Sole Proprietors and Independent Contractors – How to Secure Funding from the Paycheck Protection Program

Published April 16, 2020

Summary

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was established on March 27, 2020 as part of the enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The Program will provide much-needed relief to millions of small businesses so they can sustain their businesses and keep their workers employed by securing the capital they need.  Businesses are able to apply for the new financing with the banks and have the loan administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).  Eligible businesses may receive a loan up to $10 million, subject to certain restrictions including business limited to 500 employees and affiliation rules.  Among the provisions contained in the CARES Act are provisions authorizing SBA to temporarily guarantee loans under the PPP. Loans under the PPP will be 100 percent guaranteed by SBA, and the full principal amount of the loans and any accrued interest may qualify for loan forgiveness.

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On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the SBA posted an interim final rule to supplements the First PPP Interim Final Rule with guidance for individuals with self- employment income who file a Form 1040, Schedule C. This rule also addresses eligibility issues for certain business concerns and requirements for certain pledges of PPP loans.

Eligibility for Independent Contractors and Sole Proprietors

Individuals who have income from self-employment and file a Form 1040, Schedule C. are eligible for a PPP Loan if you meet the following criteria:

  • You were in operation on February 15, 2020
  • You are an individual with self-employment income (such as an independent contractor or a sole proprietor)
  • your principal place of residence is in the United States
  • You filed or will file a Form 1040 Schedule C for 2019.

Partners in a Partnership – If you are a partner in a partnership, you may not submit a separate PPP loan application for yourself as a self- employed individual. Instead, the self-employment income of general active partners may be reported as a payroll cost, up to $100,000 annualized, on a PPP loan application filed by or on behalf of the partnership.

Maximum Loan Amount and Required Documentation

How you calculate your maximum loan amount depends upon whether or not you employ other individuals. If you have no employees, the following methodology should be used to calculate your maximum loan amount:

  • Step 1: Find your 2019 IRS Form 1040 Schedule C line 31 net profit amount (if you have not yet filed a 2019 return, fill it out and compute the value). If this amount is over $100,000, reduce it to $100,000. If this amount is zero or less, you are not eligible for a PPP loan.
  • Step 2: Calculate the average monthly net profit amount (divide the amount from Step 1 by 12).
  • Step 3: Multiply the average monthly net profit amount from Step 2 by 2.5.
  • Step 4: Add the outstanding amount of any Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 that you seek to refinance, less the amount of any advance under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid).

Regardless of whether you have filed a 2019 tax return with the IRS, you must provide the 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C with your PPP loan application to substantiate the applied-for PPP loan amount and a 2019 IRS Form 1099-MISC detailing nonemployee compensation received (box 7), invoice, bank statement, or book of record that establishes you are self-employed. You must provide a 2020 invoice, bank statement, or book of record to establish you were in operation on or around February 15, 2020.

If you have employees, the following methodology should be used to calculate your maximum loan amount:

  • Step 1: Compute 2019 payroll by adding the following:
    1. Your 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C line 31 net profit amount (if you have not yet filed a 2019 return, fill it out and compute the value), up to $100,000 annualized, if this amount is over $100,000, reduce it to $100,000, if this amount is less than zero, set this amount at zero;
    2. 2019 gross wages and tips paid to your employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States computed using 2019 IRS Form 941 Taxable Medicare wages & tips (line 5c- column 1) from each quarter plus any pre-tax employee contributions for health insurance or other fringe benefits excluded from Taxable Medicare wages & tips; subtract any amounts paid to any individual employee in excess of $100,000 annualized and any amounts paid to any employee whose principal place of residence is outside the United States; and
    3. 2019 employer health insurance contributions (health insurance component of Form 1040 Schedule C line 14), retirement contributions (Form 1040 Schedule C line 19), and state and local taxes assessed on employee compensation (primarily under state laws commonly referred to as the State Unemployment Tax Act or SUTA from state quarterly wage reporting forms).
  • Step 2: Calculate the average monthly amount (divide the amount from Step 1 by 12).
  • Step 3: Multiply the average monthly amount from Step 2 by 2.5.
  • Step 4: Add the outstanding amount of any EIDL made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 that you seek to refinance, less the amount of any advance under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid).

You must supply your 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C, Form 941 (or other tax forms or equivalent payroll processor records containing similar information) and state quarterly wage unemployment insurance tax reporting forms from each quarter in 2019 or equivalent payroll processor records, along with evidence of any retirement and health insurance contributions, if applicable. A payroll statement or similar documentation from the pay period that covered February 15, 2020 must be provided to establish you were in operation on February 15, 2020.

Allowable Uses of Loan Proceeds

The proceeds of a PPP loan are to be used for the following:

  • Owner compensation replacement, calculated based on 2019 net profit (maximum is $15,385 over eight weeks, which is $100,000 annualized).
  • Employee payroll costs (as defined in the First PPP Interim Final Rule) for employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, if you have employees.
  • Mortgage interest payments (but not mortgage prepayments or principal payments) on any business mortgage obligation on real or personal property (e.g., the interest on your mortgage for the warehouse you purchased to store business equipment or the interest on an auto loan for a vehicle you use to perform your business).
  • Business rent payments (e.g., the warehouse where you store business equipment or the vehicle you use to perform your business), and business utility payments (e.g., the cost of electricity in the warehouse you rent or gas you use driving your business vehicle).
  • Interest payments on any other debt obligations that were incurred before February 15, 2020 (such amounts are not eligible for PPP loan forgiveness).
  • Refinancing an SBA EIDL loan made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 (maturity will be reset to PPP’s maturity of two years).
    1. If you received an SBA EIDL loan from January 31, 2020 through April 3, 2020, you can apply for a PPP loan. If your EIDL loan was not used for payroll costs, it does not affect your eligibility for a PPP loan.
    2. If your EIDL loan was used for payroll costs, your PPP loan must be used to refinance your EIDL loan. Proceeds from any advance up to $10,000 on the EIDL loan will be deducted from the loan forgiveness amount on the PPP loan.

You must have claimed or be entitled to claim a deduction for such expenses on your 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C for them to be a permissible use during the eight-week period following the first disbursement of the loan (the “covered period”). For example, if you did not claim or are not entitled to claim utilities expenses on your 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C, you cannot use the proceeds for utilities during the covered period.

Amounts Eligible for Forgiveness

The amount of loan forgiveness can be up to the full principal amount of the loan plus accrued interest.

The actual amount of loan forgiveness will depend, in part, on the total amount spent over the covered period on:

  • Payroll costs including salary, wages, and tips, up to $100,000 of annualized pay per employee (for eight weeks, a maximum of $15,385 per individual), as well as covered benefits for employees (but not owners), including health care expenses, retirement contributions, and state taxes imposed on employee payroll paid by the employer (such as unemployment insurance premiums);
  • Owner compensation replacement, calculated based on 2019 net profit with forgiveness of such amounts limited to eight weeks’ worth (8/52) of 2019 net profit, but excluding any qualified sick leave equivalent amount for which a credit is claimed under section 7002 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (Public Law 116-127) or qualified family leave equivalent amount for which a credit is claimed under section 7004 of FFCRA;
  • Payments of interest on mortgage obligations on real or personal property incurred before February 15, 2020, to the extent they are deductible on Form 1040 Schedule C (business mortgage payments);
  • Rent payments on lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020, to the extent they are deductible on Form 1040 Schedule C (business rent payments); and
  • Utility payments under service agreements dated before February 15, 2020 to the extent they are deductible on Form 1040 Schedule C (business utility payments).

Required Documentation for Loan Forgiveness

  • To substantiate your request for loan forgiveness, if you have employees, you should submit Form 941 and state quarterly wage unemployment insurance tax reporting forms or equivalent payroll processor records that best correspond to the covered period (with evidence of any retirement and health insurance contributions).
  • Whether or not you have employees, you must submit evidence of business rent, business mortgage interest payments on real or personal property, or business utility payments during the covered period if you used loan proceeds for those purposes.
  • The 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C that was provided at the time of the PPP loan application must be used to determine the amount of net profit allocated to the owner for the eight-week covered period; 2020 information cannot be used.

The Dopkins Financial Advisory Service Team and our Dopkins SBA Loan Specialists are here to assist you in accessing liquidity and how to respond to changed business circumstances in light of COVID-19 while navigating the terms and conditions of the Paycheck Protection Program identified above.  In addition, we are assisting business owners in applying for Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).  Details here.

Our team focuses on helping business owners and companies identify and secure short-term and long-term capital.  Whether it’s domestic or foreign A/R, inventory, purchase order, construction, mezzanine financing, term loans and equity, our team has multiple sources of financing that will provide solutions to our clients.

For more information, contact Joseph Heim at jheim@dopkins.com.

About the Author

Joseph A. Heim CFE, CPA

Joseph Heim has over 25 years' experience investigating matters involving white-collar crime, fraud and corruption. He provides forensic accounting, litigation support and expert witness services to businesses, attorneys and commercial finance lenders. He is the Partner in charge of Dopkins Asset Based Lending Consulting Services.

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