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Staggering? How much will the US Government make back from small businesses as part of their Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program?  

By Thomas W. Tramaglini, BRP Onesta

info@BRPOnesta.com

www.backofficedepot.com

When the global pandemic hit the United States, it hit businesses hard as millions of businesses were forced to close their doors.  To combat the pandemic, quickly the US government began massive funding of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and other EIDL grant programs.  To small businesses, the EIDL was a great option as it is a 30-year fixed loan at 3.75%. with monthly payments.  One of our clients described the loan as “pretty much the cheapest money you could borrow.”

For a better description of the recent changes and updates of EIDL, The Journal of Accountancy has a great article here:

https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2021/sep/sba-raises-covid-19-eidl-limit-2-million.html

However, when fully repaid in 31 or so years (2051), how much will the government make on the EIDL program in interest?

The number is staggering – these are my simple but quick calculations… So far (as of 12/15/2021) there have been 3,859,280 EIDLs approved for a total amount of $312,406,166,938.  If you do the math, the government will make back nearly $12 Billion ($11,715,231,260.175) on EIDL Program. 

The Government Will Make Back $12 Billion from Small Business Owners

However staggering making $12 Billion off of the American small businesses seems, it is a drop in the bucket considering the government has forgiven nearly $800 Billion.

Only time will tell whether or not the program was or was not successful.

Read Other Blog Posts at www.backofficedepot.com/blog or www.tomtramaglini.com

More data can be found here: https://data.sba.gov/dataset/ppp-foia/resource/cfd2e743-8809-49be-90b6-0e22f453be

Need a Bank Loan for Your Small Business? Don’t Bank On It!

The Landscape of Small Business Lending Suggests Banks are Less Interested in Lending to Small Business Owners

By Thomas W. Tramaglini, BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com

Since the Great Recession of 2008, banks have continually made it harder for small businesses to borrow money.  If you are a small business owner and have applied for an SBA, USDA or bank loan, you will agree that the banks will ask you for everything including your 3rd grade report card.  Most small business owners do not have the time and in many cases the expertise to have adequate P&Ls or an accurate up to date Balance Sheet.

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However, regardless of the business entity or industry, many businesses need to borrow money.  In fact, according to NerdWallet, 29% of all small businesses fail because they run out of capital.1 Inherent in the same dataset, 57% of small businesses sought loans for their businesses of denominations of less than $100,000. “Most small businesses that apply for financing aren’t asking for much…20% [of small businesses] sought less than $25,000 and only 8% sought more than a million.”1

So What?

At the core of small business lending are banks and alternative lenders.  However, according to Anna Serio2 of Finder.com the combination or PPP and EIDL funding and small business loans have more than doubled since 2019 to cover all types of business needs, including operating costs, payroll, investments, or to pay down other debt.

The Small Business Credit Survey (2021) 3 found the following regarding small business owners:

42% applied to large banks for loans

43% applied to small banks for loans

20% applied to online lenders for loans

27% applied at other alternative lenders, credit unions or CDFIs. 

However, while banks were more popular for loans, they were the hardest to get before March 1, 2020 and are harder to get approved for after March 1, 2020. 

Merchant Cash Advances and Equipment Lending

The Federal Reserve Small Business Credit Survey (2021) also suggests that 87% of small business owners were able to get auto or equipment approvals and 84% of small businesses were credit worthy.  However, only 65% of applicants who applied for SBA loans were approved for some credit, followed by Bank loans (57%).

What this still means is that Merchant Cash Advances and Equipment Loans are simply much easier to get than bank loans.

Some Pros of Merchant Cash Advances and Equipment Lending (Learn more Here)

  • Fast
  • Lower Credit is Okay
  • Most Loans and MCAs do not require financials or taxes
  • There are many different products to choose from
  • Most MCAs and Equipment Loans are Unsecured
  • Driven by Revenue and Not Credit

Some Pros of Merchant Cash Advances and Equipment Lending (Learn more Here)

  • Expensive
    • MCA Factor Rates are usually 20% or more and in most cases above 40%
    • Equipment loan rates tend to be better but still usually carry a higher cost than bank loans
  • Payback is usually daily or weekly (not monthly which most small business owners want)
  • Shorter terms (usually 6 months and under for MCAs)
  • No regulation of MCAs (See my review here of MCA nightmares)
  • Some brokers shop your application with 10-20 companies each time, leading to hard pulls on credit ultimately lowering your credit score

1 https://www.fundera.com/resources/small-business-lending-statistics

2 https://www.finder.com/business-loan-statistics

3  https://www.fedsmallbusiness.org/medialibrary/FedSmallBusiness/files/2021/2021-sbcs-employer-firms-report

Read Other Blog Posts at www.backofficedepot.com/blog or www.tomtramaglini.com or www.thomaswtramaglini.com


Dr. Thomas W. Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

Be Careful – It’s Not a Loan!

Several times a year we survey small business owners regarding their practices and needs and from what we learn we shape areas of our company. One thing we learned has implications for small business owners.


By Thomas W. Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
thomaswtramaglini.com


BRP Onesta is a company that supports small businesses in a host of areas. One of the areas we help our clients with is commercial loan origination. Our platform has over 50 different types of products that small businesses can take advantage of to support their operations and growth.


However, in our latest survey we learned that the majority of small business owners who have taken a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) believe that they secured a loan. In our 2021 survey, we found the majority of small business owners (68.1%) believing that that MCAs were loans.


The majority of small business owners believe that Merchant Cash Advances are loans but they are not.


Merchant Cash Advances are not loans – Merchant Cash Advances (MCAs) are advances of future receivables which are paid back over a short amount of time. MCAs are not classified as loans so these advances skirt most of the regulation which the banking and lending industry require.


NAV defines MCAs as: “A merchant cash advance is not a business loan but should be considered a cash advance based on the volume of your credit card receipts. The funding provider gets paid back by taking a portion of your future credit card sales each day. You can usually get approved in a day or two—with very little paperwork. But you’ll likely pay for this convenience in higher interest rates.”


Why MCA?


Loans take time and are in many cases not east to get – One of our best loan products are business loans that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and on average fund in 90 days from start to finish. Sometimes, they take much longer but rarely do they take fewer than 90 days to get done.


Some of our equipment loans, small business loans (not SBA) can take a few days to fund but generally speaking, Merchant Cash Advances can be funded in as little as 2 hours with minimal underwriting. The following can also be true with regards to MCAs:

  • Fast funding
  • Minimal underwriting
  • No Personal Guarantee
  • Unsecured funds
  • Poor credit okay

However, some negatives also include high cost of money (up to 150% interest/fees), daily or weekly payments required, as well as dealing with companies who are similar to loan sharks (see https://www.backofficedepot.com/post/ftc-goes-after-mca-lenders-who-resort-to-machiavellian-tactics-to-recover-funds).


Taxes and MCA – Be Careful


Considering that an MCA is not a loan, small business owners need to be cognizant – BRP Onesta also handles bookkeeping for many small businesses. What is significant is that we consistently see small business owners counting their MCAs as long-term liabilities. Rarely do we not see MCAs listed on a balance sheet as a long-term liability.


Because a Merchant Cash Advance is not a loan and is an advance of future receivables, it should be counted as that – revenue. Therefore, if one receives a $10K MCA, that is an advance of $10K in revenue.


MCAs also do not include interest. They include a pre-determined agreed-upon percentage of business sales to be returned to the lender each day (or week). Payments should be made against the revenue. In theory, the income line should be negative once a MCA is exhausted because the business owner has forfeited a portion of their future receivables to the lender.


What are the implications?


BRP Onesta has clients who have been audited by the IRS and have been penalized for not counting Merchant Cash Advances as revenue. Remember, MCAs are not loans, nor should they be coded on a balance sheet as a loan. Loans are not counted as income and business owners need to understand the implications of using MCAs versus loans so they are not liable for misreporting taxable revenue.

*BRP Onesta is not an accountancy and Thomas Tramaglini is not a CPA. We encourage anyone and everyone to always consult their accountants regarding MCAs.


Dr. Thomas W. Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

FTC Goes After MCA Lenders Who Resort To Machiavellian Tactics To Recover Funds.

This past week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Banned Former Merchant Cash Advance defendants accused of what many who have worked in the industry know too well – among other things… weaponizing Confessions of Judgement and using “deceptive and illegal means to seize assets from small businesses, non-profits, and religious organizations.” – Implications and thoughts.


By Thomas W. Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomaswtramaglini.com


Over the past several years, a relatively unregulated lending industry is becoming more and more regulated. Since the industry exponentially grew after the recession of 2008, Merchant Cash Advance companies have used a host of different tactics to recover funds if a borrower failed to pay back what they borrowed.


What sets apart MCAs from traditional loans is that MCAs are not loans. They are advances of future receivables based on a company’s previous receivables. Because MCAs are not loans, over time MCA lenders have skirted laws and protections that banks and loan providers are required to adhere to, including how lenders to about recovering funds from borrowers. Therefore, without many limits on how many MCA lenders recover funds, MCA lenders have instituted a bunch of different tactics to recover funds from borrowers.


Confessions of Judgement


One of the most significant tools that MCA lenders have used for years has been the utilization of a Confession of Judgement (or COJs).


The Cornell Law School defines a Confession of Judgement as, “a legal device – usually a clause within a contract – in which a debtor agrees to allow a creditor, upon the nonoccurrence of a payment, to obtain a judgement against the debtor, often without advanced notice or a hearing. These clauses may also require the debtor to waive their right to assert any defense against the entry of judgement or be represented by an attorney appointed by the creditor.


To the layperson, a COJ is predetermined guilt for when a small business stops making payments on advances (or in many cases misses a few payments). The borrower waives the right to defend themselves and gives the lender permission to seize personal assets, business assets, or other means to recover what they can. This can include liquidation of assets such as cars, homes, and other things that the borrower has as an asset.
Some States have certainly fought back against this concept. For instance, Indiana prohibits COJ clauses and in 2019 NY State stopped allowing companies to use COJs for out-of-state debtors.


More oversight and regulation are coming to the MCA industry.


For those companies who have brokered or directly provided Merchant Cash Advances, most involved have heard of PAR Funding, RAM Capital Funding and Yellowstone Capital.
For those unfamiliar with these companies, I have added some links to some background on each of the lenders that I mentioned below.


These companies have seen millions in profit and hosts of small business owners who have used these companies can tell you from experience that their experiences have not always been so great. For instance, I have spoken to clients who have suggested that they had been threatened by lenders if they did not pay back their advances, as well as heard countless stories of how the lenders just seized all of the funds in a client’s bank account.


Regardless of the lender, borrowers do agree to pay back their advances but when something goes wrong lenders seem to use any tactics they can to recover their funds.

COJs are just one tactic which has been Machiavellian to say the least.


MCA Lenders Be Aware – The FTC and Others Are Taking Aim


In the three examples that I have shared below, (PAR, Yellowstone, and RAM) clearly officials are making a statement that nonsense will not be tolerated.


For instance, in the complaint against RAM it was noted:


“The agency also alleged that the defendants made unauthorized withdrawals from consumers’ accounts and used unfair collection practices, including sometimes threatening physical violence. In addition, the FTC alleged that the defendants illegally weaponized “confessions of judgment,” contractual terms that allowed defendants to pursue customers’ personal assets in court and obtain uncontested judgments against them.”


From what has been done in these cases, officials are beginning to govern the tactics that MCA lenders use to recover funds. And while it should be noted that borrowers should repay MCAs and if not be held accountable, what tactics lenders should use are ambiguous because the industry is fairly unregulated.
What is clear is MCA borrowers are on notice from officials.


PAR Funding: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-par-funding-merchant-advance-114314171.html
Yellowstone Capital Complaint: https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/182-3202/yellowstone-capital-llc-ftc-v RAM Funding Complaint: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2022/01/merchant-cash-advance-providers-banned-industry-ordered-redress
https://www.consumerfinancemonitor.com/2022/01/07/ftc-enters-into-settlement-with-two-defendants-in-lawsuit-alleging-merchant-cash-advance-providers-engaged-in-unfair-and-deceptive-practices/


Dr. Thomas W. Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

EIDL Series Post 1: The Only Certain Thing About Economic Injury Disaster Loans is Uncertainty

Part 1: The Only Certain Thing About Economic Injury Disaster Loans is Uncertainty

EIDL – Did we use the funds correctly?  Can and will I be audited?  Many say, no but the experts suggest you better be ready for what is ahead.

This is the first post in a multi-post blog regarding some of the ambiguous areas of the EIDL program which as to date funded nearly 4 million small businesses.

By Thomas W. Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com

One of the biggest questions that our clients ask our advisors was and is how Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) funds can be used.  We always advise our clients to consult with their accountants but from our communications with small business owners we know that many do not consult their accountants until it is too late.

Remember, EIDL funds are not forgivable – Unlike the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) the EIDL program is a loan that is NOT forgiven by the Federal Government.  That is… yes, you must pay it back.

On the surface the EIDL loans were exactly what was needed for many businesses in 2020 (beginning approximately in March).  In fact, to date, according to the SBA1 has provided over $316 Billion Dollars in Pandemic Relief funding to small businesses.  (For more on these statistics and how much the Feds will get in return for lending the EIDL funds go to https://tinyurl.com/yckcm2hj). That comes to over 3,865,600 different approvals throughout the United States and eligible territories.  In comparison to PPP funds ($790,921,572,3582), EIDL funding provided approximately 60% less funding to small business owners to sustain their businesses during the pandemic. 

However, did EIDL funds really help small businesses “survive” during the pandemic?

First and foremost, according to the EIDL Regulations:

“Economic injury loan proceeds can only be used for working capital necessary to carry the concern until resumption of normal operations and for expenditures necessary to alleviate the specific economic injury.”

In December of 2021, we surveyed over 2,400 of our clients regarding a host of different issues including their business financing.  Of the over 2,400 clients, we received over 900 responses (41.2% response rate).  Inherent in the responses some of our feedback was interesting to say the least. 

Top 5 Uses of EIDL From Our Business Owners 2021 Survey

Operational expenses (payroll, costs for expenses such as supplies)

Pay off existing debt (credit cards and merchant cash advances)

Purchase new equipment and vehicles

Hire new employees

Pay off back taxes incurred before the pandemic

Overall, the use of EIDL seems to be mixed with regards to what SBA has provided and updated as allowable uses for the EIDL funds. 

The SBA has posted their FAQs on what the allowable uses are at https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-09/COVID%20EIDL%20FAQ%20FINAL%20APPROVED-508.pdf.

For instance, when EIDL was launched in 2020 for Pandemic Relief one could not use the funds to pay off long term debt however, in September 2021 SBA updated its guidance (13 CFR 123.3033) to include the payments being made to long term debt as included in allowable uses.  SBA guidance is ambiguous to what is long term debt and what is not long-term debt.  That is, what the SBA sees as long-term debt and what our clients see as long-term debt may be different.  Clearly, from what our clients told us in their surveys the used their funds to pay for things like their Merchant Cash Advances which are not loans and are recognized as advances of future receivables and not long-term debt.  Further, many of our clients expressed using their EIDL loans to pay for credit card debt.  It is also clear from their responses that while the revision of the guidance seems to include credit card debt for the business, small business owners who have LLCs or partnerships, many of the credit cards may not be in the name of the business or separated from personal uses. 

Other uses which seem to not jive with the SBA guidance were noted in responses:

What I used the funds for:

Equipment Purchases

Starting a New Business

Hiring More Staff

Real Estate Purchase

Purchase of Vehicles

Purchases for split personal/business uses

From what we believe our interpretation to be from the guidance, many of these uses are not going to be acceptable when Audits are included.

“Economic injury loan proceeds can only be used for working capital necessary to carry the concern until resumption of normal operations and for expenditures necessary to alleviate the specific economic injury.”

Obviously, clients expressed the need for more funds during this time to sustain their businesses, yet it is also clear to us that many business owners (some our clients) do not have a grasp on how to appropriately use their funds.  Overall, from our analyses using several surveys some small business owners replaced their use of short-term funding solutions with both PPP and EIDL funding.  This is clear from the MCA industry where Gunes Kugaligil of Methodical Management underscored the effects of the Pandemic on the industry in deBanked (Brendan Garrett 6.8.20204).  MCA companies clearly took a hit, but their lending was also significantly cut and in most cases MCA companies from OnDeck to PayPal and brokers helped originate billions in EIDL and PPP funding.

EIDL Audits?

So, the question lingers: What oversight will come from the EIDL Loans?  WHO GETS AUDITED AND WHO DOES NOT?

There is guidance from SBA on who is required to get an independent (CPA via OMB guidance) audit (Currently, the threshold is anyone who received over $750,000), for borrowers who accepted less than $750,000 there is little indication of who and who will not be audited.  For those receiving over $750,000 audits were supposed to be done and reported by the 3rd Quarter of 2021.  Yet, for those who have been receiving more funds or were under the $750,000 it is not clear how SBA will or will not do audits.

It has been widely reported that5 the SBA via the Department of the Treasury hurried to release funds during the first few months of SBA causing many loans to be provided which should not have.  In fact, one of our hottest services requested for months has been EIDL Reconsideration for an extension of the original EIDL funding and clearly the SBA has denied a ton of businesses for more funds because they were either funded incorrectly or should not have received EIDL funds originally. 

Regardless, those who received any EIDL funds should cautiously prepare their books for submitting back up data for audits that do occur.  After consultation with our accountants, we at BRP Onesta believe the EIDL Audits from SBA will be like how the IRS audits taxpayers.  Some desk audits and some in person – subsequently, we believe that the SBA will 1) highlight those who they find massively cheated on their applications and did not get caught and 2) will seek the repayment of more funds than currently expecting to be repaid with interest (see Thomas W Tramaglini Blog Post on 12.23.2021).

Therefore, if you are a small business owner, you need to be ready:

What were funds not to be used for?  A succinct overview of the allowable uses was done by NAV.  According to NAV:

“EIDL proceeds may not be used for:

Payment of any dividends or bonuses;

Disbursements to owners, partners, officers, directors, or stockholders, except when directly related to performance of services for the benefit of the applicant;

Repayment of stockholder/principal loans, except when the funds were injected on an interim basis as a result of the disaster and non-repayment would cause undue hardship to the stockholder/principal; 

Expansion of facilities or acquisition of fixed assets; 

Repair or replacement of physical damages; 

Refinancing long term debt (see change described below) 

Paying down (including regular installment payments) or paying off loans provided, or owned by another Federal agency (including SBA) or a Small Business Investment Company licensed under the Small Business Investment Act. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is not considered a Federal agency for this purpose; 

Payment of any part of a direct Federal debt, (including SBA loans) except IRS obligations. (Note: There is an entire section that goes into more detail on paying federal debts. If you want to use EIDL proceeds that way, refer to page 75 of the SOP.) 

Pay any penalty resulting from noncompliance with a law, regulation or order of a Federal, state, regional, or local agency. 

Contractor malfeasance; and 

Relocation”

SBA guidance can be found: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/nov/19/sba-announces-updated-guidance-regarding-applicant-deadlines-covid-economic-injury-disaster-loan

So What?

As small business owners continue to operate in 2022, be prepared for your EIDL Audit, as it could come anytime.  Perhaps one of the best things a small business owner can do is to have their books done and organized by a Certified Bookkeeper.  If audited, this can allow your business to easily provide supporting documentation, so you do not have to repay additional EIDL funds or face criminal prosecution.

Also, Small Businesses should identify and store important records for audits as per Federal Guidelines on data retention.  States also have individual laws that govern this area as well.

Regardless, small business owners should expect these audits to occur and prepare accordingly.  Furthermore, if a small business misappropriated funding they should understand that the Department of Treasury has a host of tools to in place from requiring the return of funds to criminal action.

Dr. Thomas W. Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses.  By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely.  Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

References:

1https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2021-12/COVID-19%20EIDL%20TA%20STA_12232021_Public-508.pdf  

2https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program/ppp-data

3https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2021-19232.pdf

4https://debanked.com/2020/06/impact-of-covid-19-on-the-merchant-cash-advance-market/

5https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/30/business/sba-eidl-pandemic-relief.html

The Frontline Zeroes of the Pandemic

Small Business Owners (Real or Fake) Who Are Accused or Convicted of the Largest EIDL/PPP/CARES Act Fraud

Our Top 15 Zeroes of the Pandemic

By Thomas W. Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com

As stated in an earlier post we published, “We recently polled over 1,400 BRP Onesta clients who own one or more small businesses.  Of the responses we received, most (84.2%) were thankful of the PPP and EIDL programs, and many (68.3%) said it was not enough.”

However, some folks got greedy and got caught.

  • Henry

Our first interaction with someone who had committed PPP fraud was our client, Henry (Named Changed Because of NDA). 

Henry ran a small trucking company with several trucks that had sustained some moderate growth in the time we worked with the company.

We had executed several truck loans for Henry’s LLC over a period of about 4 years.  In July 2020, Henry asked us to work on financing for two more trucks which we happily agreed to help him and his company with. As usual, we asked for our credit application updated and several months of business bank statements. That is when things changed, and we realized things were a bit different…

The business was now in his sister’s name, and they were working with a new bank. Revenue was down over 80%.  When we asked him about the change in owner and business bank account, he said that he changed banks because of fraud against his business and that his sister volunteered to steer the ship while he transitioned to a more active operations role.  He said he was not sure about the decrease in revenue because his business is busier than ever.

So, customary in this situation, we Googled his business and BOOM – There it was…. Accused of PPP fraud at the tune of $1.01 Million. 

So, what happened?  Henry (or someone he hired) used his/their Adobe skills and generated false bank statements, tax returns and payroll statements. He was funded $1.1 Million for the first draw of PPP in May of 2020 –

How did he get caught?   When Henry got funded, he started buying lavish items (Rolls Royce, new house via cash, jewelry) and paying off all his bills including lifetime alimony and child support.  Someone who knew him then reported him to the police, and the rest is history – When the FBI raided his business, they recovered about $150K of his $1.01 Million he borrowed and would hopefully have forgiven.  In September, Henry was sentenced to 17 years in Federal prison for a host of crimes, including PPP fraud.

The Greedy Get Greedier

However bad I thought Henry’s case was, there were others who were way greedier – and while some of these cases are still in litigation, some of what these people allegedly tried to get away blows my mind.  

From the literature (Arnold & Porter have a nice data set) I compiled who were accused of the top 10 highest dollar Stimulus funds fraud.  Some have been convicted, some still waiting but regardless, those who are convicted of doing so are the Real Frontline-Zeroes of the Pandemic.

Our Top Fifteen Alleged or Convicted List for Pandemic Relief Fraud

There are other people or groups of people who have been accused or convicted (some for more greedy amounts than below and can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/2d5rm823.

  1. ($14M) Apocalypse Bella (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/two-texas-men-and-one-oregon-man-charged-fraud-scheme-obtain-over-14-million-covid)
  2. ($11.1M) Amanda Christian (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/twenty-two-charged-connection-more-11-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)
  3. Charles Petty ($11.1M) (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/twenty-two-charged-connection-more-11-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)
  4. ($11.1) Charmine Redding (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/twenty-two-charged-connection-more-11-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)
  5. ($7.6M) Jacob Carter, Quadri Salahuddin, Anwar Salahuddin, Christal Ransom (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/four-defendants-charged-76-million-covid-19-fraud-scheme)
  6. ($7.2M) Don Cisternino (https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/seminole-county-man-charged-covid-relief-fraud)
  7. ($6M) Christopher Lick (https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndms/pr/starkville-man-charged-more-6-million-covid-relief-fraud-false-statements-and-money)
  8. ($5.8M) Julio Enrique Lugo (https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/davenport-couple-charged-58-million-covid-relief-fraud)
  9. (4.5M) Christina Burden (https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/oakland-woman-charged-million-dollar-scheme-defraud-pandemic-relief-programs-struggling)
  10. ($3.8M) Gregory Blotnick (https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/new-york-and-florida-resident-charged-38-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)
  11. ($3M) Anuli Okeke (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/two-former-employees-new-york-branch-major-bank-and-accountant-charged-cares-act-loan)
  12. ($2.2M) Abdreq Aaron Lloyd, Russell Schort (https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/two-oregon-men-face-federal-charges-pocketing-millions-covid-relief-fraud-scheme)
  13. ($1.9M ) John Jhong (https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/sussex-county-man-charged-19-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)
  14. ($1.6M) Alicia Ayers, Andrea Ayers, Traci Proctor (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/three-defendants-charged-16-million-covid-19-fraud-scheme)
  15. ($1.6M) James Kyle Bell (https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/nevada-man-pleads-guilty-election-fundraising-scam-and-cheating-taxpayers-out-paycheck)

Source: Arnold & Porter, 2021 https://www.arnoldporter.com/en/general/cares-act-fraud-tracker

*Disclaimer to reader – We believe that every person is entitled to due process and until convicted of any crime, anyone accused should be innocent until proven guilty.  All contents in this article, including names and claims were confirmed in by research through the United States Department of Justice or the State the person is accused from.

PPP… EIDL… Was it enough?  Our clients said NO but SBA contends that there are Billions remaining? 

Are you eligible for what is remaining?  Still want to apply?  Time may be running out.

By Thomas W. Tramaglini,
BRP Onesta

info@BRPOnesta.com

http://www.backofficedepot.com

We recently polled over 1,400 BRP Onesta clients who own one
or more small businesses.  Of the
responses we received, most (84.2%) were thankful of the PPP and EIDL programs,
and many (68.3%) said it was not enough.   

Perhaps the biggest recent barrier identified has been the
expansion of the EIDL loan – on our count, of the 1,487 business owners we received
results from, 1,299 said they had requested more funding as per the guidance of
the SBA and to date, 97.1% of our clients said they were either declined for
more funds, been told they needed to provide more documents, or that their
applications have been processing for months.
To date, only 2.9% of our clients have received additional EIDL funds.

What was successful?

The PPP program was certainly a move in the right direction

Since the beginning of the pandemic, small business owners
have taken advantage of several programs to help them get through the COVID-19
pandemic. For instance, as of December 20, 2021 there were 11,453,936
applications received by the Small Business Administration (SBA
Data Report
) for funding under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Of
the over 11 million applications, over 79% of the applications were approved
amounting to funding of $791,420,024,727. To date, $662,273,930,930 of PPP
funds have been forgiven (83.6%) meaning the small business does not have to
return the funds which they borrowed. The majority of business owners who we
have spoken to say the funds were the right help at the right time. While there
were major hiccups in PPP funding along the way, clearly it has made a
difference.

However, many small businesses felt that the original first
and second draw PPP funds were not enough.
Many businesses did not get funded before the money ran out.  For instance, our company helped get our
clients more than $40MM of PPP funding but we still had over 100 clients who
were waiting in the queue within banks or the SBA because of wrong codes, poor
loan execution by the fintechs or banks, or some other unforeseen issue. In
some cases, our clients had to close their doors because they lacked the
capital needed for sustaining their business’.

So, what will 2022 bring?
The answer is… Who knows?  Last week,
the JP Morgan Chase CEO said that the pandemic would end in 2022.  Towards the end of 2020 and the earlier this
year we anxiously awaited the next round of Stimulus funding, which President Trump
signed into law and later President Biden took to funding to the next level
with a larger bill (American Rescue Plan).

However, still to date, many small business owners say that
it was just not enough.

What other types of funding are available?  According to the SBA…

o    EIDL loan
and Targeted Advance applications
 will be accepted until December 31
and will continue to be processed after this date until funds are exhausted.

o    Supplemental
Targeted Advance applications
 will be accepted until December 31;
however, the SBA may be unable to process some Supplemental Targeted Advance
applications submitted near the December 31 deadline due to legal requirements.
The SBA cannot continue to process Supplemental Targeted Advance applications
after December 31 and strongly encourages eligible small businesses to apply by
December 10 to ensure adequate processing time.

o    Borrowers
can request increases up to their maximum eligible loan amount for up to two
years after their loan origination date
, or until the funds are exhausted,
whichever is soonest.

o    The SBA
will accept and review reconsideration and appeal requests for COVID EIDL
applications received on or before December 31
 if
the reconsideration/appeal is received within the timeframes in the regulation.
This means six months from the date of decline for reconsiderations and 30 days
from the date of reconsideration decline for appeals – unless funding is no
longer available.

What is still available?

“The COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL
Advance programs still have billions of dollars available to help small
businesses hard hit by the pandemic. More than 3.8 million businesses employing
more than 20 million people have found financial relief through SBA’s Economic
Injury Disaster Loans,” said Patrick Kelley, Associate Administrator
for SBA’s Office of Capital Access. 
“Key enhancements have been made
to the loan program that will help our nation’s businesses recover and get back
on track.”

In September, Administrator Guzman announced major enhancements to the COVID
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Key changes announced included:

o    Increased
COVID EIDL Cap. 
The SBA lifted the COVID EIDL cap from $500,000 to $2
million. Loan funds can be used for any normal operating expenses and working
capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment, and paying off debt.

o    Implementation
of a Deferred Payment Period.
 The SBA will ensure small business
owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan
origination so that they can get through the pandemic without having to worry
about making ends meet.

o    Establishment
of a 30-Day Exclusivity Window.
 To ensure Main Street businesses have
additional time to access these funds, the SBA implemented a 30-day exclusivity
window of approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less.
Approval and disbursement of loans over $500,000 began after the 30-day period
ended.

o    Expansion
of Eligible Use of Funds.
 COVID EIDL funds are now eligible to prepay
commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.

o    Simplification
of affiliation requirements.
 To ease the COVID EIDL application
process for small businesses, the SBA established simplified affiliation
requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

How to apply

Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, and agricultural
businesses in all U.S. states and territories can apply. Visit www.sba.gov/eidl to
learn more about eligibility and application requirements. The last day that
applications may be received is December 31, 2021. Applications received by
December 10 for Supplemental Advance will be processed in the order received
and the SBA cannot guarantee processing of all applications by December 31. All
applicants should file their applications as soon as possible to allow for
processing. For additional information on COVID EIDL and other recovery
programs, please visit www.sba.gov/relief.

Small business owners may call SBA’s Customer Service
Center 1-833-853-5638 (855-440-4960 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or
email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov for
additional assistance. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to
8 p.m. EST. Abbreviated hours will be observed during the Thanksgiving holiday
(closed on Thanksgiving Day; open Friday, November 26 – Sunday, November 28
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST). Multilingual representatives are available.

Small business owners may also contact SBA’s Resource
Partners by visiting www.sba.gov/local-assistance.

 

The growing teacher shortage: What can we all do?

By Thomas W Tramaglini

5a618639e2f6d.image

How bad has it really become? 

I recently came across this news story on CBS by Aimee Picchi.

You can read and watch the story here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/americas-new-education-crisis-a-teacher-shortage/

Aimee’s story profiles a growing, yet continual problem in the nation where schools having a harder and harder time finding teachers to fill their positions.  For several reasons, education is constantly losing qualified heroes for our children.

Ingersoll and Purda have a great slide which suggests the real reasons why teachers leave (or never come into) the profession:

Why_Teachers_Leave

An article that Ingersoll and Purda (2008) wrote can be accessed here for more on the status of teaching as a profession: https://www.gse.upenn.edu/pdf/rmi/SSSAE-RMI-2008.pdf

In reading the CBS story by Aimee Picchi, a very interesting section I found particularly interesting and noteworthy is written below:

“The teacher shortage emerged in the wake of the Great Recession, when school districts cut their staffing as funding dried up. But student enrollment has only grown, adding to the pressures on local schools. At the same time, fewer college students are opting to become teachers because of the economics of college debt, said Linda Darling-Hammond, the president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on education policy. 

“There are studies about this that show people choose careers based on the salary in relation to the debt they have from college,” Darling-Hammond said. “In many many states, salaries were frozen and never kept up with inflation.” 

She added: “People can’t stay in a profession where they can’t afford to support their own families.””

We need to think differently

Being a school leader has been one of the most rewarding experiences and perhaps one of the best parts about being a school leader has been the experience of hiring great people who can educate students, so they can accomplish their dreams.

There are plenty of candidates out there, but I would agree with the researchers, as well as Aimee Picchi’s piece, the base of teachers is diminishing.

From my experiences, the problem is complex and there are many reasons for the growing shortage.  For one, in recent years I have seen our teachers take a beating from the pressure of attaining higher test scores.  Also, some teachers have been challenged by a highly programmed learning environment which is standardized thus taking flexibility away from the teacher to customize learning experiences which master teachers artfully design.  Two great reads which not only paint this picture well, but also lead to what to do about it are written by Professor Chris Tienken of Seton Hall University.  I highly recommend both books:

The School Reform Landscape (Tienken & Orlich)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1475802587/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Defying Standardization (Tienken)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N3Z1ZCV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

And while I would suggest that it has always been my intention as a leader to take teachers’ focus off test scores, policy makers, Boards of Education and communities’ value higher student achievement and school leaders and teachers feel the pressure for sure to produce higher test scores.  Simply put, education isn’t what it used to be.

So, what can we do to solve the teacher shortage?  What can you do?  How can we continue to inspire our children?  Higher pay?  Better benefits?  Privatize schools?

Please share your ideas and start a conversation by posting your ideas to my social media accounts:

Follow me on Twitter: @TomTramaglini
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomaswtramaglini-8538b4167/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomasw.tramaglini.3
Tumblr: https://thomaswtramaglini.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

Use Your First Day of School Picture to Communicate with your child in a powerful manner

cropped-twt-pic-2018-reduced1.jpg By Thomas W Tramaglini

What goals are you and your children setting for this school year?

This time each year, my social media feeds (Instagram/Facebook) are flooded with pictures of my friends’ children holding signs underscoring that today is the first day of school, highlighting the date and their child’s grade they are beginning.  This fun exercise has become a staple for families (in social media) and I admit that I do enjoy seeing the pictures of my friends’ children each year.

First Day of School Template
Example of what typically blows up my social media feed this time of year.

What I also enjoy is when my friends take and post end of year photos of their kids 10 months later.  Each time, I get to see before and after photos that highlight their child’s amazing growth from the beginning to the end of the school year.

One thing that I wish I would see more often is a picture of children with their parent(s)/family member(s) on the first day and last day of school.  I think parents might have fun having their before and after photos as well – not only do children show growth from the beginning to the end of the year, parent(s)/family member(s) do too!  For instance, you can clearly see that I get more gray hair throughout the year, which is always fun for conversation for your children or friends.

However, as fun as this activity is or could be, opportunity is to be had!

Using the photo activity to focus on goals.

When parents and family members participate in this fun compare and contrast activity, a timely opportunity arises for adults to have a conversation with their children about what goals they have for the school year.

HERE IS AN IDEA THAT CAN TRANSFORM A FUN ACTIVITY TO A FUN AND POWERFUL ACTIVITY:

Steps:

  1. Make your child’s sign! (sample above).
  2. On or before the first day of school, adults should talk to their children about what their goals might be for the year. Whether it be lofty or simple, two or three goals should be set for the end of the school year.  Both students and parents should have goals written on the back of the page.
  3. First Day of School Goals TemplateExample of goals to be written on back of the first day of school year sign.
  4. On the first day of school, take a picture of each child with their sign.
  5. Once the first day of school passes, parent(s)/family member(s) should keep their sign in a special place (umm, which they remember) for the end of the year. (Note: If students or parents/family members want to look at their goals throughout the year, a good place to hang the sign is on the refrigerator)
  6. At the end of the year, parent(s)/family member(s) should take out their signs from the beginning of the year and revisit the goal to reflect on whether the goals were or were not accomplished. Again, this is a great opportunity for parent(s)/family member(s) to have a conversation with their children which is reflective.  Start thinking about goals for next year too.
  7. Enjoy the summer break! For those of you who didn’t catch my recent blog on the Abyss of Summer Reading and Work, you an find it here:  https://thomaswtramaglini.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/the-abyss-of-summer-reading/

The Power of Goal Setting.

One of the reasons that I wrote about this topic is because in over 20 years as an educator, I have found more and more that many parents and family members do not have conversations with their children about their individual or shared goals.  The power of building and sustaining relationships is a critical 21st century skill that will always have a place in both families and the workplace.  Such conversations between parent(s)/family member(s) and children build both better relationships and understanding of not only what each other wants and what supports are needed, it opens the door for better overall communication and reflection.

This activity is only one way in which parent(s)/family member(s) can have non-threatening, eye-opening conversations about what each other wants for the school year.  Such discussion and conversation can have powerful results because parent(s)/family member(s) can not only better understand their children, but build a successful bridge to address issues that their child might need, or want.

Follow me on Twitter: @TomTramaglini
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomaswtramaglini-8538b4167/ 
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How to improve student achievement? Simply put – focus on the student.

A simple strategy for increasing student outcomes: Focus on the students

By Thomas W Tramaglini

In August and September, schools around the nation reopen for what everyone hopes will be an outstanding school year.  Yet, each year public schools and school districts face the consistent demand to improve student achievement.  Although how student achievement is measured varies from school to school (and state to state), regardless of the metric educators need strategies for improving student learning which work.

In my research as a doctoral student at Rutgers University, I asked this specific question.  What can school leaders do (that they can control) to improve student outcomes?

Find my dissertation here: (Tramaglini Dissertation)

You can acquire the book/chapter (Tramaglini & Tienken, 2015) here: Policy Perils – Book

How can educators use what they can control in schools to improve student outcomes?  During my study, I came across a great article written in the Journal of Educational Research by Margaret Wang, Geneva Haertal, and Herbert Walberg (1990).  In their research, the Wang, Haertal and Walberg studied this concept through meta-analysis and found that variables which were closer (proximal) to the student mattered more to student outcomes than the ones far away (distal) from the student.  That is, it is more likely that initiatives which directly impact students in the classroom (curriculum, instructional quality) will influence student outcomes more than those which are driven from far away from the student (when schools adopt state or federal mandates).

ASCD published a version of their article in December 1993/January 1994 in Educational Leadership.

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec93/vol51/num04/Synthesis-of-Research-~-What-Helps-Students-Learn%C2%A2.aspx

Where to Start?

In my dissertation research, I operationalized the concept of using proximal variables versus distal variables and found similar results to what Wang, Haertal and Walberg found (1990).

Here is an article written by a local paper regarding the work that we did in Keansburg that focused on proximal variables and what the outcomes were: https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/watchdog/government/2015/02/13/new-jersey-parcc-test-leaves-poor-students-behind/23356959/

The simple place to begin is by focusing on the student.  It’s a safer bet to invest your efforts and resources on things that directly impact the students. That is, place your efforts in things that build better teacher to student interactions, improved instruction, and better professional development versus a concept that your state department of education rolls out as an antidote to low student achievement.

References

Wang, M.C., Haertel, G.D., & Walberg, H.J. (1990). What influences learning? A content analysis of review literature. Journal of Educational Research, 84: 30-43.