL online via the SBA Website »

Use our calculator to learn which program – or which combination of programs – is best for you.

What is it?

The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses. 

If all employees are kept on payroll for 24 weeks from loan origination or by December 31, 2020 (whichever comes first), SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable, although only 40% of the forgivable amount may be used for non-payroll expenses.

Who is eligible?

Businesses – including eligible non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors described in the Small Business Act – with 500 or fewer employees may apply.

How to obtain it?

You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union,  and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

Lenders began processing loans April 3, 2020, and independent contractors may apply as of April 10. It is important to note that one must apply via an approved lender (bank), unlike the EIDL loans, which are processed directly with the SBA. 

Apply here and learn more via the SBA Website »

Use our calculator to learn which program – or which combination of programs – is best for you.

What is it?

Unemployment benefits have, for the first time ever, been expanded for traditionally employed workers and self-employed workers and gig economy workers alike. Independents who are not working can receive unemployment benefits beginning in the week they apply and receive up to $1000 per week for four months and then the state benefit (usually up to $400) for the balance of 2020.

Who is eligible?

US Citizens and immigrants authorized to work in the US who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. 

If your hours have been reduced but not eliminated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for the unemployment benefits, but this is a state-by-state provision. 

How to obtain it?

You must file for unemployment benefits through your state. Most states allow you to do this over the web. Find the contact for your state’s unemployment office.

What is it?

Several sections of the CARES Act outline new unemployment benefits available temporarily, including:

  • Waiting period waived on a state-by-state basis
  • Job search requirement waived for all workers
  • $600 per week in additional unemployment benefits are now available in the form of “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance”
  • Unemployment benefits are extended by 13 weeks, on top of typically 26 weeks of total coverage offered by each state. After those 39 weeks, an extended benefits program may be triggered.

The above benefits are federally mandated, but unemployment insurance caps vary state-by-state, including the ability to claim benefits if your hours have been reduced, but not eliminated entirely. Note that these benefits are still considered income for tax purposes.

Who is eligible?

US Citizens and immigrants authorized to work in the US who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

How to obtain it?

You must file for unemployment benefits through your State. Most States allow you to do this over the web. Click here to find the contact info for your State’s Employment Office.

Get More with MBO

Companies around the world are turning more and more to independent talent as they grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, implement new programs and undergo transformations to address the new realities. What new opportunities can you tap as an independent in this environment? MBO offers an assortment of tools and services to help you be successful; check out a couple designed to help you grow:

MBO Marketplace
Get exclusive access to independent projects at MBO’s enterprise clients: over 60 Fortune 500 and other global companies. Create a profile for your independent business so that managers can seek you out and set up notifications to alert you whenever new projects match your interests.

Learn more and sign up for MBO Marketplace »

MBO Advantage
Get personalized, one-on-one support establishing and running your business with a dedicated, expert advisor. Advantage subscribers are positioned as elite talent within their domains, with an enterprise-grade compliant business, marketing support, coaching on ways to maximize revenue and tools to build teams that can deliver larger, more profitable work.

Learn more about Advantage and request a consultation »

MBO Insights
MBO offers a wealth of complimentary information on starting, running, and growing an independent business. Dive into valuable guides, interactive tools and meaningful interviews with independent professionals like yourself.

Sign up to receive insights directly to your inbox »

For Other Inquiries

If your question cannot be answered above, please contact us for assistance »

Wade Forbes, an MBO Advantage member, provided us with this useful sketch note of our recent webinar.

Stay Informed!

Programs and benefits are evolving rapidly. States’ responses continue to unfold, in parallel with the Federal response. Sign up for MBO’s Newsletter, and we’ll send you updates when new benefits emerge for independents.

MBO’s Tools & Services for Independents

MBO Partners has provided services to independent professionals for over 20 years, making it easier for them to do business with their enterprise clients and keep working the way they love. MBO offers end-to-end solutions for independents: from setting up a corporation to billing through ERPs; from finding new projects to assembling, managing and paying a team.

Companies need independent talent now as they rush to meet a changing environment and build an agile workforce that can accommodate it. Learn more about how MBO can help your business engage with this demand through our services for independent professionals.

The information provided here does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice. It does not take into account your particular circumstances, objectives, legal and financial situation or needs.  Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information for your situation in consultation with a professional advisor of your choosing. This is a rapidly changing area of the law and will be subject to change and interpretation.