SBA issues new guidance on PPP loan necessity certification

There have been many questions regarding Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and the borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning loan necessity. Concerns over the possible ramifications of applying for the loan and then having the Small Business Association (SBA) evaluate the certification after the fact have been front and center in the national dialogue. Today, the SBA issued an update to its PPP Loan Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) where this uncertainty was addressed.

What you need to know about the good-faith certification requirement

  • The SBA and the Department of Treasury have determined there is a safe harbor for any company receiving a PPP loan under $2 million. The company will be deemed to have met the good-faith certification requirement.
  • Borrowers with loans that do not satisfy the safe harbor (meaning their loan is over $2 million) may still have an adequate basis for making the good-faith certification.
  • The SBA will review loans over $2 million and, if they determine the borrower lacked an adequate basis for requesting the loan, they will require repayment. They will not pursue administrative enforcement or referral to other agencies.

This is welcomed news as there has been a cloud over the certification from the beginning, but especially in recent weeks.  For more information, below is the relevant excerpt from the SBA’s FAQs document updated May 13, 2020.

46. Question: How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request?

Answer: When submitting a PPP application, all borrowers must certify in good faith that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has determined that the following safe harbor will apply to SBA’s review of PPP loans with respect to this issue: Any borrower that, together with its affiliates,1 received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.

SBA has determined that this safe harbor is appropriate because borrowers with loans below this threshold are generally less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment than borrowers that obtained larger loans. This safe harbor will also promote economic certainty as PPP borrowers with more limited resources endeavor to retain and rehire employees. In addition, given the large volume of PPP loans, this approach will enable SBA to conserve its finite audit resources and focus its reviews on larger loans, where the compliance effort may yield higher returns.

Importantly, borrowers with loans greater than $2 million that do not satisfy this safe harbor may still have an adequate basis for making the required good-faith certification, based on their individual circumstances in light of the language of the certification and SBA guidance. SBA has previously stated that all PPP loans in excess of $2 million, and other PPP loans as appropriate, will be subject to review by SBA for compliance with program requirements set forth in the PPP Interim Final Rules and in the Borrower Application Form. If SBA determines in the course of its review that a borrower lacked an adequate basis for the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request, SBA will seek repayment of the outstanding PPP loan balance and will inform the lender that the borrower is not eligible for loan forgiveness. If the borrower repays the loan after receiving notification from SBA, SBA will not pursue administrative enforcement or referrals to other agencies based on its determination with respect to the certification concerning necessity of the loan request. SBA’s determination concerning the certification regarding the necessity of the loan request will not affect SBA’s loan guarantee.2

Footnotes
  1. For purposes of this safe harbor, a borrower must include its affiliates to the extent required under the interim final rule on affiliates, 85 FR 20817 (April 15, 2020).
  2. Question 46 published May 13, 2020.
Dave Iaconis
Dave Iaconis

David Iaconis is an Accounting & Assurance Shareholder and Executive Vice President for BeachFleischman PC. He has planned and managed the audits of numerous privately held companies and nonprofit organizations during his 40 years in public accounting.

CariAnn Todd
CariAnn Todd

CariAnn Todd is a Senior Manager in the firm’s Accounting & Assurance practice. She provides client service in the areas of audit, accounting, and consulting for a variety of privately held businesses. She has been in public accounting since 1995.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about how the information in this article may affect you or your business, please reach out to our specialists using the form below.