Tax & Wealth Advisor Alert: IRS Clarifies Stance on Deductibility of Expenses Covered by PPP Loans

Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service released guidance clarifying the tax treatment of expenses funded with forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans. This guidance, Revenue Ruling 2020-27 and Revenue Procedure 2020-51, strengthened the Treasury’s prior position in Notice 2020-32, as we previously wrote about here, which stated that expenses funded with forgiven PPP loan funds are not deductible.

In Revenue Ruling 2020-27, the IRS answered the question of whether a taxpayer who paid otherwise deductible expenses with PPP funds can deduct those expenses in the taxable year in which the expenses were paid or incurred if, at the end of that taxable year, the taxpayer reasonably expects to receive forgiveness of the PPP loan. The answer according to the IRS is “no,” regardless of whether the taxpayer has submitted an application for forgiveness of the loan by the end of that taxable year.

The Treasury provided its rationale for this in a subsequent press release yesterday, stating “[s]ince businesses are not taxed on the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, the expenses are not deductible. This results in neither a tax benefit nor tax harm since the taxpayer has not paid anything out of pocket.”

Nevertheless, if desired, Congress could override the Treasury’s stance by passing a law that explicitly allows the deductions. Additionally, it is possible a taxpayer may decide to challenge this position in court.

However, based upon these current rulings, it is important for all taxpayers that are seeking PPP loan forgiveness to understand whether or not, and when, they can deduct expenses incurred with the loan proceeds and the tax impact that may arise from the lack of deductibility if the loan is forgiven. For questions or further information, please contact attorney Britany E. Morrison.