COVID-19: Expenses Paid with PPP Loans Are Not Tax-Deductible

Late on April 30, 2020 the IRS provided rather unwelcome guidance to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan borrowers and potential borrowers. IRS Notice 2020-32 provides that no deduction will be allowed for otherwise deductible expenses (e.g., wages, health insurance, rent, utilities) that are paid with PPP loans that are ultimately forgiven. 

Typically, if a loan is forgiven, the borrower benefiting from that forgiveness recognizes income equal to the forgiven amount. The CARES Act specifically provides that forgiven PPP loans will not result in taxable income to the borrower.

Since the Paycheck Protection Program was created, however, practitioners have debated whether loan recipients may deduct expenses paid via those forgiven loans. On one side of the debate were those who argued, correctly, that traditional tax principles would deny those deductions, specifically Section 265 of the Internal Revenue Code. The other side of the debate reasoned that the PPP is a remarkably untraditional program for an unprecedented situation; if Congress wanted to give with one hand (SBA) and take with the other (IRS) it would have said so. To the vast majority of borrowers, the economic impact of denying deductions may be largely the same as the economic impact of treating the forgiven loan as taxable.

For now, the IRS is on the side of the traditionalists. 

For questions regarding PPP loans and the related tax issues, and for the most up-to-date information on this evolving situation, please contact, Rob RavenelleKris Eimicke, or Chris Howard.

Recent Updates and Directory of COVID-19 Attorneys & Resources

Click here for a complete list of updates and a directory of Pierce Atwood COVID-19 attorneys who are knowledgeable on the various questions and challenges you may be confronting.

We will continue to add information about specific topics so check back when you can.

Please contact your principal attorney at Pierce Atwood or one of the attorneys in the directory for immediate assistance.