Coronavirus Loan Options to Help Get Your Business Back on Its Feet

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan was signed into law. This new legislation increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL program. And on March 30, 2021, the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act of 2021 was signed into law, extending the PPP deadline to May 31, 2021.  

It’s no secret that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on businesses across the nation. And with many small businesses struggling due to government and state shutdowns, companies are seeing a decline in cash flow.

So, what’s a business owner to do during a crazy time like this?

To help rebound from the pandemic and get your business back on its feet sooner rather than later, explore coronavirus loan options for small business.

Coronavirus loan options to take advantage of

If your business is struggling due to the pandemic, don’t panic. There are plenty of relief measures in place to assist and support businesses. So, what options are available? Explore three coronavirus loan options below.

1. Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a relief measure created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act and replenished under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The PPP provides forgivable loans to small businesses to help incentivize companies to keep employees on payroll.

On June 5, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act was signed into law. The act made a number of changes to the PPP.

Loans help small companies cover up to 24 weeks of payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (was originally eight weeks). Current PPP borrowers can opt to extend their eight-week period to 24 weeks. New borrowers will automatically have a 24-week covered period. Payroll costs include salaries, wages, commissions, or tips ($100,000 max per employee), employee benefits (e.g., sick leave), state taxes, and local taxes. Borrowers must use 60% of the loan for payroll costs. Interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities must be from before February 15, 2020.

So, how much can each business receive? Good question. The Small Business Administration (SBA) states that applicants receive a loan equal to their average payroll costs from the last eight weeks. On top of the eight-week average, businesses will receive an additional 25%. The maximum loan amount per applicant is $10 million.

The low-interest PPP loan has a repayment plan of five years and a fixed interest rate of 1%. If you keep your employees on payroll or rehire them and maintain salary levels, the SBA will forgive part or all of the principal amount of the loan plus accrued interest (depending on what you use the loan for). The loan forgiveness amount decreases if you’re not able to retain or rehire all of your employees. PPP loans are 100% forgiven if employers use them to cover eligible expenses. Again, eligible expenses include payroll costs (e.g., wages, tips, etc.), interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Employers must use 60% of the loan for payroll costs and can use 40% for non-payroll costs (e.g., interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities).

To request loan forgiveness, employers need to submit a request to their lender and provide documentation proving the loan was used for eligible expenses. Documentation should include the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and their pay rates and eligible mortgage, lease, and utility payments.

Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees can apply for a PPP loan. This includes self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, nonprofit and veteran organizations, independent contractors, and tribal businesses. Depending on your industry, the SBA may also extend loans to businesses with more than 500 employees.

To apply, you can go through a number of lenders, such as a federally insured depository institution or credit union, SBA 7(a) lender, regulated lender, or participating Farm Credit System institution. You must fill out an application form and provide supporting documentation (e.g., 2019 and 2020 payroll ledgers).

Because of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, employers can receive a PPP loan and defer paying the employer portion of payroll taxes. Before the PPP Flexibility Act was signed into law, employers who received a PPP loan could only defer payroll tax payments until their loan was forgiven. Now, you can defer payments throughout the rest of 2020. Per the IRS, the Social Security tax you deferred must be paid by the following due dates:

  • December 31, 2021 (50%)
  • December 31, 2022 (remaining amount)

Keep in mind that the Social Security tax deferment is not the same thing as claiming the Employee Retention Credit, according to the IRS. The SS tax deferment is a universal employer benefit under the CARES Act.

PPP funds are limited, meaning that the loans are on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want to take advantage of the PPP, you need to apply as soon as possible.

Paycheck Protection Program overview

  • What is it? The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, under the CARES Act; replenished under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
  • What does it do? Provides small businesses with up to 24 weeks of coverage for payroll costs and qualifying non-payroll costs.
  • Who can apply? Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees (first-time borrowers).
  • How can you apply? Using the Paycheck Protection Program application and working with a lender.

Alert! PPP changes

The American Rescue Plan, signed into law on March 11, 2021, provides an additional $7.25 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.

The new COVID relief package also allows more not-for-profits to be eligible and apply for the PPP, including some larger not-for-profit organizations.

Even with the additional funding, the American Rescue Plan did not extend the close date of March 31, 2021. However, the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act of 2021, signed into law on March 30, 2021, extended the deadline to May 31, 2021. 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (the Act or CAA) also made a number of changes to the PPP and other COVID-19 relief measures in December 2020.

The CAA made the following changes to the PPP:

  • Expanded eligibility for nonprofits (includes set-asides for very small businesses and community-based lenders)
  • Second-time loans for eligible businesses with fewer than 300 employees and at least a 25% drop in gross receipts in a 2020 quarter compared to the same 2019 quarter
  • Businesses can claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) in addition to a PPP loan (before, businesses were only allowed to opt into one or the other)
  • Expenses you can spend your PPP loan on that qualify for forgiveness now also include operating expenses, covered property damage, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures
  • A simplified forgiveness application process for loans up to $150,000
  • Businesses can deduct expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans from taxes

2. Economic Injury Disaster Loan

Another coronavirus small business loan alternative is an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) through the SBA. An Economic Injury Disaster Loan is available to small businesses affected by a declared disaster (e.g., coronavirus). The maximum loan amount for each business is $2 million. Previously, small businesses in the U.S. could apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000, but this money is no longer available.

Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed individuals), private nonprofit organizations, and 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19 can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Businesses with 500 or more employees in certain industries may be able to apply for an EIDL if they meet the SBA’s size standards.

The EIDL advance is forgivable and can be used for a range of business needs. However, aside from the advance, the rest of the loan is not forgivable. Businesses with credit elsewhere are not eligible for an EIDL. Economic Injury Disaster Loans provide relief for qualifying businesses by providing:

  • Low interest rates: 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations
  • Long-term repayment plans: Up to a maximum of 30 years

You can use an Economic Injury Disaster Loan to cover employee wages, rent, accounts payable, and other expenses.

Eligible businesses can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the SBA by filling out an online application on the SBA’s website. The EIDL advance funds are available within days of a successful application. If you were lucky enough to get the loan advance of up to $10,000 before it ran out, it does not have to be repaid if funds are used for:

  • Providing paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to the direct effect of the COVID–19;
  • Maintaining payroll to retain employees during business disruptions or slowdowns;
  • Meeting increased costs to obtain materials unavailable from the applicant’s original source due to interrupted supply chains;
  • Making rent or mortgage payments; and
  • Repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses

You can apply for both the EIDL and PPP. However, you can’t double-dip and get funds from both loan programs for the same reason.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan at a glimpse

  • What is it? An SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
  • What does it do? Provide relief to businesses impacted by the coronavirus or another declared disaster. Qualifying businesses get low-interest rates and long-term repayment plans.
  • Who can apply? Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, private nonprofit organizations, and veterans organizations.
  • How can you apply? Eligible small business owners can apply online using the SBA’s COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application.

Alert! EIDL changes

The American Rescue Plan provides an additional $15 billion in funding to the EIDL program for advance payments. The newest relief package provides funding to businesses in low-income communities that have:

  • No more than 300 employees AND
  • Suffered an economic loss of more than 30%
    • This is determined by how much the business’s gross receipts declined during an eight-week period between March 2, 2020 – December 31, 2020 compared to an eight-week period immediately preceding March 2, 2020

Back in December 2020, the CAA made a few changes to the EIDL program, including extending the covered period for grants through December 31, 2021.

3. SBA Express Bridge Loan

An SBA Express Bridge Loan allows small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000.

This loan provides financial assistance to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic (or other declared emergencies) to help overcome loss of revenue. Businesses can apply for an SBA Express Bridge loan if they urgently need funds, especially if they’re waiting to be approved for an EIDL or other financing.

Businesses in any state can qualify for an SBA Express Bridge Loan and apply through an SBA lender until March 13, 2021.

Any small business impacted by COVID-19 is eligible for an SBA Express Bridge Loan if they already have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender.

To apply for an SBA Express Bridge Loan, provide the following documentation to your lender:

Keep in mind that your lender might require additional information.

SBA Express Bridge Loans breakdown

  • What is it? SBA Express Bridge Loan (part of the Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program)
  • What does it do? Provide up to $25,000 in funding for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus.
  • Who can apply? Small businesses that have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender.
  • How can you apply? Through your SBA Express Lender.

Additional loan and funding options

In addition to the above loan options, you are likely looking for some additional assistance to get your business back on track. Take a look at additional small business relief options for small businesses below:

To reduce costs, you can also consider making lower business credit card payments or negotiating with vendors and suppliers.

Regardless of which route(s) you go, you should discuss financing and business loan options with your business’s banking institution and lenders (if applicable).

This article has been updated from its original publication date of April 14, 2020. 

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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