Beginning on Wednesday, companies with no more than 20 employees will be the only ones that are legally allowed to apply for the PPP loans. This exclusive access will, however, last for only two weeks. This was done to enable small businesses that have been kept off the PPP loan process during the peak of the pandemic access funds. Since the program launched in 2020, more than 5 million small businesses have benefited from these loans. Companies with less than 20 employees make up 98 percent of small businesses.
According to Biden, small businesses are the drivers of the US economy. They are the soul of the community, which many people depend on for survival. However, with the pandemic now on sight, they are now being crushed. According to statistics, more than 400,000 small businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Apart from the 2-week window that has been added in the second round of loan applications, other rules allow a larger number of business owners to access PPP loans.
The loan calculation formula is also under review. This will give a better chance to the independent contractors, self-employed persons, and sole proprietors in access to the loans. Unlike the current formula, which eliminates home repair contractors, small independent retailers, and beauticians, the new program seeks to eliminate provisions that bar small business owners under the above categories and others from participating in the loan application process. The new provisions also remove the restrictions that deny PPP loans to business owners if they are convicted felons, are delinquent, or default on their student loans in the past seven years. Furthermore, the loan can be forgiven if a small business spends more than 60% of the money on payroll expenses.
Another crucial change is the access to loans by non-US citizen small business owners. Unlike the past regulations that strictly allowed access to loans only by documented US citizens, the amendments now give small business owners who are not US citizens but documented, access loans. With their individual taxpayer ID, any small business owner residing in the US can now apply for the loans. Backers of these new regulations believe that the amendment is long overdue because it will be of significant benefit to small businesses in the US, regardless of whether the owner is a citizen or not. According to Biden, the new regulations are just the beginning but not the end. Currently, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package has been passed by Congress.
While it appears as a good gesture, the timing of the new changes will confuse small business owners, more so concerning pending applications. First, the loan, although helpful, might not be enough for businesses that have lost a lot due to the pandemic. No matter the challenges, experts see this as a great chance to fund small businesses that have had difficulty accessing loans, including those owned by women and minorities. Professionals see the new changes as a move by Biden-Harris’ administration to make things right. The program will end in March.