On July 4, President Donald Trump signed into law a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application extension bill that Congress had quickly passed just before the Independence Day holiday. According to several senators, the measure was “surprisingly” introduced and approved by unanimous consent in the Senate late on June 30. It cleared the House the evening of July 1.
Most notably, the bill pushes out the PPP application window deadline five weeks from June 30 to August 8. “The resources are there. The need is there. We just need to change the date,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said. Prior to the extension, the small business loan program was set to expire at midnight on July 1 with over $130 billion left in funding.
Mnuchin, Rettig Testify
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Rettig testified before House and Senate committees on June 30, just hours before the PPP application period was set to close.
“There appears to be bipartisan support to repurpose the [remaining] $134 billion for PPP,” Mnuchin told lawmakers during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on June 30. Mnuchin stated that “it should be done,” and that the administration is looking toward targeted industry-specific relief.
Additionally, Mnuchin told lawmakers that he has been having discussions about more PPP-related relief with the House and Senate Small Business Committees. Reportedly, lawmakers are currently considering an extension or a second round of the PPP.
As for “phase four” of Congress’s next economic relief package, Mnuchin again alluded to a narrower approach. “We would anticipate that any additional relief would be targeted to certain industries that have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic, with a focus on jobs and putting all American workers who lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, back to work.”
Meanwhile, several PPP-related bills have been introduced in the Senate over the last few weeks, and most recently a bipartisan PPP Forgiveness bill introduced on June 30. The Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Bill, authored by bipartisan members of the Senate Banking Committee, would streamline the forgiveness of certain PPP loans.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, also called for an extension of the small business loan program. “It is the last day small business can apply for PPP, but the economic crisis is not over. Senators Cardin, Shaheen, Coons and I will take to the Senate floor and demand we pass a bill to extend it,” Schumer said in a June 30 tweet.
IRS 2020 Filing Season, Agency Redesign
In other news, Rettig testified on June 30 before the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) on IRS operations during the 2020 tax filing season. Notably, Rettig told senators that the decision not to further extend the 2019 tax year filing and payment deadline beyond July 15 was made in consultation with professional services organizations, adding that too many due dates can be confusing for taxpayers.
To that end, Treasury first signaled in a June 29 press release that it would not further extend the 2020 filing season. “Treasury and IRS encourage taxpayers to file their taxes by July 15, or file for an automatic extension of time to file to October 15,” the press release stated.
“The IRS understands that those affected by the coronavirus may not be able to pay their balances in full by July 15, but we have many payment options to help taxpayers,” Rettig said in the press release. “These easy-to-use payment options are available on IRS.gov, and most can be done automatically without reaching out to an IRS representative.”
Additionally, Rettig told SFC members that the IRS is well underway in its redesign of the agency for the first time in over 20 years. As noted in Rettig’s testimony, the foundational components of a new holistic taxpayer experience will include the following:
- Expanded Digital Services. An improved experience through self-service digital channels by building upon existing online accounts and introducing online accounts for tax professionals and business taxpayers.
- Seamless Experience. Taxpayers should be guided to the resources and communication channels that will resolve their issues most effectively and efficiently.
- Proactive Outreach and Education. Educate the taxpayer community by proactively providing information in the language, timing, and method taxpayers need or prefer.
- Focused Strategies for Reaching Underserved Communities. Establish a consolidated program to engage with historically underserved communities to address issues of communication, education, transparency and trust, as well as access to quality products and services.
- Ecosystem of Partnerships. Establish, shepherd, and facilitate a collaborative and interactive network of partnerships across the entire tax ecosystem and bring together existing efforts.
- Enterprise Data Management and Advanced Analytics. An enterprise data management strategy that includes a cross-enterprise understanding of the customer experience, emerging needs and expectations, and operational data.