SBA issues guidance but no start date for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program

By Jeff Drew

Update: A spokesperson confirmed March 12 that the SBA expects to begin accepting SVOG applications in early April.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently released fresh guidance for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, but the agency still cannot say when the $15 billion program will start accepting applications.

The SBA issued two new documents and updated its list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) late on March 5. The new documents include a table summarizing SVOG eligibility requirements and a preliminary checklist of documents that SBA may require SVOG applicants to submit. The application itself, however, was not released.

As for when the SVOG will launch, the guidance was not updated from the original set of FAQs released Jan. 29, which said that SBA is working “expeditiously” to open the program.

Asked if the SBA could provide an approximate time frame for when the program might launch, spokesperson Matt Coleman said the SBA is currently “unable to provide a date certain.” He added that “the SBA continues to build this program from the ground floor, ensuring all the mechanisms required by law and the federal grant application/awarding process, as well as front-end protections, are in place to ensure these vital grants are delivered to those the law intended to assist.”

The SVOG will provide eligible applicants with grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, up to a maximum of $10 million. Entities eligible to apply include live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theater operators, and talent representatives.   

Audited financial statement clarification

Among the financial documents included on the preliminary application checklist is a “copy of most recent Audited Financial Statement (2019) or Single Audit (if applicable) or link to website where the report can be located.” This item prompted several emails to the JofA from the owners of small venues that don’t have their financial statements audited. These venue owners expressed concern about the potential cost and time required to get their financial statements audited before being able to submit an SVOG application.

Asked about these concerns, Coleman clarified that only SVOG recipients that expend $750,000 or more in federal funds in a fiscal year are required to submit a single audit or audited financial statement.

“It’s important to remember that the preliminary application checklist gives documents that may be required for the application,” he said. “Single audits and/or audited financial statements are documents that can be used in the application process to document revenue or losses.”

The SVOG was created by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, P.L. 116-260, the COVID-19 relief bill that was signed into law in late December and also revived the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, H.R. 1319, includes an additional $1.25 billion in funding for the SVOG. That bill, passed Feb. 27 by the U.S. House of Representatives, was approved with amendments by the Senate on March 6. The House is expected to vote on and pass the amended version of the bill Wednesday, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden for his signature.

AICPA experts discuss the latest on the PPP and other small business aid programs during a virtual town hall held every other week. The webcasts, which provide CPE credit, are free to AICPA members and $39.99 for nonmembers. 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.

Accounting firms can prepare and process applications for the PPP on the CPA Business Funding Portal, created by the AICPA, CPA.com, and fintech partner Biz2Credit.

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.

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