SBA and Treasury Release FAQ Related to Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of Treasury, released a FAQ on Monday April 6th that provides further guidance related to the Paycheck Protection Program. The guidance, which we understand, will be updated on a regular basis, provides responses to questions such as:

7. Question: The CARES Act excludes from the definition of payroll costs any employee compensation in excess of an annual salary of $100,000. Does that exclusion apply to all employee benefits of monetary value?

Answer: No. The exclusion of compensation in excess of $100,000 annually applies only to cash compensation, not to non-cash benefits, including: employer contributions to defined-benefit or defined-contribution retirement plans; payment for the provision of employee benefits consisting of group health care coverage, including insurance premiums; and payment of state and local taxes assessed on compensation of employees.

10. Question: What if an eligible borrower contracts with a third-party payer such as a payroll provider or a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) to process payroll and report payroll taxes?

Answer: SBA recognizes that eligible borrowers that use PEOs or similar payroll providers are required under some state registration laws to report wage and other data on the Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the PEO or other payroll provider. In these cases, payroll documentation provided by the payroll provider that indicates the amount of wages and payroll taxes reported to the IRS by the payroll provider for the borrower’s employees will be considered acceptable PPP loan payroll documentation. Relevant information from a Schedule R (Form 941), Allocation Schedule for Aggregate Form 941 Filers, attached to the PEO’s or other payroll provider’s Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, should be used if it is available; otherwise, the eligible borrower should obtain a statement from the payroll provider documenting the amount of wages and payroll taxes. In addition, employees of the eligible borrower will not be considered employees of the eligible borrower’s payroll provider or PEO.

15. Question: Should payments that an eligible borrower made to an independent contractor or sole proprietor be included in calculations of the eligible borrower’s payroll costs?

Answer: No. Any amounts that an eligible borrower has paid to an independent contractor or sole proprietor should be excluded from the eligible business’s payroll costs. However, an independent contractor or sole proprietor will itself be eligible for a loan under the PPP, if it satisfies the applicable requirements.

16. Question: How should a borrower account for federal taxes when determining its payroll costs for purposes of the maximum loan amount, allowable uses of a PPP loan, and the amount of a loan that may be forgiven?

Answer: Under the Act, payroll costs are calculated on a gross basis without regard to (i.e., not including subtractions or additions based on) federal taxes imposed or withheld, such as the employee’s and employer’s share of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and income taxes required to be withheld from employees. As a result, payroll costs are not reduced by taxes imposed on an employee and required to be withheld by the employer, but payroll costs do not include the employer’s share of payroll tax. For example, an employee who earned $4,000 per month in gross wages, from which $500 in federal taxes was withheld, would count as $4,000 in payroll costs. The employee would receive $3,500, and $500 would be paid to the federal government. However, the employer-side federal payroll taxes imposed on the $4,000 in wages are excluded from payroll costs under the statute.

View the full text of the rules here.

If you have any questions related to this guidance or need assistance, please contact your Windham Brannon representative.

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