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Washington government relief guide

To help drivers and delivery people during the COVID-19 crisis, we're gathering up-to-date information about government financial support that you may be eligible for. In this guide, we'll answer important questions and share resources to help you apply.¹

Before you get started, please remember that the official sources of information are state and federal government agencies. We know this process can be complicated and confusing, especially because no one has all the answers yet—including us. We’ll continue to revise this guide as we receive additional information. Check back here over the coming weeks for updates.

Not in Washington? Go here to find information for other locations.

 

Last updated: June 15, 2020

What types of government financial support are available?

There are a few types of government financial support available, many of them new for independent contractors like you.

The US government has passed legislation that may mean you’re eligible for government financial assistance. You’ve probably heard this referred to as the CARES Act. Under this new legislation, you may be able to access financial relief for lost earnings due to the COVID-19 pandemic through:

  • Direct financial aid available to individuals who have lost income
  • Loans or emergency cash advances that may be forgivable
  • Paid leave tax credits

In some cases, it may take several weeks before state agencies process your applications and claims since these programs and benefits are still developing.

What is direct financial aid?

The federal government has made it possible for independent contractors who have lost income due to COVID-19 to access the same kinds of benefits that states traditionally provide to workers who receive W-2s and file for unemployment insurance. You may have heard this federally funded direct financial assistance referred to as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

How much could I receive?

The total amount of financial aid you could receive will depend on your individual circumstances, including your state's calculation and your current and historic earnings. If you qualify for PUA, you'll receive at least $600 per week, for every week you qualify for relief, for the weeks ending April 4, 2020 through July 25, 2020.

For how long am I eligible to receive direct financial aid?

Under PUA, you may be able to get up to 39 weeks of PUA payments, until December 31, 2020, from the federal government.

Are payments retroactive?

PUA can go back as far as February 2, 2020, if you qualify and can document a loss of income due to COVID-19 earlier than your filing date.

How can I tell if I’m eligible?

You may be eligible for PUA if you’ve lost income due to COVID-19. If you have another source of income where you receive a W-2 form for your taxes, you should check with your state about how to properly file because you may be eligible for regular unemployment insurance. Check the FAQ section below for more details about the COVID-19-related circumstances that might make you eligible for this assistance.

You can learn more through the federal Department of Labor website.

How can I apply for direct financial aid in Washington?

On April 18, 2020, Washington began accepting applications for federal relief funds. Unfortunately, Gov. Inslee and the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) have decided not to leverage a streamlined process that would allow self-employed workers and independent contractors to self-certify their eligibility for PUA. Instead, ESD is conducting a lengthy review of every application, and has warned on its website that initial application reviews “may take a few weeks.”

Please note: Federal funds are available to independent contractors, like yourself. Independent contractors are self-employed and the last employer of record would be "self" or no employers. Listing Uber as your employer may delay your receipt of federal relief funds.

Following the steps below may help get a faster decision on your application:

Collect your information and documents

Since not all application portals will automatically save your information, it’s recommended that you prepare the following before you begin the process to avoid losing your progress.

Download the ESD’s unemployment benefits application checklist and the expanded benefits (PUA) application checklist for a full overview of documents you may want to prepare in advance.

Personal information

  • Social Security number
  • Bank account and routing number, if you want to sign up for direct deposit
  • Contact information
  • Earnings information related to Uber

From the Tax Information tab on your driver dashboard, download the following

  • 2019 yearly tax summary
  • 2020 monthly tax summaries
  • If applicable, your 1099-K or 1099-MISC from the 2019 tax year (due to reporting thresholds, you may not have received one or both of these)

The application process

Visit the Washington Employment Security Department’s website to begin your application and review their step-by-step guide for navigating the PUA application portal which includes specific tips for independent contractors.

A few notes to keep in mind

 

  • You can apply either online or by phone. However, call volumes are high right now so applying online will likely be faster.
  • There are two separate applications for regular unemployment insurance and PUA
  • Filling out an application for regular unemployment is the first step to applying for PUA
  • If you already applied for regular unemployment and were denied there’s no need to apply again; you will skip to the application for expanded benefits (PUA)

After you're approved

If you’re approved for PUA, you must claim weekly benefits in order to receive payment for each week you experience reduced income due to COVID-19 and meet the eligibility requirements.

To avoid unnecessary delays, it's always a good idea before submitting any application to make sure that you are up to date with any legal requirements, including timely filed and paid taxes wherever applicable.

What types of loans and emergency cash advances are available?

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has 2 programs that are new for independent contractors under the CARES Act. We’ll describe them below, but you can always learn more about these relief options through the SBA website.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

This program allows participating banks and lenders to offer forgivable loans to small businesses and independent contractors.

 

  • How much could I receive? You could be eligible for a PPP loan up to 2.5 times your average monthly net self-employment income over the last 12 months.
  • Would I have debt to pay back? The PPP loan and interest are 100% forgivable if you separately apply to be excused from repaying the loan and can document that you used it for authorized purposes. You can apply for loan forgiveness at the end of your loan period (the twenty-four weeks following initial disbursement) by completing this application provided by the SBA and submitting to your lender.
  • How can I apply?

    • PayPal* is currently processing applications for SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans for independent contractors. Learn more and begin your application here. To apply through PayPal, you will need:
      • Prepared 1040 Schedule C from 2019 (even if you haven’t yet filed with the IRS)
      • 1099-MISC from 2019, If you did not receive a 1099-MISC due to reporting thresholds, you will not be able to complete an application through PayPal at this time
      • Copy of a bank statement from 2020
      • Other documentation may be requested
    • Kabbage is another lender currently processing SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans for independent contractors. Learn more and begin your application here. To apply through Kabbage, you will need:

      • Prepared 1040 Schedule C from 2019 (even if you haven’t yet filed with the IRS)

        • Kabbage’s minimum earnings threshold for a PPP loan is $2,400
        • You can find this on line 31 of your 1040 Schedule C

        • If you don’t meet the minimum earnings threshold, your application may be denied

      • 2019 Yearly Tax Summary from the Tax Information tab of your driver dashboard
        • We’ve created a new version of this document to assist in the application process
        • The correct version will have a code in the upper left corner that should look similar to: “Code: xyz1234”
    • There are many lenders processing PPP loan applications. Here are some resources for finding a lender:

      • Ask your bank or credit union whether they’re processing PPP loan applications for independent contractors. This program is optional for lenders, so not all financial institutions are processing these applications.
      • Find an approved lender using this SBA tool. Once you find an approved lender, ask what documentation you’ll need to apply. Some lenders may not require a 1099-MISC.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance

This program allows small businesses and independent contractors to apply for an emergency advance as part of an application for a non-forgivable EIDL loan.
 

  • How much could I receive? The emergency advance can be up to $10,000, but the expected distribution per applicant is likely much lower.
  • Would I have debt to pay back? The EIDL loan will need to be repaid, plus interest. The emergency advance is a grant that will not need to be repaid, regardless of whether you ultimately receive an EIDL loan.
  • How can I apply? You can apply for a loan through the EIDL program on the SBA website. The US Chamber of Commerce also has a helpful step-by-step guide.

What are paid leave tax credits?

Signed on March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides tax credits to small businesses and independent contractors for leave due to circumstances related to COVID-19. This means that you may be able to claim paid leave tax credits that could lower your tax liability or even make you eligible for a refund.

What circumstances qualify?

If you’re unable to work due to self-quarantine or because you or a family member are sick, or because you must provide child care due to closures caused by COVID-19, you could be eligible. Leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, could qualify.

How much would the tax credits be worth?

The amount of tax credits will vary based on location and circumstance. More information is available from the IRS under the “Overview of Paid Sick Leave Refundable Credit,” “Overview of Paid Family Leave Refundable Credit,” and “Specific Provisions Related to Self-Employed Individuals” (FAQ 60-66) sections.

How can I receive the tax credits?

If you have additional questions about this program or your tax circumstances, you should speak to a licensed tax adviser.

Where can I find more information?

No one has all the answers right now, but here are some helpful resources from Uber, our partners, and government agencies.

Frequently asked questions

¹The material provided on this page does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, financial, tax, or other advice. It is for informational purposes only. Please consult your attorney or financial adviser to obtain advice with respect to your particular situation. For your convenience, this page contains links to third-party websites. Uber is not responsible for the content in those third-party sites or the products or services offered through them. While we will make every effort to keep this site up to date, for the most current information please see the respective governmental or organizational sites.