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Relaxing PPP Rules: What You Need to Know

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In a rare display of bipartisanship, on June 5, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) in an attempt to address many concerns expressed by the small business community around the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed at providing COVID-19 relief.

On May 27, 2020, the House passed the PPPFA by 417-1 and the Senate approved it by unanimous consent on June 3. The new law addresses the following flaws in the original PPP program created under the CARES Act:

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  1. PPPFA changes amount of loan needed for payroll to 60%
    The biggest complaint around the PPP loan program was that it required businesses to spend 75% of the loan on payroll. For those businesses shut down due to COVID-19, this meant playing the role of unemployment office, paying their workers to stay home and do no work. The PPPFA reduces the amount of the loan needed to be spent on payroll from 75% to 60%, thus increasing the amount of funds available for other expenses from 25% to 40%.

While this new breakdown was less than the 50-50 split business groups advocated for, it is still an improvement. However, the law does not change the list of expenses eligible for forgiveness. It still includes rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and interest on loans. Again, this is quite a restriction on businesses that need funds for inventory, personal protection equipment, expenses around remote working, and other needs. Business groups will continue to lobby to expand eligible expenses.

  1. PPPFA extends time period to use funds from 8 to 24 weeks
    The second biggest issue around PPP was that it required businesses to spend the funds in the eight-week period from the date funds were received. For a business shut down by government mandate, this amounted to spending funds when, perhaps, conserving them was in order. Business owners clamored to have the flexibility to spend the loan after reopening, especially on payroll when workers returned to work and not sitting idle.

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