Are you ready to put 2020 behind you? You probably aren’t alone. But for those of you who have taken the Paycheck Protection Program loan, you still have a hurdle before you can truly wash your hands of the lockdowns and pivot toward the reality of 2021.

In a blog last month, we looked at the best timeframe for applying for PPP forgiveness, noting that timing is uncertain. However, a month later, things may be shaping up, which begs the question—should you start looking to apply for forgiveness? The answer? Still a bit unclear. Today, we look to discuss whether or not you should apply and the advantages and disadvantages that go along with it.

You Probably Don’t Have to Apply Just Yet

Though banks are opening up forgiveness applications and many companies are eager to get these loans off their balance sheet, you still have time to process and prepare yourself for the application. It’s better to get everything done right than done—you don’t want to submit your application only to find out a hasty filing resulted in an undue tax burden.

Whether it’s due to a bank requirement, an IRS one, or your own needs, you may not want to or be able to file yet. Here are just a few considerations in applying for forgiveness.

You Might Not Be Able To

Depending on which wave of funding you received and which bank you’re working with, your bank may not have opened up their portal yet. As discussed in a recent Forbes Article, you’re going to have to work with your bank to determine the time that you are eligible to apply and go from there.

“Bank of America, for instance, will only take your application after your covered period ends. By contrast, TD Bank allows you to apply when your loan proceeds were spent (or incurred) within the covered period. That means you can apply early if you exhaust your funds before end of the covered period. Fifth Third is sending out emails to borrowers in waves in order to provider “better customer service.”

If Small Business Advocates Get Their Say, You May Not Even Have To

As we discussed in a recent article, many are urging Congress to automatically forgive small loans. In a letter to Congress, the National Conference of CPA Practitioners (NCCPAP) has written a letter urging Congress to automatically forgive smaller loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, and to make sure that business expenses paid for with forgiven PPP funds are deductible.

Written to Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Reps. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Richard Neal, D-Mass., the group suggested that all PPP loans under $150,000 should be automatically forgiven. With 86.2 percent of all PPP loans being less than $150K, this letter could mean significant relief for nearly all organizations.

Forgiveness Tools Are Coming

For many businesses, getting it right is going to be tough. As we mentioned above, there are many advocates in the accounting community fighting for loans under $150,000 to be automatically forgiven. Why? Because accountants are expensive.

Luckily, many companies are launching free calculators or even application tools to facilitate the forgiveness application. QuickBooks has launched a calculator to help you allocate the dollars received and to estimate forgiveness.

But the AICPA has also put out their own tool. As announced in Accounting Today, the AICPA, CPA.com, and Biz2Credit announced forgiveness platforms designed to make the application process easy and affordable.

Whether it’s the accountant-focused tool (CPALoanPortal.com) or the self-service business portal (PPPforgivenessTool.com), this collaboration will apply technology to the forgiveness application and make it easy to set yourself up for forgiveness.

As the first wave of disbursements approaches its 24-week end, more tools will pop up to fit your needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Applying for Forgiveness Now

The Forbes article goes on to share some additional considerations regarding your steps to applying for forgiveness. Discussing the advantages and disadvantages of filing as early as possible, it pays to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of doing so.

It Might Be Better to Just Close Out this Period

Considering it’s an election year and many companies are focused on recovery, it may be viable to just wash your hands of this period in your business. Forbes author Brian Thompson notes, “With so much uncertainty surrounding the economy and next administration, locking in loan forgiveness is attractive. Of course, that’s assuming you know you’re entitled to total forgiveness within the shorter time frame.”

Nothing Is Final

As mentioned above, there is still a ways to go before the T’s are crossed and the I’s dotted. More funding could come, the legislators could take up the recommended forgiveness, and the wording on the application documents is still changing.

One Shot—Do Not Miss Your Change to Blow

Applying for forgiveness might leave your palms sweaty, knees weak, and arms heavy—after all, the difference between full, partial, and nonexistent forgiveness might have significant impact on your cash flow. There’s no deadline for the forgiveness application itself (beyond applying before the loan matures). Just keep in mind that you have to start making payments on the loan 10 months after the end of your covered period.

If you’re not absolutely sure you qualify for the full amount of forgiveness, it may make more sense to wait the longest covered period and see where we are then.

Bracing for Recovery with the Help of the Controllers Council

Many businesses continue to struggle, and those in the controllership are putting in a lot of effort to ensure the cash continues to flow. In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss the differences between the EZ application and the traditional one, as well as explore your long-term path to recovery.

Get to know more about the path forward by reading up on the six metrics you want to track and discuss your efforts with a community of likeminded individuals by joining the Controllers Council.

Additional PPP Loan Resources

New FAQs Released to Clarify PPP Forgiveness

When Should You File Your PPP Forgiveness Application?

Recovery Update: PPP Extended, but Business is Coming Back

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