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SBA Releases PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released the application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness. The 11-page application includes instructions and worksheets to guide businesses through the process. The application and instructions also clarify some requirements and options for businesses requesting forgiveness of their PPP loans, including:

  • The FTE (full time equivalent) calculation is based on a 40-hour work week.  No person can be considered greater than a 1.0 FTE.  For those employees working less than 40 hours per week, the calculation can be based on a 40-hour week rounded to the nearest 0.1 or they can all be considered as .5 FTE’s. 
  • Businesses can calculate their payroll costs through an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with their own payroll schedule. This “alternative” period is only available to borrowers with a bi-weekly (or more frequent pay period like weekly), not semi-monthly or monthly pay periods. 
  • There’s a new exception from the loan forgiveness reduction for businesses that have made a (1) written offer to rehire workers which was rejected by the employee and (2) any employees who during the covered period (a) were fired for cause, (b) voluntarily resigned, or (c) voluntarily requested and received a reduction of their hours.   
  • FTE Reduction Safe Harbor if FTE employee levels are restored to February 15th staffing levels by no later than June 30, 2020.

Further guidance is expected soon to help businesses and their lenders navigate the application for loan forgiveness. You can access the SBA PPP loan forgiveness application here. We will be sure to communicate further updates as more guidance becomes available.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

PPP Loan Forgiveness: Waiting for Answers

PPP Loan forgivenessJust over a week ago, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an opinion on the deductibility of expenses relating to the forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans (IRS Notice 2020-32).  When Congress passed the CARES Act in March establishing the PPP, the legislation stated that any portion of the loans that were forgiven would be non-taxable income for taxpayers.

Many of us speculated that the IRS would follow their statutes and rule that though the forgiven income is non-taxable, the payroll, health and retirement benefits, rent, utilities and interest expense that qualify for the loan forgiveness would be deemed non-deductible. Indeed, this is exactly how the IRS ruled in the notice, stating that, as the expenses would relate to non-taxable income, they would in turn not be deductible.

Along with many taxpayers, several legislators in Congress are very upset about the ruling and feel that it is not in line with their legislative intent. They would like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to reverse the IRS position. In the alternative, the legislators plan to introduce legislation to mandate these expenses be allowed as tax deductible, as their intent was to make this program very generous. This would also be consistent with the tax treatment of an alternative option in the same law, the employee retention credit.

We will wait and see in the coming months how this plays out. In the meantime, it is expected that within the next week or so, we should be receiving some much-needed guidance from the Small Business Administration (SBA) on numerous PPP loan forgiveness questions. Among them are the following.

  1. Will costs such as payroll only be allowed if paid during the 8-week period after loan funding or will we be able to include payroll paid after the 8-week period that relates to work done during the 8 weeks?
  2. For loans funded after May 6th, will taxpayers be able to extend their 8 weeks beyond June 30th?
  3. Will any restrictions be made on self-rental properties?
  4. How are FTE’s (full time equivalent employees) being calculated?
  5. What exactly does it mean to have your workforce restored by June 30th if they were not restored during the 8-week period in order to get loan forgiveness? How long do they need to stay on the payroll?
  6. Are there any restrictions on hiring and paying family during the 8-week period?
  7. Is interest on non-mortgage debt allowed?
  8. What retirement benefits will be allowed? Do they need to be paid during the 8-week period in order to be forgiven? Will payment of an accrued liability from the prior year qualify for loan forgiveness?

These are just a few of several questions that have been asked with no clear guidance on PPP loan forgiveness. Hopefully, we will have that soon. We continue to recommend that PPP borrowers make a good faith effort in determining cost eligible for forgiveness. 

As new information comes forth, its critical that you work closely with your trusted advisors so you’re able to make the best decisions to position your business to emerge from the pandemic in as healthy a position as possible.

Kevin GilmoreGilmore Jasion Mahler Managing Partner Kevin Gilmore provided this blog. For more information on the impact of the pandemic on your business, we encourage you to visit the GJM COVID-19 Resource Center.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

Protecting Your Business From Disaster

Protect your business from disaster GJMAs small and mid-size businesses around the country and the world work to stabilize in the wake of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis brings a wake-up call. Just how prepared was your business for such a devastating event and how would your company or organization fare should disaster strike your technology infrastructure?

Such a “disaster” can cause significant disruption in operational and/or technological process capabilities for a period of time for businesses, which in turn affects the ongoing operations of the company and can, in fact, threaten its very existence. That’s why all organizations should be considering disaster recovery, which involves a set of policies, tools/applications and procedures to help enable the recovery and continuation of critical technology and systems following a disaster.

Some examples of potential disasters:

  • Natural disasters like floods, tornadoes and hurricanes
  • Infrastructure break-down (i.e. utility disruption, pipeline bursts)
  • Human error or threats (i.e. cyber-attacks)

According to global IT services provider phoenixNAP, statistics show about 93% of businesses without a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan in place that suffer from a major data disaster are out of business within one year.

As consumers and business operators, we’ve seen an increase in attacks in which companies are locked out of their systems or data was held for ransom. Such attacks can be costly. On average, businesses lose over $100,000 per ransomware incident due to downtime and recovery costs. As these attacks increase, so should your focus on the importance of data back-up and recovery processes and controls. Without sufficient back-ups and defined processes for recovery, companies run an increased risk of delay or error in financial reporting. phoenixNAP says about 96% of companies with proper backups and Disaster Recovery plans in place were able to survive ransomware attacks.

Disaster recovery can be considered a subset of what is considered “business continuity”. Business continuity involves keeping essential aspects of your business functioning when significant disruptive events occur. Disaster recovery focuses on the IT or technology systems supporting your critical business functions.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A Disaster Recovery plan is simply defining the strategy for recovering critical technology resources to ensure the continuation of critical/vital business processes in the event of a disaster. 

As most organizations are very reliant on information technology to conduct business, it’s critical to have a plan in place that can be easily implemented to minimize down-time. This plan defines the key processes for recovering critical technology platforms and telecommunications infrastructure within a specified timeframe. 

Tips for Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

Identify Your Team

Establishing a Disaster Recovery Team (DRT) is a critical initial step in establishing a DR plan. The DRT should be a cross-functional team consisting of IT leadership and other individuals as needed who are responsible for carrying out the tasks outlined in this plan and providing expertise needed to recover from a disaster. It’s also important to involve key business stakeholders who would be involved in helping manage the downtime and recovery and ensure alignment with overall business continuity.

Create an IT Inventory

Ensuring that the organization has a real-time and up-to-date IT asset inventory listing is important in order to focus on the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for critical systems/applications. An IT asset inventory lists all key hardware and software (i.e. applications, servers, databases, etc.) and their relationships with one another. RTO is the goal for how quickly to restore technology services after a disruption, based on the acceptable amount of down-time for the specified technology. For example, a recovery time objective of 48 hours with local accessibility for payroll services means that the payroll application must be up and running within 48 hours as well as locally accessible. RPO is the goal for the point at which to restore data or information after a disruption, based on the acceptable amount of data or information loss. For example, an RPO of four hours for your financial reporting application means that the application data must be backed-up every four hours so that no more than four hours of data entered into the application is lost after a disruption.

Get Your Plan in Writing

Creating and documenting a plan involving these objectives is key to building out a realistic DR plan. Your organization will likely find during this process that there will be gaps between the current IT infrastructure and the determined recovery objectives. That said, it’s critical for your organization to work through these to ensure that the plan can be carried out as needed for the fluid continuity of the business.

What Else to Consider

Other important items to keep in mind when creating a DR Plan include:

  • Determining channels for communicating disasters and next steps to your employees
  • Obtaining stakeholder buy-in on the plan and its execution in order to ensure that the plan can be followed through on if necessary
  • Testing and practicing your plan to help you find and correct issues, as well as enable more accurate and efficient execution 

With these simple actions, you’re on your way to having a plan. COVID-19 reminded us all that catastrophic events do happen. The businesses with a Disaster Recovery plan in place are likely to be the ones to weather IT outages. Now’s the time to pull together your team and establish your plan so should disaster strike, you’ll be ready.

If you have questions creating or cleaning up your DR plan, Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s (GJM) Risk Consulting Team can help guide your business in building out that plan, determining the gaps and testing your DR plan. To start the conversation, reach out to Director Matt Hoverman at mhoverman@gjmltd.com, Manager Tim Schloz at tschloz@gjmltd.com, or Senior Associate Reid Mankowski at rmankowski@gjmltd.com.

Reid Mankowski GJM Disaster Recovery PlanGJM Senior Associate Reid Mankowski contributed this blog. Reid joined the GJM Risk Consulting Team in 2019. Reid has significant experience in testing and leading IT general control and business process SOX testing for large and medium size companies, primarily in the manufacturing industry.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estatehealthcaremanufacturing & distribution and utilities.