The CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of the Treasury intend to provide guidance to address questions about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

FMJ has gathered the current guidance issued by the Department of Treasury and the SBA and provided the answers to frequently asked questions we have received below. Here are the additional links to guidance to help you understand the PPP loan:

FMJ also has a PPP Loan Application and Audit Team that can assist businesses, banks, and financial institutions with the loan forgiveness process. Led by Jim Seifert, former GC of a Fortune 500 company, the team consists of five other members who can consult and advise on various elements of the forgiveness process.

This page will serve as a regularly updated resource for us to continue to share this information with our clients.


Frequently Asked Questions

Updated July 20, 2020

1.) 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?

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

2.) Are borrowers required to apply SBA’s affiliation rules under 13 C.F.R. 121.301(f)?

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).

3.) 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?

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.

4.) Do PPP loans cover paid sick leave?

Yes. PPP loans cover 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.

5.) 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?

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).

6.) What time period should borrowers use to determine their number of employees and payroll costs to calculate their maximum loan amounts?

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).

7.) 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?

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.

8.) Are agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers eligible for PPP loans?

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.

9.) Are agricultural and other forms of cooperatives eligible to receive PPP loans?

As long as other PPP eligibility requirements are met, small agricultural cooperatives and other cooperatives may receive PPP loans.

10.) 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?

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 “fulltime equivalent employees” to determine the extent to which the loan forgiveness amount will be reduced in the event of workforce reductions.

11.) What financial institutions are funding PPP loans?

SBA has gathered a list of the lenders currently participating in the PPP loan. Click here to view a list of lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program by state as of April 23, 2020.

12.) Do businesses owned by large companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for a PPP loan?

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 18, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith. If you are wondering whether your business should return its PPP loan funds, FMJ can help you – reach out to one of the attorneys below.

13.) 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?

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.

14.) Will SBA review individual PPP loan files?

Yes. In FAQ #12, 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).

15.) 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?

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 minimise 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.

16.) Is an employer that repays its PPP loan by the safe harbor deadline eligible for the Employee Retention Credit?

Yes. An employer that applied for a PPP loan, received payment, and repays the loan by the safe harbor deadline 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.

17.) How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request?

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 (for purposes of this safe harbor, a borrower must include its affiliates to the extent required under the interim final rule on affiliates), 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.

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 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.

18.) An SBA interim final rule posted on May 8, 2020 provided that any borrower who applied for a PPP loan and repays the loan in full by May 14, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith. Is it possible for a borrower to obtain an extension of the May 14, 2020 repayment date?

Yes, SBA is extending the repayment date for this safe harbor to May 18, 2020, to give borrowers an opportunity to review and consider FAQ #17. 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.

19.) What is the maturity date of a PPP loan?

If a PPP loan received an SBA loan number on or after June 5, 2020, the loan has a five-year maturity. If a PPP loan received an SBA loan number before June 5, 2020, the loan has a two-year maturity, unless the borrower and lender mutually agree to extend the term of the loan to five years. The promissory note for the PPP loan will state the term of the loan.

For specific guidance or more information please contact Jordanne Kissner at jordanne.kissner@fmjlaw.com,  Bob Fafinski at robert.fafinski@fmjlaw.com, or Jim Seifert at james.seifert@fmjlaw.com.