The IRS has issued guidance to taxpayers, who have inappropriately received forgiveness of their Paycheck Protection Program (‘PPP’) loan, and has encouraged them to take steps towards compliance, such as filing amended returns that include the forgiven loan amounts, as income. The PPP loan program was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to assist small US businesses that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in paying certain expenses and was further extended by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act. The IRS has discovered that, some recipients received forgiveness of their PPP loan through misrepresentation or omission and either did not qualify to receive a PPP loan or misused the loan proceeds. Under the terms of the PPP loan program, lenders could forgive the full amount of the loan, if the loan recipient meets three conditions, namely:
- Eligible Recipient: The loan recipient was eligible to receive the PPP loan if they were a small business concern, independent contractor, eligible self-employed individual, sole proprietor, business concern, or a certain type of tax-exempt entity, and was in business on or before February 15, 2020, and had employees or independent contractors who were paid for their services, or was a self-employed individual, sole proprietor or independent contractor.
- Eligible Expenses: The loan proceeds had to be used to pay eligible expenses, such as payroll costs, rent, interest on the business’ mortgage, and utilities.
- Application for loan forgiveness: The loan recipient had to apply for loan forgiveness, which requires a loan recipient to attest to eligibility, verify certain financial information, and meet other legal qualifications.
The IRS has stipulated that, if the above conditions are not met, then the amount of the loan proceeds that were forgiven, must be included in income and any additional income tax must be paid. The IRS has also informed that, reporting tax-related illegal activities relating to PPP loans, may be done through submission of Form 3949-A, Information Referral.