A cashless business is one that processes all cash transactions electronically. There is no paper or coin money taken or handled. While no one society has become 100 percent cashless yet, most organizations are moving in that direction.

A business can become cash-free by providing multiple electronic alternatives to payment.  Credit cards are the most common electronic payment implementation. This option most likely includes MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express.  Some businesses also have a PayPal account and offer that method for payments. Venmo, owned by PayPal, is an efficient mobile alternative, but it is mostly used for consumer-to-consumer transactions. And there is also cryptocurrency.

Cashless businesses are more efficient, help to reduce crime, and have a better audit trail of transactions. Going cash-free also saves money and time spent counting the money, storing the money, safeguarding the money, protecting employees at risk of becoming theft victims, and physically going to the bank.

On the negative side, credit card companies charge fees to merchants, although these can now be passed to the customer in most states. Electronic transactions also require a higher level of technology, and privacy is reduced. And while security is an issue, all merchants that take credit cards must comply with PCI (Payment Card Industry) security standards and sign a document each year stating so.

If your clientele does not keep their money in a bank or if they are not able (or have chosen not) to have a credit card, you may need to rethink going cashless. About 20 percent of U.S. households are challenged when it comes to having access to checking and savings accounts. This has led to several state and local laws being passed in the U.S. prohibiting a business from going cashless. Nothing has been passed at the national level as of this writing, however the Payment Choice Act was introduced in both chambers in mid-2020.

The pandemic has accelerated the move to cashless with the desire for contactless transactions. Several countries are leading the way to becoming cash-free as an entire country, including Sweden, Finland, Norway, China, and South Korea. Sweden’s government has been the most aggressive, claiming they will become a 100 percent cashless society by 2023.

Is going cashless right for you? Meeting your customers’ needs is a prime consideration. At the very least, you can move to increase the percentage of electronic transactions and decrease the percentage of cash transactions when feasible.  This measure will save time and money in and of itself.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA 2021) became law on December 27, 2020, and among many other things, provided for a second round of potentially forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses that were financially impacted by the effects of the pandemic.

The Act not only provides funds and guidelines for a round two of PPP money; it also expands PPP round one in a number of ways.  Here are a few of the highlights.

Changes to PPP Round 1 Loans

Existing borrowers with PPP loans can reapply for a loan or request a loan increase as long as they have not received forgiveness. This includes borrowers that returned all or part of their PPP loan or whose loan maximum has increased due to regulations implemented after receipt of their loan.

Businesses that have not been granted forgiveness can spend PPP money and apply for forgiveness on an expanded list of expenses, including:

  • Software, cloud computing, HR, and accounting
  • Property damage
  • Supplier costs
  • Essential contracts in force prior to loan
  • Worker protections, e.g. PPE
  • Payroll costs can include group insurance including group life, disability, vision, dental

They can now choose their covered period at any time between 8 and 24 weeks (previously it was 8 OR 24 weeks only).

There will be a simplified forgiveness application for loans under $150,000.  However, do note that this is not the rumored rubber stamp: the backup paperwork and calculations are still required.

The SBA has until January 21, 2021 to establish the guidelines for the application process.

PPP Second Draw Loans

Additional PPP monies will be available to qualifying businesses, up to loan amounts of $2 million. The business must:

  • Employ 300 or fewer employees
  • Have used or plan to use the full amount of PPP1
  • Can prove a 25 percent drop in revenue in any quarter of 2020 compared to 2019

Businesses, certain non-profit organizations, housing cooperatives, veterans’ organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small agricultural co-operatives are eligible.

In round two, borrowers may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5X the average monthly payroll costs in the one year prior to the loan or the calendar year. Businesses with NAICS code 72 (Accommodation and Food Services) may receive loans of up to 3.5X average monthly payroll costs. The rules for forgiveness are the same as in round one.

Organizations not eligible for PPP2 include:

  • Businesses not in operation on Feb 15, 2020
  • Businesses that received a Shuttered Venue Operator Grant
  • Entities normally ineligible for SBA loans in general, except for nonprofits and religious organizations
  • Political organizations and lobbyists
  • Entities affiliated with entities in the People’s Republic of China
  • Registrants under the Foreign Agents Registration Act
  • Publicly traded companies

The entire program is extended to March 31, 2021.

There are also special provisions for these types of businesses:

  • Venues
  • Farmers and Ranchers
  • Housing Cooperatives
  • News Organizations
  • 501(c)(6) and Destination Marketing Organizations
  • Businesses in bankruptcy proceedings

The disclosures have also gotten stronger, with specific provisions for collection of demographic information and required disclosures for leaders in government to publicize their receipt of PPP forgiveness as well as prohibition of them receiving PPP loans in the future.

The law gives SBA a deadline to act, which varies from 10-24 days depending on the section. The next course of action for businesses that want to apply for these funds is:

  • Continue gathering your documents,
  • Make your calculations,
  • Check with your accountant if you need help,
  • Select your SBA-approved bank, and
  • Wait for both
    • The SBA guidance and
    • Your bank to open the application portal

The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act starts on page 2042 of the 5593-page bill in case you want to see for yourself. And if not, know we’re here as your tax law interpreter, so feel free to reach out anytime.

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which included measures for both COVID-19 relief and sweeping funding provisions for the government through September 2021. While there are many sections of this law to explore, this article will focus on the stimulus checks.

Qualifying individuals will receive these economic impact payments, and the Washington Post reports that more than 85 percent of US households will receive a check. To qualify:

  • For individuals making up to $75,000 per year, or if a couple, making up to $150,000 per year, the check will be $600.
  • For individuals making between $75,000 and $86,900 (couples: $150,000 to $173,900), the check will be between $595 and $5. In this phaseout, the amount of the check decreases by $5 for every $100 of income above $75,000/$150,000, phasing out completely at $87,000/$174,000.
  • The amount sent will be based on the amount you earned (adjusted gross income, to be exact) on your 2019 tax return.
  • Includes children. The definition for child will be the same as the one used to calculate the child tax credit.
  • Excludes dependent adults over 17 at the end of the tax year.
  • Excludes persons who died on or before January 1, 2020.
  • Includes individuals who file jointly with an ITIN, but excludes the person with the ITIN.
  • Includes 2019 non-filers who receive benefits from Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement Board, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Here are some examples: A family of four – mom, dad, and two children under 17 – that earns a total of $100,000 per year will receive $2,400. A single man earning $80,000 per year that lives with his disabled father will get $350 (80,000 – 75,000 = 5,000 / 100 = 50 * $5 = $250. $600 – $250 = $350). A woman with 2 small children earning $87,000 will not get anything.

Taxpayers do not have to do anything to receive their stimulus checks. Many taxpayers will receive their stimulus checks via direct deposit, if that information was included on your 2019 return. If the IRS does not have your bank account information, you will likely get a check or a pre-paid debit card. If you’ve moved, you can update your address by completing an IRS change-of-address form (allow six weeks).

The checks are supposed to start hitting bank accounts early in January. You do not have to pay tax on this income.

If you never got the first stimulus check, you can claim it on your 2020 tax return. Details are here on the IRS site. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/recovery-rebate-credit

One of the biggest tax issues of 2020 has been clarified with the signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, (CAA 2021), and that was whether expenses that are normally deductible and that were paid with the proceeds of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan that is forgiven are truly deductible.

The CARES Act, which became law on March 27, 2020, was drafted so quickly that the question of deductibility was left out, but several members of Congress made it clear that deductibility was the intent all along. The IRS went the other way, publishing a notice (2020-32), a revenue ruling (2020-27), and a revenue procedure (2020-51), that took the opposite stance: PPP-related expenses that were forgiven were not deductible, therefore potentially causing business’s taxes to become much higher.

Congress has now reversed the IRS’s position with CAA 2021 in Section 276 (PPP) and 278 (EIDL). Gross income does not include forgiveness of PPP loans and emergency EIDL grants. Deductions are allowed for normally deductible expenses paid with PPP loan proceeds that were forgiven. It also provides deductibility for Second Draw PPP loans. This is all good news for taxpayers with PPP loans.

However, there could be timing issues that could reduce the deductibility of the full amount of the PPP expenses. There could also be amounts “at risk,” which is a tax term that limits your deductions in certain cases.

All of these issues need to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. Your tax professional is your best source to help you review all of these factors so that both your PPP loan forgiveness and allowable deductions are timed to reduce your tax bill.