Last night, April 6, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of Treasury, released additional guidance about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to address common questions.
We’ve reviewed the guidance and have included five essential questions/answers here in this blog post.
Click here to access the full list of Final PPP FAQs issued by the SBA.
Paycheck Protection Program Loans: FAQs from The SBA
1. Question: Paragraph 3.b.iii of the PPP Interim Final Rule states that lenders must “confirm the dollar amount of average monthly payroll costs for the preceding calendar year by reviewing the payroll documentation submitted with the borrower’s application.” Does that require that the lender replicate every borrower’s calculations?
Answer: No. Providing an accurate calculation of payroll costs is the responsibility of the borrower, and the borrower must attest to the accuracy of those calculations. Lenders are expected to perform a good faith review, in a reasonable time, of the borrower’s calculations and supporting documents concerning average monthly payroll cost. The level of diligence by a lender should be informed by the quality of supporting documents supplied by the borrower. Minimal review of calculations based on a payroll report by a recognized third-party payroll processor, for example, would be reasonable.
If lenders identify errors in the borrower’s calculation or material lack of substantiation in the borrower’s supporting documents, the lender should work with the borrower to remedy the error.
2. Question: The CARES Act excludes from the definition of payroll costs any employee compensation in excess of an annual salary of $100,000. Does that exclusion apply to all employee benefits of monetary value?
Answer: No. The exclusion of compensation in excess of $100,000 annually applies only to cash compensation, not to non-cash benefits, including:
- employer contributions to defined-benefit or defined-contribution retirement plans;
- payment for the provision of employee benefits consisting of group health care coverage, including insurance premiums; and
- payment of state and local taxes assessed on compensation of employees.
3. Question: What if an eligible borrower contracts with a third-party payer such as a payroll provider or a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) to process payroll and report payroll taxes?
Answer: SBA recognizes that eligible borrowers that use PEOs or similar payroll providers are required under some state registration laws to report wage and other data on the Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the PEO or other payroll provider. In these cases, payroll documentation provided by the payroll provider that indicates the amount of wages and payroll taxes reported to the IRS by the payroll provider for the borrower’s employees will be considered acceptable PPP loan payroll documentation. Relevant information from a Schedule R (Form 941), Allocation Schedule for Aggregate Form 941 Filers, attached to the PEO’s or other payroll provider’s Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, should be used if it is available; otherwise, the eligible borrower should obtain a statement from the payroll provider documenting the amount of wages and payroll taxes. In addition, employees of the eligible borrower will not be considered employees of the eligible borrower’s payroll provider or PEO.
4. Question: What time period should borrowers use to determine their number of employees and payroll costs to calculate their maximum loan amounts?
Answer: In general, borrowers can calculate their aggregate payroll costs using data either from the previous 12 months or from calendar year 2019. For seasonal businesses, the applicant may use average monthly payroll for the period between February 15, 2019, or March 1, 2019, and June 30, 2019. An applicant that was not in business from February 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019 may use the average monthly payroll costs for the period January 1, 2020 through February 29, 2020.
Borrowers may use their average employment over the same time periods to determine their number of employees, for the purposes of applying an employee-based size standard. Alternatively, borrowers may elect to use SBA’s usual calculation: the average number of employees per pay period in the 12 completed calendar months prior to the date of the loan application (or the average number of employees for each of the pay periods that the business has been operational, if it has not been operational for 12 months).
5. Question: How should a borrower account for federal taxes when determining its payroll costs for purposes of the maximum loan amount, allowable uses of a PPP loan, and the amount of a loan that may be forgiven?
Answer: Under the Act, payroll costs are calculated on a gross basis without regard to (i.e., not including subtractions or additions based on) federal taxes imposed or withheld, such as the employee’s and employer’s share of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and income taxes required to be withheld from employees. As a result, payroll costs are not reduced by taxes imposed on an employee and required to be withheld by the employer, but payroll costs do not include the employer’s share of payroll tax. For example, an employee who earned $4,000 per month in gross wages, from which $500 in federal taxes was withheld, would count as $4,000 in payroll costs. The employee would receive $3,500, and $500 would be paid to the federal government. However, the employer-side federal payroll taxes imposed on the $4,000 in wages are excluded from payroll costs under the statute.
We Are Closely Monitoring Guidance as It Is Released
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