Updated Treasury and SBA Guidance – Here are the Most Frequently Asked Questions About PPP

Lurie advisors are working diligently to help our clients with ongoing support and documentation requests that are necessary to complete the PPP application process as quickly as possible. On this web page, you will find a few of the most frequently asked questions we are receiving from clients, and the official guidance or response that best fits the question.

In addition, The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has now provided additional guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Treasury Department has created a link to their own FAQ document, that will be updated on a regular basis.

Here are the most frequently asked questions we are receiving from our clients, and the official guidance on the PPP.

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).

Source: US Treasury Website, updated April 7, 2020

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.

Source: US Treasury Website, updated April 7, 2020

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.

Source: US Treasury Website, updated April 7, 2020

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.*

Source: US Treasury Website, updated April 7, 2020. 


*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. 

For Additional SBA and Treasury Guidance

The Treasury Department has created a link to their own FAQ document, that will be updated on a regular basis. Click here to go their Paycheck Protection Program Loans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

For ongoing updates, resources and official guidance from The US Treasury, visit the The CARES Act | Assistance for Small Businesses page.

For More Information

Our team will continually update our website with additional guidance and resources. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Lurie advisor with questions or concerns you have about taxes or your individual financial or business situation.

We are here to help. Click here to contact us. 

Disclaimer:

This article is for your general education, and does not create a client relationship or any service engagement between you and Lurie LLP. The content of this article is based on the best information available, but official guidance, rules, laws and/or updates may change and become out of date. Please contact your Lurie advisor before acting on any of the information contained in this article.

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