Stimulus Loan vs. Tax Relief: Which is Better for Your Small Business?

stimulus loan

The recent stimulus legislation has provided support for small businesses facing economic hardship during the coronavirus crisis. There are two choices: 1) a combination of tax credits and the deferral of payroll deposits and 2) a loan known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These two options are mutually exclusive, meaning if you take the PPP loan you cannot take the tax credit or defer payroll tax deposits and vice versa. It can be difficult to determine which would be best for your business, but there are some key differences that can make a big difference. Let’s take a closer look.

PPP Loans

Administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and applied for through banks or other financial institutions, the Paycheck Protection Program loan can be converted into a grant and is available to businesses with 500 employees or less. For restaurants and hotels, the 500-employee limit applies to each individual location, not the business as a whole.

While the business cannot fold, it does not have to be open and operational during the crisis in order to qualify for the loan. Employees don’t have to work in order to receive their payroll. The ultimate goal of the PPP is for businesses to be able to continue paying employees throughout the crisis.

A PPP loan will be forgiven and turned into a grant if the small business can sustain its payroll for a minimum of eight weeks and use the loan proceeds only for salaries and essential operating expenses like utilities and rent. No more than 25% of the loan can be used for non-payroll costs in order to be forgiven. If the loan is eligible to become a grant, the interest (initially set at 1%) still has to be paid by the business. The maximum loan amount is either $10 million or 2.5 times the monthly payroll, whichever amount is less. The payroll for each employee is capped at $100,000 per employee. Terms of the loans are set by the Small Business Association.

ERTC

The second option is called the employee retention tax credit (ERTC). This credit is taken against payroll taxes. To be eligible for the ERTC, a business’s operations must be suspended by a government authority OR experience a 50% or greater decline in tax receipts for any quarter in 2020 compared against the same quarter in 2019. Eligibility ends when the business’s gross receipts are greater over one quarter of 2020 than 80% of if its receipts for the same quarter in 2019.

The credit includes up to 50% of wages paid from March 12th through the end of the year. The maximum a business can receive is $5,000 per employee against 2020 payroll taxes (both Social Security and Medicare). Since the credit is refundable, a business will receive a payment from the government if the credit exceeds the payroll taxes due. In addition to the ERTC, a business can defer deposits of payroll taxes due in 2020. One half of the deferred taxes must be paid by the end of 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022.

In order to determine which of the above options is right for your business, it’s important that you have a thorough understanding of both. Generally, businesses with higher-salaried employees will benefit more from the PPP loans/grant option while businesses with lower-salaried employees will get more out of the ERTC, but this is not always the case.

IMPORTANT: How fast do you need the money? The PPP requires an application and approval process. You can take advantage of the ERTC option immediately, but you will have to wait for any refunds from the tax credits.

Reach out to us if you need help deciding which option is best for your small business. We are excited by how many small NJ business owners we have been able to help stay afloat thus far!