By Mark W. Banks, CPA, MAFF
In March when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf order all non-life-sustaining businesses in the state to close their physical locations to slow the spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus), we knew it could be devastating to business clients, especially the auto dealerships which are a niche practice for Boyer & Ritter.
After most businesses in the country closed their doors to combat the virus, the U.S. government responded with roughly $2 trillion in aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act designed to keep companies and individuals financially afloat.
Businesses frantically began applying for relief through the act’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans. Dan Thompson and Jay Goldman, co-leaders of our dealership practice, realized auto dealers needed something concrete to help them both obtain a PPP loan and effectively use and track the money to maximize the program’s forgiveness provisions.
Working collaboratively with Albin, Randall, & Bennett (ARB), a public accounting, tax, and advisory firm in New England, we created a tool we knew would be beneficial, not just dealers, but also for any qualifying business across the country.
Our PPP Loan Forgiveness Workbook is a free resource that has been downloaded from the Boyer & Ritter and ARB websites more than 10,000 times as of this writing.
Businesses in various sectors are using the workbook to better plan for the use of PPP loans. The tool is useful for projecting when to bring furloughed workers back to work, at what rate of pay, and the impact of decisions on loan forgiveness.
Since we released the workbook in early April, we have heard from businesses and CPAs from around the country. We have since added a workbook instructional video and a sample workbook to download for reference purposes. Boyer & Ritter and ARB decided from the outset that we wanted to keep this aid available for free to help the broadest audience possible.
Our firm also rolled out a “COVID-19 Task Force,” a team of CPAs poised to respond to fundamental questions about the workbook and related issues. The task force immediately immersed themselves in the thousand pages of legislation and interpreted updates to the technical guidance. The team responds to questions from businesses and CPAs across the country.
Some of the most frequent questions the task force receives are in the use and understanding of forgiveness of PPP loans. Many businesses acted quickly to apply for the PPP loan and now find themselves with a check, but also plenty of questions about how to use it, how to have it forgiven, and what to do next.
Because the rules and regulations surrounding the federal assistance programs are evolving, the workbook is updated as new information is released. Users are advised to use the workbook for planning purposes only, not for precision.
This experience has taught Boyer & Ritter valuable lessons about confronting situations where time is of the essence:
- Collaboration with other firms can be hugely successful and helps in anticipating and responding to your own clients’ needs.
- In a developing situation, it is OK not to know everything. Just be clear on what you do know and the questions as yet unanswered.
- While aesthetics is important, it cannot get in the way of distributing the most complete and accurate information.
During these difficult days, Boyer & Ritter – in fact, all CPAs – should have pride in our ability to help the business community navigate tough times and come out stronger on the other side.
Mark W. Banks, CPA, MAFF, is a member of Boyer & Ritter LLC’s forensic, litigation, and consulting group, as well as a member of the firm’s COVID-19 task force. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More COVID-19 updates can be found on PICPA's Coronavirus Resources and Updates page. Also, sign up for weekly professional and technical updates in PICPA's blogs, podcasts, and discussion board topics by completing this form.