COVID-19 Legislation Update – TIME SENSITIVE UPDATE BASED ON PRESIDENTIAL ACTION

 By: Attorney Joseph A. Camilli

The following is an unplanned interruption to Neider & Boucher, S.C.’s multi-part overview of some of the broadly tailored programs to assist businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

NEW PRIORITIZATION WINDOW – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2021

On Monday, February 22, President Biden announced that he has instructed the Treasury Department to implement changes to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), as updated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA), in order to address certain inequities in the program identified by his administration.  Among the improvements Biden announced Monday is a 14-day period, starting Wednesday, February 24, 2021, where only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief.  Of the roughly $284 billion dollars earmarked to the PPP, about $134 billion has already been allocated.  The prioritization announced on Monday is aimed at helping small business owners, sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula.

Monday’s announcement also is intended to provide financial support to other business owner groups previously left out of the PPP’s funding mechanism.  Eliminated by Monday’s announcement are restrictions that prevent small business owners from obtaining financial assistance through the PPP if they (a) have a non-fraud felony conviction on their criminal record; (b) are delinquent on a federal student loan payment; or (c) are small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents but who are in the United States on a green card or visa (non-U.S. citizens).

Keep in mind that the actual application for PPP loans, based on information currently available, has not been changed.  The PPP loan applicants will still have to certify, or promise, that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”  Moreover, while the risk of SBA audit is low, the SBA will audit loans of under $2,000,000.  These audits focus on whether the individual or business was eligible to receive a PPP loan, whether the applicant properly calculated the PPP loan amount, whether “economic necessity” existed for a PPP loan, whether proper “head-count” NAICS codes for the business were used in filing the loan application.

Many of the details of this update have not yet been released, but the key for small business owners and sole proprietors who believe they might be affected by these changes is to contact your local lender as soon as possible, as local lenders are familiar with the workings of the PPP and will be best positioned to safeguard the borrower’s spot in line, so to speak, for a PPP loan.  However, small business owners and sole proprietors should also keep in mind that the details of the updated PPP require close analysis with your accountants and legal counsel to insure the program is the right for you and your business (i.e., lenders are wonderful, but you should double check what is best for you and your business with a more independent advisor).

 

The guidance provided above is general in nature and readers are encouraged to reach out to Neider & Boucher, S.C., or to their own legal counsel to determine the applicability of these issues to their own personal and/or business needs.

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