Updated June 1, 2020: The House passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act on May 27, 2020, which attempts to ease restrictions on small businesses as they seek loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program authorized by the CARES Act. Be sure to read House Passes PPP Loan Forgiveness Bill, Treasury Issues Harsh Forgiveness Regulations—What You Need to Know.
If you were one of the lucky businesses to receive a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan as provided under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, you currently have eight weeks to use the funds appropriately to meet the criteria for loan forgiveness or face repayment.
There is still some PPP money available from Round 2 of Congressional relief, so if you haven’t yet applied and still need the money, do so immediately. There was approximately $90 billion remaining as of May 6, largely because most loans in this second round have been much smaller than in Round 1 and many larger companies have returned their loans. You will likely have better luck receiving a loan by applying through a smaller community bank as opposed to a large national bank.
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In addition, the regulations around both the PPP loan program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program have been changing constantly since the CARES Act was passed and will likely continue to do so. It is important to track these regulations closely. Already, leading trade associations including the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the Independent Community Bankers Association have written to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for changes to the PPP, mainly around the criteria for forgiveness.
The intent of Congress and the Trump Administration when passing the PPP loans was twofold: First, give small business the funding necessary to survive the Coronavirus shutdown, which the federal government estimated would last two months. That is why the loan amount was based on your average 2019 monthly payroll multiplied by 2.5%, and forgiveness is largely based on two months of payroll. Second, to keep workers employed and on payrolls instead of sending them to the unemployment line.
While these two reasons behind the loans were well meaning, they were misguided from the start and are now causing heartache for many small business owners. From day one, it was clear that forcing small business owners to keep workers on the payroll when they were effectively shut down with little or no revenue put them in the position of the unemployment office. The unemployment benefits program was also enhanced in the CARES Act to cover workers, and while no business ever wants to lay off good employees, there simply are times when that is necessary for survival.