The IRS has provided guidance regarding whether taxpayers receiving loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) may deduct otherwise deductible expenses. Act Sec. 1106(i) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) did not address whether generally allowable deductions such as those under Code Secs. 162 and 163 would still be permitted if the loan was later forgiven pursuant to Act Sec. 1106(b). The IRS has found that such deductions are not permissible.
The CARES Act expanded the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) existing Section 7(a) loan program to include certain PPP loans. The PPP is made available from the SBA to provide small businesses with loans to help pay payroll costs, mortgages, rent, and utilities during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. All payments of principal, interest, and fees under the loans are deferred for at least 6 months. The loans are also forgiven for amounts payroll costs, mortgage or rent obligations, and certain utility payments incurred between February 15 and June 30. The loans are 100 percent guaranteed by the SBA.
If the SBA forgives a taxpayer’s PPP loan pursuant to Act. Sec. 1106(b) of the CARES Act, the amount of the loan is excluded from gross income. Under Reg. §1.265-1 taxpayers cannot deduct expenses that are allocable to income that is either wholly excluded from gross income or wholly exempt from the taxes. This rule exists in order to prevent double tax benefits. Thus, the IRS has determined that taxpayers who have their PPP loans forgiven may not deduct any business or interest expenses related to the income associated with the loan.
Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have worked together to release the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application. According to Treasury’s May 15 press release, the application and correlating instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of PPP loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The PPP was enacted under the CARES Act to provide eligible small businesses with loans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, SBA is expected to issue regulations and guidance to assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities, according to Treasury.
Measures included in the application and instructions intended to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers include:
- options to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles;
- flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan;
- step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness;
- borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30; and
- the addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined.
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