PPP Loan Borrowers Should Consider Potential Tax Obligations Related to Loan Forgiveness

Date October 30, 2020
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan borrowers need to think beyond applying for loan forgiveness to the tax ramifications associated with forgiveness, especially as the calendar year-end nears and tax issues are top of mind. According to the CARES Act, PPP loan funds are not taxable. However, in May the IRS issued notice 2020-32 making the expenses used to generate forgiveness taxable. Congress has expressed disappointment with the IRS position but has not yet passed legislation to overturn it. Many believe it will be addressed in the next round of stimulus legislation. However, several pieces of proposed PPP legislation do not address the IRS position, leaving the question of whether Congress fully intends to act on the IRS position. Several tax credits and deductions available to businesses, including the research and development (R&D) tax credit, work opportunity tax credit (WOTC), and qualified business income (QBI) deduction rely at least partially on employee wage calculations. Due to the IRS ruling, borrowers using wages to support PPP loan forgiveness could lose those tax credits and deductions. As such, they should carefully consider how they support forgiveness, including using costs other than gross payroll on their forgiveness applications. Unless Congress legislates otherwise, borrowers should prepare to pay taxes on PPP loan forgiveness expenses, including in their estimated payments and year-end tax planning. As program regulations disallow the use of PPP funds and many COVID-19 relief grants and loans to pay taxes, borrowers should consult their CPAs before dedicating any relief program funds to tax obligations. Borrowers also need to be vigilant about how their states will treat tax obligations relating to PPP loans. Many states have yet to declare a position on how PPP loans or the associated forgiveness expenses could be taxed. Borrowers should watch for guidance and be prepared to meet any tax obligations. To discuss your tax obligations with respect to your PPP loan and associated forgiveness, contact your HBK Advisor.

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