Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds UPDATE

As previously noted, on May 5, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) extended its safe harbor deadline for borrowers to return Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from May 7, 2020 to May 14, 2020. At that time SBA noted additional guidance on how it would review a borrower’s good faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request would be provided prior to May 14, 2020.

Today the SBA provided incremental guidance in the form of FAQ #46:

46. Question: How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request?

Answer: When submitting a PPP application, all borrowers must certify in good faith that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has determined that the following safe harbor will apply to SBA’s review of PPP loans with respect to this issue: Any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.

SBA has determined that this safe harbor is appropriate because borrowers with loans below this threshold are generally less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment than borrowers that obtained larger loans. This safe harbor will also promote economic certainty as PPP borrowers with more limited resources endeavor to retain and rehire employees. In addition, given the large volume of PPP loans, this approach will enable SBA to conserve its finite audit resources and focus its reviews on larger loans, where the compliance effort may yield higher returns.

Importantly, borrowers with loans greater than $2 million that do not satisfy this safe harbor may still have an adequate basis for making the required good-faith certification, based on their individual circumstances in light of the language of the certification and SBA guidance. SBA has previously stated that all PPP loans in excess of $2 million, and other PPP loans as appropriate, will be subject to review by SBA for compliance with program requirements set forth in the PPP Interim Final Rules and in the Borrower Application Form. If SBA determines in the course of its review that a borrower lacked an adequate basis for the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request, SBA will seek repayment of the outstanding PPP loan balance and will inform the lender that the borrower is not eligible for loan forgiveness. If the borrower repays the loan after receiving notification from SBA, SBA will not pursue administrative enforcement or referrals to other agencies based on its determination with respect to the certification concerning necessity of the loan request. SBA’s determination concerning the certification regarding the necessity of the loan request will not affect SBA’s loan guarantee.

Key takeaways from FAQ #46 include the following:

  • PPP borrowers of less than $2,000,000 (together with affiliates) will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.
  • With respect to PPP borrowers that do not meet the $2,000,000 safe harbor and are therefore subject to a SBA compliance review, it is still unclear what the review will entail.
  • To the extent a SBA compliance review results in a finding that a PPP borrower lacked an adequate basis for the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request:
    • SBA will seek repayment of the outstanding PPP loan balance and will inform the lender that the borrower is not eligible for loan forgiveness.
    • If the borrower then repays the loan, SBA will not pursue administrative enforcement or referrals to other agencies based on its determination with respect to the certification concerning necessity of the loan request.

Later in the day, SBA issued an additional FAQ (FAQ #47) extending once more the safe harbor deadline for returning PPP funds. The new deadline is Monday, May 18, 2020.