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Over the last many weeks, we have been fielding questions from many clients about the CARES Act – especially the loans available for small businesses that we outline in our Coronavirus Resource Center. I actually co-wrote an article back in March with Jennifer Mailhes, CPA from Doeren Mayhew entitled “Five Things Small Businesses Should Know About the COVID-19 Disaster Loan Relief”.
In that article we discussed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans, how they work and how they can actually be both a lifeline for businesses while keeping many of their employees on payroll – protecting families as well.
However, like many Government loan programs, the devil is in the details. For the PPP loans, the business owner makes certifications as to the busyness necessity for those loans. I recently got back with Jennifer to discuss how best to document your necessity to help support loan forgiveness from the prospective of a CPA. This week, the SBA Just gave new “safe harbor” guidance for those with PPP loans under $2 million as well saying that small businesses with loans at that level and below were assumed to have certified in “good faith”.
After reading the information below, you should also consult with your attorney. The following is a summary of those discussions:
SBA Guidance on Documenting Your PPP Loan Necessity
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently published new guidance on the certification rules for the famous Paycheck Protection Program. The new guidance, in the form of FAQs, which is regularly being updated, answered many lingering questions for borrowers, but also changed the playing field for some businesses.
When the PPP program was initially rolled out, the Treasury Department and the SBA provided general guidance as quickly as possible for businesses to gain access to the much-needed funds to help sustain business during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not all items, were addressed, leaving a broad subjective interpretation open to those borrowers who certified in their PPP application that their current economic uncertainty made the loan necessary.
Is Your Loan Necessary?
In recent days, the term “necessary” has been put to the test. This comes on the heels of several high-profile cases hitting the media, including some well-known publicly traded companies and not-for-profit organizations that secured a PPP loan even though they had access to capital from public financing or large endowments.
The SBA provided answers about certifying the need for the loan in the recent guidance. The FAQ response indicates all borrowers must assess their economic need for a PPP loan under the standards established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the PPP regulations at the time of their loan application. Additionally, it states while ordinarily the SBA requires a borrower to demonstrate they are unable to obtain credit through other means, the CARES Act suspends this requirement for PPP loans. However, borrowers still must certify in good faith their PPP loan request is necessary. Before submitting a PPP application, your business should consider its current business activity and ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business.
Obviously, many public companies with substantial market value and access to capital markets will likely not be able to make the required certification in good faith. Unfortunately, this implication is not limited solely to publicly traded companies and applies to all companies applying for PPP loans. All non-public companies should go through the exercise of evaluating whether they can support their position that there was economic uncertainty and it was necessary for the business to request the PPP loan to support its ongoing operations.
Since there is currently no formal guidance on what the considerations are for “economic uncertainty”, our business advisors have a few recommendations for things you should consider documenting to support your need for the loan.
Safe Harbor Rules
Companies that received a PPP loan and are concerned their current business activity could be challenged or have some question about their ability to access other sources of liquidity based on this guidance are provided with an option to avoid potential legal liability. Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this guidance, but believe their loan perhaps was not justified based on the new guidance, can repay the loan in full by May 14, 2020 and it will be deemed by the SBA to have made the required certification in good faith.
Both the SBA and the Treasury Department have announced it will be taking a closer look at any PPP loans over $2 million, in addition to other loans as appropriate, following the borrower’s submission of the forgiveness application, to ensure PPP loans are limited to eligible borrowers in need. Additional guidance implementing this procedure will be forthcoming.
Due to the new guidance, your management team likely needs to quickly reassess its need for the PPP loan to meet the May 14th repayment deadline. Consult with your legal counsel if you are unsure if you will need to repay the PPP funds. Both STA Wealth’s financial planning team and Doeren Mayhew’s business advisors stand ready to assist your business today.
This is for informational purposes. The information was prepared by STA Wealth Management and Doeren Mayhew CPA’s and Advisors this information has not been independently verified by a third party. STA Wealth Management LLC is not an affiliate of Doeren Mayhew CPAs and Advisors, their offerings, nor their management team. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or product. Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by STA Wealth Management, LLC), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly during this event will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information presented serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from STA Wealth Management, LLC. To the extent that any recipient has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor or CPA of his/her choosing.
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