Deductible Expenses Under PPP
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service issued the following, Notice 2020-32, to answer questions about how to handle the deductibility of certain expenses if a taxpayer gets a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, created under the CARES Act.
The CARES Act, however, did not address whether the business expenses that result in PPP loan forgiveness will be deductible for tax purposes, according to a post by JD Supra, which posts a daily newsletter of news, commentary and analysis from leading lawyers and law firms. In this notice, released on April 30th, JD Supra concludes that “the IRS concludes that when the payment of business expenses results in the forgiveness of a PPP loan, such as payroll costs or rent, those business expenses will not be deductible for tax purposes. According to the IRS, this treatment prevents a “double tax benefit” and is consistent with Section 265(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, which generally provides that no tax deduction is available for expenses that are paid with tax-exempt dollars.”
The full text of the IRS notice is reproduced below:
This notice provides guidance regarding the deductibility for Federal income tax purposes of certain otherwise deductible expenses incurred in a taxpayer’s trade or business when the taxpayer receives a loan (covered loan) pursuant to the Paycheck Protection Program under section 7(a)(36) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 636(a)(36)). Specifically, this notice clarifies that no deduction is allowed under the Internal Revenue Code (Code) for an expense that is otherwise deductible if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a covered loan pursuant to section 1106(b) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Public Law 116-136, 134 Stat. 281, 286-93 (March 27, 2020) and the income associated with the forgiveness is excluded from gross income for purposes of the Code pursuant to section 1106(i) of the CARES Act.
I. Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program was established by section 1102 of the CARES Act. Under the Paycheck Protection Program, a recipient of a covered loan may use the proceeds to pay (1) payroll costs, (2) certain employee benefits relating to healthcare, (3) interest on mortgage obligations, (4) rent, (5) utilities, and (6) interest on any other existing debt obligations. See section 7(a)(36)(F) of the Small Business Act (describing allowable uses of a covered loan). See also Q&A 2.r. in Part III of the interim final rule, Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program, Docket No. SBA-2020-0015, 85 Fed. Reg. 20811, 20814 (April 15, 2020).
Under section 1106(b) of the Cares Act, a recipient of a covered loan can receive forgiveness of indebtedness on the loan (covered loan forgiveness) in an amount equal to the sum of payments made for the following expenses during the 8-week “covered period” beginning on the covered loan’s origination date (each, an eligible section 1106 expense): (1) payroll costs, (2) any payment of interest on any covered mortgage obligation, (3) any payment on any covered rent obligation, and (4) any covered utility payment. See section 1106(a) (defining the terms “covered period”, “covered mortgage obligation,” “covered rent obligation,” “covered utility payment,” and “payroll costs”), (b) (regarding eligibility for covered loan forgiveness), and (g) (regarding covered loan forgiveness decisions). However, section 1106(d) of the CARES Act provides that the amount of the covered loan forgiveness is reduced if, during the covered period, (1) the average number of full-time equivalent employees of the recipient is reduced as compared to the number of full-time employees in a specified base period, or (2) the salary or wages of certain employees is reduced by more than 25 percent as compared to the last full quarter before the covered period. In addition, pursuant to an interim final rule issued by the Small Business Administration, no more than 25 percent of the amount forgiven can be attributable to non-payroll costs. See Q&A 2.o. in Part III of the interim final rule, Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program, Docket No. SBA-2020-0015, 85 Fed. Reg. 20811, 20813-20814 (April 15, 2020).
Section 1106(i) of the CARES Act addresses certain Federal income tax consequences resulting from covered loan forgiveness. Specifically, that subsection provides that, for purposes of the Code, any amount that (but for that subsection) would be includible in gross income of the recipient by reason of forgiveness described in section 1106(b) “shall be excluded from gross income.” Thus, section 1106(i) of the CARES Act operates to exclude from the gross income of a recipient any category of income that may arise from covered loan forgiveness, regardless of whether such income would be (1) properly characterized as income from the discharge of indebtedness under section 61(a)(11) of the Code, or (2) otherwise includible in gross income under section 61 of the Code.
II. Deductibility of Eligible Section 1106 Expenses
Neither section 1106(i) of the CARES Act nor any other provision of the CARES Act addresses whether deductions otherwise allowable under the Code for payments of eligible section 1106 expenses by a recipient of a covered loan are allowed if the covered loan is subsequently forgiven under section 1106(b) of the CARES Act as a result of the payment of those expenses. This Notice addresses the effect of covered loan forgiveness on the deductibility of payments of eligible section 1106 expenses.
III. Summary of Relevant Law
Section 161 of the Code provides that, in computing taxable income under section 63 of the Code, there shall be allowed as deductions the items specified in part VI, subchapter B, chapter 1 of the Code (for example, sections 162 and 163). However, section 161 of the Code provides that the allowance of these deductions is subject to the exceptions provided in part IX, subchapter B, chapter 1 of the Code. These exceptions include section 265 of the Code. See also section 261.
In general, section 162 of the Code provides for a deduction for all ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business. Covered rent obligations, covered utility payments, and payroll costs consisting of wages and benefits paid to employees comprise typical trade or business expenses for which a deduction under section 162 of the Code generally is appropriate. Section 163(a) of the Code provides a deduction for certain interest paid or accrued during the taxable year on indebtedness, including interest paid or incurred on a mortgage obligation of a trade or business.
However, section 265(a)(1) of the Code and §1.265-1 of the Income Tax Regulations provide that no deduction is allowed to a taxpayer for any amount otherwise allowable as a deduction to such taxpayer that is allocable to one or more classes of income other than interest (whether or not any amount of income of that class or classes is received or accrued) wholly exempt from the taxes imposed by subtitle A of the Code. See generally section 265(a)(1); §1.265-1. The term “class of exempt income” means any class of income (whether or not any amount of income of such class is received or accrued) that is either wholly excluded from gross income under any provision of subtitle A of the Code or wholly exempt from the taxes imposed by subtitle A of the Code under the provisions of any other law. See §1.265-1(b)(1). The purpose of section 265 of the Code is to prevent a double tax benefit.
Section 265(a)(1) of the Code applies to otherwise deductible expenses incurred for the purpose of earning or otherwise producing tax-exempt income. It also applies where tax exempt income is earmarked for a specific purpose and deductions are incurred in carrying out that purpose. In such event, it is proper to conclude that some or all of the deductions are allocable to the tax-exempt income. See Christian v. United States, 201 F. Supp. 155 (E.D. La. 1962) (school teacher was denied deductions for expenses incurred for a literary research trip to England because the expenses were allocable to a tax-exempt gift and fellowship grant); Banks v. Commissioner, 17 T.C. 1386 (1952) (certain educational expenses paid by the Veterans’ Administration that were exempt from income tax, were not deductible); Heffelfinger v. Commissioner, 5 T.C. 985 (1945), (Canadian income taxes on income exempt from U.S. tax are not deductible in computing U.S. taxable income); and Rev. Rul. 74-140, 1974-1 C.B. 50, (the portion of a state income tax paid by a taxpayer that is allocable to the cost-of-living allowance, a class of income wholly exempt under section 912, is nondeductible under section 265).
In Manocchio v. Commissioner, 78 T.C. 989 (1982), a taxpayer attended a flight-training course that maintained and improved skills required in the taxpayer’s trade or business. As a veteran, the taxpayer was entitled to an educational assistance allowance from the Veterans’ Administration pursuant to 38 U.S.C. section 1677 (1976) equal to 90 percent of the costs incurred. Because the payments received were exempt from taxation under 38 U.S.C. section 310(a) (1976), the taxpayer did not report them as income. The taxpayer did, however, deduct the entire cost of the flight training course, including the portion that had been reimbursed by the Veterans’ Administration. In a reviewed opinion, the court held that the reimbursed flight-training expenses were nondeductible under section 265(a)(1) of the Code.
NON-DEDUCTIBILITY OF PAYMENTS TO THE EXTENT INCOME RESULTING FROM LOAN FORGIVENESS IS EXCLUDED UNDER SECTION 1106(i) OF THE CARES ACT
To the extent that section 1106(i) of the CARES Act operates to exclude from gross income the amount of a covered loan forgiven under section 1106(b) of the CARES Act, the application of section 1106(i) results in a “class of exempt income” under §1.265- 1(b)(1) of the Regulations. Accordingly, section 265(a)(1) of the Code disallows any otherwise allowable deduction under any provision of the Code, including sections 162 and 163, for the amount of any payment of an eligible section 1106 expense to the extent of the resulting covered loan forgiveness (up to the aggregate amount forgiven) because such payment is allocable to tax-exempt income. Consistent with the purpose of section 265, this treatment prevents a double tax benefit.
This conclusion is consistent with prior guidance of the IRS that addresses the application of section 265(a) to otherwise deductible payments. In particular, Rev. Rul. 83-3, 1983-1 C.B. 72, provides that, where tax exempt income is earmarked for a specific purpose, and deductions are incurred in carrying out that purpose, section 265(a) applies because such deductions are allocable to the tax-exempt income. In accordance with the analysis set forth in Rev. Rul. 83-3, the direct link between (1) the amount of tax exempt covered loan forgiveness that a recipient receives pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act, and (2) an equivalent amount of the otherwise deductible payments made by a recipient for eligible section 1106 expenses, constitutes a sufficient connection for section 265(a) to apply to disallow deductions for such payments under any provision of the Code, including sections 162 and 163, to the extent of the income excluded under section 1106(i) of the CARES Act.
The deductibility of payments of eligible section 1106 expenses that result in loan forgiveness under section 1106(b) of the CARES Act is also subject to disallowance under case law and published rulings that deny deductions for otherwise deductible payments for which the taxpayer receives reimbursement. See, e.g., Burnett v. Commissioner, 356 F.2d 755, 759-60 (5th Cir. 1966); Wolfers v. Commissioner, 69 T.C. 975 (1978); Charles Baloian Co. v. Commissioner, 68 T.C. 620 (1977); Rev. Rul. 80-348, 1980-2 C.B. 31; Rev. Rul. 80-173, 1980-2 C.B. 60.
The principal authors of this notice are Sarah Daya and Patrick Clinton of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Income Tax & Accounting). For further information regarding the application of sections 161, 162, 163, and 261 please contact Ms. Daya at (202) 317-4891 (not a toll-free call); for further information regarding the application of section 265, please contact Mr. Clinton at (202) 317-7005 (not a toll-free call).Read More
Paycheck Protection Program Loans: FAQs
The following information was issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, to provide timely additional guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP was established by section 1102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or the Act).
Borrowers and lenders may rely on the guidance provided in this document as SBA’s interpretation of the CARES Act and of the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rules (“PPP Interim Final Rules”) (link). The U.S. government will not challenge lender PPP actions that conform to this guidance,1 and to the PPP Interim Final Rules and any subsequent rulemaking in effect at the time.
(1 This document does not carry the force and effect of law independent of the statute and regulations on which it is based.)
Question: Paragraph 3.b.iii of the PPP Interim Final Rule states that lenders must “[c]onfirm 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 the lender to replicate every borrower’s calculations?
Answer: No. Providing an accurate calculation of payroll costs is the responsibility of the borrower, and the borrower attests to the accuracy of those calculations on the Borrower Application Form. 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. For example, minimal review of calculations based on a payroll report by a recognized third-party payroll processor would be reasonable. In addition, as the PPP Interim Final Rule indicates, lenders may rely on borrower representations, including with respect to amounts required to be excluded from payroll costs.
If the lender identifies 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 issue.2 (2 Question 1 published April 3, 2020.)
Question: Are small business concerns (as defined in section 3 of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632) required to have 500 or fewer employees to be eligible borrowers in the PPP?
Answer: No. Small business concerns can be eligible borrowers even if they have more than 500 employees, as long as they satisfy the existing statutory and regulatory definition of a “small business concern” under section 3 of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632. A business can qualify if it meets the SBA employee-based or revenue-based size standard corresponding to its primary industry. Go to www.sba.gov/size for the industry size standards.
Additionally, a business can qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program as a small business concern if it met both tests in SBA’s “alternative size standard” as of March 27, 2020: (1) maximum tangible net worth of the business is not more than $15 million; and (2) the average net income after Federal income taxes (excluding any carry-over losses) of the business for the two full fiscal years before the date of the application is not more than $5 million.
A business that qualifies as a small business concern under section 3 of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632, may truthfully attest to its eligibility for PPP loans on the Borrower Application Form, unless otherwise ineligible.
Question: Does my business have to qualify as a small business concern (as defined in section 3 of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632) in order to participate in the PPP?
Answer: No. In addition to small business concerns, a business is eligible for a PPP loan if the business has 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, or the business meets the SBA employee-based size standards for the industry in which it operates (if applicable). Similarly, PPP loans are also available for qualifying tax-exempt nonprofit organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), tax-exempt veterans organization described in section 501(c)(19) of the IRC, and Tribal business concerns described in section 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act that have 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, or meet the SBA employee-based size standards for the industry in which they operate.
Question: Are lenders required to make an independent determination regarding applicability of affiliation rules under 13 C.F.R. 121.301(f) to borrowers?
Answer: No. It is the responsibility of the borrower to determine which entities (if any) are its affiliates and determine the employee headcount of the borrower and its affiliates. Lenders are permitted to rely on borrowers’ certifications.
Question: Are borrowers required to apply SBA’s affiliation rules under 13 F.R.121.301(f)?
Answer: Yes. Borrowers must apply the affiliation rules set forth in SBA’s Interim Final Rule on Affiliation. A borrower must certify on the Borrower Application Form that the borrower is eligible to receive a PPP loan, and that certification means that the borrower is a small business concern as defined in section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632), meets the applicable SBA employee-based or revenue-based size standard, or meets the tests in SBA’s alternative size standard, after applying the affiliation rules, if applicable. SBA’s existing affiliation exclusions apply to the PPP, including, for example the exclusions under 13 CFR 121.103(b)(2).
Question: The affiliation rule based on ownership (13 C.F.R. 121.301(f)(1)) states that SBA will deem a minority shareholder in a business to control the business if the shareholder has the right to prevent a quorum or otherwise block action by the board of directors or shareholders. If a minority shareholder irrevocably gives up those rights, is it still considered to be an affiliate of the business?
Answer: No. If a minority shareholder in a business irrevocably waives or relinquishes any existing rights specified in 13 C.F.R. 121.301(f)(1), the minority shareholder would no longer be an affiliate of the business (assuming no other relationship that triggers the affiliation rules).
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.
- Question: Do PPP loans cover paid sick leave?
Answer: Yes. PPP loans covers payroll costs, including costs for employee vacation, parental, family, medical, and sick leave. However, the CARES Act excludes qualified sick and family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under sections 7001 and 7003 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116–127). Learn more about the Paid Sick Leave Refundable Credit here.
Question: My small business is a seasonal business whose activity increases from April to June. Considering activity from that period would be a more accurate reflection of my business’s operations. However, my small business was not fully ramped up on February 15, 2020. Am I still eligible?
Answer: In evaluating a borrower’s eligibility, a lender may consider whether a seasonal borrower was in operation on February 15, 2020 or for an 8-week period between February 15, 2019 and June 30, 2019.
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.
Question: May lenders accept signatures from a single individual who is authorized to sign on behalf of the borrower?
Answer: Yes. However, the borrower should bear in mind that, as the Borrower Application Form indicates, only an authorized representative of the business seeking a loan may sign on behalf of the business. An individual’s signature as an “Authorized Representative of Applicant” is a representation to the lender and to the U.S. government that the signer is authorized to make the certifications, including with respect to the applicant and each owner of 20% or more of the applicant’s equity, contained in the Borrower Application Form. Lenders may rely on that representation and accept a single individual’s signature on that basis.
Question: I need to request a loan to support my small business operations in light of current economic uncertainty. However, I pleaded guilty to a felony crime a very long time ago. Am I still eligible for the PPP?
Answer: Yes. Businesses are only ineligible if an owner of 20 percent or more of the equity of the applicant is presently incarcerated, on probation, on parole; subject to an indictment, criminal information, arraignment, or other means by which formal criminal charges are brought in any jurisdiction; or, within the last five years, for any felony, has been convicted; pleaded guilty; pleaded nolo contendere; been placed on pretrial diversion; or been placed on any form of parole or probation (including probation before judgment).
Question: Are lenders permitted to use their own online portals and an electronic form that they create to collect the same information and certifications as in the Borrower Application Form, in order to complete implementation of their online portals?
Answer: Yes. Lenders may use their own online systems and a form they establish that asks for the same information (using the same language) as the Borrower Application Form. Lenders are still required to send the data to SBA using SBA’s interface.
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).
Question: Should payments that an eligible borrower made to an independent contractor or sole proprietor be included in calculations of the eligible borrower’s payroll costs?
Answer: No. Any amounts that an eligible borrower has paid to an independent contractor or sole proprietor should be excluded from the eligible business’s payroll costs. However, an independent contractor or sole proprietor will itself be eligible for a loan under the PPP, if it satisfies the applicable requirements.
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.3
- 3 The definition of “payroll costs” in the CARES Act, 15 U.S.C. 636(a)(36)(A)(viii), excludes “taxes imposed or withheld under chapters 21, 22, or 24 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 during the covered period,” defined as February 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020. As described above, the SBA interprets this statutory exclusion to mean that payroll costs are calculated on a gross basis, without subtracting federal taxes that are imposed on the employee or withheld from employee wages. Unlike employer-side payroll taxes, such employee-side taxes are ordinarily expressed as a reduction in employee take-home pay; their exclusion from the definition of payroll costs means payroll costs should not be reduced based on taxes imposed on the employee or withheld from employee wages. This interpretation is consistent with the text of the statute and advances the legislative purpose of ensuring workers remain paid and employed. Further, because the reference period for determining a borrower’s maximum loan amount will largely or entirely precede the period from February 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020, and the period during which borrowers will be subject to the restrictions on allowable uses of the loans may extend beyond that period, for purposes of the determination of allowable uses of loans and the amount of loan forgiveness, this statutory exclusion will apply with respect to such taxes imposed or withheld at any time, not only during such period.
Question: I filed or approved a loan application based on the version of the PPP Interim Final Rule published on April 2, 2020. Do I need to take any action based on the updated guidance in these FAQs?
Answer: No. Borrowers and lenders may rely on the laws, rules, and guidance available at the time of the relevant application. However, borrowers whose previously submitted loan applications have not yet been processed may revise their applications based on clarifications reflected in these FAQs.
Question: Are PPP loans for existing customers considered new accounts for FinCEN Rule CDD purposes? Are lenders required to collect, certify, or verify beneficial ownership information in accordance with the rule requirements for existing customers?
Answer: If the PPP loan is being made to an existing customer and the necessary information was previously verified, you do not need to re-verify the information.
Furthermore, if federally insured depository institutions and federally insured credit unions eligible to participate in the PPP program have not yet collected beneficial ownership information on existing customers, such institutions do not need to collect and verify beneficial ownership information for those customers applying for new PPP loans, unless otherwise indicated by the lender’s risk-based approach to BSA compliance.4
Question: Do lenders have to use a promissory note provided by SBA or may they use their own?
Answer: Lenders may use their own promissory note or an SBA form of promissory note.
Question: The amount of forgiveness of a PPP loan depends on the borrower’s payroll costs over an eight-week period; when does that eight-week period begin?
Answer: The eight-week period begins on the date the lender makes the first disbursement of the PPP loan to the borrower. The lender must make the first disbursement of the loan no later than ten calendar days from the date of loan approval.5
Question: Do lenders need a separate SBA Authorization document to issue PPP loans?
Answer: No. A lender does not need a separate SBA Authorization for SBA to guarantee a PPP loan. However, lenders must have executed SBA Form 2484 (the Lender Application Form for the Paycheck Protection Program)6 to issue PPP loans and receive a loan number for each originated PPP loan. Lenders may include in their promissory notes for PPP loans any terms and conditions, including relating to amortization and disclosure, that are not inconsistent with Sections 1102 and 1106 of the CARES Act, the PPP Interim Final Rules and guidance, and SBA Form 2484. (6 This requirement is satisfied by a lender when the lender completes the process of submitting a loan through the E- Tran system; no transmission or retention of a physical copy of Form 2484 is required.)
Question: I am a non-bank lender that meets all applicable criteria of the PPP Interim Final Rule. Will I be automatically enrolled as a PPP lender? What criteria will SBA and the Treasury Department use to assess whether to approve my application to participate as a PPP lender?
Answer: We encourage lenders that are not currently 7(a) lenders to apply in order to increase the scope of PPP lending options and the speed with which PPP loans can be disbursed to help small businesses across America. We recognize that financial technology solutions can promote efficiency and financial inclusion in implementing the PPP. Applicants should submit SBA Form 3507 and the relevant attachments to NFRLApplicationForPPP@sba.gov. Submission of the SBA Form 3507 does not result in automatic enrollment in the PPP. SBA and the Treasury Department will evaluate each application from a non-bank or non-insured depository institution lender and determine whether the applicant has the necessary qualifications to process, close, disburse, and service PPP loans made with SBA’s guarantee. SBA may request additional information from the applicant before making a determination.
Question: How do the $10 million cap and affiliation rules work for franchises?
Answer: If a franchise brand is listed on the SBA Franchise Directory, each of its franchisees that meets the applicable size standard can apply for a PPP loan. (The franchisor does not apply on behalf of its franchisees.) The $10 million cap on PPP loans is a limit per franchisee entity, and each franchisee is limited to one PPP loan.
Franchise brands that have been denied listing on the Directory because of affiliation between franchisor and franchisee may request listing to receive PPP loans. SBA will not apply affiliation rules to a franchise brand requesting listing on the Directory to participate in the PPP, but SBA will confirm that the brand is otherwise eligible for listing on the Directory.
Question: How do the $10 million cap and affiliation rules work for hotels and restaurants (and any business assigned a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code beginning with 72)?
Answer: Under the CARES Act, any single business entity that is assigned a NAICS code beginning with 72 (including hotels and restaurants) and that employs not more than 500 employees per physical location is eligible to receive a PPP loan.
In addition, SBA’s affiliation rules (13 CFR 121.103 and 13 CFR 121.301) do not apply to any business entity that is assigned a NAICS code beginning with 72 and that employs not more than a total of 500 employees. As a result, if each hotel or restaurant location owned by a parent business is a separate legal business entity, each hotel or restaurant location that employs not more than 500 employees is permitted to apply for a separate PPP loan provided it uses its unique EIN.
The $10 million maximum loan amount limitation applies to each eligible business entity, because individual business entities cannot apply for more than one loan. The following examples illustrate how these principles apply.
Example 1. Company X directly owns multiple restaurants and has no affiliates.
- Company X may apply for a PPP loan if it employs 500 or fewer employees per location (including at its headquarters), even if the total number of employees employed across all locations is over
Example 2. Company X wholly owns Company Y and Company Z (as a result, Companies X, Y, and Z are all affiliates of one another). Company Y and Company Z each own a single restaurant with 500 or fewer employees.
- Company Y and Company Z can each apply for a separate PPP loan, because each has 500 or fewer employees. The affiliation rules do not apply, because Company Y and Company Z each has 500 or fewer employees and is in the food services business (with a NAICS code beginning with 72).
Example 3. Company X wholly owns Company Y and Company Z (as a result, Companies X, Y, and Z are all affiliates of one another). Company Y owns a restaurant with 400 employees. Company Z is a construction company with 400 employees.
- Company Y is eligible for a PPP loan because it has 500 or fewer employees. The affiliation rules do not apply to Company Y, because it has 500 or fewer employees and is in the food services business (with a NAICS code beginning with 72).
- The waiver of the affiliation rules does not apply to Company Z, because Company Z is in the construction industry. Under SBA’s affiliation rules, 13 CFR 121.301(f)(1) and (3), Company Y and Company Z are affiliates of one another because they are under the common control of Company X, which wholly owns both companies. This means that the size of Company Z is determined by adding its employees to those of Companies X and Y. Therefore, Company Z is deemed to have more than 500 employees, together with its affiliates. However, Company Z may be eligible to receive a PPP loan as a small business concern if it, together with Companies X and Y, meets SBA’s other applicable size standards,” as explained in FAQ #2.
Question: Does the information lenders are required to collect from PPP applicants regarding every owner who has a 20% or greater ownership stake in the applicant business (i.e., owner name, title, ownership %, TIN, and address) satisfy a lender’s obligation to collect beneficial ownership information (which has a 25% ownership threshold) under the Bank Secrecy Act?
For lenders with existing customers: With respect to collecting beneficial ownership information for owners holding a 20% or greater ownership interest, if the PPP loan is being made to an existing customer and the lender previously verified the necessary information, the lender does not need to re-verify the information. Furthermore, if federally insured depository institutions and federally insured credit unions eligible to participate in the PPP program have not yet collected such beneficial ownership information on existing customers, such institutions do not need to collect and verify beneficial ownership information for those customers applying for new PPP loans, unless otherwise indicated by the lender’s risk-based approach to Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance.
For lenders with new customers: For new customers, the lender’s collection of the following information from all natural persons with a 20% or greater ownership stake in the applicant business will be deemed to satisfy applicable BSA requirements and FinCEN regulations governing the collection of beneficial ownership information: owner name, title, ownership %, TIN, address, and date of birth. If any ownership interest of 20% or greater in the applicant business belongs to a business or other legal entity, lenders will need to collect appropriate beneficial ownership information for that entity. If you have questions about requirements related to beneficial ownership, go to https://www.fincen.gov/resources/statutes-and-regulations/cdd-final-rule. Decisions regarding further verification of beneficial ownership information collected from new customers should be made pursuant to the lender’s risk-based approach to BSA compliance.7 7 Questions 21 – 25 published April 13, 2020.
Question: SBA regulations require approval by SBA’s Standards of Conduct Committee (SCC) for SBA Assistance, other than disaster assistance, to an entity, if its sole proprietor, partner, officer, director, or stockholder with a 10 percent or more interest is: a current SBA employee; a Member of Congress; an appointed official or employee of the legislative or judicial branch; a member or employee of an SBA Advisory Council or SCORE volunteer; or a household member of any of the preceding individuals. Do these entities need the approval of the SCC in order to be eligible for a PPP loan?
Answer: The SCC has authorized a blanket approval for PPP loans to such entities so that further action by the SCC is not necessary in the PPP program.
Question: SBA regulations require a written statement of no objection by the pertinent Department or military service before it provides any SBA Assistance, other than disaster loans, to an entity, if its sole proprietor, partner, officer, director, or stockholder with a 10 percent or more interest, or if a household member of any of the preceding individuals, is an employee of another Government Department or Agency having a grade of at least GS-13 or its equivalent. Does this requirement apply to PPP loans?
Answer: No. The SCC has determined that a written statement of no objection is not required from another Government Department or Agency for PPP loans.
Question: Is a lender permitted to submit a PPP loan application to SBA through E-Tran before the lender has fulfilled its responsibility to review the required borrower documentation and calculation of payroll costs?
Answer: No. Before a lender submits a PPP loan through E-Tran, the lender must have collected the information and certifications contained in the Borrower Application Form and the lender must have fulfilled its obligations set forth in paragraphs 3.b.(i)-(iii) of the PPP Interim Final Rule. Please refer to the Interim Final Rule and FAQ #1 for more information on the lender’s responsibility regarding confirmation of payroll costs.
Lenders who did not understand that these steps are required before submission to E-Tran need not withdraw applications submitted to E-Tran before April 14, 2020, but must fulfill lender responsibilities with respect to those applications as soon as practicable and no later than loan closing.8 8 Questions 26 – 28 published April 14, 2020.
Question: Can lenders use scanned copies of documents or E-signatures or E-consents permitted by the E-sign Act?
Answer: Yes. All PPP lenders may accept scanned copies of signed loan applications and documents containing the information and certifications required by SBA Form 2483 and the promissory note used for the PPP loan. Additionally, lenders may also accept any form of E-consent or E-signature that complies with the requirements of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (P.L. 106-229).
If electronic signatures are not feasible, when obtaining a wet ink signature without in- person contact, lenders should take appropriate steps to ensure the proper party has executed the document.
This guidance does not supersede signature requirements imposed by other applicable law, including by the lender’s primary federal regulator.9 9 Question 29 published April 15, 2020.
Question: Can a lender sell a PPP loan into the secondary market?
Answer: Yes. A PPP loan may be sold into the secondary market at any time after the loan is fully disbursed. A secondary market sale of a PPP loan does not require SBA approval. A PPP loan sold into the secondary market is 100% SBA guaranteed. A PPP loan may be sold on the secondary market at a premium or a discount to par value.10
10 Question 30 published April 17, 2020.
Question: Do businesses owned by large companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for a PPP loan?
Answer: In addition to reviewing applicable affiliation rules to determine eligibility, all borrowers must assess their economic need for a PPP loan under the standard established by the CARES Act and the PPP regulations at the time of the loan application. Although the CARES Act suspends the ordinary requirement that borrowers must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere (as defined in section 3(h) of the Small Business Act), borrowers still must certify in good faith that their PPP loan request is necessary. Specifically, before submitting a PPP application, all borrowers should review carefully the required certification that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” Borrowers must make this certification in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business. For example, it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification.
Lenders may rely on a borrower’s certification regarding the necessity of the loan request. Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this guidance and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith.11 11 Question 31 published April 23, 2020.
Question: Does the cost of a housing stipend or allowance provided to an employee as part of compensation count toward payroll costs?
Answer: Yes. Payroll costs includes all cash compensation paid to employees, subject to the $100,000 annual compensation per employee limitation.
Question: Is there existing guidance to help PPP applicants and lenders determine whether an individual employee’s principal place of residence is in the United States?
Answer: PPP applicants and lenders may consider IRS regulations (26 CFR § 1.121- 1(b)(2)) when determining whether an individual employee’s principal place of residence is in the United States.
Question: Are agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers eligible for PPP loans?
Answer: Yes. Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers are eligible for PPP loans if: (i) the business has 500 or fewer employees, or (ii) the business fits within the revenue-based sized standard, which is average annual receipts of $1 million.
Additionally, agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers can qualify for PPP loans as a small business concern if their business meets SBA’s “alternative size standard.” The “alternative size standard” is currently: (1) maximum net worth of the business is not more than $15 million, and (2) the average net income after Federal income taxes (excluding any carry-over losses) of the business for the two full fiscal years before the date of the application is not more than $5 million.
For all of these criteria, the applicant must include its affiliates in its calculations. Link to Applicable Affiliation Rules for the PPP.
Question: Are agricultural and other forms of cooperatives eligible to receive PPP loans?
Answer: As long as other PPP eligibility requirements are met, small agricultural cooperatives and other cooperatives may receive PPP loans.12 12 Questions 32 – 35 published April 24, 2020.
Question: To determine borrower eligibility under the 500-employee or other applicable threshold established by the CARES Act, must a borrower count all employees or only full-time equivalent employees?
Answer: For purposes of loan eligibility, the CARES Act defines the term employee to include “individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis.” A borrower must therefore calculate the total number of employees, including part-time employees, when determining their employee headcount for purposes of the eligibility threshold. For example, if a borrower has 200 full-time employees and 50 part-time employees each working 10 hours per week, the borrower has a total of 250 employees.
By contrast, for purposes of loan forgiveness, the CARES Act uses the standard of “full- time equivalent employees” to determine the extent to which the loan forgiveness amount will be reduced in the event of workforce reductions.13 13 Questions 36 published April 26, 2020.
Question: Do businesses owned by private companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for a PPP loan?
Answer: See response to FAQ #31.14 14 Question 37 published April 28, 2020.
Question: Section 1102 of the CARES Act provides that PPP loans are available only to applicants that were “in operation on February 15, 2020.” Is a business that was in operation on February 15, 2020 but had a change in ownership after February 15, 2020 eligible for a PPP loan?
Answer: Yes. As long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020, if it meets the other eligibility criteria, the business is eligible to apply for a PPP loan regardless of the change in ownership. In addition, where there is a change in ownership effectuated through a purchase of substantially all assets of a business that was in operation on February 15, the business acquiring the assets will be eligible to apply for a PPP loan even if the change in ownership results in the assignment of a new tax ID number and even if the acquiring business was not in operation until after February 15, 2020. If the acquiring business has maintained the operations of the pre-sale business, the acquiring business may rely on the historic payroll costs and headcount of the pre-sale business for the purposes of its PPP application, except where the pre-sale business had applied for and received a PPP loan. The Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary, has determined that the requirement that a business “was in operation on February 15, 2020” should be applied based on the economic realities of the business’s operations.
Question: Will SBA review individual PPP loan files?
Answer: Yes. In FAQ #31, SBA reminded all borrowers of an important certification required to obtain a PPP loan. To further ensure PPP loans are limited to eligible borrowers in need, the SBA has decided, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, that it will review all loans in excess of $2 million, in addition to other loans as appropriate, following the lender’s submission of the borrower’s loan forgiveness application. Additional guidance implementing this procedure will be forthcoming.
The outcome of SBA’s review of loan files will not affect SBA’s guarantee of any loan for which the lender complied with the lender obligations set forth in paragraphs III.3.b(i)-(iii) of the Paycheck Protection Program Rule (April 2, 2020) and further explained in FAQ #1.15 15 Questions 38 – 39 published April 29, 2020.
Question: Will a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness amount (pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act and SBA’s implementing rules and guidance) be reduced if the borrower laid off an employee, offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer?
Answer: No. As an exercise of the Administrator’s and the Secretary’s authority under Section 1106(d)(6) of the CARES Act to prescribe regulations granting de minimis exemptions from the Act’s limits on loan forgiveness, SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. The interim final rule will specify that, to qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower. Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.
Question: Can a seasonal employer that elects to use a 12-week period between May 1, 2019 and September 15, 2019 to calculate its maximum PPP loan amount under the interim final rule issued by Treasury on April 27, 2020, make all the required certifications on the Borrower Application Form?
Answer: Yes. The Borrower Application Form requires applicants to certify that “The Applicant is eligible to receive a loan under the rules in effect at the time this application is submitted that have been issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA) implementing the Paycheck Protection Program.” On April 27, 2020, Treasury issued an interim final rule allowing seasonal borrowers to use an alternative base period for purposes of calculating the loan amount for which they are eligible under the PPP. An applicant that is otherwise in compliance with applicable SBA requirements, and that complies with Treasury’s interim final rule on seasonal workers, will be deemed eligible for a PPP loan under SBA rules. Instead of following the instructions on page 3 of the Borrower Application Form for the time period for calculating average monthly payroll for seasonal businesses, an applicant may elect to use the time period in Treasury’s interim final rule on seasonal workers.
Question: Do nonprofit hospitals exempt from taxation under section 115 of the Internal Revenue Code qualify as “nonprofit organizations” under section 1102 of the CARES Act?
Answer: Section 1102 of the CARES Act defines the term “nonprofit organization” as “an organization that is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code.” The Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, understands that nonprofit hospitals exempt from taxation under section 115 of the Internal Revenue Code are unique in that many such hospitals may meet the description set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code to qualify for tax exemption under section 501(a), but have not sought to be recognized by the IRS as such because they are otherwise fully tax-exempt under a different provision of the Internal Revenue Code.
Accordingly, the Administrator will treat a nonprofit hospital exempt from taxation under section 115 of the Internal Revenue Code as meeting the definition of “nonprofit organization” under section 1102 of the CARES Act if the hospital reasonably determines, in a written record maintained by the hospital, that it is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is therefore within a category of organization that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a).16 The hospital’s certification of eligibility on the Borrower Application Form cannot be made without this determination. This approach helps accomplish the statutory purpose of ensuring that a broad range of borrowers, including entities that are helping to lead the medical response to the ongoing pandemic, can benefit from the loans provided under the PPP.
16 This determination need not account for the ancillary conditions set forth in section 501(r) of the Internal Revenue Code and elsewhere associated with securing the tax exemption under that section. Section 501(r) states that a hospital organization shall not be treated as described in section 501(c)(3) unless it meets certain community health and other requirements. However, section 1102 of the CARES Act defines the term “nonprofit organization” solely by reference to section 501(c)(3), and section 501(r) does not amend section 501(c)(3). Therefore, for purposes of the PPP, the requirements of section 501(r) do not apply to the determination of whether an organization is “described in section 501(c)(3).”
This guidance is solely for purposes of qualification as a “nonprofit organization” under section 1102 of the CARES Act and related purposes of the CARES Act, and does not have any consequences for federal tax law purposes. Nonprofit hospitals should also review all other applicable eligibility criteria, including the Interim Final Rules on Promissory Notes, Authorizations, Affiliation, and Eligibility (April 28, 2020) regarding an important limitation on ownership by state or local governments. 85 FR 23450, 23451.17
17 Questions 40 – 42 published May 3, 2020.
Question: FAQ #31 reminded borrowers to review carefully the required certification on the Borrower Application Form that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” SBA guidance and regulations provide that any borrower who applied for a PPP loan prior to April 24, 2020 and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith. Is it possible for a borrower to obtain an extension of the May 7, 2020 repayment date?
Answer: SBA is extending the repayment date for this safe harbor to May 14, 2020. Borrowers do not need to apply for this extension. This extension will be promptly implemented through a revision to the SBA’s interim final rule providing the safe harbor. SBA intends to provide additional guidance on how it will review the certification prior to May 14, 2020.
Question: How do SBA’s affiliation rules at 13 C.F.R. 121.301(f) apply with regard to counting the employees of foreign and U.S. affiliates?
Answer: For purposes of the PPP’s 500 or fewer employee size standard, an applicant must count all of its employees and the employees of its U.S and foreign affiliates, absent a waiver of or an exception to the affiliation rules. 13 C.F.R. 121.301(f)(6). Business concerns seeking to qualify as a “small business concern” under section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632) on the basis of the employee-based size standard must do the same. (Questions 43 – 44 published May 5, 2020.)
Question: Is an employer that repays its PPP loan by the safe harbor deadline (May 14, 2020) eligible for the Employee Retention Credit? (Question 45 published May 6, 2020.)
Answer: Yes. An employer that applied for a PPP loan, received payment, and repays the loan by the safe harbor deadline (May 14, 2020) will be treated as though the employer had not received a covered loan under the PPP for purposes of the Employee Retention Credit. Therefore, the employer will be eligible for the credit if the employer is otherwise an eligible employer for purposes of the credit. (Question 45 published May 6, 2020.)
Question: How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request?
Answer: When submitting a PPP application, all borrowers must certify in good faith that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has determined that the following safe harbor will apply to SBA’s review of PPP loans with respect to this issue: Any borrower that, together with its affiliates,20 received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith. (For purposes of this safe harbor, a borrower must include its affiliates to the extent required under the interim final rule on affiliates, 85 FR 20817 (April 15, 2020).
SBA has determined that this safe harbor is appropriate because borrowers with loans below this threshold are generally less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment than borrowers that obtained larger loans. This safe harbor will also promote economic certainty as PPP borrowers with more limited resources endeavor to retain and rehire employees. In addition, given the large volume of PPP loans, this approach will enable SBA to conserve its finite audit resources and focus its reviews on larger loans, where the compliance effort may yield higher returns.
Importantly, borrowers with loans greater than $2 million that do not satisfy this safe harbor may still have an adequate basis for making the required good-faith certification, based on their individual circumstances in light of the language of the certification and SBA guidance. SBA has previously stated that all PPP loans in excess of $2 million, and other PPP loans as appropriate, will be subject to review by SBA for compliance with program requirements set forth in the PPP Interim Final Rules and in the Borrower Application Form. If SBA determines in the course of its review that a borrower lacked an adequate basis for the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request, SBA will seek repayment of the outstanding PPP loan balance and will inform the lender that the borrower is not eligible for loan forgiveness. If the borrower repays the loan after receiving notification from SBA, SBA will not pursue administrative enforcement or referrals to other agencies based on its determination with respect to the certification concerning the necessity of the loan request. SBA’s determination concerning the certification regarding the necessity of the loan request will not affect SBA’s loan guarantee.21 (Question 46 published May 13, 2020.)
The National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders provides regular updates on this and other programs.
The IRS issued the following document about PPP deductible expenses.Read More
GABB Covid-19 Update: Loans, Lending and Liability
The second round of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program funding, released Monday April 27, is being distributed by SBA lenders, and is expected to be depleted within just a few days, David Brindley, VP of Small Business Lending at Live Oak Bank, told the GABB in a Zoom meeting on April 28.
Brindley also said the new round of PPP funding is tied to the SBA’s 7(a) loan program, the SBA’s primary program for providing financial assistance to small businesses. The 7(a) program will also be depleted when the PPP runs out of funds, although he anticipated that Congress would approve additional funding in the near future, although “we don’t know when for sure.”
Hear what Brindley had to say at the meeting at this link.
Many other SBA lenders in the GABB told us that they were extremely busy working on PPP loan applications that had been submitted earlier. “For the last month, it has been all hands on deck as everyone in the bank jumped in to help process PPP loans,” Brindley said. Like many other banks, Brindley’s bank “took the approach that we would take care of existing customers first and then open up for new customers.”
His bank temporarily paused most other lending in March to focus on the relief lending through the CARES Act. When the 7A program resumes, Brindley says he expects the SBA to guarantee 90 percent of the loan, as opposed to the 75 percent they have covered in the past. Lenders are going to take a new approach to due diligence, he said. Live Oak looks favorably upon businesses with a strong cash flow and good management.
“We will also require projections from buyers,” Brindley said, to make sure they really understand the cash flow and working capital needs of the business. Also, as part of the CARES Act, the government will make the first 6 months of payments for new SBA loans that close before September 2th.
He ran down a list of potential questions for future SBA loan applicants, including whether the business closed during the quarantine, were customers and suppliers significantly impacted by the shutdown, what disaster funding did the business receive, and why does the buyer think it’s prudent to go forward with a business purchase in the midst of uncertainty.
“We’re going to do even more due diligence than we did before,” Brindley said. “We want to make sure there’s more working capital built into our projects.” Toward that end, his bank — the largest SBA lender in the country — will add additional working capital into loans so that businesses have adequate operating capital in reserve.
“We are open for business right now,” Brindley said. “for historically strong transactions and we are willing to use a common-sense approach to mitigate a Q2 Covid 19-related impact to the business. If we can see that a seller’s revenues are trending back to historic levels and there is sufficient working capital built into the deal structure, we will look at transactions today.”
Attorney and GABB Affiliate Lawrence Domenico, a partner in the law firm of Mozley, Finlayson & Loggins LLP, discussed potential liability as businesses prepare to reopen fully or partially. The Georgia Governor has issued specific guidelines for businesses to safely open, as has the CDC.
“I’ve never said ‘it’s not clear, or I don’t know” so many times in my practice of law as in the last couple of weeks.” Language within the gubernatorial order appears to exempt reopened businesses from liability, but it isn’t clear that will give businesses blanket immunity. If a business misses covering one of the safety items listed in the order, maybe you don’t get protection from liability. Traditional body of common law considers whether an entity acted reasonably, and there is varying advice on that front.
“Every business owner is going to have to decide for themselves what is reasonable,” said Domenico. “I think if you try to follow the CDC guidelines, try to follow the governor’s orders, you will have a pretty good defense, but I’m not going to be able to tell you you’re in the clear no matter what.”
The GABB plans to have weekly Zoom meetings on Tuesdays for updates on aid available during the COVID-19 crisis. Check our blog for information on joining future calls.