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IRS Issues New FAQs on Claiming the Employee Retention Credit

The IRS recently issued Notice 2021-20, which contains 71 new FAQs related to the employee retention credit (the ?Ç£ERT?Ç¥) available on qualified wages paid between March 13, 2020 and December 31, 2020. The new FAQs do not address changes to the ERT enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 on qualified wages paid between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021, which the IRS says will be addressed in future guidance. The FAQs provide numerous, helpful examples of how to apply key definitions and other provisions applicable to the ERT, such as who is an eligible employer; what constitutes a full or partial suspension of a trade or business, a significant decline in gross receipts, qualified wages, and allocable qualified health plan expenses; and the interaction of the ERT and Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients, among other topics. For additional information on the ERT, please see our prior… Continue Reading

Employer Friendly Changes to PPP Loan Forgiveness Requirements

On June 5, 2020, the President signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (the ?Ç£Act?Ç¥), which made certain changes to the requirements of forgivable loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program (?Ç£PPP?Ç¥). For a PPP loan to be forgiven, the loan proceeds must be used to cover payroll and other approved operating costs incurred by the employer during a designated time period following the date on which the loan was made (the ?Ç£Coverage Period?Ç¥). The Act extended the coverage period from eight to 24 weeks and reduced the percentage of loan proceeds that must be used to cover payroll costs during the Coverage Period to 60% (down from 75%). Accordingly, up to 40% of the loan proceeds could be used by an employer to cover other non-payroll operating costs, such as rent, utilities, and interest on its other debt obligations that are due during the Coverage Period. The Act is… Continue Reading

PPP Loans: SBA Releases New Loan Forgiveness Application and Instructions

The Small Business Administration (?Ç£SBA?Ç¥) recently released a form Loan Forgiveness Application and instructions related to the potentially forgivable loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program (?Ç£PPP?Ç¥). PPP loans are generally forgivable if, among other things, the loan proceeds are used to cover certain payroll costs incurred over the eight-week period after the loan is made (for additional information on PPP loans, see our prior blog posts here, here, here, and here). To apply for the forgiveness of a PPP loan, borrowers should complete a Loan Forgiveness Application, which can be completed in either paper or electronic form, and then send the completed application to its lender. The Loan Forgiveness Application and instructions are available here. For additional information on the Loan Forgiveness Application and other recent SBA Guidance, see the following Haynes and Boone article: SBA Issues New Guidance via Interim Final Rule on Foreign Affiliates; Releases Loan Forgiveness… Continue Reading

UPDATE: Calculation of Payroll Costs for Purposes of the Paycheck Protection Program (?Ç£PPP?Ç¥)

The Small Business Administration (?Ç£SBA?Ç¥) continues to update its FAQs on PPP loans to provide additional guidance regarding what costs constitute payroll costs. Borrowers should use care in determining what amounts constitute payroll costs since borrowers are responsible for providing an accurate calculation of payroll costs and must attest to the accuracy of those calculations on their Borrower Application Form. Under the new guidance the SBA clarified: The $100,000 annualized per employee cap only applies to cash compensation and does not include any non-cash benefits, such as 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 employees?ÇÖ compensation. PPP loans can be used to cover costs for employee paid vacation, parental, family, medical and sick leave (other than qualified sick and family wages for… Continue Reading

New PPP Guidance Clarifies Affiliation Rules If a Business Sponsors an ESOP

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (the ?Ç£PPP/HCE Act?Ç¥), signed into law on April 24, 2020, clarified how the affiliation rules apply to businesses that sponsor employee stock ownership plans (?Ç£ESOPs?Ç¥). According to the PPP/HCE Act, for purposes of the Paycheck Protection Program, a business?ÇÖs participation in an ESOP will not result in an affiliation between the business and the ESOP (or with the participants in the ESOP). A copy of the PPE/HCE Act can be found here.

Employee Benefits as Payroll Costs under the Paycheck Protection Program

Businesses that received a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (?Ç£PPP?Ç¥) are eligible for forgiveness of that loan if, among other things, the loan proceeds are used to cover ?Ç£payroll costs?Ç¥ incurred over the eight-week period after the loan is made. Payroll costs, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee (i.e., $15,384 over the eight-week period), are broadly defined to include, among other things: Salary, wages, commissions, or tips; Employee benefits costs, such as for vacation or paid family or medical leave (other than wages for which a credit is received under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act), group health care costs, retirement plan contributions, and severance benefits; and State and local taxes assessed on employee compensation. As of the date of this posting, no guidance has been issued by the IRS or the Department of Treasury to further clarify what specific items qualify as payroll costs.… Continue Reading

CARES Act: Additional Guidance on the Interplay Between Social Security Tax Deferrals and Forgiveness of PPP Loans

In a new set of FAQs, the IRS clarifies that an employer who receives a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (?Ç£PPP?Ç¥) may also defer payment of the employer portion of Social Security taxes due on eligible wages until the employer receives notice from its PPP lender that the loan has been forgiven. Under the CARES Act, employers of all sizes may defer payment of their portion of Social Security taxes due on wages earned between March 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020, until December 31, 2021 (50% of the deferred taxes are due) and December 31, 2022 (the remaining deferred taxes are due), subject to certain restrictions. One of those restrictions is that an employer may not defer its Social Security taxes if it has taken out a PPP loan and all or any portion of the loan is forgiven. The new FAQs clarify that, once an employer receives… Continue Reading

Retirement Benefit Expenses Covered under the CARES Act?ÇÖs Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program (the ?Ç£PPP?Ç¥) under the CARES Act aims to assist small businesses affected by COVID-19 by covering certain operating expenses as an incentive to retain employees during the crisis. Expenses, such as ?Ç£payroll costs,?Ç¥ are used in the calculation of the amount of the available loan and in the amount that may be forgiven under the program. Notably, the PPP does not consider an individual?ÇÖs compensation in excess of $100,000 annualized, prorated for the covered period, to be covered as a payroll cost. The ?Ç£payment of any retirement benefit[s]?Ç¥ are among the payroll costs that are included. However, at this time, it not entirely clear what is intended to be included in the ?Ç£payment of any retirement benefit.?Ç¥ No formal guidance has been issued by the IRS or Treasury, and initial guidance issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration does not shed much light on this question.… Continue Reading

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