PPP Alert: New COVID-19 Relief Bill Makes PPP Proceeds Nontaxable

On Dec. 21, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. On Dec. 27, President Trump signed it and it is now law. For the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), this measure overturns the IRS position that makes PPP proceeds taxable. Thus, the income derived as a result of PPP forgiveness will not be taxable.

The law contains the following PPP provisions:

  1. It repeals the requirement that PPP borrowers must deduct the amount of any Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance from their PPP forgiveness amount. At this point it is not clear how those who have already applied and have been approved for forgiveness will go back and have the EIDL advance forgiven.
  2. In addition, there will be a new round of PPP loans. To be eligible for a second PPP loan, the following must apply:
    • Firms must have 300 or fewer employees.
    • Firms who have an existing PPP loan must have used or must use the full amount of their first PPP loan.
    • Firms must show a 25 percent gross revenue decline in any 2020 quarter compared with the same quarter in 2019.

The COVID-19 relief bill clarifies that “no deduction shall be denied, no tax attribute shall be reduced, and no basis increase shall be denied, by reason of the exclusion from gross income.”

While the CARES Act excluded PPP loan forgiveness from gross income, it did not specifically address whether the expenses used to achieve that loan forgiveness would continue to be deductible. In April, the IRS issued Notice 2020-32, which stated that no deduction would be allowed under the Internal Revenue Code for an expense that is otherwise deductible if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a PPP loan.

In November, the IRS then expanded on this position by issuing Rev. Rul. 2020-27, which held that a taxpayer computing taxable income on the basis of a calendar year could not deduct eligible expenses in its 2020 tax year if at the end of the tax year the taxpayer had a reasonable expectation of reimbursement in the form of loan forgiveness on the basis of eligible expenses paid or incurred during the covered period.

Several business trade organizations disputed this interpretation of the CARES Act loan forgiveness rules, arguing that it was not Congress’s intent to disallow the deduction of otherwise deductible expenses. Congress has now agreed with that position and the law has been changed.

PCO Bookkeepers has completed and submitted over 100 forgiveness applications through the 2020 year-end. If you need help with your application, please contact us.

Author: Marisa Palmieri Shugrue