3 Major Changes to PPP Under Biden Administration

Feb 23, 2021

On Monday, the Biden administration announced significant changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed at assisting those businesses who had previously been unable to access funding. These provisions include:

Small Business Priority Window For Applying – Starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. EST, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will have a two-week exclusive window, ending March 9 at 5 p.m. EST to apply for the funding. During this time, larger businesses will be prohibited from apply allowing lenders to focus on the smallest businesses

Funding Formula Altered for Self-Employed, Sole Proprietors, and Independent Contractors – To improve equitable distribution of loans, the PPP funding formula for these categories of applicants has been modified to allow for more money. Previously self-employed and sole-proprietor loan applicants would use “net income” to calculate their loan amount which dramatically reduced the value of PPP funds as it excluded eligible expenses. Now, this group will use gross income to make such calculations which ultimately will allow for more funds.

Lifted Restrictions for Certain Businesses – Restrictions that once prevented some specific small business owners from obtaining relief have now been eliminated. These include:

  • Business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions are now able to apply for relief whereas before they were prohibited.
  • Business owners delinquent on their federal student loans could initially access PPP funds, but could not receive the loan forgiveness.  New changes allow for this group of individuals to be eligible for forgiveness.
  • Those who do not yet have a Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number can apply for PPP funding using their Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). This new modification prohibits lenders from denying PPP funding to business owners who use ITINs to pay their taxes.

These new changes will allow for more businesses to obtain federal funds through the Paycheck Protection Program. Should you have questions regarding your circumstance, please reach out to our PPP Task Force or to your William Vaughan Company advisor.

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Michelle Klement, CPA

PPP Task Force Partner

419.891.1040 | michelle.klement@wvco.com

Categories: COVID-19

COVID-Related Fraud Risk on the Rise

Feb 19, 2021

Many small business owners do not believe their businesses can or will fall victim to occupational fraud. Due to this belief and budget restrictions, many small businesses do not make this a priority, which leaves them vulnerable.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ 2020 Report, financial statement fraud is the costliest type of occupational fraud affecting organizations. Financial statement fraud is not only costly from a fiscal standpoint, but it also impacts trust within the organization, the community, and with investors.

The rapid advance of COVID-19 has placed a significant strain on organizations and individuals alike. Donald R. Cressey’s fraud triangle theory includes the three major factors that are commonly present when financial statement fraud occurs: Pressure, Opportunity, and Rationalization.

Here is how COVID-19 has impacted these factors:

Pressure – Organizations are facing challenges never experienced before. COVID-19 has left many facing revenue loss, supply chain disruptions, and employee wellness concerns. All these factors, and more, are causing undue pressure to meet financial expectations.

Opportunity – While organizations are receiving state and federal funding to cope with the financial impact of COVID-19 disruption, there are dramatic shifts in operations with remote working and a reduction of in-office staff. This means internal controls are reduced and accessibility increased. These become prime opportunities for fraud.

Rationalization – Mounting stress impacts individual decision-making skills, leading people to rationalize actions they would otherwise regard unacceptable or illegal. Employees may rationalize they are “owed” financial support because of the work they do.

Some potential areas to consider when thinking about your organization include:

  • Revenue recognition – The timing and amount of revenues recognized.
  • Allowances and reserves – Changes in methodology and unusual adjustments.
  • Valuations – Significant estimates used in projections, declining cash flows, and idle assets.
  • Treatment of expenses – Expenses are recorded in the proper period.
  • Disclosures – The adequacy and sufficiency of disclosures.
  • Margins – Reasonableness of margins given the current year operations.
  • Internal control – Opportunity for control override.

These are just a few of the common ways for financial statement fraud to occur. While we all work diligently to recover from the COVID-19 disruption, we need to be aware of the heightened risks and adjust our processes and tasks to monitor for this risk.

If your company needs assistance, William Vaughan is here to assist you.

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Juli Seiwert, CPA

419.891.1040 | juli.seiwert@wvco.com

Categories: Audit & Accounting, COVID-19

Ohio Court Sides with Restaurant Group in Business Interruption Insurance Lawsuit

Feb 15, 2021

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio recently ruled in the case of Henderson Road Restaurant Systems, Inc. vs. Zurich American Insurance Company, that the restaurant group is entitled to business interruption insurance coverage due to lost sales and increasing expenditures as a result of a government-ordered shutdown. Business interruption insurance has been widely disputed during the COVID-19 pandemic as many business owners have sought compensation for losses incurred during government-imposed shutdowns and curfews. The court ruled in favor of the restaurant group claiming it had a valid claim even though a provision within the policy denied coverage for any shutdowns caused by a microorganism. The Court argued the government orders were what caused the shutdown, not the actual novel coronavirus. Thus, the microorganism provision does not prevent the repayment.

In its defense, the insurer argued the restaurant group did not satisfy the requirement within the policy stating business income loss must be tied to “a direct physical loss of or damage to”. However, the court agreed with the restaurant group noting it lost its ability to use the insured properties for their intended purpose. The judge maintained the temporary state and local closure orders led to the restaurant group to suffer a covered loss because the orders prohibited them from allowing in-person dining, which was the foundation of their business model.

The case has been certified for an immediate appeal. If the court’s decision survives the appeal, all businesses in Ohio closed due to shutdown orders may be entitled to recover some form of their losses from their insurer. Policyholders and insurers in Ohio await a resolution of these key issues and will look for clarification of the policy interpretation rules by the Sixth Circuit or the Ohio Supreme Court.

For more information on our restaurant practice and the services we offer, please connect with our practice leader below:

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Kristin Metzger, CPA

Restaurant Practice Leader

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Categories: COVID-19, Restaurant & Hospitality

Small Business Audits to Increase by 50% in 2021

Jan 26, 2021

As many small businesses are already preparing for complex accounting issues as a result of COVID-19 relief funds from the 2020 CARES Act, the IRS announced their intent to increase audits by 50%.

These audits and their repercussions could be targeted at businesses that have historically been overlooked including family-owned operations, online businesses created as a result of the pandemic, and investment funds.

De Lon Harris, the IRS deputy commissioner of examination for small businesses, recently noted, “[we] are focusing our efforts to increase compliance activity in this area of not only partnerships but also investor returns related to pass-throughs.”

The IRS can audit returns up to 3 years old, and if significant problems are found, are able to look further into past filings. With new audit procedures passed by Congress in 2015, the IRS is able to collect any underpaid taxes directly from the partnership instead of tracking down each investor. The agency is placing 50 new specialized auditors on these cases beginning in February in order to meet the projected increase.

Here are a few tips to prepare you and your business for the possibility of an audit:

  • Maintain clear records – Accurate and adequate documentation makes an auditor’s job easier and may reduce the chance of further inquiry.
  • Make estimated tax payments – Businesses expecting to owe more than $500 should be making quarterly payments. Failure to do so can increase your chance of being audited.
  • Impact of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) – Review of businesses’ formation documents, elections, and governing documents will help to determine if you will be subject to the Centralized Partnership Audit Regime and how it will impact your business.
  • Enlist the experts – Seek guidance from a CPA to ensure your returns are filed timely and accurately, to help you determine if estimated payments are needed, and to resolve possible red flags due to questionable reporting.

Should you have questions about your specific situation, please contact your William Vaughan Company advisor or reach out to our contributor, Juli Seiwert in our firm’s audit department.

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Juli Seiwert, CPA
Audit Senior Manager, William Vaughan Company
juli.seiwert@wvco.com | 419.891.1040

Categories: Audit & Accounting, COVID-19

SBA Unveils New PPP Forgiveness Applications & Guidance

Jan 21, 2021

On Tuesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury released new PPP loan forgiveness guidance along with new forgiveness applications.

These applications include:

  • PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Form 3508S – this new one-page application is for borrowers who received a PPP loan of $150,000 or less. While no supporting documentation is required to be submitted with the application, borrowers are advised to maintain payroll, nonpayroll, and other documents that could be requested during an SBA loan review or audit.
  • Form 3508EZ – this streamlined application is for borrowers that meet certain safe harbors
  • Form 3508 – the full application is for those who don’t qualify for using either of the previous two forms
  • Form 3508D – this two-page document is to be submitted by certain individuals who are required to disclose a controlling interest in an entity applying for a PPP loan

Borrowers using Forms 3508 and 3508EZ must submit payroll and nonpayroll documentation when applying for loan forgiveness. The instructions included with these forms provide lists of the required documents.

In addition to the new forms, an interim final rule (IFR) was released which simplified previous loan forgiveness rules and integrated changes made by The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (P.L. 116-260) which provided an additional $248 billion of funding to the PPP and allowed for a second-draw.

The SBA also noted it had approved roughly 60,000 PPP loan applications submitted by nearly 3,000 lenders for over $5 billion from the program’s re-opening through Jan. 17.

As always, we encourage you to connect with your William Vaughan Company advisor with questions on how this may impact your individual circumstances, or check out our COVID-19 Resource Center for additional insights.

Categories: COVID-19