December Tax Alert


Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme

Tax Alert - December 2020

By Robyn Walker and Anna Zhang

On 10 November 2020, the Government announced it would extend the Small Business Cashflow (Loan) Scheme (‘SBLS’) until 31 December 2023, extend the interest free period from one year to two years, and broaden the use of the loan. At this stage, all other aspects of the SBLS loan remain in place. Inland Revenue will unilaterally change the terms and conditions of existing loan contracts by 31 December 2020. Official website information about the SBLS loan and the terms and conditions document are expected to be updated soon.

The SBLS loan opened for applications on 12 May 2020 and since then Inland Revenue has been inundated with applications. Close to 100,000 businesses have received a loan to date, with total lending of $1.6 billion.

To be eligible for the SBLS, you need to meet a number of criteria, including:

  1. You need to have been eligible for the Wage Subsidy Scheme (e.g., more information can be found in our article here;
  2. You must have 50 or fewer Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff (combined with any other commonly owned businesses);
  3. Your business must be ‘viable’.

The threshold for FTE is the same that is used for the Wage Subsidy Scheme – 20 hours or more is full-time, less than 20 hours is part-time.

How much can I borrow?

The maximum amount of funding you can receive from the SBLS is a $10,000 base loan plus $1,800 per FTE employee with a maximum loan of $100,000.

A calculator to assist you in determining the amount you are eligible to apply for has been developed by Inland Revenue and can be accessed here.

What is a ‘viable’ business?

To be eligible for the SBLS loan, the business needs to be viable and have a plan to ensure it remains viable. This could include the directors or owners having good reason to believe it is more likely than not the business will be able to pay its debts as they fall due within the next 18 months. It is essential to document why the business is viable as Inland Revenue will be auditing applications. Inland Revenue suggest the following examples of evidence that business should consider keeping:

  • A cash-flow forecast for the business or organisation for the short term.
  • A plan for where revenue will come from in future market conditions, and a forecast of those revenues.
  • Financial statements showing the business or organisation has enough resources to sustain itself when including the SBCS loan.
  • Your accountant’s assessment that the business or organisation is viable and ongoing.

Are there any restrictions on what the loan can be used for?

When applying for the loan, it is necessary to confirm that the loan will be used for core operating costs (e.g. rent, insurance, utilities, supplier payments) or capital expenditure. The loan cannot be passed through to shareholders or owners of the business (as either a loan or a dividend).

What are the terms and conditions?

Anyone applying for the loan should ensure they have fully read all of the terms and conditions as there are a number of actions which could trigger an event of default (requiring an immediate repayment of the loan, and a default interest rate). The terms and conditions are expected to be updated soon in accordance with the latest Government’s announcement.

When do I have to repay the loan?

The loan term is five years. It is not necessary to make any loan repayments for the first two years; after this time Inland Revenue will advise of an instalment plan. Voluntary payments can be made at any time.

How much is the interest?

Once received, the loan is subject to interest at 3% per annum. If the loan is repaid within two years no interest will be charged. If the loan is paid off within the five year lending period but after more than two years, the 3% interest rate will apply for the entire length of the loan (i.e. will be charged on the first two years also). In the event that there is a default on the loan, the interest rate is increased by Inland Revenue’s use of money interest rate (currently 7%).

How do I apply?

As noted above, it is essential to ensure you understand the obligations associated with the loan, including establishing the current and ongoing viability of the business. We are here to help you with this.

Applications are currently open until 31 December 2023. You can find out more about the application process here.

If you have any questions in relation to the issues discussed above, please consult your usual Deloitte advisor.

The content of this article is accurate as at 3 December 2020, the time of publication. This article does not constitute professional advice. If you wish to understand the potential implications of current events for your business or organisation, please get in touch. Alternatively, our COVID-19 webpages provide information about our services and provide contacts for relevant experts who can help you navigate this quickly evolving situation.

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