(Updated April 3, 2020)
Small Business Relief Questions and Answers
The CARES Act was passed and signed into law by President Trump on Friday, March 27th, 2020. This was the third bill related to Coronavirus (phase 3). Relief is coming soon for America’s small businesses. There are several aspects of the relief bills that affect small businesses, including:
Forgivable Loans (Paycheck Protection Program)
Who is eligible for the SBA forgivable loans?
You are eligible for a loan if you are a small business that employs 500 employees or fewer, or if your business is in an industry that has an employee-based size standard through SBA that is higher than 500 employees. In addition, if you are a restaurant, hotel, or a business that falls within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 72, “Accommodation and Food Services,” and each of your locations has 500 employees or fewer, you are eligible. Tribal businesses, 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including religious organizations, will be eligible for the program. Nonprofit organizations are subject to SBA’s affiliation standards. Independently owned franchises with under 500 employees, who are approved by SBA, are also eligible. Eligible franchises can be found through SBA’s Franchise Directory.
I am an independent contractor or gig economy worker, am I eligible?
Yes. Sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and self-employed individuals are all eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan program.
How much can I borrow?
The amount any small business is eligible to borrow is 250 percent of their average monthly payroll expenses, up to a total of $10 million. This amount is intended to cover 8 weeks of payroll expenses and any additional amounts for making payments towards debt obligations. This 8 week period may be applied to any time frame between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Seasonal business expenses will be measured using a 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019, or March 1, 2019, whichever the seasonal employer chooses. Any compensation over an annual salary of $100,000 is excluded.
What can I use the forgivable loans for?
The amount of principal that may be forgiven is equal to the sum of expenses for payroll, and existing interest payments on mortgages, rent payments, leases, and utility service agreements. Payroll costs include employee salaries (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000), hourly wages and cash tips, paid sick or medical leave, and group health insurance premiums. If you would like to use the Paycheck Protection Program for other business-related expenses, like inventory, you can, but that portion of the loan will not be forgiven.
What is the covered period of the forgivable loan?
The covered period during which expenses can be forgiven extends from February 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Borrowers can choose which 8 weeks they want to count towards the covered period, which can start as early as February 15, 2020.
How much of my loan will be forgiven?
The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help you retain your employees, at their current base pay. If you keep all of your employees, the entirety of the loan will be forgiven. If you still lay off employees, the forgiveness will be reduced by the percent decrease in the number of employees. If your total payroll expenses on workers making less than $100,000 annually decreases by more than 25 percent, loan forgiveness will be reduced by the same amount. If you have already laid off some employees, you can still be forgiven for the full amount of your payroll cost if you rehire your employees by June 30, 2020.
Am I responsible for interest on the forgiven loan amount?
No, if the full principal of the PPP loan is forgiven, the borrower is not responsible for the interest accrued in the 8-week covered period. The remainder of the loan that is not forgiven will operate according to the loan terms agreed upon by you and the lender.
What are the interest rate and terms for the loan amount that is not forgiven?
The terms of the loan not forgiven may differ on a case-by-case basis. However, the SBA has determined a two-year loan term will be sufficient with a 1 percent interest rate. The loan is also 100 percent guaranteed by the SBA. You will not have to pay any fees on the loan, and collateral requirements and personal guarantees are waived. Loan payments will be deferred for at least six months and up to one year starting at the origination of the loan.
When can I apply for a Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan?
Small businesses can begin applying on April 3, 2020. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals (including gig-economy workers) can apply beginning April 10, 2020. The program will extend until June 30, 2020.
I took out a bridge loan through my state, am I eligible to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan?
Yes, you can take out a state bridge loan and are still be eligible for the PPP loan.
If I have applied for, or received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) related to COVID- 19 before the Paycheck Protection Program became available, will I be able to refinance into a PPP loan?
Yes. If you received an EIDL related to COVID-19 between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020, you can refinance the EIDL into the PPP for loan forgiveness purposes. However, you may not take out an EIDL and a PPP for the same purposes. Remaining portions of the EIDL, for purposes other than those laid out in loan forgiveness terms for a PPP loan, would remain a loan. If you took advantage of an emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000, that amount would be subtracted from the amount forgiven under PPP.
Depending on circumstances, an EIDL may be a better option than a PPP loan. Although this financial lifeline has always been available during times of disaster, the coronavirus outbreak is the first time a pandemic has qualified as reason to take advantage of the program. Learn more about EIDLs and apply here.
Where do I get the SBA forgivable loans?
You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program through the existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) lending program and additional lenders approved by the Department of Treasury. This could be the bank you already use, or a nearby bank. There are thousands of banks that already participate in the SBA’s lending programs, including numerous community banks. You do not have to visit any government institution to apply for the program. You can call your bank or find SBA-approved lenders in your area through SBA’s online Lender Match tool. You can call your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center and they will provide free assistance and guide you to lenders.
How hard is it to get a loan?
The loan process is designed to be simple and doesn’t require you to extensively prove specific hardship. The bill text requires only a “good faith” certification that the economic conditions make the loan necessary, and that you will use the funds to “retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments and utility payments.”
Delays Payroll Tax Payments for Employers
Employers would be able to delay the payment of their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022, leading to approximately $300 billion of extra cash flow for businesses.
Restores Supports for Businesses Suffering Losses
The bill also allows businesses to carry back losses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 to the previous 5 years, which will allow businesses access to immediate tax refunds.
Encourages Businesses to Invest in Improvements
The bill would fix cost recovery for investments in Qualified Improvement Properties, which will allow businesses that made these investments in 2018 and 2019 and receive tax refunds now.
Private Sector Relief
Private banks are also putting in place measures to help small businesses. In addition to working with the federal government to distribute funds associated with the Paycheck Protection Program, banks are also making concessions for some small business clients to help them through this challenging time. Read about some of the efforts here.
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