American Rescue Plan (ARP), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Beyond
All the information we can verify
UPDATE May 5, 2021: Less than a week into May, the Paycheck Protection Program general fund — better known as PPP — has officially run out of money. It had been funded in every major stimulus package designed to combat COVID-19 by both the Trump and Biden administrations and disbursed over $780 billion to almost 11 million recipients.
While it is possible that Congress could authorize more money to be given to the program, most proposals being floated right now favor more targeted grants rather than a massive pool of loan funds.
So where does this leave small businesses?
For those that received support through the PPP, continue to work with your lender on whether your loans can be completely or partially forgiven. The criteria for forgiveness has loosened since the program was initially established in 2020, which is great news for business owners as it means the money they got will function as a grant instead of a loan.
For those still in need of support, there may still be a way to get PPP funds. The Small Business Administration (SBA) still has around $8 billion in funds available through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI); you can find your local CDFI here. CDFIs may have specific types of organizations they work with or prefer to lend to, but that will vary by area, so it’s a good place to start.
If that isn’t an option, the SBA has several other programs that may fit your needs, but keep a particular eye on the infrastructure package being worked on in Congress right now. The original proposal opened up numerous avenues for small- and medium-sized businesses, particularly those in manufacturing and other skilled trades, to get access to federal dollars either through grants or through contracts.
While the COVID-19-specific relief acts are likely winding down along with the pandemic itself, we’ll continue to highlight how things happening at the federal level are likely to affect American manufacturers. The next item we’re keeping an eye on: The American Jobs Plan.
If we can answer any questions for you in the meantime, we’d love to help! Email email@example.com and we’ll get back to you with all the answers we can find.
UPDATE March 26, 2021: Congress has, as expected, extended the PPP deadline. Businesses now have until May 31, 2021 to submit their applications and the SBA has until June 30, 2021 to process them. In truth, adding additional funds to the program without extending the deadline made little sense, but some behind-the-scenes negotiations held up this part of the process until now.
March 11, 2021: A third major bill designed to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn, the American Rescue Plan, was signed into law last Thursday by President Joe Biden.
Both of the previous measures (March 2020’s CARES Act and December’s less-cleverly named “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021” hereafter CARES Act 2) were massive pieces of legislation, touching everything from direct payments to Americans to creating huge governmental assistance programs for businesses. This time around is no different; there’s a lot to unpack.
This article deals with the American Rescue Plan’s impact on small businesses, but the sheer scale of the program means that it will absolutely have individual-level effects we simply don’t have the space to cover.
One major difference between the American Rescue Plan and other recovery acts to know is that states will play far more active roles in the distribution of funds this time. States have been a key source for businesses during the crisis, now they’ll have additional resources to do their work as the American Rescue Plan allocates $350 billion in aid to state and local governments to help fund critical programs that may have run dry due to a lack of tax revenue.
For business owners, this means more direct access to administrators, but also introduces the potential for differences in exactly when and how funds become available. Check with your state agency for specific details on program rollouts in your area.
Below are highlights of the American Rescue Plan small business owners need to know.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is getting another round of funding, an additional $7.25 billion on top of the previously authorized $284 billion in loan funds, much of which is still available. Eligibility has expanded to non-profits and digital media companies, but neither group is expected to make loan funds much harder to get.
Congress has, as expected, extended the PPP deadline. Businesses now have until May 31, 2021 to submit their applications and the SBA has until June 30, 2021 to process them. In truth, adding additional funds to the program without extending the deadline made little sense, but some behind-the-scenes negotiations held up this part of the process until now.
A second draw from the loan fund was authorized by the SBA earlier this year for employers that:
- Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses
- Have no more than 300 employees; and
- Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020
Loan forgiveness terms are largely the same for the second draw as the first, so eligible businesses that had their first draw forgiven should act quickly to get another round of funds if they’re still needed before the program closes on March 31.
More Credit Available For Small Business
A key element of all three recovery bills is specific funds allocated for affected businesses, but unique to the American Rescue Plan is the reemergence of a program developed in 2010 to help small businesses recover from that recession, the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI).
The SSBCI has been funded with $10 billion that can be used to strengthen state programs that make credit cheaper and more accessible for the business most impacted by the pandemic. For a look at some of the specific types of programs that were funded when the program was first implemented, check out this guide from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
This is one of the features that will look very different depending on what state you’re in. For a list of programs that were active when the program was last funded — and presumably will be again this time — use this map from CREC.
EIDL Grants Refilled
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program spun up last spring before being closed in July due to overwhelming need has returned, this time with $15 billion in new funding. The money will be allocated in small segments and focused on businesses in low-income areas that lost 30% of their income or more and have fewer than 300 employees.
Inc. Magazine’s write up of the grants is excellent, but if you have further questions, the SBA’s website is a great resource. One very important thing to keep in mind: There is a difference between the EIDL grants, which do not need to be paid back, and the EIDL loans that do, so pay attention to which you’re applying for if you choose to do so.
New COBRA Reimbursement For Laid-Off Workers
Workers that were laid off due to the pandemic or had their hours reduced under a benefit-granting level are now eligible for health insurance through their former employer under COBRA. While that has been the case since the late 1980s, few workers choose to do it since it tends to be quite expensive.
Now, however, employees can elect COBRA coverage — provided they can’t get insurance through a spouse, through Medicare or another path — and not pay the premium. While employers won’t be left holding the bag due to reimbursement from the government, they may see an increase in the number of employees choosing to take part in the program. If you work with a benefit administrator, now is an excellent time to check in with them. The program is not retroactive, but an eligible employee that had previously declined COBRA coverage will now have a chance to opt-in to the program, so either you as the employer or the benefit administrator will need to notify them of their eligibility.
Expansion of COVID-19-Specific Worker Protections
A small amount by the scale of this bill, $150 million, has been set aside to investigate worker protection issues specifically related to COVID-19 protections. As pressure increases for workplaces to reopen, this provision reminds employers to keep employee health as a key consideration when making plans for the foreseeable future.
Direct Financial Assistance For Individuals
As with the CARES acts, the provision that is getting the most coverage is the direct relief to Americans. The checks are larger this time around, but the income range is narrower: Americans earning less than $75,000 (or $150,000 for couples filing jointly) will receive $1400, but those earning more than $80,000 (or $160,000 for couples) will receive nothing at all. Between the upper and lower bounds, checks will still go out, but with reduced amounts.
Extended Unemployment Coverage
The original CARES Act authorized a $600 per week boost to unemployment benefits to help those out of work due to the pandemic, and CARES Act 2 extended the benefit through the end of 2020, but cut the payment down to $300 per week with an end date of March 14, 2021. The American Rescue Plan keeps the same $300 weekly benefit, but further extends date to September 6, 2021.
Given the speed of recovery and the likelihood of widespread vaccination by the summer, it’s likely that this will be the last extension of the program.
Many specific industries were given bailout funds including transportation, restaurants, live music/theater venues, and airlines. While manufacturing wasn’t given a specific carve out, many downstream industries did, which may help alleviate accounts payable issues that have piled up over the last year.
We’ll continue to update this section with new information as it comes in. If you have any questions, please reach out and we’ll do our best to either answer your questions or connect you with local resources that can help!
Update: December 27, 2020
- PPP applications are still open and the program has received additional funding
- Businesses that received PPP funding may be eligible for a second loan
- Individuals that made $75,000 or less in 2019 may receive a $600 check; those that made more than that will receive less based on a sliding scale
- Absent from the act were aid for cities and states and COVID-specific liability protection for businesses
Congress has finally passed the long-debated second coronavirus relief act — officially called the Consolidated Appropriations Act — and it is one gigantic bill. It’s nearly 6,000 pages long and touches on a huge range of issues, many unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump signed it into law on December 27, 2020.
Here is a quick look at the critical elements for small- and medium-sized businesses. If you have any questions, we’re happy to answer if we can and connect you with better resources if we can’t.
What The Act Means for Small Businesses
There’s a lot of good news for manufacturers and other small-business owners in the new act, particularly those that took advantage of the original Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Perhaps the biggest win for businesses is that the PPP was extended and given an additional $284 billion in funds to loan out. One major change from the original PPP is that businesses that employ fewer than 300 people and have seen a 25% reduction in quarterly revenues are now eligible to receive a second PPP loan.
Eligible businesses that received $150,000 or less in PPP funds are now virtually certain of forgiveness under a simplified repayment form. We encourage you to talk to your lender for specifics, but supplementary documentation is unlikely to be required.
Additionally, Congress clarified that tax deductible expenses paid for with PPP funds can still be deducted from your 2020 taxes, which should let some business owners breathe a huge sigh of relief and make subsequent investments in their business knowing the funds are both available and deductible.
If you’re unsure whether your business qualifies or how repayment and forgiveness work, see our previous guides further down this page.
In total, there is $319 billion allocated to small businesses in the bill, as well an extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit. This largely preserves the way things have been since March and extends the status quo into 2021.
The provision of the new Coronavirus Relief Act that will receive the most coverage is, of course, the $600 check that most Americans that made less than $75,000 in 2019 will receive. While most of the same provisions that governed the $1200 check sent out last spring will still apply, this time, U.S. citizens in households that also include non-citizens will be eligible for this payment, even though they weren’t for the first round.
For those that have lost their job, the federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs started by the original CARES act have been extended for another 11 weeks and an additional $300 in benefits have been made available. Primary UI will still be administered through the states, which could create issues in some places because a provision that would have provided aid specifically to state and local governments did not make the final act.
Liability Protection and State Aid Not Included
The act does not include relief for states and municipalities, even though many are increasingly spending down rainy day funds to help provide UI and other forms of relief to their citizens. Unlike the federal government, states and cities cannot legally spend themselves into a deficit, which means many forms of state-level aid may begin to run out in the new year.
For those relying on programs like UI, it would be wise to keep an eye on your local news for changes to these programs.
Another missing element came as something of a surprise: The bill does not include COVID-specific liability protection for businesses. It had previously been considered a necessary provision to get enough votes to pass the Senate, but negotiations shifted away from it in favor of other priorities very late in the process.
While this does mean that employers are still theoretically open to COVID-related lawsuits being filed by employees that get sick on the job due to negligent behavior on the part of the business, action could be taken at the state level to shield employers.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said following the passage of this second relief act that liability protection was going to be a non-negotiable element of any third COVID-related bill, so there is a very real possibility that this will eventually get passed despite not being in this version.
Looking Ahead to 2021
Both parties left key requests out of this bill and congressional Democrats have already said they expect a third relief bill to be passed early in the new year, which means this is far from the end of the negotiations on COVID-relief.
Two complicating factors in the timeline are the Georgia special elections — which could tip the balance of power in the Senate, thereby making liability protection less likely and the overall scope of the relief offered much larger — and the rollout of vaccines. Current estimates have 100 million doses available to Americans by the end of February, though the order in which people get the vaccine is still unclear. The longer negotiations last next time around, the more likely it is that the final bill is narrow, since the end of the pandemic will likely be in sight at that point.
Whatever happens, check back here as we’ll keep this page updated with the most up-to-date analysis we can provide.
Updated 8/8/2020: PPP Loan Forgiveness and Next Steps
As of August 8, the deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan has passed. The SBA has yet to announce a future round of loan applications.
PPP borrowers may now apply for loan forgiveness according to the criteria outlined by the SBA. Generally, if the loan has been used as intended, or for the purpose of an “employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels”, the loan will be forgiven.
The SBA has also added clarifying language: “The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 60% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll).”
Partial forgiveness is also a possible outcome.
What Happens Next: PPP Loan Forgiveness Process
Employers can submit their loan forgiveness applications to their lender. For most employers, this will be SBA Form 3508EZ. The lender has up to 60 days to review and approve. The form is then submitted to the SBA which in turn has up to an additional 90 days to review.
As employers await a forgiveness decision, they do not need payments on the loan, nor do they accrue interest in that timeframe if the loan is forgiven. However, if the loan is not forgiven at 100%, the employer will be subject to repayment and potential interest. The lender will outline any repayments including any interest due, as well as payment dates.
See Frequently Asked Questions on PPP Loan Forgiveness for More Details.
This guide should not be taken as financial advice, rather a helpful guide to share all of the verifiable information that we’ve collected. If you have any comments, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated 6/15/2020, 8:57AM
In early June, the Payroll Protection Flexibility Act was formally passed. You can find a great summary here. A few items to note:
- Extension of the eligible period to use the PPP funds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks
- There was originally some confusion around a potential cliff caused by the 60% payroll/non-payroll costs. The Treasury and SBA clarified that is not the intent in a joint statement here
- You are now eligible for deferral of the employer social security tax, even after determining that your PPP loan is forgiven, through December 31, 2020
- Some changes in the FTE computation to be more lenient when determining the impact on the forgiveness calculation If you have any questions on the new PPP changes or the mutual NDA, please let me know. Happy to hop on a call to discuss further
If you’re still waiting for a response, or for your EIDL Grant, the SBA has increased staffing and their customer support has ben extremely helpful. To directly access a Tier 2 Support person, you can use this number: 877-641-8202
The Treasury Department has published its final version of the application. Click here for the document. The SBA and the Treasury department have cleared up their disagreements through a document you can read here. There have been a few notable changes:
- Interest rate has been raised by 50 basis points to 100 basis points on the PPP Loan (0.5% to 1.0%)
- This interest will accrue even though there is a 6 month deferral of payment dues.
- The application now asks you to reduce your loan by any EIDL Grant Advance you may have already received.
- Any previously approved EIDL loans must be rolled into this loan if you used your EIDL loan proceeds for payroll costs There is confusion here as the maturity (length of loan) is 2 years on the PPP whereas the EIDL had a maximum maturity of 10 years. If an EIDL loan gets rolled into this loan, it’s unclear which will prevail.
- Payroll taxes imposed or withheld between 2/15/2020 and 6/30/2020 are excluded from the payroll amount calculation.
- Independent Contractors do not count as employees for the purpose of PPP loan qualification amounts or for forgiveness calculations. They must apply on their own.
- Specific allowance for using e-signature and e-consent.
- Banks outside of currently registered SBA 7(a) banks are now able to extend loans, including any Farm Credit System institution, any FDIC or federally insured credit union, and other small banks.
- Agents who assist small business applicants will be paid by the bank from 0.25% – 1% of the loan value. Agents are not allowed to collect from the borrower or from the proceeds of the loan to the borrower.
There’s a lot of information circulating around with often opposing statements. We’ve reached out to 41 banks and relied on the Treasury Department and the Small Business Association as well as industry contacts to help us assemble this page. This guide should not be taken as financial advice, rather a helpful guide to share all of the verifiable information that we’ve collected. If you have any comments, please email us at email@example.com.
Websites currently accepting applications:
It does not appear that any banks listed have a live application available with the new application format. We will check throughout the night and post any updates here.
National – SunWise Capital – Not yet updated with new forms
National – Lendio – Form Now Available
National – Bank of America – Currently Accepting Applications
National – US Bank – Currently Accepting Applications
National – Sunrise Bank – Currently Accepting Applications
National – Paypal – Currently Accepting Applications
National – Fountainhead – Will not be ready until Monday at earliest