ABC Solutions

Does Your Business Qualify for the Employee Retention Credit?

The Employee Retention Credit is one of the many IRS tax breaks for businesses that was included in the 2020 CARES Act as well as the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.  The goal of the credit is to provide financial relief to businesses that suffered from the effects of coronavirus but retained their employees.

The credit is available to eligible employers that paid qualified wages from March 13, 2020 through June 30, 2021. To be eligible, requirements include having the business shut down due to national, state, or local orders or having experienced a significant reduction in gross receipts – 50+ percent in 2020 and 20+ percent in 2021 – in a quarter.

Wages and health costs can be counted for the credit, and there is a cap of $10,000 per employee per year. For 2020, the credit is 50 percent of qualifying wages, and for 2021, the credit is 70 percent of qualifying wages. Any wages used in a Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness process are not eligible; in other words: no double-dipping.

This tax credit is a little different as it interplays with payroll taxes and not income or business taxes. The credit can be taken on the IRS Form 941. Some employers can request an advance by completing Form 7200, although the February 1, 2021 has passed for most businesses. Tax professionals are awaiting further guidance on details of the expanded program.

For qualifying employers, the amount of the credit can be substantial. Since this credit affects your payroll taxes, payroll tax forms, and payroll tax filings, you will want to make sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks, especially if your payroll function and your income tax preparation are handled by two different companies.

If you feel your business might be eligible, contact your tax professional to see how to get started.

PPP January 2021 Update

Qualifying small businesses can now apply for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through certain lenders. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reopened its PPP portal on January 11, 2021 after Congress passed and the President signed legislation in December 2020, authorizing the continuation of the program and an additional $284 billion in funds.

The program allows for two types of applications:

  • First Draw Loans to qualifying entities that did not receive a PPP loan in 2020, and
  • Second Draw Loans for previous PPP loan recipients and with a narrower set of qualifications.

First Draw PPP Loans for First-Time Borrowers

Borrowers that qualify for first-draw PPP loans can apply for up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs (with caps), for a maximum loan amount of $10 million. Generally speaking, the applicants must have been in operation on February 15, 2020 and be among the following types of businesses:

  • Businesses with 500 or fewer employees that are eligible for other SBA 7(a) loans
  • Sole proprietors, some self-employed individuals, and independent contractors
  • Nonprofits, including churches
  • Sec. 501(c)(6) businesses
  • Food or lodging operations with NAICS codes that start with 72 and with fewer than 500 employees per location
  • Certain news operations with qualifying NAICS codes in the 51 range

A number of entities are specifically prohibited from receiving loans.

The SBA application for First Draw Loans is here:
https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form-2483-ppp-first-draw-borrower-application-form

The applicant must attest to the necessity of the loan, among several other declarations.

Second Draw PPP Loans for Borrowers That Received a PPP Loan in 2020

Borrowers that qualify for a second-draw PPP loan can apply for up to 2.5* times their average monthly payroll costs (with caps), for a maximum loan amount of $2 million. Generally speaking, the applicants must qualify as follows:

  • Employ no more than 300 employees
  • Have spent all of their first PPP loan on eligible expenses
  • Do not have to apply for forgiveness for the first loan ahead of receiving the second loan
  • Can show a 25 percent drop in gross receipts in any one 2020 calendar quarter from 2019. If it’s easier to show a 25 percent drop for the entire 2020 year compared to 2019, applicants can submit their tax returns as proof.

*Companies with NAICS code 72, which generally speaking are food and lodging operations, can borrow up to 3.5 times their average monthly payroll costs (with caps).

The SBA application for Second Draw Loans is here:
https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form-2483-sd-ppp-second-draw-borrower-application-form

The applicant must attest to the necessity of the loan, among multiple other certifications and declarations.

Loan Forgiveness

PPP loan recipients can apply to have PPP loans forgiven if the funds are used within a specified covered period from 8 to 24 weeks on the following eligible costs: payroll (60 percent of funds), rent, covered worker protection and facility modification expenditures, covered property damage costs, certain supplier costs, accounting (!) expenses, and a handful of other qualifying expenses.

Timing

The SBA portal opened Monday, January 11, 2021 for first-draw loans by lenders (about 10 percent) that cater to underserved communities. These include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs) and Microloan Intermediaries.

On Wednesday, January 13, 2021, the SBA application portal began accepting applications for Second Draw loans. A few days later, additional lenders will be added to the portals.

SBA says it “plans to dedicate specific times to process and assist the smallest PPP lenders with loan applications from eligible small businesses.”

What to Do Next

Here are some suggested steps to get ready for this next round of PPP funds.

  1. Determine which lender you want to use to apply for PPP funds.
  2. Visit your lender website to see if they have a PPP notification signup so you can get notified of updates.
  3. Collect the documents you need for the application.
    a. Payroll summary reports
    b. Profit and loss statements
    c. Tax returns
  4. Begin calculating the amounts you’ll need for the application:
    a. Gross receipts by quarter for 2020 and 2019
    b. Average monthly payroll costs, including cap limits for wages over $100,000, for the year you want to use (2020, 2019, or the year from the application date)
  5. Contact us if you need help with documentation or calculation or other advice.
  6. Contact us for advice about tax ramifications.
  7. Contact your attorney to evaluate the loan agreement.

Further PPP Resources

Updated PPP Lender forms, guidance, and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp.

CARES Act Treasury page: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares/assistance-for-small-businesses

Jan 6, 2021 SBA PPP Interim Final Rule – 82 pages
https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP-IFR-Paycheck-Protection-Program-as-Amended-by-Economic-Aid-Act.pdf

Jan 6, 2021 SBA PPP Second Draw Interim Final Rule – 42 pages
https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP-IFR-Second-Draw-Loans.pdf

Wrapping Up 2020

Year-end is the perfect time to reflect on accomplishments achieved since January. It’s also an important time to put things into perspective as we turn the page and start a new year.

What We Learned

With so much change in 2020, the opportunities to learn have been abundant. Take a moment and contemplate the following:

  • What new skills did you learn this year that you have put to work in your business?
  • What topics did you become wiser about?
  • What situations have you learned to master?

Goals Met

If you set goals for 2020, which ones did you achieve?  Because it was a volatile year, you may have achieved a lot of things that were not planned.  Or you may have simply maintained status quo, which is an amazing accomplishment in its own right in 2020. Give yourself credit for all of that as well.

As we transition to 2021, set new goals to be achieved in your business and record the list so you can look back periodically to monitor your progress.

Gaining Perspective

The circumstances of the pandemic present a constant challenge to keep things in perspective.  Our emotions are exacerbated when we feel threatened, whether it’s about our health or our freedom. This creates the polarization we’ve seen in the news and current events.

Gain perspective by asking yourself these questions:

  • What kind of business person do I want to be in 2021?
  • How do I see my business in five years?
  • What can my business contribute to its customers, employees, and other stakeholders?

Reflect, plan, and gain perspective as we usher in 2021. And have a Happy New Year!

The Power of Listening

Now, more than ever before, the act of listening is important. Not only is it important to listen to someone, but to effectively listen to them. Sure, we all know that in order to understand individuals, to connect with them and understand their wants and needs, we need to be alert, focused, and mindful. After all, the power of listening—effective listening—will help you get more information from clients, increase their trust and commitment in you, and reduce conflict and misunderstanding.

Below, we’ve included more information on the power of listening, and tips on how to be a better listener.

What It Means To Listen

We don’t need to give you a textbook definition of listening; you already know what it means. However, it is necessary to point out that the act of listening and actually comprehending what a person is saying can lead to strong, healthy, and thriving relationships—all very important qualities in any type of relationships, specifically a business one.

If you don’t believe us, think about the last time you were having a conversation with someone and felt as if you weren’t being heard. How did that make you feel? How did that affect the relationship? Did it make you feel valued?

According to Dr. Carl Rogers, a psychologist, active listening is a specific communication skill. Giving free and undivided attention to a speaker through active listening is the most effective way to achieve individual change and group development.

Isn’t that the ultimate goal? Whether the relationship is professional or personal, don’t you want to establish a solid, mutual ground of respect? It’s the only way for both parties to succeed.

If your listening skills are in need of a little tune up, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! We’ve put together a list of different ways to help you become a better listener.

Tips On Becoming A Better Listener

If you truly want to become a better listener, then consider implementing these tips into your daily life.

Understand The Benefits

First, it’s imperative to understand that listening to someone is beneficial to both the person doing the talking and you. Nothing bad or negative comes from listening to another person speak, but the complete opposite. Remember, if you thoroughly listen to an individual, it’s more likely that same individual will listen to you when it becomes your turn to speak. The partnership the two of you are hoping to grow can only be successful with mutual listening.

Make Eye Contact

Next, when someone is speaking to you, always make eye contact. This tactic not only shows respect, but it will also help you focus on the other person’s words, what he or she is saying and how they feel.

No Distractions

When sharing a conversation with someone, make sure there are no distractions. Obviously, this means you need to put down your phone and give the speaker your full attention. Don’t worry about what’s going on around you; don’t think about your next meeting or what you plan to have for lunch. Listen, engage, and show the person talking that you care.

Ask Questions

One of the best ways to show the speaker that you are really listening to them, is to ask them questions. Make sure you fully understand what they’re saying by verifying their wants, needs, and/or concerns with specific questions.

Remember, nothing bad comes from listening—only good. The next time someone is speaking, consider opening up your eyes, ears, and mind just a little bit more. In doing so, you will gain the full benefits of the power of listening.

The Personal Financial Satisfaction Index (PFSi)

How happy are you with your financial situation right now?  In other words, do you feel personal financial pleasure or pain when it comes to your financial standing?

That is what the Personal Financial Satisfaction Index strives to measure for the typical American.

The PFSi is a quarterly economic indicator created by the American Institute of CPAs. This specific economic indicator weighs a variety of economic factors to calculate the financial standing of a typical American. These financial standings are only computed at a high level.

The main agenda of the PFSi is to calculate the difference between two component subindexes: the Personal Financial Pleasure Index and the Personal Financial Pain Index.  These two subindexes are each created of four, equally weighted proprietary and public factors, which ultimately measure the growth of assets and opportunities in the case of the Pleasure Index, as well as the erosion of assets and opportunities in the case of the Pain Index.

In other words, positive scores of the PFSi indicate that Americans are feeling personal financial pleasure. Negative scores, obviously, indicate that Americans are feeling personal financial pain. It might sound like a subjective emotional measure, but it’s not at all; it’s based on government statistics as well as proprietary AICPA data.

The PFSi has been mostly increasing from the third quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2019. Since then it has dropped dramatically. With the current pandemic still in place, unemployment and other economic factors have contributed to the drop in the index.  You can use the score as a measure against your own financial security and for planning purposes.

Read more about the index here: https://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/personalfinancialplanning/community/pfsi.html

Or reach out to us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.