Some of the hardest-hit small businesses saw monthly revenues return to pre-pandemic levels this year, according to recent QuickBooks data. In fact, nationally, monthly revenues were higher than pre-pandemic benchmarks. In the small business realm, recovery is certainly taking hold.

But running a small business in 2021 isn’t any easier than it was in 2020. The COVID pandemic is still at the forefront of every small business owner’s mind. Many are still struggling to operate under COVID restrictions, dealing with inadequate staffing, and working overtime to keep customers and employees safe.

The Paycheck Protection Program, which provided more than $780 billion in forgivable loans to more than 10 million borrowers, ended on May 31, 2021. But business owners in need of financial relief still have a few options. At least, for now.

Apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan before December 31

There are still billions of dollars available under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program—but the deadline to apply for an EIDL or EIDL Advance is fast approaching. Business owners have until December 31, 2021, to apply. Loan applications will continue to be processed after this date until funds are exhausted.

However, the SBA cannot continue to process EIDL Advance applications after December 31. They strongly encourage those applying for an Advance to apply by December 10 to ensure adequate processing time.

Under the EIDL program, small businesses and other eligible applicants can apply for working capital loans up to $2 million. These loans can be used to pay fixed debts, cover payroll, and pay other bills that cannot otherwise be paid due to the economic impact of the pandemic. In September, the use of EIDL funds was expanded to include payment and prepayment of business and federal debt incurred at any time, past or future.

Small business owners who receive a loan will not have to begin repayment until two years after disbursement of the loan. Additionally, as part of the EIDL Advance program, some business owners may be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in funding from the SBA that does not need to be repaid.

For small business owners, an EIDL is money on the table. Apply before December 31 to take advantage of this program. Learn more about the EIDL program from the SBA. 

Important information about the Employee Retention Credit

The ERC is a refundable tax credit intended to encourage small business owners to keep their employees on the payroll and out of the unemployment office. The credit ended retroactively on September 30, 2021.

For small business owners, the credit reduced the employment tax deposits they were otherwise required to make. For 2021, the tax credit was equal to 70% of qualified wages that eligible employers pay their employees. Qualified employers could earn a maximum credit of $7,000 per employee per quarter.

Small business owners who retained payroll taxes in anticipation of receiving the ERC in the fourth quarter of 2021 will need to determine any underpaid amounts. Employers who have not yet claimed any ERCs for wages paid between March 13, 2020, and September 30, 2021, can still get the tax credit by amending their quarterly employment tax returns using IRS Form 941-X.

Keep an eye on the IRS website or check with a tax professional for additional guidance.

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