On June 5, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (“PPP Flex”) was signed into law. PPP Flex was designed to limit some of the restrictions and provide clarification for the original Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).
Notably, PPP Flex grants borrowers additional time to incur costs that count towards PPP loan forgiveness, reduces the portion of cost that must be allocated to payroll cost, and provides additional exemption from the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act”), the legislation that authorized PPP.
The CARES Act provides that some or all of the borrower’s PPP loan maybe forgiven based on the cost and payments made during what is called the “Cover Period.” The Cover Period begins when the PPP loan is disbursed or, if the borrower elects, from the start of the first regular payroll after the PPP loan is first disbursed. The Cover Period was originally set to be eight (8) weeks; however, under the PPP Flex, the Cover Period may be extended to the earlier of twenty-four (24) weeks after the loan origination or December 31, 2020. Nothing precludes an existing PPP loan borrower from using the original 8-week Cover Period. Under PPP Flex, the percentage that the borrower must use for payroll costs to be eligible for forgiveness was reduced. With the SBA’s final interim rule setting the percentage at 75%, legislators have reduced the amount to 60%, such that now 40% of the loan may be used (during the Cover Period) for certain permitted non-payroll costs such as mortgage interest, rent and utilities. PPP Flex also extends the original 6-month deferral period to up to 10 months after the applicable Covered Period, and extends the maturity date of unforgiven portions of the loans to five (5) years from the date of the forgiveness application.