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Calculate monthly payroll costs for SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans

Find out how much your business is eligible to borrow in 5 steps.

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The federal government regularly revises the details of these programs as the coronavirus outbreak affects more businesses. We’ll update this page regularly as new information unfolds.

Calculating payroll costs is the most complicated part of the SBA’s two-page Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application. You’ll need to make sure you’re including all eligible expenses to get the full funding you’re entitled to borrow.

How to calculate your maximum PPP loan amount

The SBA uses the following formula to calculate the maximum amount you can borrow through the Paycheck Protection Program:

  • One month of eligible payroll costs x 2.5 = Maximum Paycheck Protection Program loan amount

During the jumbled launch of this program, the SBA had originally advised borrowers to apply for eight weeks of payroll expenses, plus 25%.

However, the above formula is what appears on the most recent version of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program application, as of April 9, 2020.

Follow these steps to get an accurate count of your payroll costs.

Step 1: Add up your payroll costs.

Add up all eligible payroll costs before federal taxes over the past 12 months. Only include costs from employees who primarily live in the US, excluding independent contractors that your business has hired — they can apply for a PPP loan on their own.

New and seasonal businesses also have the option of using these payroll costs instead:

  • Businesses that opened in 2020. Add up monthly payroll costs between January 1, 2020 and February 29, 2020.
  • Seasonal businesses. Add up the payroll costs between either February 15 or March 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019. The start date is up to you, the business owner.

Step 2: Subtract excess from salaries over $100,000.

The Paycheck Protection Program doesn’t cover anything over $100,000 for an individual employee’s annual salary before federal income taxes. If none of your employees make over $100,000 a year, skip ahead. Otherwise, you can follow these steps:

  1. Subtract $100,000 from the salary of each employee who makes over $100,000 annually.
  2. Add up the results.
  3. Subtract that amount from the annual payroll cost you calculated in Step 1.
How to subtract excess salaries for new and seasonal businesses

If you have a new or seasonal business, follow these steps:

  1. Subtract $100,000 from each salary over $100,000.
  2. Add up the results.
  3. Divide the result by 12.
  4. Multiple it by the number of months your payroll costs cover in Step 1.
  5. Subtract that amount from the payroll costs.

Step 3: Calculate an average monthly payroll cost.

Divide the results you calculated in Step 2 by 12.

    Step 4: Calculate your maximum loan amount.

    Multiply the average monthly payroll cost you calculated in Step 3 by 2.5.

    If your business didn’t receive an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that you used to cover payroll costs between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020, you’re finished. Otherwise, there’s one more step.

    Step 5: Add your EIDL balance.

    You’re required to refinance any EIDL your business received to cover payroll costs during the coronavirus outbreak.

    1. Add the EIDL balance to your maximum loan amount based on payroll, which you calculated in Step 2.
    2. Subtract any advance you received on your EIDL — you don’t have to repay this amount.

    The resulting number is the maximum amount you can borrow through the Paycheck Protection Program.

    How to calculate your PPP loan amount as a self-employed borrower

    Self-employed individuals need to follow three steps to determine the maximum amount they can borrow:

      1. Locate your annual net profit on your 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C, line 31.
      2. Divide your annual net profit by 12 to calculate your average monthly net profit.
      3. Multiply your average monthly net profit by 2.5.

    If you have an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that wasn’t issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can add it to your final amount in Step 3 to refinance it through the PPP.

    Borrowers are responsible for calculating the loan amount

    According to the SBA, it’s up to you, the borrower, to calculate your maximum loan amount when you apply for the PPP. In fact, it’s one of the first steps of the application. And you’ll have to back up that number with documentation. That’s why it’s essential to understand which costs count and which don’t count.

    How to prove your payroll calculations

    The SBA allows you to use the following documents to confirm your payroll expenses — though some lenders might have more specific requirements.

    • Payroll processor records
    • Payroll tax filings
    • Form 1099-MISC for sole proprietorships
    • Form 1040 Schedule C for self-employed individuals
    • Income and expense reports for sole proprietorships
    • Bank statements

    Lenders might accept other types of documentation of payroll costs, depending on the circumstances. And if you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes as a self-employed applicant, the SBA will issue additional documentation guidelines. Check with your lender to ensure you have all the correct documents when you apply.

    What if I use a payroll provider?

    If your business relies on a professional employer organization (PEO) or other payroll provider to process payroll expenses, you might have to submit different documents. If you live in a state where you’re required to report payroll provider data in your state taxes, submit the following documents — if possible:

    • Schedule R, Form 941
    • Allocation schedule for aggregate Form 941 filers
    • Payroll provider Form 941
    • Quarterly federal tax return

    Otherwise, ask for a statement from your provider stating the wages and payroll taxes your company paid.

    What’s an eligible payroll cost?

    The following costs count when you calculate your PPP loan amount. When calculating your loan amount, use the cost before federal taxes.

    • Salary, wages, commissions or compensation — up to $100,000 annually
    • Cash tips paid to employees or the equivalent
    • Vacation, medical, family or sick leave costs
    • Costs associated with losing an employee, like severance
    • Group health care benefits, including premiums
    • Retirement benefits
    • State and local taxes on employee compensation

    Ineligible payroll costs

    These costs do not count toward payroll calculations for a PPP loan:

    • Employee compensation equivalent to an annual salary over $100,000
    • Federal payroll, income or railroad retirement taxes
    • Compensation for employees with a primary residence outside the US
    • Sick or family leave that qualifies for a tax credit under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    • Payments made to independent contractors your company hired
    • Owner distributions
    • Shareholder draws

    Apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan today

    Below is a list of online lenders offering SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans. We recommend applying as soon as possible, since funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Get help filling out the application with our guide.

    Data indicated here is updated regularly
    Name Product Min. Credit Score Turnaround Time Required Documents
    Lendio Paycheck Protection Loan
    No minimum credit score
    Varies by demand
    Documented payroll costs — like 1099s, W2s, average monthly payroll expenses, payroll report for 2019 and 2020. Must provide number of employees, driver’s license or other government-issued ID, or 2019 IRS Form 941 or Form 944.
    Credibly Paycheck Protection Loan
    No minimum credit score
    Varies by demand
    Documented payroll costs — like 1099s and W2s.
    Fundera Paycheck Protection Loan
    No minimum credit score
    Varies by demand
    Documented payroll costs — like 1099s and W2s.
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    Compare up to 4 providers

    Bottom line

    You’re responsible for calculating the correct loan amount when you apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan — and to back it up with documents. If you have a payroll cost that you aren’t sure is eligible, reach out to an expert — such as a CPA, your lender or your local Small Business Development Center.

    Read our guide to funding your business during the coronavirus outbreak to learn about your other options.

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