A safe harbor is available for certain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipients who relied on prior IRS guidance and did not deduct eligible business expenses. These taxpayers may elect to deduct the expenses for their first tax year following their 2020 tax year, rather than filing an amended return or administrative adjustment request for 2020.

The IRS had initially determined that businesses whose PPP loans were forgiven or expected to be forgiven could not deduct business expenses paid for by the loan. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 ( P.L. 116-260), enacted on December 27, 2020, subsequently permitted taxpayers to deduct these expenses.

Safe Harbor Eligibility

To be eligible for the safe harbor, the taxpayer must have received an original PPP covered loan and filed a federal income tax return or information return for the 2020 tax year on or before December 27, 2020. The taxpayer must have paid or incurred original eligible expenses during the taxpayer’s 2020 tax year that the taxpayer did not deduct because:

  • the expenses resulted in forgiveness of the original PPP covered loan; or
  • the taxpayer reasonably expected at the end of the 2020 tax year that the expenses would result in forgiveness.

Electing the Safe Harbor

A taxpayer elects the safe harbor by attaching a statement to a timely, including extensions, federal income tax return or information return for the taxpayer’s first tax year following the 2020 tax year in which the original eligible expenses were paid or incurred. The statement must include:

  • the taxpayer’s name, address, and social security number or taxpayer identification number;
  • a statement that the taxpayer is applying the safe harbor provided by section 3.01 of Revenue Procedure 2021-20;
  • the amount and date of disbursement of the taxpayer’s original PPP loan; and
  • a list, including descriptions and amounts, of the original eligible expenses.

Certain Expenses and Loans Not Covered

The safe harbor applies only to original eligible expenses, and not to additional expenses that were added by the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The safe applies only to original PPP loans. It does not apply to PPP second draw loans.