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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Importantly, these PPP loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. The administration has released initial guidelines; they are available at www.treasury.gov. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals check eligibility and prepare to file for a loan. Small businesses and sole proprietors began applying on April 3. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning on April 10. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a search tool to help you find a bank that offers PPP loans at: www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find.

Here are the questions you may be asking—and what you need to know:

  1. Am I eligible?  You are eligible to apply for a PPP loan if you are:
    • A small business with 500 or fewer employees • Defined as “small” by SBA Size Standard that allows for higher employee threshold or is revenue based; or
    • A small business with maximum tangible net worth up to $15 million and the average net income for full 2 fiscal years prior to application does not exceed $5 million
    • A 501(c)(3) with 500 or fewer employees
    • A sole proprietor, independent contractor, or self-employed
    • A Tribal business concern that meets the SBA size standard
    • A 501(c)(19) Veterans Organization that meets the SBA size standard In addition, some special rules may make you eligible:
    • If you are in the accommodation and food services sector (NAICS 72), the 500-employee rule is applied on a per physical location basis
    • If you are operating as a franchise or receive financial assistance from an approved Small Business Investment Company the normal affiliation rules do not apply
    • Small businesses that have minority shareholders (private equity or venture capital) can still qualify if those shareholders relinquish rights

  2. What will lenders be looking for?
    • The uncertainty of current economic conditions makes the loan request necessary to support ongoing operations
    • The borrower will use the loan proceeds to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage, lease, and utility payments
    • Borrower does not have an application pending for a loan duplicative of the purpose and amounts applied for here
    • From Feb. 15, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, the borrower has not received a loan duplicative of the purpose and amounts applied for here (Note: There is an opportunity to fold SBA Disaster Loans into a PPP loan) If you are an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or self-employed individual, lenders will also be looking for certain documents (final requirements will be announced by the government) such as payroll tax filings, Forms 1099-MISC, and income and expenses from the sole proprietorship.
  3. How much can I borrow?
  • INCLUDED Payroll Cost:
    • For Employers: The sum of payments of any compensation with respect to employees that is a:
      1. • salary, wage, commission, or similar compensation
      2. payment of cash tip or equivalent
      3. payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave
      4. allowance for dismissal or separation  payment for group health care and retirement benefits • payment of state or local tax assessed on the compensation of the employee
    • For Sole Proprietors, Independent Contractors, and Self-Employed Individuals: The net income not more than $100,000 in one year
      1. The net income not more than $100,000 in one year
  • EXCLUDED Payroll Cost:
    1. Compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000 (note: employer contributions to healthcare and retirement benefits are not part of amount deemed in excess of $100,000 annual salary)
    2. Employer portion of payroll taxes
    3. Any compensation of an employee whose principal place of residence is outside of the United States
    4. Qualified sick leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7001 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116– 5 127); or qualified family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7003 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

4. Will this loan be FORGIVEN?

Borrowers are eligible to have their loans forgiven.

How Much?

A borrower is eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount the borrower spent on the following items during the 8-week period beginning on the date of the origination of the loan:

• Payroll costs (using the same definition of payroll costs used to determine loan eligibility)

• Interest on the mortgage obligation incurred in the ordinary course of business

• Rent and utility payments

• Interest on other debt obligations incurred before February 15, 2020 NOTE: Not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. How could the forgiveness be reduced?

The amount of loan forgiveness calculated above is reduced if there is a reduction in the number of employees or a reduction of greater than 25% in wages paid to employees.

Specifically: Reduction based on reduction of number of employees Reduction based on reduction in salaries

What if I bring back employees or restore wages?

Reductions in employment or wages that occur between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020 (as compared to February 15, 2020) shall not reduce the amount of loan forgiveness IF by June 30, 2020 the borrower eliminates the reduction in employees or reduction in wages.


For more guidance and resources for small businesses, visit uschamber.com/co Private lenders will ultimately issue PPP loans based on guidance from the SBA and Treasury Department.

More information, including from lenders, should be available once the guidance is issued.