Scheduled for publication in next Tuesday’s Federal Register is a Small Business Administration (SBA) interim final rule on the agency’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This guidance is being issued in response to enactment on June 5 of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, legislation that made enhancements to this SBA loan program intended to help small employers meet payroll and other expenses as they deal with the economic effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
If certain conditions are met, PPP loans can be forgiven and treated as a grant. Payroll expenses can include not only wages and salary, but also employer contributions to defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plans, as well as providing group health care coverage, including payment of insurance premiums.
The SBA issued a previous interim final rule in April 2020 to provide guidance in implementing PPP. But with the program changes made by the June 5 legislation, that April rule no longer reflects certain important features of PPP as it now exists, requiring the issuance of a new interim final rule. These important PPP changes include the following.
- Extends from 8 to 24 weeks from a loan’s origination the period in which expenses paid with a PPP loan could be eligible for loan forgiveness (not to extend beyond December 31, 2020)
- Reduces from 75 percent to 60 percent the portion of a loan that must be used for payroll expenses (vs. overhead, etc.) and remain fully eligible for loan forgiveness
- Extends from 2 to 5 years the period for loan repayment for borrowed amounts that are not forgiven (applies to loans made on or after June 5, 2020)
- Allows a borrower who received a PPP loan before enactment of the June 5 legislation to elect that the covered period run for 8 (vs. 24) weeks
The SBA notes that this interim final rule is effective without advance notice and public comment because of its time sensitivity and specific authorization by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the legislation that created the PPP lending program. Nonetheless, comments are invited and must be submitted within 30 days of the guidance’s publication in the Federal Register.