By Gerri Detweiler
Covid relief loans, such as the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans, have provided millions of businesses with critical funding. But with hundreds of pages of ever-evolving guidance about these loans and grants, it’s no surprise that many business owners find themselves confused and unsure where to turn for help with their PPP and EIDL questions.
At Nav, we’ve written extensively about both the Paycheck Protection Program and EIDL, and as a result, we’ve responded to hundreds of questions about these programs. Some of these questions are easy to answer, for example:
“Can I get a PPP loan if I am an independent contractor?”
Answer: Yes, based on income reported on your Schedule C tax form.
“How can I apply for the Targeted EIDL grant?”
Answer: You must wait for the SBA to email you to apply. You will only get an invitation if you applied for an EIDL grant in 2020.
Others can be more complicated, such as this one we recently received on our blog:
“I am a 100% owner of an S Corporation and I take a paycheck. I am trying to apply for the 2nd PPP loan, but the bank is asking for Q1 2020 Form 941 to show number of employees and to see if I was in business. I was in business for all of 2020, but did not take a paycheck for Q1 2020, so I reported a zero on Form 941. Since there was no payroll for January-March 2020, but I am using my 2019 numbers to apply, will this zero return disqualify me for the 2nd PPP round? My gross sales were down the required 25%.”
(Note: We don’t have all the answers. For that question, we encouraged our reader to explore some of the options below.) If you’re looking for answers to your EIDL and PPP questions, here are five places to get help: Click To Tweet
1. Your Lender
If you have submitted your PPP loan application, specific questions about your application should be directed to your lender. Of course, most lenders are dealing with massive loan volume and some are more responsive to borrower questions than others.
Try to be patient and respond to requests for more information—even if it seems redundant. (They are dealing with changing guidelines, too.) Your lender will ultimately be responsible for shepherding your application through the process.
If you applied for an EIDL or the Targeted EIDL Advance, questions should be directed to the Small Business Administration (SBA) since they makes these loans and grants.
- Call the SBA at 800-659-2955.
- Email questions about EIDL: email@example.com; email questions about the Targeted EIDL Advance: TargetedAdvance@sba.gov.
2. Your Local SBA Office
The SBA has offices across the country, and many have been holding events to answer small business owner questions about Covid loans and other relief programs. These offices can be a helpful source of information and assistance if you have PPP and EIDL questions. Find your local SBA office here.
3. SBA Resource Partners
Taxpayer dollars help fund valuable programs that may be useful as you try to navigate the economic crisis. SBA resource partners include:
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
- SCORE (volunteer mentors)
- Women’s Business Centers (WBCs)
- Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs)
Individuals involved with these organizations have worked tirelessly over the past year to help small business owners take advantage of federal relief programs. As an added bonus, they may be able to direct you to state or local grants and assistance programs. Find your local SBA resource partners here.
4. Your accounting professional
There are several reasons why accounting professionals can be crucial to helping you get a Covid-relief loan or grant:
- To apply for a PPP loan or EIDL, you should have completed your tax returns.
- Your application may require calculations (such as reductions in revenues) that you may not be comfortable calculating yourself.
- PPP forgiveness applications can be incredibly challenging, even for the most detail-oriented entrepreneur. Your bookkeeper or accountant may be able to help, or refer you to someone who can. (Accounting professionals may have access to forgiveness calculation software programs.)
Understand that this year is already crazy busy for bookkeepers and accountants, so try to be understanding and patient with your requests for help. Getting your financial information organized will allow them to help you more effectively, so make sure you’ve done your part!
5. Other business owners
Shortly after the CARES Act passed in March 2020, Nav created a Facebook group for business owners to ask questions and share experiences with EIDL and PPP. It exploded. Business Loan & Financing Insight Hub – PPP, EIDL and More on Facebook now has nearly 20,000 members, many of whom share their experiences with these programs.
Of course, you want to be very careful about taking advice from a Facebook post, but one thing many business owners have found helpful about that community is hearing from others about their progress getting funding through these stimulus programs.
About the Author: Gerri Detweiler is Education Director for Nav. Known as a financing and credit expert, she has been interviewed in more than 4,000 news stories and answered over 10,000 credit questions online. Her articles have been widely syndicated on sites such as MSN, Forbes, and MarketWatch. She is the author or coauthor of five books, including Finance Your Own Business: Get on the Financing Fast Track. She has testified before Congress on consumer credit legislation.
This article originally appeared on Nav.com.