As business owners get more clarity about their financial situations, some are wondering whether they need to give their Paycheck Protection Program loans back.
During the seventh National Small Business Town Hall on Friday, Inc. editor-at-large Kimberly Weisul and U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley discussed how entrepreneurs should resolve the dilemma. The event was the latest in a series of weekly webinars aimed at informing business owners about the resources available during the coronavirus pandemic.
Registration is now open for the eighth National Small Business Town Hall on Friday, May 15, at 12 p.m. Eastern.
Bradley said some business owners are skittish as a result of the Treasury Department's announcement that it plans to scrutinize certain loans, including those of more than $2 million and those taken out by public companies and firms with venture funding.
If your company has been able to maintain its pre-pandemic level of revenue, Bradley said, it might make sense to return the money before the May 15 deadline. But if you're still facing some uncertainty, he added, don't feel the need to do so.
Bradley urged keeping records on the financial conditions you were concerned about when you applied for the loan, such as canceled orders or events. That way, "you can feel comfortable knowing if anyone comes around after the fact and asks if you really needed this loan, you can show documentation about the situation you were facing when you applied."
PPP loans can only be fully forgiven if businesses maintain their employee head counts. Many Town Hall viewers asked what can be done if employees who had been laid off refused to come back.
According to new guidance from the Treasury Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration this week, you can count in your company's head count any employees you offer to rehire, even if they decline. Bradley noted that you must issue the employee a written offer for the same position and the same salary.
As of the end of the day Thursday, the current phase of the PPP still had about $125 billion remaining from the original $320 billion allocated, Crain's reports. Bradley predicted that new legislation allocating additional relief for businesses would be coming as well, likely after Memorial Day. What that would look like is still unclear.
"I don't know that we can assume it's simply a clean replenishment for PPP or EIDL," he said, adding that Congress now knows what has and hasn't worked well with various relief programs. Bradley noted that guidance on loan forgiveness is about two weeks overdue. He expects the Treasury will release it within several days.