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PPP loan forgiveness will likely impact your overhead rate!

08.18.20

Read this if you are an engineering or architecture firm working with government agencies reimbursing overhead established in an overhead rate schedule based on direct labor.

It seems everyone is both anxious to gain forgiveness of their PPP loans and worried about the ramifications of requesting and being granted forgiveness. There is so much you need to consider to understand the potential impact forgiveness may have on your future cash flow and revenues. Let’s focus, though, on your overhead rate.

Some things to consider:

  • PPP loan forgiveness may significantly reduce your overhead rate. As a result, future contracts and related revenues from federal, state, or local government agencies will be impacted. 

    Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 31.201-5 dictates that the applicable portion of any income, rebate, allowance, or other credit relating to any allowable cost and received by the contractor shall be credited to the government. If the credit will be used to reduce the indirect labor costs and rent, some of the largest costs of A/E firms, the overhead rate might be reduced by as much as 25% to 30%. 
  • Guidance on the timing of credit offset is still unclear.

    Do you offset 2020 expenses for forgiveness not settled until 2021 to better match cash flows and credit expenses relevant to forgiveness? Or reflect the forgiveness in the Schedule during the period forgiveness was formally received?
  • The IRS is currently communicating that the costs incurred to gain PPP loan forgiveness will not be deductible expenses, thus increasing 2020 taxable income.

    If your company is in a taxable position, federal income taxes will increase as a result and impact cash flows. And remember, federal income taxes are unallowable costs in overhead rate schedules under FAR Part 31.201-41.

Depending on the concentration of your contracts with federal agencies, the significance of overhead rate reimbursement on contract revenues and expectations for growth, it may actually be more beneficial to pay the loan back instead of asking for forgiveness.

The Department of Defense (DOD) weighs in:

Often the first agency to establish policy or make changes, the DOD has issued guidance in the form of answers to FAQs about CARES Act impacts on DOD pricing and contracting. Q23 specifically addresses the issue of PPP loan forgiveness. It states, “to the extent that PPP credits are allocable to costs allowable under contract, the Government should receive a credit or a reduction in billing for any PPP loans or loan payments that are forgiven.” You can read that and other CARES Act credit guidance here. Even if you don’t directly work with DoD, other federal agencies and state DOT’s generally adopt DoD’s guidance. 

What if we apply forgiveness credit against direct labor? 

You might wonder, why not just apply the credit against direct and indirect labor in proportion to the actual payroll paid during the PPP loan covered period? If this was possible, the overhead rate might actually increase. Unfortunately, billing the government for direct labor costs offset on the overhead rate schedule with the credit of PPP loan forgiveness would violate FAR Part 31 cost principles. Since you can’t bill for credited costs, revenues for contracts with government agencies would be further reduced. 

We advise a wait and see approach.

The best action plan to do right now is to wait for better and clearer guidance. Industry associations such as ACEC are advocating for more favorable PPP loan forgiveness treatment. Furthermore, there are still quite a few unanswered questions by the SBA. 

If you have any questions related to your overhead rate and the impact of PPP loan forgiveness on your revenue from contracts with government agencies, please contact us. We’re here to help. 


 

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  • Linda Roberts
    Principal
    Construction, Manufacturing, Real Estate
    T 207.541.2281

Read this if you are an engineering or architecture firm working with government agencies reimbursing overhead established in an overhead rate schedule based on direct labor.

We are approaching the end of 2020 and we still don’t have final and authoritative guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget about how to treat the PPP loan forgiveness. Will the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Part 31.201-5, Credits, apply and drastically diminish overhead rates for 2020? Will any credit follow the timing of legal forgiveness? Will you be required to offset subsequent forgiveness against 2020 expenses? 

The lobbyists are hard at work fighting any offset. Will they gain legislative support or will a compromise be negotiated? In the face of so many unknowns, we encourage companies to plan for potential outcomes of this unique situation in order to avoid unwanted surprises in the years to come. What can be done now? Let’s first explore trends we’ve observed for A/E firms for this year:

  • Certain costs, such as travel, meals, seminars and overall office expenses, are lower in 2020 with many employees working from home. 
  • Employees are traveling less and are not participating in networking events; they are focusing more of their time on chargeable work. As a result, utilization rates are higher in 2020 compared to recent years. A 1% change in utilization generally results in an approximate 4% directional change in overhead rate. 

These lower spending, higher chargeability trends are pushing overhead rates down considerably for 2020 and, likely too, for 2021. Depending on the type and the length of projects contracted to include those overhead rates, resulting profitability will also be lower for a few more years when indirect costs increase to normal levels. Proper planning is extremely important in this situation. Here are some questions to ask when considering your options:

  • Are there opportunities to negotiate the project price or terms so project profitability is maintained? Can you negotiate higher labor rates or a fixed overhead rate? 
  • If there isn’t any room for negotiations on projects using actual audited overhead rates, should your company focus business development efforts on bidding on or seeking and forming strategic partnerships to pursue more non-governmental projects? 
  • If the company remains profitable and realizes savings in certain costs this year, can you find ways to spend and increase allowable indirect costs while simultaneously strengthening your company? Can you award higher employee bonuses to boost employee morale and help retain great talent? Or maybe now is the time to ramp up cybersecurity training to strengthen IT controls and employee awareness of how to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats or invest in cyber penetration testing. 

Targeted spending on allowable costs will help elevate your overhead rate and help position your company to emerge stronger post-pandemic. If you need any help modeling expected overhead rates or have questions about allowable overhead costs, please contact Estera or Linda. We're here to help. 

Article
Planning for overhead rate changes: Considerations and strategies

We have talked about the two recent GAAP updates for years now: 1) changes to the lease accounting and 2) changes to revenue recognition standards. We have speculated what the outcomes are going to be and how they will affect the financial statements, requirements for certain ratio calculations and the like, and finally we have some answers! Both standards were finalized and published, and will be in effect in 2019 and 2020. The new rules for both require more than a couple of hours of reading and can be very confusing.

Two questions we have heard recently: Are the changes intertwined? And do we now need to consider the new revenue recognition standard when we implement the new lease accounting? The answer is a resounding NO!

The new GAAP for revenue recognition is very clear about this: it specifically carves out lease contracts. As a matter of fact, accounting applied by lessors will not change significantly when the new lease rules come into effect. If you are a lessor, you will continue to classify the majority of operating leases as operating leases, and will recognize lease income for those leases on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease. However, if you find the new rules confusing, your BerryDunn team is standing by to help you get the answers you need.

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New lease and revenue recognition rules: Mutually exclusive

The good news? When it comes to revenue recognition, tax law isn’t changing. The bad news? Thanks to new revenue recognition rules, book to tax differences are changing. And because tax prep generally starts with book income, this means that the construction industry, among others, will need to start changing their thinking about tax liability, too.

The goal of the new rules is to establish standards for reporting useful information in financial statements about the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue from long-term contracts with customers. The standards aim to clarify the principles for recognizing revenue. You can apply standards consistently across various transactions, industries, and capital markets — in order to improve financial reporting by creating common guidance for U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The core principle is that you should recognize revenue in an amount and at a time that aligns with expectations for the actual amount to be earned when it is actually earned (i.e., when the goods or services are delivered). That’s different from what we do today. Here are some areas affected by the changes:

Uninstalled materials

Under current GAAP, the costs of uninstalled materials, if constructed specifically for the job, are included in the job cost. Under the new GAAP, contractors will recognize the revenue only to the extent of the cost or will capitalize them as inventory—you will recognize profits later. For tax purposes, uninstalled materials are still included in the job cost. You will have to recognize profits for tax purposes sooner than for book purposes.

Multiple performance obligations

Under the new GAAP, you may have to segregate one contract into two or more performance obligations — those revenues are recognized separately. For tax purposes, it is very difficult to segregate a contract (it requires a tax commissioner’s prior written consent) so a contractor might have to show one contract for tax purposes and two or three contracts for book purposes. For example, if you have a contract for a design build project and generally bid separately for the design phase and construction phase of this type of project, you might have to separate this contract into two performance obligations. For tax purposes, you will continue to treat this project as a single contract. These contracts most likely will have different profit margins and you will have to recognize revenue at a different pace.

 Variable consideration

Under current GAAP, contractors can’t recognize revenue on bonus payments until they are realized, usually at the end of the project. Under the new GAAP, contractors need to gauge the probability of the bonus payments’ being received and may have to include some or all of the bonus payments in the contract price — you will have to recognize revenue sooner. For tax purposes, variable considerations are included in the contract price when contractors can reasonably expect to collect them. The general practice is that tax follows what you record for books for the total contract price. Does this mean that you have to recognize revenue for tax purposes sooner, too? Or will it create a book to tax difference, subject to judgement? The IRS may be issuing some guidance on these issues.

Deferred taxes

With changes in book to tax differences due to changes in timing of when you recognize profits, there will also be a change in deferred taxes.

After implementing the new GAAP, you will need to segregate items like variable consideration and uninstalled materials. Even if your tax method doesn’t change, will you need to maintain and provide the information needed for tax return purposes? More companies might ask the IRS for permission to make accounting method changes for federal income tax purposes. The IRS may consider allowing an automatic method change in order to help companies conform more easily to the new standards. The IRS will also provide guidance on how the new revenue recognition rules affect tax reporting.  

Accounting for GAAP purposes isn’t the same thing as accounting for tax purposes. But when it comes to the new revenue recognition rules, things can get complicated. To learn more about accounting method changes you might need to make, get in touch with your BerryDunn team today and see how the rules may affect your company.

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The new revenue recognition rules: Contractors, are you ready for tax Implications?

Digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), are changing how consumers and businesses pay, bank, and invest. A recent survey by Capitalize found that 60% of respondents would like a cryptocurrency investment option in their 401(k) plans. Several service providers, including Fidelity, have responded to that request by offering 401(k) participants direct but limited cryptocurrency investment options. Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a stern warning about cryptocurrencies in 401(k) accounts. Here are some ways the federal government is assessing the benefits and risks cryptocurrencies pose to consumers, investors, and businesses.

White House calls for research on digital assets

In March 2022, the Biden administration issued an executive order calling for the federal government to report its findings on the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. For six months, various agencies conducted research and offered recommendations for responsibly developing the US digital asset industry. The result of this work was a fact sheet that was released in September. It outlines six main concepts for the development of responsible digital assets nationally and globally: consumer and investor protection; promoting financial stability; countering illicit finance; US leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation.

Protecting consumers, investors, and businesses

The US government believes that without a solid framework of rules and regulations for digital assets, innovations in this sector could be harmful to consumers, investors, and businesses alike. In response to the White House calling for research on digital assets, several federal agencies issued reports addressing the potential benefits and challenges in protecting Americans from some of the potential risks posed by digital assets.

The Treasury Department’s report noted that about 12% of Americans own some form of digital asset. While the number of people holding these assets has grown, the volume of fraud and other scams has also increased. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that more than 46,000 incidents of cryptocurrency-related fraud occurred between January 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, valued at more than $1 billion.

The Treasury Department’s report made four main recommendations:

  • Expand regulatory oversight
    Regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) should expand and increase investigations and enforcement related to digital assets, especially regarding potential misrepresentations made to consumers. Agencies also should increase their coordination of enforcement efforts between agencies as such efforts have been effective in shutting down fraudulent actions.
  • Increase focus on scams in online activities like gaming and entertainment
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and FTC should expand investigations into consumer complaints. The Department of Labor should also ensure that 401(k) plans and participants are protected from aggressive marketing, conflicts of interest, and bad-faith cryptocurrency investments.
  • Encourage cross-collaboration between agencies
    While several regulatory agencies have issued guidance to deal with increasing cryptocurrency issues, the Treasury Department would like to see more cross-collaboration among agencies to create more comprehensive oversight. Building a more connected, cross-agency response is critical to promote safety and reduce consumer, investor, and business confusion, as well as the potential for fraud.
  • Educate consumers on digital assets
    Through its website MyMoney.gov, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) has taken the lead on educating consumers, investors, and businesses on financial issues. Now the FLEC will educate the public on common digital asset risks and scams and ways to report abuse. FLEC member agencies will also review the lack of information available to more vulnerable groups to help better understand the risks and opportunities they face. Lastly, the FLEC will engage with industry experts and academics to promote and coordinate public/private partnerships for financial education outreach.

Take a long-term approach to digital assets

Financial advisors often encourage investors to focus on the long-term and avoid trying to time the market with their 401(k) investments. Similarly, plan sponsors may want to take a long‑term perspective regarding their own approach to digital assets. Given today’s massive surge in the variety and scope of digital assets, plan sponsors should seek to understand their role in the financial landscape before rushing to implement changes.

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Digital assets: Potential benefits and risks for employee benefit plans

So far in our value acceleration article series, we have talked about increasing the value of your business and building liquidity into your life starting with taking inventory of where you are at and aligning values, reducing risk, and increasing intangible value.

In this article, we are going to focus on planning and execution. How these action items are introduced and executed may be just as important as the action items themselves. We still need to protect value before we can help it grow. Let’s say you had a plan, a good plan, to sell your business and start a new one. Maybe a bed-and-breakfast on the coast? You’ve earmarked the 70% in cash proceeds to bolster your retirement accounts. The remaining 30% was designed to generate cash for the down payment on the bed-and-breakfast. And it is stuck in escrow or, worse yet, tied to an earn-out. Now, the waiting begins. When do you get to move on to the next phase? After all that hard work in the value acceleration process, you still didn’t get where you wanted to go. What went wrong?

Many business owners stumble at the end because they lack a master plan that incorporates their business action items and personal action items. Planning and execution in the value acceleration process was the focus of our conversation with a group of business owners and advisors on Thursday, April 11th.

Business valuation master plan steps to take

A master plan should include both business actions and personal actions. We uncovered a number of points that resonated with business owners in the room. Almost every business owner has some sort of action item related to employees, whether it’s hiring new employees, advancing employees into new roles, or helping employees succeed in their current roles. A review of financial practices may also benefit many businesses. For example, by revisiting variable vs. fixed costs, companies may improve their bidding process and enhance profitability. 

Master plan business improvement action items:

  • Customer diversification and contract implementation
  • Inventory management
  • Use of relevant metrics and dashboards
  • Financial history and projections
  • Systems and process refinement

A comprehensive master plan should also include personal action items. Personal goals and objectives play a huge role in the actions taken by a business. As with the hypothetical bed-and-breakfast example, personal goals may influence your exit options and the selected deal structure. 

Master plan personal action items:

  •  Family involvement in the business
  •  Needs vs. wants
  •  Development of an advisory team
  •  Life after planning

A master plan incorporates all of the previously identified action items into an implementation timeline. Each master plan is different and reflects the underlying realities of the specific business. However, a practical framework to use as guidance is presented below.

The value acceleration process requires critical thinking and hard work. Just as important as identifying action items is creating a process to execute them effectively. Through proper planning and execution, we help our clients not only become wealthier but to use their wealth to better their lives. 

If you are interested in learning more about value acceleration, please contact the business valuation services team. We would be happy to meet with you, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with information on upcoming value acceleration presentations. 

Article
Planning and execution: Value acceleration series part four (of five)

What are the top three areas of improvement right now for your business? In this third article of our series, we will focus on how to increase business value by aligning values, decreasing risk, and improving what we call the “four C’s”: human capital, structural capital, social capital, and consumer capital.

To back up for a minute, value acceleration is the process of helping clients increase the value of their business and build liquidity into their lives. Previously, we looked at the Discover stage, in which business owners take inventory of their personal, financial, and business goals and assemble information into a prioritized action plan. Here, we are going to focus on the Prepare stage of the value acceleration process.

Aligning values may sound like an abstract concept, but it has a real world impact on business performance and profitability. For example, if a business has multiple owners with different future plans, the company can be pulled in two competing directions. Another example of poor alignment would be if a shareholder’s business plans (such as expanding the asset base to drive revenue) compete with personal plans (such as pulling money out of the business to fund retirement). Friction creates problems. The first step in the Prepare stage is therefore to reduce friction by aligning values.

Reducing risk

Personal risk creates business risk, and business risk creates personal risk. For example, if a business owner suddenly needs cash to fund unexpected medical bills, planned business expansion may be delayed to provide liquidity to the owner. If a key employee unexpectedly quits, the business owner may have to carve time away from their personal life to juggle new responsibilities. 

Business owners should therefore seek to reduce risk in their personal lives, (e.g., life insurance, use of wills, time management planning) and in their business, (e.g., employee contracts, customer contracts, supplier and customer diversification).

Intangible value and the four C's

Now more than ever, the value of a business is driven by intangible value rather than tangible asset value. One study found that intangible asset value made up 87% of S&P 500 market value in 2015 (up from 17% in 1975). Therefore, we look at how to increase business value by increasing intangible asset value and, specifically, the four C’s of intangible asset value: human capital, structural capital, social capital, and consumer capital. 

Here are two ways you can increase intangible asset value. First of all, do a cost-benefit analysis before implementing any strategies to boost intangible asset value. Second, to avoid employee burnout, break planned improvements into 90-day increments with specific targets.

At BerryDunn, we often diagram company performance on the underlying drivers of the 4 C’s (below). We use this tool to identify and assess the areas for greatest potential improvements:

By aligning values, decreasing risk, and improving the four C’s, business owners can achieve a spike in cash flow and business value, and obtain liquidity to fund their plans outside of their business.

If you are interested in learning more about value acceleration, please contact the business valuation services team. We would be happy to meet with you, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with information on upcoming value acceleration presentations.

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The four C's: Value acceleration series part three (of five)

Read this if your company is a benefit plan sponsor.

While plan sponsors have been able to amend their 401(k) plans to include a post-tax deferral contribution called Roth for more than a decade, only 86% of plan sponsors have made it available to participants, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America. Meanwhile, despite the potential benefits of such plans, just a quarter of participants who have access to the Roth 401(k) option use it. Plan sponsors may want to consider adding a Roth 401(k) option to their lineup because of the potential tax benefits and other advantages for plan participants.

A well-designed Roth 401(k) may be an attractive option for many plan participants, and it is important for plan sponsors considering such a feature to design the plan with the needs of their workforce in mind. It is also critical to clearly communicate the differences from the pre-tax option, specific timing rules required, and the tax-free growth it offers. Additionally, plan sponsors should be mindful of potential administrative costs and other compliance requirements in connection with allowing the Roth option.

Roth 401(k)s: The basics

A Roth is a separate contribution source within a 401(k) or 403(b) plan that differs from traditional retirement accounts because it allows participants to contribute post-tax dollars. Since participants pay taxes on these contributions before they are invested in the account, plan participants may make qualified withdrawals of Roth monies on a tax-free basis, and their accounts grow tax-free as well.

Participants of any income level may participate in a Roth 401(k) and may contribute a maximum of $20,500 in 2022—the same limit as a pre-tax 401(k). Contributions and earnings in a Roth 401(k) may be withdrawn without paying taxes and penalties if participants are at least 59½ and it’s been at least five years since the first Roth contribution was made to the plan. Participants may make catch-up contributions after age 50, and they may split their contributions between Roth and pre-tax. Similar to pre-tax 401(k) accounts, Roth 401(k) assets are considered when determining minimum distributions required at age 72, or 70 ½ if they reached that age by Jan. 1, 2020.

Only employee elective deferrals may be contributed post-tax into Roth 401(k) accounts. Employer contributions made by the plan sponsor, such as matching and profit sharing, are always pre-tax contributions. If the plan allows, participants may convert pre-tax 401(k) assets into a Roth account, but it is critical to remember that doing so triggers taxable income and participants must be prepared to pay any required tax. In addition, plan sponsors must be careful to offer Roth 401(k)s equally to all participants rather than just a select group of employees.

Qualified distributions from a designated Roth account are excluded from gross income. A qualified distribution is one that occurs at least five years after the year of the employee’s first designated Roth contribution (counting the first year as part of the five) and is made on or after age 59½, on account of the employee’s disability, or on or after the employee’s death. Non-qualified distributions will be subject to tax on the earnings portion only, and the 10% penalty on early withdrawals may apply to the part of the distribution that is included in gross income. Participants may take out loans if permitted in the plan document. 

First steps for plan sponsors

A common misconception among plan sponsors is that a Roth offering requires a completely different investment vehicle. The feature is simply an added contribution option; therefore, no separate product is needed.

When considering the addition of a Roth 401(k) option, it is important for plan sponsors to check with service providers to determine whether payroll may be set up properly to add a separate deduction for the participant. Plan sponsors may also need to consider guidelines for conversions, withdrawals, loans, and other features associated with the Roth contribution source to ensure the plan document is prepared and followed accurately.

Education is an important component of any new plan feature or offering. Plan sponsors should check with service providers to see how they may help to explain the feature and optimize its rollout for the plan. One-on-one meetings with participants may be very helpful in educating them about a Roth account.

A word about conversions

If permitted by the plan document, participants may convert pre-tax 401(k) plan assets (deferrals and employer contributions) to the Roth source within their plan account. The plan document may allow for entire account conversions or just a stated portion. When assets are converted, participants must pay income taxes on the converted amount, and the additional 10% early withdrawal tax won’t apply to the rollover. Plan sponsors should educate participants on the benefits of converting to the Roth inside the company 401(k).

Collaborate with the right service providers to educate your participants

The right service providers may review your current plan design, set up accounts properly, actively engage and educate your participants, and offer financial planning based on individual circumstances to show how design features like a Roth account may benefit their situation. If you would like to start the conversation about adding a Roth option or enhancing your participant education program, contact our employee benefits team. We are here to help. 

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Plan sponsor alert: Roth 401(k) remains underutilized despite potential benefits

Read this if you are a Maine business or pay taxes in Maine.

Maine Revenue Services has created the new Maine Tax Portal, which makes paying, filing, and managing your state taxes faster, more efficient, convenient, and accessible. The portal replaces a number of outdated services and can be used for a number of tax filings, including:

  • Corporate income tax
  • Estate tax
  • Healthcare provider tax
  • Insurance premium tax
  • Withholding
  • Sales and use tax
  • Service provider tax
  • Pass-through entity withholding
  • BETR

The Maine Tax Portal is being rolled out in four phases, with two of the four phases already completed. Most tax filings for both businesses and individuals are now available. A complete listing can be found on maine.gov. Instructional videos and FAQs can also be found on this site.

In an effort to educate businesses and individuals on the use of the new portal, Maine Revenue Services has been hosting various training sessions. The upcoming schedule can be found on maine.gov

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New Maine Tax Portal: What you need to know