Last month, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress, introducing a $2 trillion emergency fiscal stimulus package to provide relief to individuals, businesses, healthcare providers, and government entities from the economic damage resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. While many advisors have become intimately familiar with the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) relief package provided for by the CARES Act in the past few weeks, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is another potential solution for small businesses and offers loans up to $2 million for business owners whose businesses suffered economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus. Eligibility is open to many small businesses (with 500 or fewer employees), including sole proprietors and independent contractors.
EIDL loan amounts will be based on the size and type of the business, and loan proceeds can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that the business owner would have been able to pay had the disaster not occurred. Borrowers may be granted a repayment period of up to 30 years, though repayment terms will be determined based on each individual borrower’s ability to repay the loan. Interest rates will be 3.75% for small businesses and the deadline to submit applications using the expanded rules as provided by the CARES Act, is December 31, 2020.
Additionally, borrowers will be allowed to request up to $1,000 per employee (with a total maximum cap of $10,000) as an “Emergency EIDL Grant”, which is estimated to be distributed within no more than three days of the borrower’s request. The amount received as an Emergency EIDL Grant does not have to be paid back and will be fully forgiven, even if the borrower is denied an EIDL loan. While small business owners have the option to supplement PPP Loans with EIDL loans, any amounts received as Emergency EIDL Grants will reduce the amount of forgiveness of any PPP loan balances.
Further, business owners (regardless of size) whose operations have been fully or partially suspended by government order, or who have seen a significant drop in income of more than 50% compared to the same quarter in the previous year, may be eligible for the Employee Retention Credit. The credit consists of “50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.” Qualifying wages include those paid between March 12, 2020, and January 1, 2021. Notably, though, accepting a loan from the SBA via the PPP will negate an employer’s ability to claim this credit. This can be particularly problematic for some business owners who actually stand to benefit more from this credit than they would by taking a loan via the PPP!
The CARES Act provides further relief for employers (including self-employed individuals) by deferring 2020 payroll tax payments due between March 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020. However, business owners who have debt forgiven under the PPP are ineligible for this benefit. Essentially, employers must pay 50% of the deferred payroll taxes by December 31, 2021, and the remaining 50% by December 31, 2022. Self-employed individuals will have 50% of the ‘employer equivalent’ of their self-employment taxes deferred as well, with 25% due by December 31, 2021, and the remaining 25% due by December 31, 2022.
Ultimately, the key point is that many business owners across the country (including self-employed individuals and independent contractors) who have suffered economic injury due to the Coronavirus crisis have several options of emergency relief available to them provided by the CARES Act. From the Payroll Protection Program to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the deferral of current-year Payroll Taxes, financial advisors with clients who own businesses (and even financial advisors themselves) have some tools to help their clients cope with the ongoing crisis.