New PPP forgiveness guidance addresses owner-employee compensation, rent-related costs

By Jeff Drew

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury issued an interim final rule Monday addressing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness issues related to owner-employee compensation and the eligibility of nonpayroll costs.

Specifically, the interim final rule establishes that owner-employees with less than a 5% stake in a C or S corporation are exempted from the PPP owner-employee compensation rule for determining the amount of their compensation for loan forgiveness. The exemption’s intent is to cover owner-employees who have no meaningful ability to influence decisions over how loan proceeds are allocated, according to the interim final rule.

The guidance also details a couple of decisions that the SBA and Treasury said are designed to maintain equitable treatment between a business owner that holds property in a separate entity and one that holds the property in the same entity as its business operations.

In the first decision, the SBA and Treasury declare that the amount of loan forgiveness requested for nonpayroll costs may not include any amount attributable to the business operation of a tenant or subtenant of the PPP borrower. The guidance illustrates this with four examples.

Example 1: A borrower rents an office building for $10,000 per month and subleases out a portion of the space to other businesses for $2,500 per month. Only $7,500 per month is eligible for loan forgiveness.

Example 2: A borrower has a mortgage on an office building it operates out of, and it leases out a portion of the space to other businesses. The portion of mortgage interest that is eligible for loan forgiveness is limited to the percent share of the fair market value (FMV) of the space that is not leased out to other businesses. As an illustration, if the leased space represents 25% of the FMV of the office building, then the borrower may only claim forgiveness on 75% of the mortgage interest.

Example 3: A borrower shares a rented space with another business. When determining the amount that is eligible for loan forgiveness, the borrower must prorate rent and utility payments in the same manner as on the borrower’s 2019 tax filings, or if a new business, the borrower’s expected 2020 tax filings.

Example 4: A borrower works out of his or her home. When determining the amount of nonpayroll costs that are eligible for loan forgiveness, the borrower may include only the share of covered expenses that were deductible on the borrower’s 2019 tax filings, or if a new business, the borrower’s expected 2020 tax filings.

In the second decision regarding certain nonpayroll costs, SBA and Treasury rule that rent or lease payments to a related party are eligible for loan forgiveness provided that (1) the amount of loan forgiveness requested for those payments is no more than the amount of mortgage interest owed on the property during the covered period that is attributable to the space being rented by the business, and (2) the lease and the mortgage were entered into prior to Feb. 15, 2020.

However, mortgage interest payments to a related party are not eligible for forgiveness. Per the ruling, PPP loans are intended to help businesses cover nonpayroll costs owed to third parties, not payments to a business’s owner that occur because of how the business is structured.

The AICPA will provide analysis of the interim final rule during a PPP Town Hall on Thursday, Aug. 27, at 3 p.m. EDT.

The PPP in brief

Congress created the PPP as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136. The legislation authorized Treasury to use the SBA’s 7(a) small business lending program to fund forgivable loans of up to $10 million per borrower that qualifying businesses could spend to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities.

The loans were available to small businesses that were in operation on Feb. 15 with 500 or fewer employees, including not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, Tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors. Businesses with more than 500 employees in certain industries also could apply for loans.

Congress designed the loans to support organizations facing economic hardships created by the coronavirus pandemic and assist them in continuing to pay employee salaries. PPP loan recipients can have their loans forgiven in full if the funds were used for eligible expenses and other criteria are met. The amount of the loan forgiveness may be reduced based on the percentage of eligible costs attributed to nonpayroll costs, any decrease in employee headcount, and decreases in salaries or wages per employee.

The PPP funded more than 5.2 million loans for a total of $525 billion before it stopped accepting loan applications on Aug. 8, according to an SBA report. The program closed with almost $134 billion remaining.

A new, more targeted small business assistance program has been the subject of speculation and discussion on Capitol Hill, but no decisions are expected until Congress returns from recess after Labor Day.

AICPA experts discuss the latest on the PPP and other small business aid programs during virtual town halls. The webcasts, which provide CPE credit, are free to AICPA members. Go to the AICPA Town Hall Series webpage for more information and to register.

The AICPA’s Paycheck Protection Program Resources page houses resources and tools produced by the AICPA to help address the economic impact of the coronavirus.

For more news and reporting on the coronavirus and how CPAs can handle challenges related to the outbreak, visit the JofA’s coronavirus resources page or subscribe to our email alerts for breaking PPP news.

Jeff Drew (Jeff.Drew@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

SPONSORED WHITE PAPER

Preparing the statement of cash flows

This instructive white paper outlines common pitfalls in the preparation of the statement of cash flows, resources to minimize these risks, and four critical skills your staff will need as you approach necessary changes to the process.

RESOURCES

Keeping you informed and prepared amid the coronavirus crisis

We’re gathering the latest news stories along with relevant columns, tips, podcasts, and videos on this page, along with curated items from our archives to help with uncertainty and disruption.