Many business owners are feeling the pressure the coronavirus has put on the market and their companies. Many have their workforce operating remotely, some with only a skeleton staff, and others having to layoff their workers due to the impact of COVID-19.
In response to the economic hit many business owners are currently facing, the U.S. government responded with the CARES Act, a bill designed to bring health care assistance and financial aid to those individuals, families, and businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.
One of the significant benefits of the CARES Act for business owners to take advantage of to protect their workforce is the Payment Protection Program (or PPP). With the chaotic rollout of the Payment Protection Program (PPP), many business owners have already scrambled to file the necessary paperwork with their banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to secure funding. All of which are all backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). This aid will be critical in helping owners pay their employee’s salaries, benefits, company bills, and make other vital financial payments to keep afloat.
Despite the initial rush to submit the necessary paperwork, there is a waiting period that takes place once all the required documents are filed to when the aid finally comes through. Some owners have already received their funding, while others are still in that waiting period fueling more feelings of uncertainty.
Millions of companies are applying for this aid and loan forgiveness all once. As a result, funding approval is taking much longer than initially anticipated. Not only is the sheer volume of applicants incredibly high, but the process for going through each application is quite lengthy. We recommend being prepared for a waiting period of 90 days or longer.
No matter which scenario an establishment is facing, this growing uncertainty is leaving many business owners wondering what additional steps they should be preparing to take next to solidify the future of their companies while maximizing the benefits of the PPP program.
While millions of eligible companies are applying for forgiveness on their loans during this time, in the meantime, they must utilize these funds the correct way so these companies can maximize forgiveness.
If at any point during this process you have questions or would like to speak to an expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our CFO task force, a highly skilled team comprised of accounting and finance experts, is working diligently to help small to medium-sized businesses navigate their way successfully through this process.
The Signature Analytics promise is to manage your accounting and financial reporting, so you don’t have to. However, during this confusing and stressful time, we are going beyond the numbers to help improve your business performance and help drive strategy and direction.
Critical Next Steps
The experts at Signature Analytics are recommending the following next steps to help comply with the PPP and obtain the most significant company benefits:
1. Have a plan. The 8-week clock will start ticking as soon as those funds are received. What you do with the money during these eight weeks determines your loan forgiveness, so it’s best to come prepared with a spend-down plan for the PPP funds. Signature Analytics has developed a template to help you plan and track funds used.
2. Documentation. Your lender will require documentation to apply for loan forgiveness, so it will be imperative that you carefully track using the funds for qualified expenses. The better documentation and support, the easier the process will be for forgiveness. There are several methods you can use to track your funds. Some recommended ideas include:
- Creating a separate class in your Quickbooks file
- Creating a separate balance sheet to track the use of the PPP loan
- Opening a dedicated bank account used solely for eligible expenses
The Signature Analytics team can discuss which options will be best for your situation to maintain records to substantiate expenses.
3. Monitor. During the eight weeks, the actual use of the funds must be carefully monitored. In order to qualify for loan forgiveness, at least 75% of the loan must be used for payroll costs. Keeping in mind that various restrictions need to be considered here for highly compensated employees. It is important to stay diligent on the rules for forgiveness and the tracking of the proceeds of the loan.
4. Be cautious. Loan forgiveness can be reduced if either of the following occurs:
a. Employees who make less than $100,000 (annualize) have their comp reduced by 25% or more may cause a dollar for dollar reduction in your forgiveness amount.
– OR –
b. If the number of full-time employees is equal to or less than the same number from February 14, 2019 to June 30, 2019 or January 1, 2020 to February 29, 2020 among other criteria. The Treasury website has the most current information regarding these criteria.
5. Avoid other CARES Programs. Some programs may nullify participating in the PPP, including the Employee Retention Credit and Deferral of Payroll Taxes. It is essential to get guidance from your tax and HR professional in regards to all areas of the CARES ACT.
6. Consider timing. You will want to maximize the payment of qualifying expenses during the eight-week loan forgiveness window. For strategies on how best to pay your bills, please reach out to the Signature Analytics team for guidance.
7. Don’t misuse the funds. While specific guidelines for misappropriation of funds are not currently available, we do know that business owners using the funds for fraudulent purposes will be subject to criminal charges. Additionally, businesses that misrepresent or do not accurately portray their information submitted may be subject to criminal penalties.
8. Even if it’s not forgiven. You are still left with a reasonably good loan. Any amount not forgiven will be treated as a two-year term loan at 1% interest with no prepayment penalty. Keep in mind that even though interest and principal payments are deferred for six months, the interest will still need to be accrued during the deferral period for any portion of the loan not forgiven.
It is valuable to note that since the PPP was initially launched, guidance from the Treasury Department has continued to evolve. This is a very face-paced pandemic and is requiring government agencies and those who support it to think on their feet and provide businesses with relief fast.
For this reason, the information outlined above may change in response to additional guidance. We will do our best to keep you up to date, and you can always contact us at any time for support.