WASHINGTON (BP)—President Donald Trump signed legislation June 5 to make it easier for businesses or churches struggling during the coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of a payroll subsidy program that has been a critical part of Washington’s response to the economic crisis.
The legislation gives employers more flexibility to use taxpayer subsidies for other costs and extends the lifespan of the Payroll Protection Program as the economy slowly begins to recover. It passed the House on a 417-1 vote and was approved by the Senate on June 3.
It increases the loan forgiveness period from eight to 24 weeks, reduces the payroll requirement from 75 percent to 60 percent, raises the loan repayment period from two to five years and extends the June 30 rehiring deadline.
The remaining 40 percent can be used for mortgage payments, rents and utilities. It also adds some limited flexibility on the number of employees that must be maintained. After the forgiveness is applied, if there is still a loan to be repaid, the minimum maturity for the loan is now five years.
It’s good news for the many churches that applied for the loan, said Kentucky Baptist Convention Church Financial Benefits Consultant Don Spencer.
“I’ve talked to a number of church leaders with questions that focus on whether they will be able to meet the requirements to have the loan forgiven,” Spencer said. “This amendment will dramatically increase their ability to meet those requirements and therefore, what began as a loan, will become a grant.”
With the extension from eight weeks to 24 weeks for the qualified use of the funds, it likely will enable most of the churches using the loan to qualify the full amount of the loan for forgiveness, Spencer said.
Congress has approved $660 billion for the program in two installments.