It has been a long road for many of you who have already received your Paycheck Protection Program loan funds, and certainly for those of you who are still waiting for your funds to arrive. Unfortunately, this is only the first step in the process under the CARES Act and the economic relief it is intended to bring.
To help you navigate this road, we at Marshall Jones want to be sure to continue to be there for you during the next phase, which is to help you use the funds in a way that prepares you for forgiveness.
PPP Loan Forgiveness Maximization
Much like the confusion that existed initially around applying for the PPP loan, there is a great deal of ambiguity around the precise forgiveness calculations that will be required. While clarity will come with time, we believe there are some practical steps and safe interpretations of the forgiveness clauses of the CARES Act which will put you in the best position to receive total loan forgiveness.
We want to emphasize the areas we think are the most important considerations for you to make during the eight-week covered period after you receive your loan funds. Doing your best to use the funds in a way that aligns with the intent of Congress will give you the best chance at maximum loan forgiveness.
Know Your Timeline
The clock to spend your PPP funds starts the day your funds are deposited into your bank account. You will have eight weeks from this time to spend your loan funds on covered charges if you want to receive 100% forgiveness on your loan.
Track and Document Your Covered Expenses
There are many ways to do this, but some are more practical than others. Some advisors are recommending opening up new bank accounts, changing payroll frequencies, or disbursing money in specific amounts to prove the use of funds. We believe that a good accounting system is all you really need.
Ultimately, we believe that you will simply need a list of paid and incurred transactions covered by the CARES Act that the PPP funds were used for during the eight-week period after receiving your loan funds. This list of expenses can be tracked simply in a spreadsheet or clever use of debits and credits in your account system.
Covered PPP Fund Expenses Include:
- Gross wages, tips, vacation, FMLA
- Employer portion of Health care benefits
- Employer portion of retirement benefits
- Employer portion of state and local taxes on compensation
- Rent for real and personal property
- Interest on loans secured by real or personal property
Expenses Not Covered by the PPP Fund:
- Employer portion of payroll taxes
- Wages for the eight weeks that are more than $15,385 for a single employee (effectively excluding wages that are over $100k for a single employee)
ALL of these transactions should be supported by documentation. We recommend that all this documentation be accumulated at least weekly, kept electronically, and ready to provide to the bank when asked for during the forgiveness process.
Maintain Your Payroll at Pre-Pandemic Levels
Forgiveness will be reduced if you do not retain an average number of employees during the eight-week period that is greater than that which existed at pre-pandemic levels (the lessor of the average number of FTEs from 2/15/19 – 6/30/19 or 1/1/20 – 2/29/20).
Forgiveness will also be reduced if you reduce employee salaries by more than 25% of their salary at pre-pandemic levels.
Forgiveness will be reduced if more than 25% of the loan funds are used on non-payroll costs. Based on the calculation of the maximum loan amount, this should only be possible if you do not maintain your pre-pandemic payroll levels.
Remember the spirit of the CARES Act and the namesake of the loan program. The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to let people keep their jobs and their salaries. If you want the best chance at maximum loan forgiveness, maintain your payroll at pre-pandemic levels, which may include rehiring individuals who have been laid off or furloughed. Doing this should keep you safely within the bounds of loan forgiveness interpretations that are to come.
Stay informed & Talk with Your Bank or a Professional at Marshall Jones
More information on loan forgiveness will be available in the coming weeks. Please check with us or your bank to stay aware of the latest news and be prepared to adjust course if necessary.
There will be many nuances to the PPP loan forgiveness process, so if you want a more detailed analysis of your specific situation, we would be happy to have these discussions with you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by phone at (404) 231-2001.