The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, is providing this guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, as provided for under section 1106 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), as amended by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (Flexibility Act).
Borrowers and lenders may rely on the guidance provided in this document as SBA’s interpretation, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, of the CARES Act, the Flexibility Act, and the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rules (“PPP Interim Final Rules”) (link).
Question: Will a borrower be subject to a reduction to its forgiveness amount due to a reduction in FTE employees during the Covered Period if the borrower offered to rehire one or more laid off employees but the employees declined?
Answer: In calculating its loan forgiveness amount, a borrower may exclude any reduction in FTE employees if the borrower is able to document in good faith the following: (1) an inability to rehire individuals who were employees of the borrower on February 15, 2020 and (2) an inability to hire similarly qualified individuals for unfilled positions on or before December 31, 2020. Borrowers are required to inform the applicable state unemployment insurance office of any employee’s rejected rehire offer within 30 days of the employee’s rejection of the offer. The documents that borrowers should maintain to show compliance with this exemption include the written offer to rehire an individual, a written record of the offer’s rejection, and a written record of efforts to hire a similarly qualified individual.
Question: If a seasonal employer elects to use a 12-week period between May 1, 2019 and September 15, 2019 to calculate its maximum PPP loan amount, what period in 2019 should be used as the reference period for calculating any reductions in the loan forgiveness amount?
Answer: A seasonal employer that elects to use a 12-week period between May 1, 2019 and September 15, 2019 to calculate its maximum PPP loan amount must use the same 12-week period as the reference period for calculation of any reduction in the amount of loan forgiveness.
Question: When calculating the FTE Reduction Exceptions in Table 1 of the PPP Schedule A Worksheet on the Loan Forgiveness Application (SBA Form 3508 or lender equivalent), do borrowers include employees who made more than $100,000 in 2019 (those listed in Table 2 of the PPP Schedule A Worksheet)?
Answer: Yes. The FTE Reduction Exceptions apply to all employees, not just those who would be listed in Table 1 of the Loan Forgiveness Application (SBA Form 3508 or lender equivalent). Borrowers should therefore include employees who made more than $100,000 in the FTE Reduction Exception line in Table 1 of the PPP Schedule A Worksheet.
Question: How do borrowers calculate the reduction in their loan forgiveness amount arising from reductions in employee salary or hourly wage?
Answer: Certain pay reductions during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period may reduce the amount of loan forgiveness a borrower will receive. If the salary or hourly wage of a covered employee1 is reduced by more than 25% during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period, the portion in excess of 25% reduces the eligible forgiveness amount unless the borrower satisfies the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction Safe Harbor (as described in the Loan Forgiveness Application (SBA Form 3508 or lender equivalent)). The examples below assume that each employee is a “covered employee.”
Example 1: A borrower received its PPP loan before June 5, 2020 and elected to use an eight-week covered period. Its full-time salaried employee’s pay was reduced during the Covered Period from $52,000 per year to $36,400 per year on April 23, 2020 and not restored by December 31, 2020. The employee continued to work on a full-time basis with a full-time equivalency (FTE) of 1.0. The borrower should refer to the “Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction” section under the “Instructions for PPP Schedule A Worksheet” in the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Instructions. In Step 1, the borrower enters the figures in 1.a, 1.b, and 1.c, and because annual salary was reduced by more than 25%, the borrower proceeds to Step 2. Under Step 2, because the salary reduction was not remedied by December 31, 2020, the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction Safe Harbor is not met, and the borrower is required to proceed to Step 3. Under Step 3.a., $39,000 (75% of $52,000) is the minimum salary that must be maintained to avoid a penalty. Salary was reduced to $36,400, and the excess reduction of $2,600 is entered in Step 3.b. Because this employee is salaried, in Step 3.e., the borrower would multiply the excess reduction of $2,600 by 8 (if it had instead selected a 24-week Covered Period, it would multiply by 24) and divide by 52 to arrive at a loan forgiveness reduction amount of $400. The borrower would enter on the PPP Schedule A Worksheet, Table 1, $400 as the salary/hourly wage reduction in the column above box 3 for that employee.
Example 2: A borrower received its PPP loan before June 5, 2020 and elected to use a 24-week Covered Period. An hourly employee’s hourly wage was reduced from $20 per hour to $15 per hour during the Covered Period. The employee worked 10 hours per week between January 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020. The borrower should refer to the “Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction” section under the “Instructions for PPP Schedule A Worksheet” in the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Instructions. Because the employee’s hourly wage was reduced by exactly 25% (from $20 per hour to $15 per hour), the wage reduction does not reduce the eligible forgiveness amount. The amount on line 1.c would be 0.75 or more, so the borrower would enter $0 in the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction column for that employee on the PPP Schedule A Worksheet, Table 1.
If the same employee’s hourly wage had been reduced to $14 per hour, the reduction would be more than 25%, and the borrower would proceed to Step 2. If that reduction were not remedied as of December 31, 2020, the borrower would proceed to Step 3. This reduction in hourly wage in excess of 25% is $1 per hour. In Step 3, the borrower would multiply $1 per hour by 10 hours per week to determine the weekly salary reduction. The borrower would then multiply the weekly salary reduction by 24 (because the borrower is using a 24-week Covered Period). The borrower would enter $240 in the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction column for that employee on the PPP Schedule A Worksheet, Table 1. If the borrower applies for forgiveness before the end of the 24-week Covered Period, it must account for the salary reduction (the excess reduction over 25%, or $240) for the full 24-week Covered Period.
Question: For purposes of calculating the loan forgiveness reduction required for salary/hourly wage reductions in excess of 25% for certain employees, are all forms of compensation included or only salaries and wages?
Answer: For purposes of calculating reductions in the loan forgiveness amount, the borrower should only take into account decreases in salaries or wages.
A “covered employee” is an individual who: (1) was employed by the borrower at any point during the Covered Period or Alternative Payroll Covered Period and whose principal place of residence is in the United States; and (2) received compensation from the borrower at an annualized rate less than or equal to $100,000 for all pay periods in 2019 or was not employed by the borrower at any point in 2019.↩