All 47 Democratic members of the Senate sent a letter to the Trump administration Friday urging it to take immediate action to simplify and streamline the Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application process.
The administration previously committed to updating the forgiveness application to reflect recent changes made to the terms of the program itself, but Democrats are hoping that officials will take that opportunity to make the forms less complex, too.
“Since the release of the forgiveness form and instructions a few weeks ago, we have heard significant concerns from small businesses and lenders alike about the complexity of the process especially for the smallest businesses,” the senators wrote. “The 11-page form that must be completed to secure forgiveness is especially burdensome, time-consuming, and costly for very small and underserved businesses, including microbusinesses, sole proprietorships, rural, and minority-owned small businesses.”
L.J. Suzuki, the founder of CFOShares.org, told FOX Business the forgiveness application was “more complicated” than he was expecting, adding that there were multiple calculations that could potentially trip up business owners.
The senators said they feared struggling small businesses would feel the need to hire professionals to make sure they would be able to complete the forms accurately in order to have their loans forgiven.
Here are four ways Democrats suggest making the process simpler:
Create a separate form for the smallest loan recipients
Democrats argue that recipients of low-dollar loan amounts should get an easy-to-use form that requires minimal documentation. This measure aims to reduce burdens on the smallest businesses with likely the fewest resources.
Issue new guidance on certifications
Lawmakers also want to see the administration issue new safe harbor protections to lenders when certifications are made by borrowers in the forgiveness process for low-dollar low amounts.
The letter calls on the administration to provide a “comprehensive suite of approved online tools,” including how-to videos and calculators, to help business owners fill out the application.
Make staffers available for assistance
The last recommendation is to keep staffers available to take calls from borrowers and lenders to talk through issues.
The program has been a work in progress. As previously reported by FOX Business, lawmakers recently signed a law easing restrictions to allow small businesses more flexibility in using their funds. The main pieces of that legislation involved extending the period to use the funds to 24 weeks and reducing the amount that was required to be spent on payroll to 60 percent.