Whether we want to or not, the country will continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for years to come in a multitude of ways. Many actions were taken by the government in the early days to help United States’ citizens through the largely unprecedented times, particularly to help support small businesses. As I’m sure many small business owners would say, the assistance offered through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program was critical to small business owners who, in the early days of 2020, were suddenly facing an unknown future. As closures and restrictions were put into place from every level of government in a bid to try to protect Americans from the novel virus, hospitals and their staff, doctors, and scientists all scrambled to contain the virus and determine the best path forward.
PPP and EIDL applications flooded the SBA in the hopes that the assistance offered through these programs would help to prevent millions of small businesses from sinking under the weight of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the roughly $1.2 trillion in assistance provided by the programs, while good-intentioned and critical to many small business owners’ chances of survival, was not immune to massive levels of fraud. In a report released on January 30, 2023, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) details a breakdown of the fraud, what is being done about it, and safeguards to help prevent it from happening again.
One of the things the Small Business Administration may be best known for is its small business loan programs, such as the section 7(a) and 504 Loan Programs. These programs have been a staple of the small business landscape for quite some time. Unsurprisingly though, there are multiple rules associated with them. Among these myriad rules and requirements, is the determination as to whether a loan applicant is a small business. One of the things that can affect whether a business is small is affiliation with other businesses push that company over the size limit. In a new proposed rule, it appears the SBA plans to dramatically scale back the ways that a business may be seen as affiliated, by practically getting rid of affiliation through “control”–only for for loan purposes, not procurement purposes. As this presents quite a shift in operations, all of us here at SmallGovCon wanted to make sure we have provided you, our readers, a breakdown of these proposed changes to a cornerstone of the SBA.
President Biden signed two bills aimed at preventing fraud by participants within the Small Business Association on August 2, 2022. H.R. 7334 is titled the COVID-19 EIDL Fraud Statute of Limitations Act of 2022 (EIDL Act). H.R. 7352 is titled the PPP and Bank Fraud Enforcement Harmonization Act of 2022 (PPP Act). Both Acts establish a ten-year statute of limitations for fraud by borrowers under their respective programs. The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman credited the Acts with a renewed ability to investigate and prosecute borrowers who committed fraud in SBA lending programs created to assist small businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For both programs, the main purpose is to put in place a a ten-year statute of limitations for fraud.
Newly passed changes to the Paycheck Protection Program are designed to make it easier for small businesses to have their loans forgiven.
The Paycheck Protection Program has been around since the end of March and provides funds for small businesses to retain employees and keep operating during the global coronavirus pandemic. If used properly, the business should have all or a portion of the loan forgiven. The new law eases some of the restrictions on how that money can be spent.
In what might be a classic “now you tell me” scenario, the SBA issued a new rule May 21 saying that if an applicant failed to count the employees of its foreign affiliates when it was determining its eligibility, the SBA will not hold that against the applicant so long as the application was submitted before the SBA clarified that requirement.
The problem with that, however, is that because the safe harbor ended May 18, it’s highly likely that a lot of those businesses already gave their PPP loan back. They’d be forgiven for thinking they had to, as earlier this month Sen. Marco Rubio was indicating that Congress would investigate companies who took PPP funds for which they weren’t eligible.
On May 15, SBA released the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application. Because loan forgiveness was a huge component of Paycheck Protection Program, the application is hugely important. While this post won’t do a deep dive into the loan forgiveness rules, we wanted to bring this to the attention of our blog readers.