Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivers remarks alongside President Donald Trump during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday. Photo Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
March 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that U.S. taxpayers will receive a three-month extension to pay their income taxes as part of a $1 trillion economic stimulus program in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The federal government will provide an additional 90 days for business filers and individual filers to defer income tax payments of up to $1 million while corporations will be able to pay up to $10 million in payments beyond the April 15 deadline without incurring interest or penalties.
Speaking at a White House briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force, Mnuchin, however, encouraged Americans who are able to file their taxes to continue to do so by April 15 to receive their tax refunds.
"For many Americans, you will get tax refunds. We don't want you to lose out on those tax refunds," he said.
Mnuchin also provided new details about the mega-stimulus plan that's designed to help business and Americans cope with economic fallout and isolation, which includes payments to small businesses, loan guarantees to travel industries and stimulus for American workers -- possibly in the form of $1,000 payments for Americans who meet certain income guidelines.
"You can think of this as something like business interruption payments for the American workers," he said, adding that he would like to see the stimulus payments sent out within two weeks.
"I think it's clear we don't need to send people who make a million dollars a year checks, but [check payments are] one of the ideas we like," he added. "We're going to preview that today and we'll be talking about details afterward.
"This is critical to American workers, it's critical to American business, and it's critical to American savers who have a lot of that money in money market funds," the Treasury chief said. "We heard loud and clear there were liquidity issues, this is very significant."
President Donald Trump said the United States will rebound "stronger than ever" after beating the virus.
"If we do this right, our country and the world, frankly ... can be rolling again pretty quickly," he said. "We have to fight that invisible enemy that I guess is unknown, but we're getting to know it a lot better."
Mnuchin said he plans to meet with Senate Republicans to forge details of the package and hopes to finalize it by the end of Tuesday.
In response to the airline industry's call for help, about $50 billion in the package is earmarked to help American carriers with lack of passenger demand during the coronavirus interruption, which Mnuchin said has been "worse than 9/11."
It's unclear exactly how the package would distribute the payments to Americans. Trump had earlier raised the possibility of a payroll tax cut, but he said Tuesday he now prefers doing so another way to deliver the aid quickly.
"We're giving relief to affected industries and small businesses, and we're ensuring that we emerge from this challenge with a prosperous and growing economy, because that's what's going to happen," Trump said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell
speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell urged his GOP colleagues to "gag and vote" for a multi-billion-dollar House bill to provide relief. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act package was sent to the Senate on Monday and senators could vote as early as Tuesday.
"We're able to rise above our normal partisanship and many times our normal positions, because these are not ordinary times. This is not an ordinary time," McConnell said.
The legislation includes free COVID-19 testing for anyone in need, paid sick leave and enhanced unemployment insurance. It also contains protections for frontline workers, increased federal funds for Medicaid and more than $1 billion to strengthen food security initiatives.
McConnell said the Senate wants to pass another, more comprehensive bill and the Senate will not leave town for a recess until that is done.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also proposed more extensive coronavirus relief Tuesday, including student loan and mortgage payment forbearance, assistance for public transportation, medicine and food delivery for seniors, help for small businesses, affordable coronavirus treatment, greater capacity at hospitals, and expanded unemployment insurance and Medicaid funding.