Amid all of the doom and gloom related to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, on December 21, Congress provided a ray of hope with a $900 billion stimulus package — just in time for the holidays. While there are provisions in the bill for individuals, healthcare workers and small businesses, there are some particular perks for freelancers — especially if you participated in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from the last two rounds of pandemic-related stimulus funding.
This bill is not yet final, meaning there could still be some changes, but here are the provisions of the current relief package that may impact your freelance taxes:
· There is more than $284 billion allocated for forgivable PPP loans. As it stands now, even if you did get PPP funding before and you have eligible expenses, you may have another chance to get this funding.
The second round of PPP loans is reportedly limited to businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have experienced at least a 25% decrease in revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020. It also reduces the amount a borrower can receive from $10 million to $2 million. While there are not concrete details yet, this new bill would also give businesses more flexibility on how they spend PPP funds and further simplify the forgiveness process for loans under $150,000.
The bill also earmarks $12 billion for minority-owned businesses and expands eligibility to more nonprofits under the PPP loan program.
There is likely to be additional information and details coming out over the next several days and weeks about how this and previous rounds of PPP loans will be treated from a tax perspective.
· There is very good news for freelancers who have PPP loans. The most recent guidance related to this new funding states that the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness amount will not be considered taxable income at the federal level. This could be a significant tax saving for your business. However, there is not any change in the guidance for state and local tax treatment of PPP funds. Therefore, be sure to check with your own state and local tax authorities for additional information.
· If you work in the live theater, art or other cultural industry the $15 billion grants included in the bill provides funding for live venues, theaters and museum operators that have lost at least 25% of their year-over-year revenues. The tentative details are that an initial grant can total up to $10 million per eligible business. A second grant, worth half the amount of the first, may also be available. This money must be used for payroll costs, rent, utilities and personal protective equipment.
· There is an allocation for $300 per week (for a period of 11 weeks) for enhanced unemployment insurance benefits—and self-employed individuals remain eligible to collect unemployment—with the knowledge that these funds are considered taxable income.
· In addition to the above freelancer-friendly tax provisions, the new stimulus bill may also provide some funds to you as an individual ($600 per qualifying adult and $600 per qualifying child) if your income if less than $75,000 per year as a single taxpayer or $150,000 as a married couple filing jointly.
Watch for additional updates on this relief bill as more details and IRS guidance becomes available.
Jonathan Medows is a New York City-based CPA who specializes in taxes and business issues for freelancers and self-employed individuals across the country. He provides tax, accounting and business articles for freelancers on his website, http://www.cpaforfreelancers.com, which also features a blog and a comprehensive freelance tax guide. Please note, due to the high volume of inquiries in regard to COVID-19, Jonathan is not able to respond to individual requests for information at this time.