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On March 12, the Small Business Administration (SBA) extended the deferment period for all disaster loans, including the Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022. Specifically, the first payment due date for SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020 is extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note. SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021 will have their first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note. SBA notes that existing SBA disaster loans approved before 2020 that were in regular servicing status of March 1, 2020 (and that previously had received an extended initial deferment period through March 31), will automatically be granted an additional 12-month deferment of principal and interest payments. SBA stresses, however, that interest will continue to accrue on outstanding loan balances through the duration of the deferment.
On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act), which will, among other things, extend certain emergency authorities and temporary regulatory relief contained in the CARES Act to address the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under a section titled, “Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship,” the Act will provide an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), extend the eligibility of certain nonprofit entities for covered loans under the PPP, and amend certain aspects of the program allowing for certain businesses to take second loans. However, the Act does not actually extend the PPP, which is currently set to expire on March 31 (covered by InfoBytes here). The Act also allocates nearly $10 billion through the Homeowner Assistance Fund to allow eligible entities to provide direct assistance for mortgage payments, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs to help prevent delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures. Moreover, a provision related to fair housing activities provides $20 million “to ensure fair housing organizations have additional resources to address fair housing inquiries, complaints, investigations, and education and outreach activities, and costs of delivering or adapting services, during or relating to the coronavirus pandemic.” Additionally, the Act provides $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments, including $5 billion for supplemental targeted EIDL advance payments for the hardest hit.
In addition to providing Covid-19 relief, the Act also includes, among other things, a section that modifies the treatment of student loan forgiveness. Specifically, Section 9675 will exclude from gross income any amount of student loan debt that is modified or discharged (in whole or in part) after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2026. The tax exemption will include federal, private, and institutional loans. According to a press release issued by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the provision is intended to “ensur[e] borrowers whose debt is fully or partially forgiven are not saddled with thousands of dollars in surprise taxes.”
On March 8, the OCC, Federal Reserve Board, and the FDIC released updated Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) FAQs related to Covid-19. The FAQs, first issued last May (covered by InfoBytes here), provide guidance for financial institutions and examiners regarding CRA consideration for activities taken in response to the pandemic. Highlights of the five new FAQs include:
- Banks cannot receive CRA service test consideration for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)-related activities; however, the agencies recognize that because the PPP loan program responds to community credit needs, PPP activities will be considered under the CRA lending test when evaluating flexible or innovative lending programs offered by a bank.
- Banks should not report PPP loans that have been rescinded or returned under the SBA’s safe harbor on their CRA loan register. Moreover, examiners will not consider these loans in their CRA evaluations of banks during the applicable time period.
- PPP loans over $1 million in low- or moderate-income geographies or in distressed or underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geographies “will be considered an eligible community development activity.”
- As noted in a joint statement released by the agencies last year (covered by InfoBytes here), favorable CRA consideration will be given to banks providing retail banking services and retail lending activities that respond to the needs of affected low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals, small businesses, and small farms consistent with safe and sound banking practices. These activities may include waiving ATM fees, overdraft fees, and early withdrawal penalties on certificates of deposit (CDs), or allowing LMI consumers to make draws from a HELOC during the repayment period. The agencies note that allowing LMI consumers “to make a withdrawal from an IRA as allowed under the CARES Act, or to draw on a HELOC during the draw period are routine banking services and, as such, are not eligible for CRA consideration.”
- The agencies will consider community development services provided virtually by bank representatives on an individual level based on the event and the benefitted assessment area.
On March 4, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule (IFR) to implement recent changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) calculation for IRS Form 1040, Schedule C filers. Self-employed individuals who file Schedule C will now be able to calculate their maximum loan amount using gross income. This calculation change only applies to loans approved after March 4, 2021, and borrowers that have already had their loans approved cannot increase their PPP loan amount based on the new maximum loan formula. SBA also notes that a previously provided safe harbor presumption of making “the statutorily required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith” will not apply to Schedule C filers that elect to calculate their First Draw PPP loan using gross income if they report more than $150,000 in gross income. These borrowers will be subject to additional SBA review as they will most likely have additional sources of liquidity to support business operations. The IFR further removes eligibility restrictions that prohibit businesses owned at least 20 percent by individuals (i) who have a non-financial fraud felony conviction in the last year, or (ii) who are delinquent or in default on their federal student loans. These changes apply to both First Draw and Second Draw PPP loans.
To assist borrowers, SBA released the following revised forms: First Draw application form and Schedule C gross income form, Second Draw application form and Schedule C gross income form, and lender applications for First Draw and Second Draw loans. The IFR takes effect March 4.
On March 1, the CFPB released a report, Housing Insecurity and the COVID-19 Pandemic, analyzing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the housing market, particularly with respect to low-income and minority households. According to the Bureau, as of December 2020, more than 11 million households were overdue on their rent or mortgage payments, placing them at heightened risk of losing their homes to foreclosure or eviction as Covid-19 relief programs expire in the upcoming months. Of these households, the Bureau noted that Black and Hispanic households bear a disproportionate financial burden and “were more than twice as likely to report being behind on housing payments than white families.” Additional statistics include: (i) 2.1 million households are more than 90 days behind on their payments; (ii) roughly 263,000 families noted as being “seriously behind” on their mortgages (and not enrolled in forbearance plans) will have limited options to avoid foreclosure once relief programs end; (iii) an estimated 8.8 million tenant households are behind on their rent, with 9 percent of renters reporting that they are likely to be evicted in the next two months; and (iv) of the 2.7 million borrowers noted as being in active forbearance as of January 2021, more than 900,000 of these borrowers will have been in forbearance for more than a year as of April 2021. The Bureau noted most borrowers that have exited forbearance after six or fewer months “have been able to resume payments without any issue.” However, borrowers who have been in forbearance longer are more likely to have difficulties resuming payments.
In a blog post released the same day, acting Director Dave Uejio acknowledged that mortgage servicers and landlords have been working to help keep borrowers and renters in their homes, noting that “[m]ost mortgage servicers are working hard to engage with the record number of homeowners in forbearance and the many other homeowners struggling to make payments.”
On February 24, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory alerting financial institutions to potential fraud and other financial crimes targeting Covid-19 economic impact payments (EIP). The advisory is based on FinCEN’s analysis of Covid-19 related information obtained from Bank Secrecy Act data, public reporting, and law enforcement partners, and outlines potential methods of EIP fraud, associated red flags, and information for reporting suspicious activity related to such fraud. According to FinCEN, U.S. authorities have detected a wide range of EIP-related fraud, including (i) fraudulent, altered, or counterfeit checks; (ii) theft of EIPs; (iii) phishing schemes using EIPs as a lure, in which emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages are used by fraudsters in order to obtain personal information such as account numbers and passwords; and (iv) private companies with control over a person’s finances that seize a person’s EIP for wage garnishment or debt collection and do not return the inappropriately-seized payment.
FinCEN also issued a notice for filing suspicious activity reports (SAR) related to Covid-19. The notice consolidates filing instructions and key terms for fraudulent activities, crimes, and cyber/ransomware attacks related to the pandemic. FinCEN reminded financial institutions to consult previously issued advisories and notices to access additional SAR filing instructions and other Covid-19-related advisories and alerts (available here).
On February 10, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an updated procedural notice providing instructions for lenders addressing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan error codes. The notice, which revises guidance provided in a previously issued procedural notice (covered by InfoBytes here), addresses (i) Second Draw PPP loan guaranty applications where there is a hold code on the borrower’s First Draw PPP loan, as well as (ii) First Draw PPP loan guaranty applications and Second Draw PPP loan guaranty applications with compliance check error messages. SBA provides lenders with several methods for resolving hold codes and compliance check error messages, including resolution through lender certification or resolution through SBA review. The notice also addresses how SBA handles duplicate loans, loans with multiple DUNS numbers, and other hold codes that cannot be resolved by these processes. The same day, SBA also announced plans to take additional steps to improve the PPP, including (i) enabling “lenders to directly certify eligibility of borrowers for First Draw and Second Draw PPP loan applications with validation errors to ensure businesses who need funds and are eligible receive them as quickly as possible”; (ii) allowing “lenders to upload supporting documentation of borrowers with validation errors during the forgiveness process”; and (iii) creating “additional communication channels with lenders to assure [SBA is] constantly improving equity, speed, and integrity of the program, including an immediate national lender call to brief them on the Platform’s added capabilities.”
On February 10, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation released a set of “Compliance Tips” reminding lenders and their servicers that they may be required to report certain delinquent loans as “current” pursuant to the CARES Act. The guidance reminds lenders and loan servicers that under the federal CARES Act, those consumers who were not delinquent as of April 1, 2020 and who subsequently received an accommodation and are complying with the accommodation agreement should be reported as “current.” The tips also urged lenders to be proactive with borrowers to resolve credit reporting errors. Lastly, the tips advised lenders to seek out how reporting errors may have been made, and implement additional internal controls to ensure similar errors do not reoccur.
On February 9, the Federal Reserve Board announced the second extension of a temporary exception from the requirements of section 22(h) of the Federal Reserve Act and corresponding provisions of Regulation O to allow bank directors and shareholders to apply for Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from their affiliated banks. The extension is effective immediately and goes through March 31. The Fed reiterated that any PPP loans extended to bank directors and shareholders must be consistent with SBA’s PPP lending restrictions and done without favoritism from the bank. The original extension was announced on April 17 and already extended once (covered by InfoBytes here).
On January 29, the Small Business Administration (SBA) updated its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) frequently asked questions to further address borrower and lender questions. Among other things, the updated FAQs clarify that FinCEN’s April 2020 PPP FAQs are applicable to Second Draw PPP loans. In addition, for purposes of Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/anti-money laundering compliance, SBA states that PPP lenders can rely on the same information received from a borrower during a First Draw loan application for a Second Draw PPP loan provided the borrower is an existing customer. Accordingly, FinCEN, as administrator of the BSA, published updates to its FAQs to include SBA’s newest clarifications. Additionally, SBA notes that FAQs 1-53 are currently being revised and do not reflect changes made by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act enacted on December 27, 2020 (covered by InfoBytes here).
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss “Hot topics outside of CA” at the California Mortgage Bankers Association Conference
- Jon David D. Langlois to discuss “LIBOR Transition: How will the pieces come together in time?” at the American Bar Association In the Know-Live webinar
- Buckley Webcast: Dissecting the annual federal agency fair lending summit
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Regulators always ring twice: Responding to a government request” at ALM Legalweek