Congress Provides Additional PPP Flexibility

H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, passed by Congress on June 3rd, was signed by the President and became effective on June 5. 2020. The legislation makes some significant changes to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). For our previous posts on the subject go to our most recent post on the subject PPP Loan Forgiveness Application which has links to all our prior postings.

If you want to read the entire text of the new law, you can read or download a personal copy Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 , but in short (OK, it’s actually not that short) here goes:

Loan Maturity:  PPP loans made on or after June 5th will have a maturity of at least five years up to a maximum of ten years from the date  the borrower applies for forgiveness.  Although the new law only applies to loans made after June 5th, it does allow borrowers who received loans prior to that date to mutually agree to modify the maturity dates and conform to the extended time periods;

Covered Period Extended:  Under the new amendment, for both existing and new loans, in order to determine the amount to be forgiven, the period will now start on the origination date of the loan (i.e., the date the funds are disbursed per the SBA) and ending either 24 weeks (168 days) after the loan origination date, or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier.  If you received a PPP loan before June 5, you can decide to use the 8 week period under the original CARES Act if you prefer;

Reduction of FTE/Salaries Safe Harbor Deadline Extended:  The new deadline for restoring FTE and salary/wage levels to their February 15th status, originally required by June 30th has now been extended to December 31, 2020.  In addition, the recently enacted amendment to the CARES Act provides that the amount of the loan that will be forgiven will be determine without regard to any reductions as a result of: (a) an inability to rehire individuals who were employees on February 15th and to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions on or before December 31, 2020; or (b) the inability to come back to the level of business that existed before February 15th in order to comply with requirements or guidance from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the CDC, or OSHA, from March 1st until December 31, which inability is related to requirements needed to maintaining standards applicable to COVID-19 for health, sanitation, social distancing or other worker or customer safety.  PPP borrowers should be prepared to substantiate (document) their good faith inability to hire/re-hire or return to pre-February 15th business levels and it is likely that information will be requested with any applications for forgiveness.

Using Loan Proceeds:  For both existing and new PPP loans, the new legislation provides that at least 60% must be used for covered payroll costs and up to 40% can be used to pay covered non-payroll costs (e.g., timely payment of interest on covered mortgage loans, covered lease, rent and utility payments.

Payment Deferral Period Extended:  Payments of principal and interest on PPP loans will be deferred until SBA determines the amount of the loan that will be forgiven and pays that amount to the lender.

If a Borrower Doesn’t Apply for Forgiveness: If a borrower does not apply for PPP loan forgiveness within 10 months after the end of that borrower’s “covered period,” payments of principal and interest will begin at the end of that 10-month period.  If a borrower has a pre-June 5th PPP loan who choose to continue to use the 8 week covered period under the original CARES Act, if the borrower hasn’t applied for forgiveness, those payments will begin 10 months after the end of that 8 week period.

Employer Payroll Taxes:  Under the new law, even if a Borrower receives forgiveness of the PPP loan, they can still defer paying employer payroll taxes as permitted by the original CARES Act.

While it is likely there will be additional clarifications and updated or revised guidelines as new questions arise, the new law provides welcome relief by extending deadlines, especially how forgiveness rules will be interpreted and applied.  We will keep you posted, but as always, if you have questions or need more information you can contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the legal professionals with whom you regularly work at Rimon Law.

 

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

Following up on our previous posts (Paycheck Protection Program & Disaster Relief Loan Information Released (Updated) and Paycheck Protection Program (Updated FAQs)) this past Friday (May 15th), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application with detailed instructions explaining how to apply for forgiveness of PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  The announcement also states the SBA will also issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities. Here are copies of the Press Release, as well as the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application with detailed instructions, you can read and download directly.

We will post further information as it becomes available.

As always, if you need more information or assistance you can contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you regularly work. Stay safe!

 

Paycheck Protection Program (Updated FAQs)

We previously posted information regarding the initial release of information about the Paycheck Protection Program being implemented by the U. S. Small Business Administration (US Chamber of Commerce Issues Coronavirus Small Business Guide and Paycheck Protection Program & Disaster Relief Loan Information Released (Updated)).

If you have been following those developments, yesterday (28 April 2020) the SBA updated the FAQs and you can read and download a copy of the update directly from the SBA’s website Paycheck Protection Program Loans Frequently Asked Questions.

While the FAQ document does not have the force or effect of law or regulation, the guidance is based on the SBA’s interpretation of the CARES Act and of the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rules and notes the U.S. government will not challenge any action taken by a lender in reliance upon and conforming to the guidance and any subsequent rulemaking in effect at the time.

 

 

Paycheck Protection Program & Disaster Relief Loan Information Released (Updated)

Following up on our post yesterday (US Chamber of Commerce Issues Coronavirus Small Business Guide), you can find the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Information Sheet for Lenders and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Application Form (and accompanying instructions) just released by the US Small Business Administration.

The SBA has established a streamlined process for disaster loan assistance that you can access online at COVID-19 ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN APPLICATION.

As noted previously, the lawyers at Rimon Law are following these developments closely and while you may already be deluged with summaries, information bulletins and alerts, we are and remain available to help any time across a broad spectrum of businesses, industries, relationships, activities and transactions that have been affected by the COVID-119 pandemic.

 

US Chamber of Commerce Issues Coronavirus Small Business Guide

Part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is designed to help small businesses keep workers employed during this pandemic crisis and the consequential stress facing the economy. In fact, the CARES Act has allocated $350 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative that will provide loans to small businesses that are 100% guaranteed by the Federal government.
The United States Chamber of Commerce has issued a guide to help small businesses understand who is eligible, in what amounts these loans will be available and what criteria will determine whether the loans will be forgiven. You can read the summary right here: Corona Virus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide & Checklist.
As always, I and all of the legal professionals at Rimon continue to remain available to assist during these challenging times.

US Dept. of Labor Issues FFCRA Guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released its initial guidance providing information describing how to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which takes effect April 1, 2020. The guidance includes links to information for employees and employers, as well as links to questions and answers and other useful information about the FFCRA.  The DOL has a separate Coronavirus Resources webpage, providing a large number of references and links to additional information.

The US DOL has also released an FFCRA Poster that every covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises, although the guidance does allow an employer to satisfy this requirement by emailing or directly mailing the notice to employees or by posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website.  Although there is no legal requirement at this time to post the notice in other languages, DOL is currently working on translating the notice.

The legal professionals at Rimon are available to help and as always, if we can’t help you – especially in these challenging times – we will assist you in finding someone who can!  Stay safe and following the recommendations of your national, state, provincial and local authorities to keep yourself, your family, colleagues and friends healthy and prevent the spread of this infection.

Marketing Hedge Funds – Why “Fiduciary” Matters

–  by  Thomas M. White

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently adopted a rule expanding the definition of who may be a fiduciary under ERISA.  Significant because ERISA-covered plans control enormous pools of capital and ERISA fiduciaries are prohibited from engaging in self-dealing transactions.  The new rule, which went into effect on June 9, 2017, affects how investments in hedge funds will be marketed to ERISA-covered plans and IRAs.

If a person makes a “recommendation” regarding an investment or investment management and receives a fee from a plan, a plan participant, a fiduciary, an IRA or an owner of an IRA that person will be considered a fiduciary and that definition applies even if the underlying assets are not “plan assets” within the meaning of the DOL’s Plan Asset Regulation.  If this sounds confusing, appreciate there is litigation currently pending regarding whether the DOL’s rule applies to IRAs or their owners.

Probably the most critical determination will be whether a “recommendation” has been made for purposes of this new rule.  A “recommendation” involves the purchase, holding, managing or sale of securities and is “a communication that, based on its content, context and presentation, would reasonably be viewed as a suggestion that the advice recipient engage in or refrain from taking a particular course of action.”  In fact, a series of communications may result in a “recommendation,” even if each individual communications may not rise to that level.  Although general communications are not, advice based on individual characteristics of a potential investor are likely “recommendations.”

There are a number of regulatory exemptions, such as recommendations made to a “sophisticated” adviser or investor or if an adviser offers advice to an independent plan or IRA fiduciary in an arm’s-length transaction and the adviser reasonably believes the independent fiduciary is a qualified financial institution (e.g., a bank, insurance company or a broker-dealer) or if the recipient of the information manages at least $50 million in assets regardless of whether those assets are plan assets.

Why does all this matter.  Make a presentation covering the general features of a specific hedge fund to a meeting room packed with potential investors and investment advisers.  After the formal presentation concludes, an audience member comes over to the presenter, describes himself as an IRA owner and his particular circumstances – a discussion ensues.  If the speaker isn’t careful about what is said, and a fee may be earned by the hedge fund it may be a problem.  There are other examples too numerous to describe here.

To minimize the likelihood they will be considered fiduciaries under the new rule, hedge funds should determine if they want to market to IRAs, small plans and individuals who have investment discretion over the investments in their profit sharing and 401(k) accounts.  Marketing materials should be reviewed to determine if they need to be modified to avoid a problem.  Even subscription agreements should make it clear the potential investor is not a small plan or an IRA unless it is being advised by an investment professional who fits under the exemption. Marketing professionals should be trained as to what they may and may not say and written reports describing conversations and communications with potential investors should be retained.

If you want to read more about the potential application of this new rule you can read the entire Rimon Client Alert or contact Tom White directly.  Mr. White specializes in the full scope of human resources management, such as Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation, Healthcare, and Employment Law.