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Recently, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a procedural notice informing lenders that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) platform will begin processing new Second Draw PPP loan guarantee applications for borrowers who still have unresolved issues related to their First Draw loans. Second Draw submissions for unresolved borrowers will automatically be moved to a “research status,” providing opportunities for lenders to submit necessary documentation to support the resolution of outstanding First Draw issues. Information concerning the unresolved issues and resolution assistance will also be provided by SBA. Once outstanding First Draw issues are resolved, Second Draw loan applications will automatically be submitted into the next processing stage and will not require re-entry by the lender. However, if an outstanding First Draw issue cannot be resolved, lenders should withdraw a borrower’s Second Draw application from the platform. SBA notes that if a Second Draw application submitted before January 27 was rejected due to an unresolved First Draw issue, the lender should resubmit the application. SBA also issued several other procedural notices related to provisions under the Economic Aid Act (covered by InfoBytes here) that address, among other things, modifications to SBA’s 7(a) loan program, the elimination of certain 504 loan program fees, and a notice to lenders that SBA has informed eligible borrowers of available Section 1112 CARES Act assistance.
On January 28, the Small Business Association (SBA) issued an information notice providing an update on the tax treatment of payments related to certain 7(a) loans, 504 loans, and microloans under Section 1112 of the CARES Act. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in December 2020, the SBA released a guidance document covering the issuances of 1099-MISC forms for 7(a) loans, 504 loans, and microloans. However, due to Section 278(c) of the Covid-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, the SBA now states that lenders “are no longer required to file Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, with the IRS or furnish this form to the small businesses on whose behalf the SBA made Section 1112 payments.” Moreover, the SBA issued procedural notices covering the use of electronic signatures for 7(a) loans and 504 loans and microloans through April 30. Additionally, the SBA issued an extension on the temporary procedures for microloan closings through April 30.
On January 26, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it is “taking steps to improve the First Draw Paycheck Protection Program [PPP] loan review” in order to give small businesses more time to access PPP funds. SBA acknowledged that it identified “anomalies” in approximately 4.7 percent of lender-submitted data for the first round of PPP loans, primarily data mismatches and eligibility issues. SBA is encouraging lenders and borrowers to work together to resolve the issues so that affected borrowers can access a second round of loans, and the SBA has stated its commitment to “automatically move favorable decisions to approval.” Moreover, the SBA is addressing issues with the Second Draw PPP loan applications by (i) briefing lenders on a national call with respect to the first draw loan review and the potential impacts on second draw application approvals; (ii) training the SBA’s lender relations specialists to support lenders and borrowers with issues; and (iii) providing additional guidance to PPP lenders on the review and resolution process.
On January 19, the CFPB released a special edition of Supervisory Highlights detailing the agency’s Covid-19 prioritized assessment (PA) observations. Since May 2020, the Bureau has conducted PAs in response to the pandemic in order to obtain real-time information from supervised entities operating in markets that pose an elevated risk of pandemic-related consumer harm. According to the Bureau, the PAs are not designed to identify federal consumer financial law violations, but are intended to spot and assess risks in order to prevent consumer harm. Targeted information requests were sent to entities seeking information on, among other things, ways entities are assisting and communicating with consumers, Covid-19-related institutional challenges, compliance management system changes made in response to the pandemic, and service provider data. Highlights of the Bureau’s findings include:
- Mortgage servicing. The CARES Act established certain forbearance protections for homeowners. The Bureau pointed out that many servicers faced significant challenges, including operational constraints, resource burdens, and service interruptions. Consumer risks were also present, with several servicers (i) providing incomplete or inaccurate information regarding CARES Act forbearances, failing to timely process forbearance requests, or enrolling borrowers in unwanted or automatic forbearances; (ii) sending collection and default notices, assessing late fees, and initiating foreclosures for borrowers in forbearance; (iii) inaccurately handling borrowers’ preauthorized electronic funds transfers; and (iv) failing to take appropriate loss mitigation steps.
- Auto loan servicing. The Bureau noted that many auto loan servicers provided insufficient information to borrowers about the impact of interest accrual during deferment periods, while other servicers continued to withdraw funds for monthly payments even after agreeing to deferments. Additionally, certain borrowers received repossession notices even though servicers had suspended repossession operations during this time.
- Student loan servicing. The CARES Act established protections for certain student loan borrowers, including reduced interest rates and suspended monthly payments for most federal loans owned by the Department of Education. Many private student loan holders also offered payment relief options. The Bureau noted however that servicers faced significant challenges in implementing these protections. For certain servicers, these challenges led to issues which raised the risk of consumer harm, including (i) provision of incorrect or incomplete payment relief options; (ii) failing to maintain regular call center hours; (iii) failing to respond to forbearance extension requests; and (iv) allowing certain payment allocation errors and preauthorized electronic funds transfers.
- Small business lending. The Bureau discussed the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), noting that when “implementing the PPP, multiple lenders adopted a policy that restricted access to PPP loans beyond the eligibility requirements of the CARES Act and rules and orders issued by the SBA.” The Bureau encouraged lenders to consider and address any fair lending risks associated with PPP lending.
The Supervisory Highlights also examined areas related to credit card accounts, consumer reporting and furnishing, debt collection, deposits, prepaid accounts, and small business lending.
On January 21, the CFPB issued its semi-annual report to Congress covering the Bureau’s work from April 1 to September 30, 2020. The report, which is required by Dodd-Frank, addresses, among other things, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumer credit, significant rules and orders adopted by the Bureau, consumer complaints, and various supervisory and enforcement actions taken by the Bureau. In her opening letter, former Director Kathy Kraninger discusses the Bureau’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including measures taken to educate consumers on how to navigate relief options offered through the CARES Act and related pandemic-relief laws, as well as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guidance provided to small businesses. Kraninger also notes that in 2020, “the Bureau filed the second-highest number of actions in the Bureau’s history, secured approximately $875 million dollars in customer relief and penalties, and opened investigations of banks and nonbanks in all of the Bureau’s markets.”
Among other topics, the report highlights two reports published by the Bureau on the effects of Covid-19: one focusing on credit applications and credit inquires (covered by InfoBytes here), and another focusing on consumer credit outcomes (covered by InfoBytes here). Results from the Bureau’s Making Ends Meet Survey (conducted prior to the pandemic) are also discussed, as are the Bureau’s efforts to understand financial challenges facing older adults. In addition to these areas of focus, the report notes the issuance of several significant notices of proposed rulemaking related to remittance transfers, debt collection practices, the transition from LIBOR, and qualified mortgage definitions under TILA. Multiple final rules were also issued concerning HMDA reporting thresholds (of which there were two final rules); remittance transfers; and payday, vehicle, title, and certain high-cost installment loans. Several other rules and initiatives undertaken during the reporting period are also discussed.
Recently President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021—a funding measure which extends certain emergency authorities and temporary regulatory relief contained in the CARES Act (covered by InfoBytes here)—that includes a provision under Title XIV Covid-19 Consumer Protection Act, which allows the FTC to seek civil penalties for first-time violations of the FTC Act related to Covid-19 scams and deceptive practices. Specifically, the provision targets conduct “associated with—(1) the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID-19; or (2) a government benefit related to COVID-19.” Such a violation would be “treated as a violation of a rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)),” with violators subject to civil penalties. This authority is granted to the FTC for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On January 19, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal re-opened to all participating lenders (covered by InfoBytes here). To assist lenders, the SBA released an interim final rule, consolidating prior rules related to PPP loan forgiveness and incorporating changes made by the Economic Aid Act. The interim final rule also addresses conflict of interest provisions and related disclosure requirements, and applies to PPP loans for which loan forgiveness payments have not been remitted by the SBA as of December 27, 2020. To assist lenders, the SBA also issued a set of frequently asked questions addressing how to calculate revenue reduction and maximum loan amounts for Second Draw PPP loans, as well as documents borrowers must provide to substantiate their calculations. The SBA reiterated that borrowers and lenders may rely on this guidance as the agency’s interpretation of the CARES Act, the Economic Aid Act and the PPP interim final rules (covered by InfoBytes here), emphasizing that the “government will not challenge lender PPP actions that conform to this guidance and to the PPP interim final rules and any subsequent rulemaking in effect at the time the action is taken.”
In preparation for the re-opening, the SBA also released guidance for lenders on calculating the maximum amount for First Draw PPP loans. The guidance outlines documentation requirements for different types of businesses, and advises lenders handling second-draw loans to make sure the loan number for a borrower’s first-draw PPP loan is included on the second-draw application. The SBA also released two procedural notices. The first notice informs PPP lenders of the process for borrower resubmission of loan forgiveness applications (see SBA Form 3508S, SBA Form 3508EZ, and PPP Loan Forgiveness Calculation Form, all revised January 19), as well as lender responsibilities for notifying borrowers of lender and SBA decisions to approve or deny forgiveness in full or in part. The notice also discusses the process for remitting any portion of the loan forgiveness amount by the SBA to the lender, along with offsets of remittances to lenders to cover a lender’s outstanding debts. The second notice addresses PPP excess loan amount errors, and clarifies that borrowers may not receive forgiveness for excess loan amounts, even if “the excess loan amount was caused by borrower error or lender error.”
On January 13, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal will open to all eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on January 15, with the portal fully opening on January 19 to all participating lenders. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act) provides an additional $284 billion for the PPP, extending the authority to make PPP loans through March 31, amending certain aspects of the program, and allowing for certain businesses to take second loans. The PPP portal initially reopened on January 11 to community financial institutions only in order to reach underserved and minority small businesses.
In conjuction with the announcement, SBA also issued Procedural Notice 5000-20076 related to First Draw PPP loan increases following the enactment of the Economic Aid Act.
On January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11, with only community financial institutions able to make “First Draw” PPP loans on Monday, January 11, and “Second Draw” PPP loans on Wednesday, January 13 (re-opening to all participating lenders “shortly thereafter”). The SBA also released two interim final rules and associated guidance relating to the relaunch of the PPP, as dictated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (HR133). The Act, which was signed by President Trump on December 27, extends certain emergency authorities and temporary regulatory relief contained in the CARES Act, including an extension of the eviction moratorium until January 31. Under a section titled, the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act), the legislation also provides an additional $284 billion for the PPP, extending the authority to make PPP loans through March 31, amending certain aspects of the program, and allowing for certain businesses to take second loans. The SBA notes that the new issuances satisfy the Economic Aid Act’s requirement that the agency promulgate rules to carry out the PPP provisions within 10 days of enactment:
- SBA Guidance. The guidance covers access to capital for minority, underserved, veteran, and women-owned business concerns and details the set-asides for loans issued by community development financial institutions, minority depository institutions, and certain small depository institutions. Most notably, the guidance states that the SBA will only accept PPP loan applications from community financial institutions for at least the first two days when the PPP loan portal re-opens.
- First Interim Final Rule. The interim final rule incorporates the Economic Aid Act’s amendments required to be implemented by regulation within 10 days of enactment. It also consolidates and restates SBA’s previous interim final rules and guidance covering the PPP (such as those governing borrower eligibility, lender eligibility, and PPP application and origination, and loan forgiveness). The interim final rule implements the various changes to the PPP made by the Economic Aid Act, including:
- Allowing additional expenses and forgivable uses for PPP funds, including certain operational expenditures, certain costs related to property damage due to public disturbances that occurred during 2020, certain supplier costs, and certain protective equipment expenditures. The expanded forgivable expenses may be utilized by borrowers who obtained PPP loans before the enactment of the Act so long as they have not already had their loans forgiven.
- Provisions stating that lenders (i) may rely on any certification or documentation submitted by applicants for both initial and second PPP loans, and (ii) may not be subject to enforcement action or penalties relating to loan origination or forgiveness, so long as (a) the lender acts in good faith relating to loan origination or forgiveness, and (b) all relevant federal, state, local and other statutory and regulatory requirements are satisfied.
- Certain streamlined conditions for loans of up to $150,000, including simplified loan forgiveness application and simplified certification of revenue for second loans.
- Second Interim Final Rule- PPP Second Draw. The interim final rule implements the key provisions of section 311 of the Economic Aid Act, allowing for a second PPP draw. Specifically, the Economic Aid Act allows for certain businesses to take a second loan under the PPP with a maximum draw amount of $2 million. In order to qualify, businesses must generally: (i) employ no more than 300 employees; (ii) have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan; and (iii) demonstrate at least a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020 relative to the same quarter in 2019. Applications submitted after January 1, 2021 can utilize gross receipts from the fourth quarter of 2020. Additionally, the Economic Aid Act includes restrictions on types of eligible businesses, including entities involved in political and lobbying activities. Qualified borrowers may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5X the average monthly payroll costs during the 1-year period prior to the date of the loan or in calendar year 2019.
Additionally, in response to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Federal Reserve Board extended the termination date of the Main Street Lending Program facilities to January 8, in order to allow more time to process and fund loans that were submitted to the portal on or before December 14, 2020. The SBA also extended the deadline to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to December 31, pending the availability of funds.
On January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a procedural notice discussing the repeal of Section 1110(e)(6) of the CARES Act, which required the SBA to deduct the amount of any Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance received by a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrower from the PPP forgiveness payment from the SBA to the PPP lender. According to the notice, effective immediately, the SBA will no longer deduct EIDL advances from PPP forgiveness payments and will apply this change to any SBA forgiveness payments that were confirmed by December 29, 2020 or later.
Additionally, for any forgiveness payments that were already reduced by an EIDL advance, the SBA will automatically remit a reconciliation payment to the PPP lender that will include the advance amount, plus interest through the remittance date. The SBA notes that the PPP lender does not need to request the reconciliation payment, but must notify the borrower of the payment, re-amortize the loan, and notify the borrower of the next payment amount or whether the loan has been paid in full.
- 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