Does An Owner Draw Count As Salary for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

Does An Owner Draw Count As Salary for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

Does An Owner Draw Count As Salary for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

This article was updated April 27, 2020 with additional guidance from Treasury.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) offers forgivable loans to business owners who use the proceeds primarily to maintain payroll. But there is a lot of confusion among small business owners who don’t understand how the money they pay themselves—such as the owner’s draw or distributions—may impact their ability to qualify for PPP. 

Here are just a few of the questions we’ve received from business owners: 

  • We are an S Corp and in the last year it was just myself and my husband on the payroll. As our income is sporadic we pay ourselves quarterly whatever we can and take shareholder draws as we need them to cover expenses. Should we include shareholder distributions as part of the annual income? 
  • I am a sole member LLC working as a contract paralegal. Checks are written to my LLC and I in turn pay myself. How do I prove income? 
  • My husband and I run an LLC and both own 50% of the company. We do not have employees or formal payroll. We don’t receive actual payroll checks but instead just pay ourselves what is left after the bills are paid for the month. Do we qualify for a PPP loan?

Here’s the issue. Many business owners don’t pay themselves through formal payroll. Instead, they take money out of their business for their own use when they can. (Some even use business funds to pay personal expenses, which is not a good practice in any situation.) This ad hoc approach to paying the business owner may prove problematic when it comes to qualifying for PPP.

On April 24, 2020 Treasury released guidelines for calculating the maximum loan amount by business entity, and we are sharing that information here. Unfortunately, it was released late in the process after many businesses already applied. But if you’re still considering applying for a PPP loan, it may prove helpful. Keep in mind the maximum loan amount is $10 million per PPP loan, regardless of business entity.

Please keep in mind this information is changing rapidly and is based on our current understanding of the programs. It can and likely will change. Although we will be monitoring and updating this as new information becomes available, please do not rely solely on this for your financial decisions. We encourage you to consult with your lawyers, CPAs and Financial Advisors. To review your real-time funding options with one of Nav’s lending experts, please contact us.

S Corporations

When owners of S Corporations pay themselves (or other shareholders), they may pay themselves a salary, distributions (or “owner’s draw”) or a combination of the two. Salary payments are subject to payroll taxes while owner’s draws or distributions are not taxed as salary. It’s the latter that can create problems when it comes to qualifying for PPP. 

Here’s the latest guidance describing how to calculate the maximum loan amount for corporations, including S and C corporations: 

Step 1: Compute 2019 payroll costs by adding the following: 

  • 2019 gross wages and tips paid to your employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, which can be computed using 2019 IRS Form 941 Taxable Medicare wages & tips (line 5c-column 1) from each quarter plus any pre-tax employee contributions for health insurance or other fringe benefits excluded from Taxable Medicare wages & tips, subtracting any amounts paid to any individual employee in excess of $100,000 and any amounts paid to any employee whose principal place of residence is outside the U.S;  
  • 2019 employer health insurance contributions (portion of IRS Form 1120 line 24 or IRS Form 1120-S line 18 attributable to health insurance); 
  • 2019 employer retirement contributions (IRS Form 1120 line 23 or IRS Form 1120-S line 17); and 
  • 2019 employer state and local taxes assessed on employee compensation, primarily state unemployment insurance tax (from state quarterly wage reporting forms). 

Step 2: Calculate the average monthly payroll costs (divide the amount from Step 1 by 12). 

Step 3: Multiply the average monthly payroll costs from Step 2 by 2.5. 

Step 4: Add the outstanding amount of any EIDL made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 that you seek to refinance, less the amount of any advance under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid). 

Documentation: The corporation’s 2019 IRS Form 941 and state quarterly wage unemployment insurance tax reporting form from each quarter (or equivalent payroll processor records or IRS Wage and Tax Statements), along with the filed business tax return (IRS Form 1120 or IRS 1120-S) or other documentation of any retirement and health insurance contributions, must be provided to substantiate the applied-for PPP loan amount. A payroll statement or similar documentation from the pay period that covered February 15, 2020 must be provided to establish you were in operation and had employees on that date.

Conspicuously absent from this guidance is any instruction for S Corporation owners who pay themselves from owner’s draw or distributions. The SBA Administrator and Treasury have not released official guidance on whether owner’s draw counts toward the payroll calculation for purposes of qualifying for PPP. But an email from the SBA dated April 6, 2020 states, “Only payroll costs in the form of salary, wages, tips, etc. are eligible for the PPP program. Owner draws, distributions, amounts recorded on a K-1 are not eligible for the PPP program.” An SBA webinar I recently attended stated the same information so it appears to be an official position of the SBA. 

Sole Proprietors and Independent Contractors

Sole proprietors who don’t have a formal business structure must report their business income and expenses when they file their personal tax returns. Most will use Schedule C to do that. The SBA recently issued guidance indicating that those who file Form 1040 Schedule C should use information from their 2019 Schedule C to qualify. Specifically they should use the net profit from Line 31 of their 2019 Schedule C. (The 2019 return doesn’t have to be filed but it should be completed.) 

Here is the step-by-step guidance for businesses that file Schedule C with no employees (including independent contractors, but not partnerships): 

Step 1: Find your 2019 IRS Form 1040 Schedule C line 31 net profit amount (if you have not yet filed a 2019 return, fill it out and compute the value). If this amount is over $100,000, reduce it to $100,000. If this amount is zero or less, you are not eligible for a PPP loan. 

Step 2: Calculate the average monthly net profit amount (divide the amount from Step 1 by 12). 

Step 3: Multiply the average monthly net profit amount from Step 2 by 2.5. 

Step 4: Add the outstanding amount of any Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 that you seek to refinance, less the amount of any advance under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid). 

Documentation: Your 2019 IRS Form 1040 Schedule C must be provided to substantiate the applied-for PPP loan amount. You must also provide a 2019 IRS Form 1099-MISC detailing nonemployee compensation received (box 7), invoice, bank statement, or book of record establishing you were self-employed in 2019 and a 2020 invoice, bank statement, or book of record establishing you were in operation on February 15, 2020.

Partnerships

Here is the Treasury guidance for calculating the maximum amount that can be borrowed for partnerships. Treasury notes that “partners’ self-employment income should be included on the partnership’s PPP loan application, individual partners may not apply for separate PPP loans”: 

Step 1: Compute 2019 payroll costs by adding the following: 

  • 2019 Schedule K-1 (IRS Form 1065) Net earnings from self-employment of individual U.S. based general partners that are subject to self-employment tax, computed from box 14a (reduced by any section 179 expense deduction claimed, unreimbursed partnership expenses claimed, and depletion claimed on oil and gas properties) multiplied by 0.9235* up to $100,000 per partner (if 2019 schedules have not been filed, fill them out); 
  • 2019 gross wages and tips paid to your employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, if any, which can be computed using 2019 IRS Form 941 Taxable Medicare wages & tips (line 5c-column 1) from each quarter plus any pre-tax employee contributions for health insurance or other fringe benefits excluded from Taxable Medicare wages & tips, subtracting any amounts paid to any individual employee in excess of $100,000 and any amounts paid to any employee whose principal place of residence is outside the U.S;  
  • 2019 employer contributions for employee health insurance, if any (portion of IRS Form 1065 line 19 attributable to health insurance); 
  • 2019 employer contributions to employee retirement plans, if any (IRS Form 1065 line 18); and 
  • 2019 employer state and local taxes assessed on employee compensation, primarily state unemployment insurance tax (from state quarterly wage reporting forms), if any. 

Step 2: Calculate the average monthly payroll costs (divide the amount from Step 1 by 12). 

Step 3: Multiply the average monthly payroll costs from Step 2 by 2.5. 

Step 4: Add any outstanding amount of any EIDL made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 that you seek to refinance, less the amount of any advance under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid). 

Documentation: The partnership’s 2019 IRS Form 1065 (including K-1s) and other relevant supporting documentation if the partnership has employees, including the 2019 IRS Form 941 and state quarterly wage unemployment insurance tax reporting form from each quarter (or equivalent payroll processor records or IRS Wage and Tax Statements) along with records of any retirement or health insurance contributions, must be provided to substantiate the applied-for PPP loan amount. If the partnership has employees, a payroll statement or similar documentation from the pay period that covered February 15, 2020 must be provided to establish the partnership was in operation and had employees on that date. If the partnership has no employees, an invoice, bank statement, or book of record establishing the partnership was in operation on February 15, 2020 must instead be provided.

* The guidance states, “This treatment follows the computation of self-employment tax from IRS Form 1040 Schedule SE Section A line 4 and removes the “employer” share of self-employment tax, consistent with how payroll costs for employees in the partnership are determined.”

LLCs

LLCs may report their business income in various ways. Sole member LLCs typically file Schedule C and are treated as sole proprietors by the IRS. The guidance from Treasury is brief: “LLCs should follow the instructions that apply to their tax filing situation, for example, whether they file as a sole proprietor, a partnership, or a corporation.”

Nonprofits

Treasury guidance released April 24, 2020 states “the following methodology should be used to calculate the maximum amount that can be borrowed for eligible nonprofit organizations (eligible nonprofit religious institutions, see the next question): 

Step 1: Compute 2019 payroll costs by adding the following: 

  • 2019 gross wages and tips paid to your employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, which can be computed using 2019 IRS Form 941 Taxable Medicare wages & tips (line 5c-column 1) from each quarter plus any pre-tax employee contributions for health insurance or other fringe benefits excluded from Taxable Medicare wages & tips, subtracting any amounts paid to any individual employee in excess of $100,000 and any amounts paid to any employee whose principal place of residence is outside the U.S;
  • 2019 employer health insurance contributions (portion of IRS Form 990 Part IX line 9 attributable to health insurance); 
  • 2019 employer retirement contributions (IRS Form 990 Part IX line 8); and 
  • 2019 employer state and local taxes assessed on employee compensation, primarily state unemployment insurance tax (from state quarterly wage reporting forms). 

Step 2: Calculate the average monthly payroll costs (divide the amount from Step 1 by 12). 

Step 3: Multiply the average monthly payroll costs from Step 2 by 2.5.

Step 4: Add the outstanding amount of any EIDL made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 that you seek to refinance, less the amount of any advance under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid). 

Documentation: The nonprofit organization’s 2019 IRS Form 941 and state quarterly wage unemployment insurance tax reporting form from each quarter (or equivalent payroll processor records or IRS Wage and Tax Statements), along with the filed IRS Form 990 Part IX or other documentation of any retirement and health insurance contributions, must be provided to substantiate the applied-for PPP loan amount. A payroll statement or similar documentation from the pay period that covered February 15, 2020 must be provided to establish you were in operation and had employees on that date. Eligible nonprofits that do not file an IRS Form 990, typically those with gross receipts less than $50,000, should see the next question.

Nonprofit Religious Organizations, Veteran’s Organizations and Tribal Businesses

Here are the instructions from Treasury to calculate the maximum amount that can be borrowed for eligible nonprofit religious institutions, veterans organizations and tribal businesses: 

Step 1: Compute 2019 payroll costs by adding the following: 

  • 2019 gross wages and tips paid to your employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, which can be computed using 2019 IRS Form 941 Taxable Medicare wages & tips (line 5c-column 1) from each quarter plus any pre-tax employee contributions for health insurance or other fringe benefits excluded from Taxable Medicare wages & tips, subtracting any amounts paid to any individual employee in excess of $100,000 and any amounts paid to any employee whose principal place of residence is outside the U.S; 
  • 2019 employer health insurance contributions; o 2019 employer retirement contributions and 
  • 2019 employer state and local taxes assessed on employee compensation, primarily state unemployment insurance tax (from state quarterly wage reporting forms). 

Step 2: Calculate the average monthly payroll costs (divide the amount from Step 1 by 12). 

Step 3: Multiply the average monthly payroll costs from Step 2 by 2.5. 

Step 4: Add any outstanding amount of any EIDL made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020 that you seek to refinance, less the amount of any advance under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid). 

Documentation: The entity’s 2019 IRS Form 941 and state quarterly wage unemployment insurance tax reporting form from each quarter (or equivalent payroll processor records or IRS Wage and Tax Statements), along with documentation of any retirement and health insurance contributions, must be provided to substantiate the applied-for PPP loan amount. A payroll statement or similar documentation from the pay period that covered February 15, 2020 must be provided to establish you were in operation and had employees on that date.

Doing the Math

The basic calculation for PPP is 2.5 time average monthly payroll. Before you apply, make sure you understand what qualifies as payroll as it may include more than simply wages. See What Does Payroll Include? in our FAQs about CARES Act PPP loans. 

 

This article was originally written on April 23, 2020 and updated on June 3, 2020.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Gerri Detweiler

Education Director for Nav

Credit expert Gerri Detweiler is Education Director for Nav. She has more than three decades of experience in consumer credit education, has been interviewed in more than 3500 news stories, and answered over 10,000 credit questions online. Her articles have been widely syndicated on sites such as MSN, Forbes, and MarketWatch. She is the author or coauthor of five books, including Finance Your Own Business: Get on the Financing Fast Track. She has testified before Congress on consumer credit legislation.

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49 responses to “Does An Owner Draw Count As Salary for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

  1. Hello, I just had my ppp loan deposited in my account. My business entity is a partnership which I own 97% of the business and the other 3% belong to my partner with no employee. My question is, what is the best way to pay myself so the loan is forgiven. Thanks.

  2. Hello. I’’m working in the restaurant during covid unit now As The owner accepted PPP loan . She said i will get payroll 1700 ( 2weeks)which was included PpP and salary . On the hand my friends didn.t work , got the same amount 1700 .

    My question Should i received momey PPP and plus salary .?

    Waiting for reply
    Best regard

  3. If we laid off employees back in January and Feb, long before the PPP was announced and before we applied, do we have to bring back those employees? The headcount and monthly payroll for 2019 would be higher than recent months. Can we hire new employees?

    1. Steve –

      We haven’t seen any guidance that says you cannot hire new employees. So it would seem that would be a logical strategy. We’re still waiting for more forgiveness guidance from Treasury and SBA.

  4. As owners, we were not taking draw or paycheck through payroll of our C-Corp. Can we put ourselves back on payroll? This would ensure we meet the head count and that we spend 75% of our PPP loan on payroll.

      1. Thank you, Gerri. As owners, we’re only considering $1000/month. For the 8 weeks period of the PPP to gain forgiveness, this would be very small single digit percent of the 75% target. As we’ve read the guidance, we just want to ensure we are above # of emplyees and $$$ of payroll for the 75%.

  5. Thank you for all the information in this article. I own a business that is a general partnership. We have two partners who have K-1s, but only one part time employee wiht a W-2, so it is our partners self employment income our loan will be based on. But, I can not find a lender whose application seems to accept partner’s income on their PPP application. Is there a lender you know of who is accepting applications where the K-1 can be included to determine the loan amount? thank you very much!

  6. I have group daycare home in Illinois and always file as a sole proprietor. I do not take a salary, but instead just pay my 5 employees on a 941 and keep what’s left as profit. We have been shut down by the state of Illinois since mid-March. I worked for a month alone at my business with just a couple of essential workers kids, but now, even they are gone. I did a lot of renovations last year for our 3 year inspection by DCFS and upgrade equipment and furnishings. So for the first time in 24 years of business, I had a loss. My employees are all on unemployment. I am the only one who is working to implement changes to the daycare structure to allow for social distancing when we return in a month or two or three? With the ability to draw a salary during this time, I could not only afford to make those changes to my daycare facility, but also be ready when it’s time to open the doors. Without it, I will probably need to close my doors to 20 children and their families, who are all counting on me to reopen. Is it possible to keep my employees on unemployment, pay myself and the one employee who is actually willing to come back, and be ready to reopen? According to the PPP guidelines, I need to bring all 5 of them back and have no paycheck of any kind during all this. I have been approved for the PPP Loan, but haven’t accepted it yet because there’s no work to be done during quarantine since no kids can return right now. I am the only employee and yet the only one who can’t draw a salary, according to the guidelines. Can I apply for Pandemic Unemployment and qualify with a loss from last year? I have no financial support right now and will likely need to fold without some support. Any help you can give me would be exceptional.

    1. We’re so sorry to hear what you are going through Todd and Amanda.

      First, you could consider taking PPP and just using it as a loan. That may not be ideal but the interest rate is 1% with a 2 year repayment period. There have been many appeals to adjust the program for business owners like you for whom the current version is not a good fit, but we have no idea where those efforts will go. We also wrote about rejecting PPP in this article: 5 Reasons to Return Your PPP Loan

      Another option would be to return PPP and try to get unemployment. We can’t guarantee you’ll qualify but it may be worth exploring. We wrote about it in this article: FAQs about unemployment for the self-employed

      We hope one of these programs (or a future one) helps your business survive.

  7. Cassie ,, I’m confused! I work for a corporate Aspen. With a dr partner The Dr called back workers with the ppp loan . Everyone I the office is getting their 40 hours plus hazard paid . Except me ,,, but the corporate saids I’m not under her loan. And I work in her office Which when I got paided it was under her name instead of Admi who normally signs my checks . So finally my question is I’m I supposed to get the 40 hours that all the staff is getting under her loan because I’m only getting half the hours the whole month of May because they tell me I’m not under the loan she got ! Any suggestions? Thank you !!

  8. My son and own a Sub Chapter S Corp. for 45 years. I’m 75 and take a monthly draw to pay my bills for my wife and I. We have a PPP to help out our employees. Instead of taking a draw, can I take a payroll check equaling my draw.

  9. I own a medical corporation (C Corp) and a management corporation (LLC) which both pay me a salary of around $8k per month each. I saw the maximum allowable salary is $100,000 per year. Being that they are two separate corporations am I allowed to continue paying myself that amount and have it eligible for forgiveness?

    1. John – we haven’t seen guidance on that question. My gut instinct is that would not be allowed as it would be considered a windfall but since we haven’t seen guidance one way or the other we simply can’t advise.

  10. Hi Gerri. Quick question, I received PPP money but am still making some income, just at a reduced rate. Will this have any impact on my ability to get the money forgiven after the 8 weeks? Thanks.

  11. Question: I’ve received my PPP loan. It was less than expected but I am happy to receive as I know some people are still waiting. My question is, as an independent contractor/sole proprietor, I pay myself. How do I document this so that the loan is forgivable? Is it as simple as writing a check, weekly, from my business account to my personal account?

    1. Cassie – we haven’t seen specific guidance yet on what’s required for self employed individuals to document spending for PPP. But what we’ve seen from CPAs and other advisors, it does seem to make sense to create a clear paper trail and writing checks from your business could help there. I’m sorry we can’t be more specific until the SBA and Treasury provide more guidance.

      1. Gerri, thank you for your response as well your efforts to inform us on these new guidelines. It is much appreciated.

  12. We are a LLC I get 1one paycheck at end off year and other wise we just draw from Business acct. How do I pay myself and Husband with the PPP loan?

    1. Kathy – We haven’t seen specific guidance yet from the SBA and Treasury on how self employed must verify how they use the funds but we’ve seen accounting professionals suggest a paper trail with business checks demonstrating how you use the funds.

  13. I am a single member LLC (sole proprietor) and received a PPP loan. I used the schedule C Net Profit Method; but also added my HealthCare.Gov Insurance Premiums for 2 months
    (I was a little confused on what is payroll, etc..). I received the loan! What are your recommendations? It appears now, after more guidelines have been issued, I should not have received the Insurance Premiums as part of the loan. Is there a method to return a portions of the loan (the extra amt for Insurance Premiums)?

  14. I am a contractor for a company and I receive a 1099. I am approved for a ppp loan. How do I show that I paid my own salary with the loan? If my salary was over 100K would my whole loan be forgiven? Or just 8 weeks of up to 100K? The loan amount is for almost 11 weeks of up to 100K.

  15. First of all NAV has been a lifesaver throughout all of this! The Facebook NAV group has been a great resource. My question is very similar to Jschoef down below. Kabbage actually just emailed me that my loan has been approved by the SBA! I’m setup as a single member LLC. My business income is deposited into a personal checking account at our credit union for the past 5 years. We just use the personal checking account as an everyday checking account. I’m thinking about opening a business account just for the PPP Loan. I would only have the PPP funds in this account. Would I write a check in my name or the business name to pay myself? Do you think this plan would be sufficient in proving the funds being allocated properly to have the loan forgiven by the lender?

    1. Congrats! So glad to hear that. The SBA and Treasury haven’t released specific guidance on acceptable documentation for forgiveness but your plan certainly sounds like a reasonable one. And it’s a good idea going forward to run business expenses through a business account.

  16. I am a Sole Proprietor LLC and I know how to submit a loan application to get the PPP with a sched c. My question. Is how do I prove I used the loan to qualify for forgiveness when I don’t pay myself but just draw from the business account for personal expenses? I know this isn’t the best practice but it’s what I have been doing for the last 20 years.

    1. The big key to make sure you get forgiveness is making sure you keep accurate records that will demonstrate you used the funds for the approved purposes. You may need to adjust how you pay yourself with this funds over the 8-week period so you can demonstrate to your lender that you used them for the approved purpose.

  17. I am a sole proprietor taxed as a Corporation. I have a tax firm and have 3 staff members that I pay cash. I keep records of their time where they submit a signed weekly timesheet. I log their time on an excel spreadsheet as my payroll log. Can I used that log to substantiate their income when I apply for the PPP loan? Can I calculate their income also into the average monthly? I file form 1120 as well as a Personal tax 1040. When I apply do I submit my 1120 Businessl tax?

  18. only work part time , iam retired i have a small one man service business im a s corp for over 30 years my business lost money in 2019 i took out 18,000 dollars from my business checking account in 2019 but i dont do payroll taxes im 67 and retired. i thougt the mone deposited im my business account is already taxable, how come i have to do payroll taxes when , i had been doing that for over 30 years before i retired.

  19. I own a used car dealership. We are an LLC. My question is we have 7 employees which we pay them with a 1099. How can I apply for the PPP loan if my employees are 1099 and they get paid cash? My other question is is the PPP loan based on my net or expenses?

      1. This has been really great! I’m a sole member llc that does IT consulting and have recently been approved for the PPP.

        A few questions:

        1. My Schedule C for 2019 showed a profit ~70K but a big chunk of my expenses were traveling. Based on the PPP rules as I’ve seen them, I’m only eligible for 2months of what my salary would be based on last year. But I’m not traveling this year, and my expense/income ratio would put me over the +100K mark, and most likely make me eligible for having the entire loan forgiven. So the question is, is that taken into account? How would they be able to calculate “salary” on a sole proprietor when expenses and income can fluctuate from month to month or year to year?

        2. The other 25% forgiveness (utilities, loan repayment), is it only for 2months of whatever those bills are? So if my utilities and loan interest annually are $6500 could I deduct all of that from this or just 2 months of the annualized amount?

        Thanks again!

        1. Loan qualification for the self employed Schedule C filer with no employees is based on line 31 of the 2019 tax return. It’s spelled out in the Treasury guidance on how to calculate PPP amounts by business type.

          Unfortunately it doesn’t take into account other expenses that may have led to the loss.

          The guidance on calculating forgiveness for the self-employed can be found in this Interim Final rule. Look at page 5 column 2: Interim Final Rule (self-employed).