Tag Archives: Martin H. Abo
Now that you have PPP funds, we at Abo and Company want to point out certain steps you should take over the next eight weeks to ensure maximum forgiveness of your PPP loan.
Use the Funds for Forgivable Purposes. Forgiveness of your PPP loan depends largely on whether you use the money to pay forgivable expenses. These include (1) payroll costs (if you’re self-employed, these costs include the net profit amount from your business, as reported on your 2019 tax return), (2) interest payments on mortgages incurred before 2/15/20, (3) rent payments on leases dated before 2/15/20, and (4) utility payments under service agreements dated before 2/15/20. However, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), not more than 25% of the forgivable loan amount (the amount of the loan used to pay forgivable expenses) may be attributable to nonpayroll costs. In other words, at least 75% of the loan must be used for payroll costs.
To help you meet this requirement, consider implementing the following best practices:
- Set up a separate bank account for PPP funds, or deposit funds into your business savings account and transfer the money to checking and payroll accounts when needed.
- If you feel that 75% of the loan won’t be used for payroll, consider modifying your payroll periods (from semimonthly to weekly, for example) or paying out bonuses toward the end of the eight-week period.
- Gather and analyze mortgage documents, leases, and utility bills to make sure obligations arose prior to 2/15/20. Each lender will likely want you to provide the documentation in a slightly different format, but it will be much easier to adapt if you’ve already collected your data.
- Track expenses in the general ledger. The general ledger tracking will be a good summary, but you will still need to include the details.
- If expenses are paid with a business credit card, make sure that portion of the credit card bill is paid with PPP funds before the end of the eight-week period.
Use a simple Excel spreadsheet to track your qualifying expenses. This will allow you to see your progress in real-time and project where you will be after 60 days. To substantiate the amounts listed in the spreadsheet, gather and organize your backup documentation. Although not foolproof, the attached excel sheet might help.
Keep Track of Employee Headcount and Salary Levels. We know you already do this, but extra care should be taken to make sure these numbers are accurate. For the next eight weeks, if your average number of full-time equivalent employees per month is less than the average during a base period, your forgivable loan amount will be reduced. The base period is either (1) 2/15/19 through 6/30/19, or (2) 1/1/20 through 2/29/20. Perhaps use the period that produces the best result.
Also, your forgivable loan amount will be reduced if salary levels are cut by more than 25%. For each employee who earns less than $100,000, you compare total salary paid during the next eight weeks with that employee’s salary during the most recent full quarter. If the reduction is greater than 25%, a corresponding reduction must be made to the forgiveness of your PPP loan. Note that this test requires the business to look at every employee individually.
If you have already laid off or furloughed workers, try to restore employee headcount and salary levels by 6/30/20. If you do so, any headcount and salary reductions that occurred between 2/15/20 and 4/26/20 will be ignored. Keep in mind you don’t have to rehire the same employees. Also, rehired workers don’t actually have to perform customary work duties. Before taking action, you should consult with your labor and employment attorney to work out the terms for rehiring workers.
Focus on Recordkeeping. This is crucial to obtaining maximum forgiveness of your PPP loan. At the end of the day, you have to show the bank you used the loan for eligible expenses. That’s why we suggest creating a spreadsheet of all eligible expenses as they’re incurred. We also recommend you maintain a special folder (electronic or otherwise) that contains the following documentation:
Employee headcount calculations. Since so many of our clients (and we) use an outside payroll processing company, it’s a good idea to save payroll reports reflecting gross wages paid for each payroll incurred during the period.
Document other costs under the definition of “payroll costs” in the CARES Act (employer contributions to health, dental, vision, FSA, HRA, and retirement plans). Collect invoices, statements, payment advices, evidence of automatic bank debits, etc., to validate these costs.
- Separate the employees (including owners) who are paid more than $100,000 annually, or $15,385 during the eight-week period, as qualified gross payroll is limited to that amount per employee/owner.
- Payroll tax filings (both federal and state).
- Mortgage documents, leases, and utility bills.
- Cancelled checks and payment receipts.
- Bank statements for the separate account used to pay forgivable expenses. If you didn’t set up a separate bank account, include copies of other bank statements with forgivable expenses highlighted to support any
- Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) payments.
Get Ready to Apply for forgiveness of your PPP loan.
You may not apply for forgiveness of your PPP loan until at least eight weeks after receiving your PPP loan. When you’re ready, you will need an authorized representative to certify that (1) the documentation presented is true and correct and (2) the amount for which forgiveness is requested was used to retain employees, make interest payments on a covered mortgage obligation, make payments on a covered rent obligation, or make covered utility payments. Once the bank receives your loan forgiveness application, it has 60 days to review and either approve or deny it.
If, for some reason, only a portion of the loan is forgiven, you will need to fulfill all remaining payment obligations. The unforgiven portion of the loan will be subject to a two-year note with a 1% interest rate. Fortunately, no payments will be due for the first six months (although interest will continue to accrue). In addition, no collateral or personal guarantee is required, and there are no prepayment penalties.
While all the banks are generally allowing drawdowns on the PPP loan without significant documentation, detailed records will be important to support the loan amount to be forgiven. Technical guidance regarding the specific definitions and clarifications around which expenses are allowable will be forthcoming in the next several weeks (yeh, right) and should be monitored closely.
Follow these guidelines to help make the conversations around forgiveness of your PPP loan go smoothly with our new best friend – the banker. Frankly, the PPP process has worked best for us and the clients we counsel when we’ve communicated ahead of time with whichever loan officer we’ve worked with. The same holds true now if you are prepared. Keep the documentation organized electronically in a secure location on your server so you can adapt to your lender’s specific requirements. In June or July, the goal should be to have all the documentation at your fingertips to help make it easier for you to substantiate and maximize your loan forgiveness.
Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF is a principle of Abo and Company, LLC and its affiliate, Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, Certified Public Accountants – Litigation and Forensic Accountants. With offices in Mount Laurel, NJ and Morrisville, PA, tips like the above can also be accessed by going to the firm’s website at www.aboandcompany.com.
Let’s explore Corporate Owned Real Estate. A frequent mistake made by small business owners is to have the operating corporation own the real estate, or to have a separate C corporation own the property and lease it to the business. The reason is that when the company eventually disposes of the property, usually after it has significantly appreciated and been substantially depreciated, a double tax bill will result. First, the corporation will be taxed on the appreciation upon the disposition of the real estate, and then, the shareholder(s) will be taxed on the proceeds of the disposition when they are distributed to them as a dividend or through liquidation. The tax traps are not limited to C corporations. Holding real estate in an S corporation has its own pitfalls. Mortgage debt does not constitute “basis” for tax losses when the accompanying real estate is owned in an S corporation. As most real estate investments yield potentially deductible losses after factoring depreciation on the structure, this could eliminate the tax benefits for a great deal of investors. There are great alternatives to corporate owned real estate.
A Better Approach to Corporate Owned Real Estate
A better approach than corporate owned real estate is for the business owners to own the real estate personally in a limited liability company or in a partnership with other investors, and then lease it to the operating business. Among the advantages:
• The business owner can sell the real estate interest for his or her own account, avoiding tax at the corporate level.
• The owner can refinance the property for his or her own benefit.
• Lease payments received by the property owner are not subject to employment taxes and are deductible by the company as a business expense.
• If the property owner dies while still owning the property, heirs will get it at its stepped-up basis, eliminating tax on all of the gain resulting from appreciation.
It’s particularly important for small business owners to engage in careful tax planning with respect to real estate being acquired for use by their business, and we receive frequent requests for assistance with appropriate tax strategies.
While we’re talking real estate and hopefully that which is not titled in corporate form, do you own a property that has appreciated considerably and that you want to sell? Are you concerned about incurring a large capital
gains tax liability? One option is to structure the sale as an installment sale. Here the buyer pays the cost of the property plus interest in regular installments, frequently for a period of 5 years, enabling the seller to reflect the capital gain for tax purposes over the entire payment period. Sellers who decide on this strategy are cautioned, however, that an installment sale carries more risk than an outright sale of the property. Thus, the seller needs to:
• Carefully assess the creditworthiness of the buyer and possibly obtain personal guarantees, if the purchaser is a business.
• Evaluate the future income producing capability of the property to make sure it provides sufficient cash flow to enable the buyer to make the payments.
• Use an interest rate that is competitive with current market rates in the area so as not to squash the deal.
• Obtain a down payment of at least 20% to have a cushion in the event of buyer default, and to cover the expenses if foreclosure becomes necessary.
Similarly, a topic for another alert is our frequently suggested use of Section 1031 which provides an alternative strategy for deferring the capital gains tax that may arise from a business/investment property sale. As of the writing of this Abo and Company Tip-of-the Month, we’ve read that the days of deferring 100% of gain via likekind
exchanges of real-estate could be numbered if the much talked about tax reform occurs in this particular arena does take place. Republican lawmakers are seeking tax breaks to trim or scrap to offset the cost of significantly cutting the income tax rate for businesses. We’ve seen tax-free real estate exchanges/swaps targeted before nixing like-kind swaps, immediately taxing the full amount of gain or in President Obama’s proposal to cap the deferral at $1 million. If the deferral is curbed, we don’t think the break will be axed retroactively but who really knows at this point.
Business property transactions are often complex, and the services of a knowledgeable CPA (hopefully we at Abo and Company) can be vital in developing strategies that make it possible to bring a contemplated transaction to a successful conclusion.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF is a principal of Abo and Company, LLC and its affiliate, Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, Certified Public Accountants – Litigation and Forensic Accountants. With offices in Mount Laurel, NJ and Morrisville, PA, tips like the above can also be accessed by going to the firm’s website at www.aboandcompany.com.
By Martin H. Abo, CPA/AB/CVA/CFF October 16, 2015
Do you own a property that has appreciated considerably and that you want to sell, perhaps to free up some capital, perhaps to downsize your operation, perhaps to expand but now rent rather than own? Are you concerned about incurring a large capital gains tax liability? One option is to structure the sale as an installment sale.
Of course, selling commercial real estate in a slow or problematic market, you will often be requested anyway to provide financing to ensure the deal gets consummated. Where at least one payment is received after the tax year in which the sale occurs, the installment sale method is used to defer a portion of the income tax due on a gain. In fact, unless you specifically elect out, the installment sale method is mandated by the Internal Revenue Service.
Under the installment sale method, the seller recognizes a portion of each payment as gain when received. Typically, each payment the seller receives consists of three parts:
(1) a return of basis (investment) in the property sold,
(2) gain (profit)on the sale, and
(3) interest on the installment note. Only the gain and interest portions of each payment are taxable to
Reporting gain from the disposition of property under the installment sale method allows the seller to spread the tax liability over several years rather than all in the year of sale. Thus, the seller’s payment of tax corresponds with the actual cash flow generated from the sale.
Of course, a number of limitations and restrictions come with the use of the installment sale method. In general, persons who regularly sell or otherwise dispose of personal property on the installment plan or who hold real property for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business (“dealers”) generally cannot use the installment sale method except for sales of timeshares, residential lots or farm property. However, in the case of timeshares and residential lots, interest must be computed and paid each year on the deferred tax liability. Also, any item that must be included in ending inventory is ineligible for such installment sale reporting.
We are CPAs and business advisors and NOT attorneys but sellers who decide on this strategy are cautioned that an installment sale carries more risk than an outright sale of the property. Rather obvious suggestions to keep such risk manageable include:
- Carefully assessing the buyer’s creditworthiness. Consider getting personal guarantees.
- Evaluate the future income producing capability of the property to make sure it provides sufficient cash flow to enable the buyer to make the payments.
- Use an interest rate that is competitive with current market rates in the area so as not to squash the deal.
- Obtain a down payment of at least 20% to have a cushion in the event of buyer default, and to cover the expenses if foreclosure becomes necessary.
In certain circumstances, it may be beneficial to elect out of the installment sale method and report the entire gain in the year of sale. When you or your business has expiring carryovers such as net operating losses, tax credits, or perhaps charitable contributions, opting OUT OF reporting the entire gain in the year of sale could allow use of those carryovers and minimize any tax liability. In addition, if you are concerned that applicable tax rates will increase in the future, it may be advantageous to elect out of installment sale treatment and avoid higher taxes down the road.
Business property transactions are often complex, and surrounding yourself with a credible “team” made up of your CPA, attorney and real estate professional can be vital in developing strategies that make it possible to bring a contemplated transaction to a successful conclusion.
Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF is a principle of Abo and Company, LLC and its affiliate, Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, Certified Public Accountants – Litigation and Forensic Accountants. The below article was retrieved from the “E-mail alerts” disseminated to clients and friends of the firm. With offices in Mount Laurel, NJ, Morrisville, PA and Franklin Lakes, NJ, tips like the above can also be accessed by going to the firm’s website at www.aboandcompany.com or by calling 856-222-4723.
Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF
307 Fellowship Road, Suite 202
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
(856) 222-4723 phone
(856) 222-4760 fax