UPDATE Saturday March 6:

You can now move forward and submit your Paycheck Protection Program loan applications and have them fall under the new loan calculation guidelines. The priority window for small business applications is currently open and will end on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 5pm EST. The loan forms have changed, so be sure to confirm with your lenders that you are using the correct forms.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is changing how it calculates Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for the smallest firms and sole proprietors.

Our massage community has been hit hard this past year by COVID-19. The good news is that we seem to be coming out of the worst of it, and business is picking back up in most parts of the country. Even more help for us could soon be on the way.

The new SBA rules announced on Monday mean you could likely qualify for a PPP loan as an independent sole proprietor (with no W-2 income). With that in mind, we wanted to provide you with a brief rundown of the important information you need to know.

What exactly is a PPP Loan?

The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to offer forgivable loans for small businesses and sole proprietors, in order to help them with the loss of income experienced during the pandemic.

Here’s the important part: These loans may be 100% forgiven if the proceeds are used in approved ways.

How big of a PPP loan can massage therapists qualify for?

As of the time of this writing, no specifics have been given, but the idea behind opening up PPP loans to sole proprietors and gig economy workers is to provide them more assistance. We’ll be sure to update this article once this becomes clear.

For now, it looks like it will be some percentage of the 2019 or 2020 gross income shown on your 1040 tax return, but we won’t know for certain for a few more days.

When can massage therapists apply for a PPP loan?

There is a 2-week priority window of Wednesday, February 24 — Wednesday, March 10, 2021 specifically for sole proprietors and businesses with fewer than 20 employees. If you meet the criteria and are going to apply for a PPP loan, you should try to complete your application in this window.

You may not want to apply right this second, though. The SBA has not yet set the specifics of how to calculate the new changes to lenders. The new rules that will likely lead to you getting a larger loan won’t go into effect until the first week of March.

To find eligible lenders near you who can help you get a PPP loan for massage therapists, use the SBA eligible lenders site.

What do you need to apply as an independent massage therapist?

You don’t have employees: The only thing you’ll need to submit is your 2019 or 2020 1040 Schedule C form showing your gross income.

You have one or more employees: If you filed at least one W-2 last year (that includes you), you’re probably already familiar with PPP loans. If not, the SBA has created a website with everything you’ll need to know about how to apply.

A cautionary note regarding PPP loans for massage therapists

The SBA has made it clear that loans submitted prior to the official rule changes are subject to the rules in effect at the time of application.

Proceed with caution in applying for a PPP loan until the new rules have been made clear!

Changes that make some student loan borrowers and legal non-residents eligible for loans also go into effect the first week of March, according to the SBA.

There are also other questions around the timing of applications for sole proprietors, especially those who already got a loan approved, but would get more under the new formula — there isn’t a process for amending a dispersed loan, or holding back an application that’s currently pending.

We hope this helps and you are able to take full advantage of this program if it’s right for your business. And here’s to a better 2021!