Call it a mini-stimulus check for jab.
President Joe Biden wants state and local governments to pay $100 to newly vaccinated Americans, using the federal aid money they received in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
“For these governments and the communities they represent, no task is more urgent than turning the tide on the pandemic, and there is no better tool than vaccination,” the Treasury Department said in an announcement. “This is why Treasury is encouraging state, territorial, and local governments to use the funds to enhance their vaccination efforts, including by providing individual vaccine incentives.”
Biden is expected to announce that federal workers are required to be fully vaccinated, or undergo regular COVID-19 testing.
Some places are already trying cash incentives.
New York City, for example, is going to start paying people $100 when they get their first shot at city-run vaccination sites. That program begins Friday.
States have already been trying to sweeten the deal with incentives such as lotteries for vaccination.
Feds are also trying other methods to encourage more vaccinations.
Though small businesses can already get a tax credit when they offer time off for workers to get vaccinated, the same tax credit now applies when employers give workers time off so they can help their family members get their shots, according to new rules announced Thursday by the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service.
Both measures are trying to use money as a means to reduce the friction that’s slowing the vaccination rate as the delta variant picks up steam.
As of Thursday, 69.4% of the adult population had at least one shot and 60.3% were fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. For the complete population, which includes kids age 12 and up, 57.2% have one shot and 49.4% are fully vaccinated.
Earlier in the pandemic, lawmakers passed paid leave laws that said employers would receive tax credits for the paid time off they offered to staffers who were infected with COVID-19, caring for a sick relative or waylaid at home with children stuck in remote learning. The American Rescue Plan broadened the reasons for the credit to include vaccination.
“Qualified sick leave wages” count when an employee has to miss work in order to accompany someone who is getting the shot, or has to care for someone recovering from the vaccination, the IRS specified.
The sick leave wages eligible for the tax credit are up to $511/day and $5,110 in the aggregate if it pertains to a worker’s health needs, the IRS noted. It’s $200/day and $2,000 overall if it’s “for reasons related to the employee’s need to care for others,” the tax agency said.
Comparable tax credits also apply for self-employed workers, the Treasury Department noted.
“Today’s expanded guidance gives employers further opportunity to support the health and safety of their employees’ families and communities without placing an undue burden on their business during the pandemic,” the Treasury Department said.