[Editor’s note: The U.S. Small Business Administration and Treasury announced that lenders with $1 billion or less in assets can start making Paycheck Protection Program loans on Jan. 15. The application window will open for all lenders Jan. 19.]
The AICPA expects the federal government to open up the application process for all lenders participating in the latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program by Friday, and encourages CPA firms to advance the application process for small business clients seeking relief.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) began accepting new applications on a limited basis this week through community financial institutions. But confusion about the timing for other lenders has led to anxiety among small businesses and their advisers.
“We believe the full program needs to go live as soon as possible and we fully support the Treasury Department and SBA reopening the program for all lenders by Friday,” said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA. “What we’ve been telling CPA firms is be prepared and get to work. All indications, based on input from the Treasury and SBA, is there will be enough funding to meet all of the ‘first draw’ and ‘second draw’ PPP applications, so firms can help alleviate concerns their clients may have.”
The AICPA has been advising firms to collect key information from their clients such as average monthly payroll amounts, quarterly revenue comparisons for second-draw borrowers, and other required documentation to speed the process. Compared to the initial launch of the program in April 2020, firms now have substantial experience in business relief, more guidance, and better tools.
The AICPA, CPA.com, and fintech company Biz2Credit in September launched a financing platform for CPA firms, the CPA Business Funding Portal, to help practitioners as they assist small businesses through PPP loan forgiveness. The portal, which has been used by thousands of firms, has been updated to accept so-called PPP2 applications and over 3,000 applications have already been prepopulated.
“Small businesses should expect more scrutiny in this round of PPP applications,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, the AICPA’s business subsidiary. “The SBA is doing more vetting for potential fraud and in some instances is asking for more validation. It’s important that businesses and their advisers get it right, so that applications don’t get held up and pushed back in the queue. That’s why we think it’s vital that firms use the more robust set of tools that are available now.”
The CPA Business Funding Portal offers a free basic service, plus tiered subscription plans for firms that want a direct path to fund loans through an SBA-approved lender to ensure they receive agent fees.
“It is critical that business owners work closely with their trusted business advisers, especially their CPA, to ensure they qualify for the maximum loan amount and provide the right supporting documentation,” said Rohit Arora, CEO and Co-Founder of Biz2Credit. “Being prepared now is the best way for businesses to ensure they get the money they need.”
AICPA executives will discuss the latest PPP developments and their implications for CPAs and their small business clients at this week’s AICPA Town Hall at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. For more information about the AICPA’s resources for firms on PPP, please visit aicpa.org/sba. More details about the CPA Business Funding Portal can be found at cpa.com/business-funding.