As PPP loan recipients start to take stock of how they’ve used funds over the eight-week period, many businesses are eager to move ahead with the forgiveness portion of the program. How much of the loan will be forgiven is determined by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”), as provided in the CARES Act. Over the weekend, the Department of Treasury released details on the forgiveness application, which can be found here.
If the PPP funds are used to make payments on (1) payroll costs, (2) interest on mortgage obligations, (3) rent/lease payments for real and personal property, and (4) utility payments, those funds will be forgiven. However, a borrower’s use of PPP funds may only be forgiven if payroll costs account for 75% or more of the payments. That means only 25% of the payments forgiven can be for used for interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utility payments.
Note that this is the first time that rent/lease payments from personal property have been indicated under the PPP forgiveness program.
Payroll Cost Details
Eligible payroll costs are considered paid on the date payroll checks are distributed. The payroll costs are considered “incurred” on the day the employee’s pay is earned. Payroll costs incurred but not paid during the borrower’s last pay period of the covered period are eligible for forgiveness if paid on or before the next regular payroll date. Recall that the covered period as specified in the CARES Act begins at the time of receipt of the PPP funds. This may cause difficulty for many borrowers that use bi-weekly (or more frequent) pay periods if the receipt of the loan proceeds didn’t line up with the first day of their specific pay period. Under the guidance indicated in the Forgiveness Application, borrowers may elect to use an Alternative Payroll Covered Period which would begin on the first day of the first pay period occurring after their receipt of the PPP loan funds.
The Other 25%
Payments on mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments must be paid or incurred during the covered period and paid by the next regular billing date (even if payments occur after the covered period). Utility payments include electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet access.
Any amounts forgiven under the PPP will be considered “canceled indebtedness” by the SBA. Such canceled indebtedness will not be taxed by the federal government.
The amount forgiven cannot exceed the principal amount of the financing originally made from the SBA. Additionally, the amount forgiven will be decreased proportionately based on the reduction in the number of employees on a borrower’s payroll. This reduction will only occur if the borrower does not maintain the same number of employees the borrower listed in its’ application. There is, however, an exception: if a borrower lays off an employee, offers to rehire the employee, and the employee refuses, the reduction in the number of employees of borrower will not penalize the borrower for loan forgiveness purposes. Further, the amount forgiven will be decreased proportionately based on the reduction in the salary of employees on a borrower’s payroll, if that salary decrease is greater than 25% of employee’s original salary.
Application & Forgiveness Approval Protocol
A borrower seeking loan forgiveness must submit a forgiveness application to its SBA lender. The lender’s application must include documentation that:
- Verifies the number of full-time equivalent employees,
- Includes pay rates (IRS payroll taxes, state income, payroll, and unemployment insurance filings),
- Verifies payments on mortgage interest, rent, or utilities, and
- Certifies the use of funds is true, correct, and complies with the CARES Act.
The verification of full-time equivalents may be calculated, at the election of the borrower, on either of the following time frames: 02/15/2019 – 06/30/2019 or 01/01/2020 – 02/29/2020. The verification of pay rates will be calculated by the employee’s most recent full quarter during which the employee was employed before the covered period. All of this documentation must be maintained for at least 6 years by the borrower.
The lender must issue the borrower a decision on the amount of the loan forgiven within 60 days after the borrower files the loan forgiveness application. All loans in excess of $2 million will be reviewed by the Department of Treasury when a loan forgiveness application is received.
 CARE Act Section 1106: Loan Forgiveness.