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    CARES Act Includes Qualified Improvement Property Fix

    As part of the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress created a framework to accelerate depreciation for businesses on qualified improvement property (QIP), which generally is any improvement made to the interior portion of a nonresidential building any time subsequent to a building being placed in service.

    The depreciable life of QIP was to be reduced from 39 to 15 years and with 100% bonus depreciation being available for all assets with a life of 20 years or less. This would mean if you spent a million dollars in 2018 renovating interiors you should have been entitled to an immediate million dollar tax deduction.

    Although that would have been great news, you know what happens -. In the final version, Congress forgot to specify QIP as 15 year life property. As a result, the life remained 39 years, and thus the property was not eligible for 100% bonus depreciation.

    The 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was the opportunity to repair things and provides a much-needed technical correction to the QIP problem, granting the intended 15 year life language while making the change retroactive to January 1, 2018. Thus, for anyone interested, you are entitled to file an amended return to reap the benefits of accelerated depreciation in 2018 and save when you file 2019.

    The Czar Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. However, as this is all developing quickly we are here to offer support in any way we can. You can email us at info@czarbeer.com or call 212 397 2970 with any questions you may have.

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    Quick Guide: Main Street Lending Program

    For the past few weeks we’ve been bombarded with information on the most popular aspects of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but the Federal Reserve took additional steps to bolster the economy with the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP). Designed to further assist small and medium-sized businesses this program provides liquidity during the coronavirus crisis. The MSLP enables new financing of eligible term loans from eligible lenders to eligible businesses by making an extra $2.3 trillion in loans available. As with the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), businesses should reach out to their banks or lenders to apply for one of these loans. However, we need to mention that for now the minimum loan size is $1 million and the interest rate is expected to be higher than that of PPP loans.

    Businesses will need to attest that they require financing due to COVID-19 and have made efforts in the areas of retaining employees as well as maintaining payroll during the term of the loan. An important stipulation of the use of the loan is that the borrower may not use proceeds to repay or refinance pre-existing loans. Small businesses that participate in the PPP may also take advantage of the Main Street Program.

    The MSLP will enhance support for eligible borrowers that were in good financial standing before the crisis by offering four-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion. Interest rates on this unsecured debt will be based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus 2.5% to 4%, depending on the credit risk. SOFR is a newer benchmark that is due to replace the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) next year.

    Amortization of principal and interest is deferred for one year (the amortization schedule for an eligible loan is not otherwise specified in the term sheets released by the Federal Reserve). Eligible lenders (banks) may originate new MSLP loans or use them to increase the size of existing loans to businesses.

    Prepayment is permitted without penalty and there is a 1% loan origination fee based on the principal amount of the loan. However, unlike the PPP, these loans contain no provisions for forgiveness.

    The borrower must agree to not use the proceeds of the loan to repay other loan balances and concur that it will not seek to cancel or reduce any of its outstanding lines of credit with the lender or any other lender.

    There are compensation restrictions in that until one year after the loan is repaid, no officer or employee of the business whose calendar year 2019 total compensation exceeded $425,000 receives from the business total compensation that exceeds during any consecutive 12-month period the total compensation received by that person in 2019. Additionally, severance pay or other termination benefits cannot exceed two times the maximum compensation received by that person in 2019.  Lastly, no officer or employee of the business whose total compensation exceeded $3 million in calendar year 2019 may receive during any consecutive 12-month period total compensation in excess of $3 million plus or 50% of the compensation over $3 million of total compensation received from the business in calendar year 2019.

    The good news is that banks are already seeking changes as the Federal Reserve finalizes the MSLP in order to expand eligibility. The feedback has been for new enhancements that make the program workable for lenders as this would get the funds into the real economy quickly. The program’s $1 million minimum loan size appears to be too large and will exclude many small businesses that need to borrow a smaller amount while a minimum of $100,000 seems more appropriate. Calls have been made to reduce the floor to $50,000. As some lenders have yet to adopt to SOFR, those lenders want to use LIBOR or other benchmarks.

    Further, other industry groups have made requests to include more flexibility on the duration of the loans allowed and the maximum size of the loan, as well as giving lenders more discretion as how to supervise capital distribution restrictions that are imposed on borrowers as a condition of the loan.

    The Czar Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the the current economic crisis that affect our clients. However, as this is all developing quickly we are here to offer support in any way we can. You can email us at info@czarbeer.com or call 212 397 2970 with any questions you may have.

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    Net Operating Losses: The Carryback is Back!

    The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) updated the net operating loss rules to eliminate carryback opportunities, while allowing carryforwards to be used to offset 80% of taxable income. On the plus side, the updated rules allowed losses to be deferred indefinitely removing the 20 year expiration rule and even better than that, is the good news that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has modified those rules even further and now the 80% limitation has been lifted, meaning once again losses can now be carried back for up to five years.

    The widening of the use of net operating losses and allowing carryback refunds as part of implementing the CARES Act presents an opportunity for small businesses to recoup taxes paid, as well as significantly reduce their tax burdens going forward. The IRS also announced temporary procedures that allow a fax transmission of the required forms to speed up the processing times for these refund claims. The new law requires a taxpayer with a net operating loss arising in a 2018, 2019, or 2020 taxable year to carry that loss back to each of the five preceding years unless the taxpayer elects to waive or reduce the carryback.

    Starting on April 17, 2020 and until further notice the IRS will accept eligible refund claims forms to a specific fax number – 844-249-6236 for Form 1139 (corporations) and 844-249-6237 for Form 1045 (individuals, estates and trusts). The IRS is encouraging taxpayers to wait until April 17, rather than mailing in the forms since mail processing is being impacted by the pandemic.

    Previously, these forms could be filed only via hard copy delivered through the USPS or by a private delivery service. The temporary procedure to accept these forms via fax allows the federal government to make the relief in the CARES Act available to taxpayers before IRS processing centers are able to reopen. The other procedures to process claims will remain the same – the only difference is to allow an additional method to file eligible refund claims.

    The Czar Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. However, as this is all developing quickly we are here to offer support in any way we can. You can email us at info@czarbeer.com or call 212 397 2970 with any questions you may have.

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    Quick Guide: CARES Act Payroll Tax Deferral

    News of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has made headlines every day since its enactment in late March. As of April 16, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the initial amounts appropriated for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) (including up to $10,000 emergency grants) for the COVID-19 virus situation have run out, but fear not for businesses concerned about cash flow can find solace in two other CARES Act provisions.

    One provision of the Act allows the employer portion of payroll tax deposits to be utilized if no PPP loan is forgiven. This provision seeks to alleviate the burden on employers struggling to make payroll by allowing the employer’s share of the 6.2% social security tax that would otherwise be due from the date of enactment through December 31, 2020, to be deferred and then paid in two 50% installments by December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022. For those who are self-employed, you can immediately defer paying 50% of your self-employment tax that would be due from the date of enactment through the end of 2020 until the end of 2021 (25%) and 2022 (25%).

    This means an employer who incurs its 6.2% share of Social Security tax in 2020 may defer payment of that tax until 2021 and 2022.

    The second provision allows an employer to receive an immediate credit against those yet-to-be paid payroll taxes via the sum of the emergency medical leave credit, sick leave credit, and new employee retention credit. This will increase the cash available to businesses in the coming months. It appears these credits may also be refundable, meaning you can get cash back from the IRS for certain payroll taxes already paid.

    The Czar Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. However, as this is all developing quickly we are here to offer support in any way we can. You can email us at info@czarbeer.com or call 212 397 2970 with any questions you may have.

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    We’re Here to Help

    The sudden appearance of and subsequent upheaval caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is certainly unprecedented. While we have all as a result entered into quite unfamiliar territory, at Czarnowski & Beer we have been working around the clock to create resources that help our clients navigate these uncharted waters.

    With all non-essential businesses shutting down and the added sense that we have no idea how long this will continue, we are doing what we can to help reduce the sense of fear and overwhelm that is plaguing many persons in the cooperative and condominium industry by creating the following guides and resources:

    CARES Act Summary

    To help our clients better understand the new programs that are available to them, we have created a comprehensive guide outlining the provisions laid out in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The document provides an overview on the three most popular options in the Act that can provide a significant boost to your struggling cash flow. Click here to download.

    How to Prepare for Disruptions to Your Property’s Cash Flow

    The scenarios playing out in our present-day reality are so daunting they can create an extremely challenging situation for even the most well-prepared coop and condo boards, but fear not, we have identified a few action steps that can help you identify ways to manage your property’s cash flow and handle bulging budget deficits. Read the full article here.

    Everything You Need to Know About the Paycheck Protection Program

    There has been a lot of publicity concerning the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and in this post we dive deep into what it is, how you can apply and raise important questions that will help you determine if applying would be the best decision for you at this time. Read it here.

    The Cash Flow Checklist: Actions Your Board Can Take to Protect Against Shortages

    While it is ultimately best to consult a trusted Certified Public Accountant to help you navigate your way forward, The Cash Flow Checklist quickly outlines ways you can prepare for disruptions to your property’s cash flow and significantly help you manage your property’s financial during these uncertain times. Click here to access the entire list.

    Why Coops and Condos Should Apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan

    Since the enactment of the CARES Act the spotlight has been shown on PPP loans and provisions made by that program, but what many people don’t know is that the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) may at present provide even better opportunities for coops and condos. Read the reasons why here.

    The Czar Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. The information in the resources listed above should provide some assistance and give you confidence that you’ll be able to weather this storm.

    However, as this is all developing quickly we are here to offer support in any way we can. Download our proposal document here for more guidance. You can also email us at info@czarbeer.com or call (212) 397-2970 for more information.

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    The Truth About Withdrawing From Your IRA

    On the Czarnowski & Beer blog we’ve been sharing a lot of helpful tips and information for cooperatives and condominiums to use in an effort to reduce the harmful effects caused by COVID-19, but our wealth of knowledge doesn’t end there.

    One of the personal  forms of assistance available as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to Americans who are struggling with financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic is that they can withdraw money from their retirement accounts without the usual penalty, with the option to pay any tax owed over three years. The Act also relaxes rules on taking out loans against a 401(k) savings plan.

    The fallout from the crisis has left people scrambling to pay their bills after being furloughed, getting laid off, or having hours reduced. We know that withdrawing from your IRA is a controversial topic, but if you need the money and it’s the only money you have, you may have little choice. Realize though, if you are younger than age 59 you are only being afforded a savings of 10% of the amount you withdraw – meaning you will still owe income tax on the amount withdrawn. On the other hand, no matter your age you have up to three years to pay any tax due on the withdrawal.

    All things considered, it may be more attractive to borrow money from your 401(k), assuming your plan has a loan option available. The Act increases the loan amount available from the lesser of $50,000 or 50% of your account balance to the lesser of $100,000 or 100% of your account balance. Note that your employer must adopt these changes to the plan to enable you to take advantage of them.

    If you are unfortunately out of work for a long period you will most likely find that you pay a lower income tax rate as well, but we typically advise against taking withdrawals from your retirement accounts prematurely. You should access these funds as a last resort – these days, it takes a lifetime to accumulate retirement savings.

    Ultimately, although the options exist we advise you to do your best to evaluate all of your options including family, friends, selling off personal items, etc., before considering whether to withdraw money from such funds. Think long and hard about ANY other sources of savings to access first and leave withdrawing money from retirement funds as a last resort.

    The Czar Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. However, as this is all developing quickly we are here to offer support in any way we can. You can email us at info@czarbeer.com or call 212 397 2970 with any questions you may have.

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    The Cash Flow Checklist: Actions Your Board Can Take to Protect Against Shortages

    The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has definitely shaken things up in the cooperative and condominium industry. With all non-essential businesses shutting down and the added sense that we have no idea how long this will continue, funds are running low and people are getting worried.

    While it is ultimately best to consult a trusted Certified Public Accountant to help you navigate your way forward, The Cash Flow Checklist outlines ways you can prepare for disruptions to your property’s cash flow and significantly help you manage your property’s financial during these uncertain times.

    • Start with a monthly escrow for real estate taxes so you can pull that amount out each month.
    • Cease any reserve fund contributions.
    • Postpone capital improvement projects wherever possible.
    • Consider the option to draw down on existing line of credit facilities, but keep in mind that lenders may withdraw all or a portion of the available line in difficult times. Consider the effect on monthly costs of taking drawings.
    • Reach out to commercial tenants to best understand rent payments that they will be able to make.
    • Review unit owner listings and contact those who you feel might have difficulty keeping up with usual monthly payments. Call on your fellow Board members, the superintendent and neighbors to help identify others.
    • It is not clear if cooperatives and condominiums can qualify for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLS) as well as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans, however, existing lenders generally need to approve additional financing. Just in case, gathering the required information and being ready to apply once final guidance is received would be prudent.
    • Condominiums without existing debt can consider obtaining new debt secured by working capital. Refinancing existing debt may make sense although consider upfront costs and early payment penalties and the anticipated lag of at least 90 days from initiation to closing.
    • Reach out the NYC Water Board to see if they have any programs available to defer payment without interest.
    • Inform vendors that payments will only be able to be made as funds are available.
    • Suspend reimbursement for abatements and Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIEs).
    • Resist covering a deficit by increasing monthly charges or imposing an additional assessment, options that are likely increase the financial stress already placed on residents.
    • Avoid the courts at all cost. Neighbors who for years may have dutifully paid their monthly charges deserve better.

    Should cash become tight:

    Consider borrowing money from reserves to operations with appropriate documentation in the minutes of board meetings and include a clear plan to replenish those reserves.

    Contact the mortgage holder and request forbearance for at least 90 days.  

    Prioritize bill payment as follows:

    – Payroll

    – Fuel oil

    – Supplies/Repairs

    – Insurance

    – Office expenses

    Seek deferral acknowledgements for:

    – Mortgage (focus on interest only)

    – Gas/Electric

    – Real Estate Taxes

    – Water and Sewer

    Pay as best as possible:

    – Professional fees

    – Management Fee

    – Corporate Taxes

    Consider temporally using security deposits held against monthly charges for buyers who did not meet the board’s requirements at purchase.

    The Czarnowski & Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. If you’re interested in reading our full summary of the provisions outlined for coops and condos in the Act, download our guide here.

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    Why Coops and Condos Should Apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan

    By now, you probably have read about the aspect of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress at the end of last month which gives until June 30, 2020 to file an application under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Although the PPP is intended to help with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employers of fewer than 500 persons, much of the commentary regarding the loan program indicates that only with legislative relief will it be afforded to cooperatives and condominiums.

    While we often look to legal counsel to direct our clients, the intent of the Act and the vagueness of the regulations within it seem to leave room to consider filing so long as the bank you have lending relationship or bank account will accept the application or use a third party service that works directly with another Small Business Administration (SBA) lender.

    Regardless of your Board’s decision if your property is experiencing injury, most likely from commercial tenants either indicating that they can’t pay their rent, staffing vacancies which need to be filled by quite expensive security services, or numerous unit owners not being able to pay their monthly charges; then you may want to consider another aspect of the Act, a SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).  We do have cooperative and condominium clients with SBA disaster loans, so it seems that the requirements appear to be different for EIDLs.

    Until the Act, situations like the one we are currently experiencing did not qualify for disaster loans. However, everything about the current events should be considered disastrous and thus now, disaster loans are available for coops and condos.  The EIDL is quite different from the PPP, in that the amount of the loan is subject to the amount of your losses and there is presently no provision for forgiveness. However, at 3.75%, for properties in need of cash, they provide an option without the longer approval process of standard commercial loans.  You will be assigned a revolving lender by the SBA so there is no need to verify if a bank you have a relationship with are accepting applications.  Presently, that is one of the important barriers that properties are dealing with presently as they decide whether to process PPP applications.

    High demand for the EIDL has led to important changes limiting the size of the payouts for small-business owners. The Massachusetts District Office of U.S. Small Business Administration announced that, nationwide, the SBA has decided to implement a $1,000 cap per employee on the up to $10,000 maximum advance. So, a business with three employees, for example, would be eligible to receive only $3,000 up front, as opposed to the originally stated $10,000.

    Other aspects that are beneficial are that the loan term is 30 years and it can be repaid early at any time or in any partial amount.  The downside is the application process needs to be with a lender that doesn’t know you and even though the intention of Congress was ease in documenting need and qualification.  There has not been enough feedback on this program to conclude whether those aspects are in place.

    The initial application is online, and even though the loan is non-recourse, the application does require personal information of at least an individual.  Taking the first step of filing the application is quite easy, although there has been a lag in excess of the intention turnaround of several days.  When appropriate, Cooperatives and Condominiums, and their managing agents should consider moving forward with preparing these applications, and not necessarily wait too long and possible see the program run out of allocated resources.

    Overwhelming interest in the program has slowed the process which makes it difficult to estimate when applicants will be able to expect their advance. Additionally, as of April 16th the SBA indicated it is currently unable to accept new applications for both the EIDL and PPP programs based on available appropriations funding. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

    The Czarnowski & Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. For more information on how you can prepare for cash flow disruptions see our latest blog post here. If you’re interested in reading our full summary of the provisions outlined for coops and condos in the Act, download our guide here.

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    Everything You Need to Know About the Paycheck Protection Program

    The world that we live in today is quite different to the one we started off the new year with and in it new heroes have emerged. Instead of our usual caped crusaders, we’re now celebrating medical personnel, police and firefighters who are on the frontlines of the pandemic and out there preserving our lives. These brave professionals are the ones who rush to help when everyone else seems to be hiding away, doing whatever they can to assist the sick and maintain our society. Not to be left out, many other professionals are working hard to ensure that things remain as “business as usual” as possible. Teachers search for methods to continue to invest in children and we can also look at our elected representatives with admiration for the two, usually dueling, parties have come together with a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill referred to as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

    There has been a lot of publicity concerning the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which is designed to help individuals and businesses survive by maintaining cash flow. Appropriately named, the PPP is a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan which will turn into a grant if the funding is used to pay employees that you had prior to the pandemic. Congress allocated just under $350 billion towards preventing layoffs and business closures while workers stay home during the outbreak for companies with 500 employees or less. This will be done through small business loans through local lenders and given for 2 and a half times the average monthly employee payroll costs.

    Most any business, including a qualifying nonprofit organization, is eligible to apply for a PPP loan if it meets the applicable North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code-based size standard and has an employee headcount that is lower than generally 500 employees. Further, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals are also eligible.

    All or part of this loan may be forgiven so long as it is spent during the first eight weeks after the loan is received to fund the same number of persons you had employed just before the crisis. The loan needs to be utilized for payroll costs (excluding pro-rated amounts for individuals) with compensation for an individual being no greater than $100,000; for leases in force before February 15, 2020, then rent as well; and using that same date: expenses in effect prior to then for electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet access expenses, and group health insurance premiums and other healthcare costs.

    For the portion not forgiven, payments are deferred for six months and the maximum interest rate is 4% with a loan term of up to 10 years. There is no personal guarantee or collateral needed for the loan.

    One of the most advantageous features of this program is that the loan could potentially be forgiven in full. The program was made for those operating under uncertainty of current economic conditions which make it difficult to support ongoing operations. The potential shortfall of revenue should unit owners, and more importantly commercial tenants; be unable or unwilling to pay their monthly charges is one that none of us can foresee. At this point we don’t know what the costs will be of securing relief employees so it may be better to play it safe.

    Most of our clients keep enough operating funds available to handle an emergency, but this is an economic crisis and no one can truly forecast what will happen in the future. It would seem to be venturing a guess to say just how long operating reserves might last. While capital improvement funds can be borrowed, in order to maintain the beneficial individual income tax status as additions to apartment basis when paid they need to be utilized solely for capital, not operating expenses. Further, this situation tends to have lenders withdraw a portion or entire existing credit facilities, thus your use of a line of credit might be limited.

    If you talk to 20 business owners they’re all hearing something different from their banks. In general, properties are submitting applications to the banks that they either have existing financing with or that they maintain their bank accounts with. A further barrier to getting an application moving is that banks are choosing varying methods to service existing clientele to the extent that those with existing loans come first.

    There is a basic application on the SBA website, but many lenders are requiring you to access their own application portal and in many cases further information than asked for in the SBA document is being requested. It is best to check your lenders website to determine their requirements and see if there is an option to print the application out before you attempt to fill it in. We do not recommend that you put a lot of time into completing a partially completed application nor destroy the information that you’ve accumulate to prepare without assuring the work you invest can be saved and updated.

    As part of the application process, SBA is expecting you to be able to certify the following:

    • Current economic uncertainty making the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations.

    • Assurance the funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage, lease, and utility payments.

    • You have not and will not receive another loan under this program.

    • You will provide to the lender documentation that verifies the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and the dollar amounts of payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities for the eight weeks after getting this loan. Loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities.

    • All the information provided in your application and in all supporting documents and forms is true and accurate.

    • Acknowledgement that the lender will calculate the eligible loan amount using the tax documents you submitted.

    • The tax documents provided are identical to those you submitted to the IRS. And that you also understand, acknowledge, and agree that the lender can share the tax information with the SBA’s authorized representatives.

    • Whether or not the business, any of its owners, or any business owned or controlled by any of them has ever obtained a direct or guaranteed loan from SBA or any other federal agency that is currently delinquent or has defaulted in the last 7 years and caused a loss to the government.

    • Whether or not the business has common management with any other business? If yes, attached a listing of all affiliates and describe the relationship.

    • Whether the business has received an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020? If so, provide the details.

    You will need to complete the PPP loan application and submit it with the required documentation to an approved lender that is able to process your application by June 30, 2020.

    While there is with no certainty that we can state the benefits from the PPP will be available to cooperatives and condominiums anytime soon; accumulating information, verifying the process that your bank is following, verifying legal issues with Counsel and preparing an application are certainly worth pursuing. Some are recommending filing as the guidance is unclear and the worst that happens is that loan is not granted or the federal government requires it to be paid back with little interest. This lack of clarity should in itself create a defense against any assertion of penalties and leaves no basis to assert any kind of fraudulent behavior occurred by filing the application.

    The SBA website uses the verbiage, “when in doubt, apply.” Further, there appears to be no reference in the regulations that an entity needs to be materially impacted or even details the extent of the effect that is necessary before a loan can be applied for. This means that boards of directors/managers need to consider when and how they have been affected, the most common indicators are a reduction in revenue receipts and the cost of relief workers as opposed to union staff should an employee not be able to or chooses not to report to work due to the situation.

    While significant benefits might be available to cooperatives and condominiums, the details as to the benefits available under the program cannot be confirmed until the SBA finishes publishing and implementing final regulations. However, the interim guidelines published on April 2, 2020 indicate passive entities such as apartment buildings do not qualify and thus the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) has come out to indicate that cooperatives and condominiums do not qualify. We all hope for legislative relief by Congress to this oversight as part of future stimulus packages.

    Although the current $350 billion to be distributed by the program seems like a lot of money, with so much economic burden one would rightfully be concerned that at some point the demand might exceed the supply. We believe that cooperatives, condominiums, and their managing agents, should consider moving forward with preparing their applications and not necessarily awaiting the final regulations to be prepared. Keep in mind that to file you must be experiencing economic hardship which will interfere with paying your employees, which shouldn’t be hard as most non-essential businesses have seen their revenue deteriorate, if not evaporate.

    The CARES Act contains numerous other important benefits which we plan to chronicle over the coming months. While the Act has two emergency loan programs available you may be hearing less about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which is a second opportunity for receiving emergency funds to keep your business afloat in these trying times and provides protection from the effects caused by present economic situation.

    As of April 16th the SBA indicated it is currently unable to accept new applications for both the EIDL and PPP programs based on available appropriations funding. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

    All things being considered, after you review your situation if feel you have or will have an imminent financial problem we advise that for now it may be best to gather the relevant information, keep it on hand for future use, and await legislative relief.

    The Czarnowski & Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. For more information on how you can prepare for cash flow disruptions see our latest blog post here. If you’re interested in reading our full summary of the provisions outlined for coops and condos in the Act, download our guide here.

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    Preparing for Disruptions to Your Property’s Cash Flow

    The cooperative and condominium industry is entering unfamiliar territory as a result of the effects caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. With all non-essential businesses shutting down and the added sense that we have no idea how long this will continue, tensions are high and people are getting worried.

    Adding to the uncertainty, many unit owners were already living from paycheck to paycheck and are now finding themselves temporarily furloughed or laid off. It is expected that unemployment benefits will only cover basic living costs, so monthly carrying charges are way down the list. The simple fact is that whether the resident experiences a temporary or permanent work disruption, the impact on their ability to pay monthly charges will fall on the board of the property to work through. In times like these we should treat our financially challenged neighbors the way we would want to be treated.

    Let’s face it, in addition to managing unit owners who are behind on their maintenance charges, we also need to plan for commercial tenants not being able to pay their rent anytime soon. Lately we are mostly receiving queries from properties with commercial tenants, as a business needs to be operating in order to pay its rent for retail space, in addition to properties in moderate income neighborhoods where unit owners are already seeking relief. The Czarnowski & Beer team wants to support our clients in any way we can which is why we created this list detailing options for board members to manage cash flow and handle bulging budget deficits.

    The scenarios playing out in our present-day reality are so daunting they create an extremely challenging situation for cooperative and condominium boards who are required to operate on a balanced budget. Any significant interruption of any source of income will force a budget into a deficit, but fear not, we have identified a few action steps available to you:

    Reach out to residents and commercial tenants to gain a better understanding of their specific needs. Reaching out to these valued members of your community about their situation fosters a sense of good will, allows you to have better knowledge of the magnitude of the board’s situation, and affords you the opportunity to plan. Accumulate information on the anticipated income disruption and, where possible, gain data on its likely duration. Continued communication allows for budgets to be adjusted sooner rather than later.

    Draw on the available balances of lines of credit line. Make sure to update cash flow projections for the added cost of interest and required amortization, where necessary. Do your best to document a plan to pay back the line over time. We recommend this step as during past financial crises, lenders have often capped lines of credit at existing draw levels or terminated unused lines. Better to draw funds now and not need them than to need the funds later and line not be available.

    Refinance (or for condominiums obtain a loan). With current historically low interest rates, paying an early prepayment penalty might make sense. Consider a new credit line or a second mortgage.  Depending upon the magnitude of any prepayment penalty, consider a simultaneous credit line borrowing. If a building has a mortgage with a relatively high interest rate, even just borrowing the same principal amount can result in significant savings in debt service. Some condominiums might consider placing a mortgage on the resident superintendent’s apartment. Keep in mind these actions have an up to a 90-day period of lost time up to closing.

    Loan money from your property’s reserves to put towards operations. Maintain appropriate documentation of these occurrences in your board meetings minutes and include a clear plan to replenish the reserves when possible.

    Postpone capital improvement projects wherever possible.

    Resist covering a deficit by either increasing monthly charges or imposing an additional assessment. These options will likely increase the financial stress already placed on residents, thus making a bad situation worse

    Defer payments wherever possible by entering /forbearance agreements. Debtors are aware that it is best to establish and have both parties agree to revised payment arrangements as, when someone signs an agreement, they are far more likely to honor the terms of a deal. Only where there is extreme financial hardship should you contact existing lenders and try to arrange for some forbearance in payment obligations. However, do not unilaterally stop making mortgage or escrow payments as some lenders might quickly place the mortgage into foreclosure mode. The bank that loaned you the money may quickly package and sell the loan to institutional investors that might not be as accommodating as one would hope.

    Converse with your vendors and contractors. You and your managing agent have influence over these relationships and arrangements will need to be accomplished.

    Resist your commercial tenant’s request to apply some or all of their security deposit against current rent.  If the tenant does not survive you have lost money that could cover the building while trying to find a replacement tenant. Additionally, where you have a guaranty of any type applying security gratuitously reduces the liability of the guarantor.

    Avoid the courts at all cost. Neighbors who for years may have dutifully paid their monthly charges deserve better. Let us all see ourselves as in this together and act with compassion.

    While it is recommended that you consult an accountant to help you navigate your way forward, the points outlined here can show you how to prepare for disruptions to your property’s cash flow and significantly help you manage your property’s financial during these uncertain times.

    The Czarnowski & Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the CARES Act and the current economic crisis that affect our clients. If you’re interested in reading our full summary of the provisions outlined for coops and condos in the Act, download our guide here.

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