As the COVID-19 pandemic caused social and economic effects through most of 2020, NLBMDA focused heavily on protecting dealers across the U.S. After successes with advocating for the inclusion of dealers as critical essential infrastructure, more was needed. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was shaping up to be an attractive option and NLBMDA went to work.
The PPP, which was created by Congress last March and provides forgivable loans to small businesses, was a way to assist businesses with paying their employees as the economic effects of COVID-19 continued to impact communities across the U.S. NLBMDA interacted regularly with both the Senate and House of Representatives to include billions in funding to provide dealers with the option to utilize the loan. Congress ultimately authorized $349 billion for the first round. This was an important victory, but the Small Business Administration (SBA) needed to address a variety of ambiguities which took time. This caused some additional confusion and NLBMDA worked closely with SBA to release guidance as quickly as possible.
Throughout 2020, NLBMDA maintained that close relationship with SBA to field dealer questions about PPP and to continue to update guidance to provide clarity for members. While the program was working well for many, it was clear that more needed to be done. In particular, NLBMDA identified three main areas that demanded attention from policymakers.
First, more guidance was needed for dealers as they began to look at longer-term considerations such as taxes. In particular, Congress had not been specific about the deductibility of loan expenses and NLBMDA called for the Department of the Treasury to clarify that dealers can, in fact, deduct these expenses. Second was the issue of 501(c) (6) organizations and eligibility for a PPP loan. While dealer members were eligible from the beginning, NLBMDA wanted to assist our federated association partners with qualifying if interested. The third was the need to reauthorize funding and an open period for applications. The first round of PPP had expired and more money and time were needed as COVID-19 continued.
Ultimately, NLBMDA was successful in all three of these critical issues with PPP, thanks in large part to the hard work of our members who contacted their elected officials to weigh in. PPP loan expenses are now fully deductible, 501(c)(6) organizations are eligible for PPP provided they meet certain criteria and late in the year, Congress reauthorized additional loan funding.
Many are curious about what could be coming in 2021, particularly with a new Administration and with the Democratic Party in a stronger position in the Senate. Our read is that Congress will pass additional COVID-19 relief legislation, particularly in early 2021. The Democrats have signaled support for more small business relief, including PPP, and a variety of measures for individuals among other things.
NLBMDA has already been in contact with Capitol Hill on advocating for a variety of dealer priorities, including a scaled-back unemployment benefit, employer liability protections, expanded access and funding for PPP, and others. As NLBMDA continues key advocacy goals, members can take advantage of the COVID-19 Resource Center, located on the NLBMDA website. This contains a variety of resources for members on PPP, COVID-19-related tax credits, state lockdown orders, and others.
As 2021 continues, other possible priorities for Congress could range from energy legislation to a comprehensive infrastructure package. NLBMDA will be leading the fight for America’s dealers in DC as the year rolls on.
Kevin McKenney is director of government affairs for NLBMDA in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit dealer.org.