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PPP-2: How small businesses can apply federal loans toward IT upgrades

January 14, 2021 | Blog

New IT funds Allowed in PPP-2

Good news for businesses that have been delaying a much needed IT investment. With a new wave of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, small businesses can invest up to 40% of the federal loan into cloud and software upgrades.

Congress extended covered operations expenditures under PPP-2 to apply to “any business software or cloud computing service that facilitates business operations, product or service delivery, the processing, payment, or tracking of payroll expenses, human resources, sales and billing functions, or accounting or tracking of supplies, inventory, records and expenses.” This means the bucket of non-payroll expenses that PPP-2 applies to expanded to include IT expenses for business continuity, such as accounting software programs or monthly subscriptions to cloud software.

PPP-2 basics to know

To realize the benefits of cloud and business spending provisions, companies must be eligible to receive the loans and follow all stipulations. If they act carefully, the loan could turn into a grant that doesn’t need to be paid back. Non-payroll expenses, including the new cloud and software allowances, can only make up 40% of the loan amount spent. The rest must be spent on employee payroll. View more on the SBA website here.

Limited Eligibility for Second Draw PPP Loans: The Second Draw of PPP loans are available to borrowers that previously received a PPP loan. Second Draw PPP loans are limited to businesses that (i) employ no more than 300 employees (down from 500) or meet an alternative size standard; (ii) have used the entire amount of their first PPP loan or will use such amounts, and (iii) had gross receipts during Q1, Q2 or Q3 2020 that were at least 25 percent less than the gross receipts from the same quarter in 2019 (applicants may use Q4 2020 if they apply after January 1, 2021). If the business was not in operation for a portion of 2019, then the comparable quarters may be different. The limitations put in place for Second Draw loan eligibility, as explained in this section, do not apply to first-time borrowers.

Use of PPP Funds: Congress expanded the types of expenses for which all PPP loans can be used, which applies to existing PPP loans (except in the event forgiveness has already been obtained) and new loans. In addition to payroll, rent, covered mortgage interest and utilities, the PPP now allows proceeds to be used for:

  • Covered Operations Expenditures: payments for business software or cloud computing service that facilitates business operations, product or service delivery, the processing, payment or tracking of payroll expenses, HR and billing functions, or account or tracking of supplies, inventory, records and expenses
  • Covered Property Damage Costs: costs related to property damaged and vandalism or looting due to public disturbances that occurred during 2020 that was not covered by insurance or other compensation
  • Covered Supplier Costs: expenditures to a supplier of goods that are essential to the operations of the entity at the time at which the expenditure was made and is made pursuant to a contract or order in effect at any time before the covered period or, with respect to perishable goods, in effect at any time during the covered period
  • Covered Worker Protection Expenditures: operating or capital expenditures that allow a business to comply with requirements or guidance issued by the CDC, HHS, OSHA or any state or local government during the period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending on the date which the national emergency declared by the president expires related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID-19. These expenses appear to include PPE, physical barriers that were put in place, expansion of indoor/outdoor space, ventilation or filtration systems and drive-through windows.

Eligibility for Section 501(c)(6) Not-for-Profit Organizations: For the first time, Section 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organizations will be eligible to apply for and receive PPP loans.

PPP Loans In Bankruptcy:  In a significant change, borrowers in bankruptcy will be eligible to apply for PPP loans. These new loans will be treated in the borrowers bankruptcy case as administrative claims and to the extent not forgiven, must be paid in full in any Chapter 11 cases and are not subject to “cram down”.

There’s a lot to digest, particularly in the realm of the expanded Employee Retention Credit and the second round of PPP loans. A deeper dive into those two issues awaits, but in the meantime, hopefully this discussion gives you a decent look at what’s new in Congress’s latest stimulus efforts. Always consult with your bank and tax professionals for clarity on your eligibility.

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