COVID-19: New PPP Flexibility Act passed in the House of Representatives which focuses on Small Businesses, Hospitality and Restaurants

The new Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010) which focuses on small businesses and restaurants in particular has passed the House of Representatives.

The bipartisan Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, was introduced last week by Reps. Dean Phillips, D-Minnesota and Chip Roy, R-Texas, and, is designed to extend the 8-week period under which loan recipients could spend the PPP money to 24 weeks while helping correct other provisions that would provide more flexibility to small businesses in the hospitality realm.

Many hospitality businesses have high overhead costs and low worker salaries, and, as such, will likely struggle to rehire their employees as their businesses have not reopened yet or, if they have reopened, have reopened with a smaller staff due to social distancing requirements for their customers. Additional challenges are presented as some former employees are seeing more income from enhanced unemployment benefits which will also make it difficult to rehire them.

A bipartisan group has already introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Its backers include Sens. Cory Gardner, R- Colorado, Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, Steve Daines, R-Montana, Angus King, I-Maine, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act would:

• Extend the “covered period” under which small businesses can spend the loan proceeds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks or until Dec. 31, 2020.

Expand the 25% cap to use PPP funds on non-payroll expenses, such as rent, mortgage interest and utilities, to 40% of the total loan. Currently, small businesses must use at least 75% of the loan for payroll expenses to get maximum forgiveness, but under the bill that would change to 60% to get maximum forgiveness.

• Give small businesses more time to rehire employees or to obtain forgiveness for the loan if social distancing guidelines and health-related actions from the CDC or other agencies prevented the business from operating at the same capacity as it had before March 1.

• Allow small businesses to take a PPP loan and also qualify for a separate, recently enacted tax credit to defer payroll taxes, currently prohibited to prevent “double dipping.”

Remove the limits on loan forgiveness for small businesses that were unable to rehire employees, hire new employees or return to the same level of business activity as before the virus.

Extend the loan terms for any unforgiven portions that need to be repaid from 2 years to 5 years, at 1% interest.

Extend the period for when a business can apply for loan forgiveness, from within 6 months to within 10 months of the last day of the covered period, before it must start making interest and principal payments. Under the new bill, PPP loan interest and payment of principal and fees will be deferred until the loan is forgiven by the lender.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

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If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Sandra Stoneman and Nanette Heide or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!