U.S. Department of Commerce Lowers Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber
The U.S. Department of Commerce recently set new antidumping and countervailing duties for Canadian softwood lumber an average rate of 8.9% after completing its first administrative review on softwood lumber imports from Canada.
The new rate is down from the original 20% average duty imposed in 2017 by the Department of Commerce, which has accused Canada of unfairly subsidizing its lumber industry and then dumping wood into the U.S. at unfair prices.
Over the past several years, NLBMDA has been at the forefront of lobbying the federal government on the importance of a free market regarding the supply of softwood lumber. As such, NLBMDA welcomes this decision by the Department of Commerce and views it as a step in the right direction in trade relations between the U.S. and Canada.
NLBMDA will continue to lobby the Trump Administration and incoming Biden Administration in support of a long-term softwood lumber agreement with Canada that brings stability and predictability to the pricing and availability of softwood lumber without the imposition of duties.
COVID-19 Relief Update and PPP Resources
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses of all types across the country, NLBMDA would like to update members on the status of COVID relief negotiations, including the latest information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and resources for loan forgiveness.
The PPP, which was created by Congress last March and provides forgivable loans to small businesses, expired on August 8 and has yet to be renewed. Both the House of Representatives and Senate have introduced bills over the last several months to restart the PPP but no legislation has cleared Congress to date. With COVID cases increasing across the U.S. this fall and some states implementing another round of business closures, there is a heightened sense of urgency on Capitol Hill to reauthorize the PPP and other Small Business Administration (SBA) relief programs.
Last Tuesday, a group of bipartisan members in the Senate and House released a new $900 billion COVID relief framework which would provide $288 billion for the PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The proposal also includes employer liability protections and $300 per week in supplemental unemployment insurance for four months. This framework has not yet been drafted into legislative text but there is growing optimism in both parties that this proposal provides a good starting point for a final agreement.
Some members in the Senate believe that a higher level of funding is needed for PPP so Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is circulating his own proposal that would provide $332 billion for a second round of PPP loans and expand the eligible expenses to include safety costs. The proposal would simplify the loan forgiveness process and provide more flexibility for borrowers. It also includes employer liability protections. No formal text has been introduced.
NLBMDA has lobbied Congress for several months on the need for additional small business relief and loan options. Earlier this fall, NLBMDA sent a letter to Congress urging them to allocate more funding for PPP and make improvements to the program so it is more accessible and workable for lumber and building material dealers. This includes expanding PPP eligibility to 501(c)(6) organizations and improved clarity and timeliness of agency guidance.
Below, NLBMDA members will find a comprehensive list of resources on how to apply for loan forgiveness if your business participated in the PPP. In addition, members will find links to NLBMDA’s current grassroots campaigns where you can contact your elected officials in support of a “Phase 4” COVID-19 relief bill as well as asking Congress to override IRS guidance to allow for the deductibility of PPP loan expenses.
For any further questions, please contact Kevin McKenney at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alex McIntyre at email@example.com.
PPP Loan Forgiveness Instructions and FAQs:
- How to Apply for PPP Loan Forgiveness
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Loan Forgiveness
- SBA PPP Loan Forgiveness Website
PPP Loan Forgiveness Application – All Borrowers
Eligibility: This application is available for use by all PPP borrowers.
- SBA PPP Loan Forgiveness Application
- Application Instructions
PPP Loan Forgiveness Application – EZ Form
Eligibility: This application is available for use by borrowers which: are self-employed and have no employees; or did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; or experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.
- SBA PPP EZ Loan Forgiveness Application
- Application Instructions
PPP Loan Forgiveness Application – Simpler Form
Eligibility: This application is available for use by PPP borrowers that received a loan of $50,000 or less.
- SBA PPP Simpler Loan Forgiveness Application
- Application Instructions
NLBMDA Grassroots Campaigns on COVID-19 Relief
Grassroots campaigns allow for NLBMDA members to contact their Senators and Representative in support of the industry’s priorities with just a simple click of a button.
- Support NLBMDA’s Phase 4 COVID-19 Relief Priorities
- Support Deductibility of PPP Loan Expenses
IRS Reiterates Position on Deductibility of PPP Loan Expenses
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a revenue ruling which reiterated its position from April that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers cannot claim deductions for expenses of forgiven PPP loans since businesses are not taxed on the proceeds of these loans. Moreover, the IRS states that if a business reasonably believes that a PPP loan will be forgiven in the future, expenses related to the loan are not deductible, whether the business has filed for forgiveness or not. As a reminder, these expenses include:
- Payroll costs;
- Any payment of interest on any covered mortgage obligation (which shall not include any prepayment of or payment of principal on a covered mortgage obligation);
- Any payment on any covered rent obligation; and
- Any covered utility payment.
In addition, the IRS issued separate guidance which clarifies that in the case where a PPP loan was expected to be forgiven, and it is not, businesses will be able to deduct expenses related to that loan. Businesses who never applied for forgiveness in the first place are also eligible to deduct PPP loan expenses.
NLBMDA has created a grassroots campaign where members can contact their elected officials to request that they override IRS guidance to allow for the deductibility of PPP loan expenses.
CDC Shortens COVID-19 Quarantine Recommendations
Last Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published revised guidelines shortening the recommended 14 day quarantine period after a person has been exposed to COVID-19. The CDC now says that potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 days with no symptoms and 7 days if the individual has tested negative.
Biden Selects Key Cabinet Nominees
In the last few weeks, President-elect Joe Biden has selected nominees for key cabinet positions in his incoming administration. Below you will find a list of nominees and brief biographies for economic and domestic policy posts.
Treasury Secretary: Janet Yellen
Yellen served as chair of the Federal Reserve Board from 2014-2018. Previously, she served as vice-chair of the Fed and president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She also served as the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors in the Clinton administration.
Office of Management and Budget Director: Neera Tanden
Tanden is currently the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. She previously served as senior adviser for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration.
National Economic Council Director: Brian Deese
Deese is currently a managing director at BlackRock, a global investment and financial management firm. Previously, he served as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and senior advisor to President Barack Obama.
Health and Human Services Secretary: Xavier Becerra
Becerra is currently the Attorney General of California. Previously, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-2017.
Secretary of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas
Mayorkas served as the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration.
SBA Still Accepting Applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently sent out a reminder that if you are a small business, nonprofit organization of any size, or a U.S. agricultural business with 500 or fewer employees that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can still apply for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Full details on the loan application process can be found here.