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How to Calculate PPP Loan Forgiveness for Owners

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Owner compensation replacement calculations

While the employee compensation limit for the 24-week period is three times the eight-week limit, the interim final rule does not do the same with the owner compensation replacement for businesses that file Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business, or Schedule F, Profit or Loss From Farming, tax returns. For those businesses, forgiveness for the owner compensation replacement is calculated for the eight-week period as 8 ÷ 52 × 2019 net profit, up to a maximum of $15,385. For the 24-week period, the forgiveness calculation is limited to 2.5 months’ worth (2.5 ÷ 12) of 2019 net profit, up to $20,833.

The owner compensation replacement calculations are structured to prevent owners from reaping PPP windfalls that Congress did not intend, according to the interim final rule. Specifically, the SBA and Treasury, which oversee the PPP, want to prevent the following scenario, which is made possible by a provision in the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act that provides a safe harbor from loan forgiveness reductions to any borrower that is unable to return to the same level of business activity it was operating at before Feb. 15, 2020.

Because the maximum loan amount for a business is generally based on 2.5 months of the borrower’s average total monthly payroll costs during the one-year period preceding the loan, a borrower with one other employee would receive a maximum loan amount equal to five months of payroll (2.5 months of payroll for the owner plus 2.5 months of payroll for the employee). If the owner laid off the employee and availed itself of the aforementioned safe harbor, the owner could treat the entire amount of the PPP loan as payroll, with the entire loan forgiven.

“This would not only result in a windfall for the owner, by providing the owner with five months of payroll instead of 2.5 months, but also defeat the purpose of the CARES Act of protecting the paycheck of the employee,” the interim final rule says. “For borrowers with no employees, this limitation will have no effect, because the maximum loan amount for such borrowers already includes only 2.5 months of their payroll.”


By Jeff Drew

June 17, 2020

Journal of Accountancy

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