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PPP Forgiveness Starts; Boating Trust Fund Extended

Streamlining the forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program loans could be on the horizon, while the boating and fishing trust that is so important to our industry lands at least one-fifth of a loaf from Congressional action.

The idea of a simplified government program is an oxymoron. But it may actually be happening for dealers who took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program last spring. The Treasury Department claims it’s finally about to begin approving requests for PPP loan forgiveness.

In response to complaints from borrowers and their banks that the forgiveness process under the $670 billion program was far too complex, Treasury says it will begin forgiving PPP loans granted to small-business owners in an easier process. Notably, the PPP program has delivered more than 5 million loans totaling $525 billion, although it was authorized by Congress to loan $670 billion.

More specifically, the government says it expects to rapidly approve all loan forgiveness applications with the exception of loans for more than $2 million, which will be subject to additional review. It’s believed that marine dealers that took advantage of the program would likely be well under that extra scrutiny benchmark.

But remember, the PPP funds were a loan, not a grant. Forgiveness is not automatic; application is required. In the event an application isn’t filed, the PPP reverts to a low-interest loan that must be paid back. Dealers with a PPP loan should contact the lenders through which their PPP was granted to carry the ball in the forgiveness process.

Trust Fund Extended

It’s good news and bad news. The good news is one of the most beneficial federal programs for our industry, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, was renewed for one year as part of a stop-gap measure to keep the government from shutting down. The bad news is it should have been renewed for an expected five years.

A stop-gap measure was passed to keep the government from shutting down because Congress — you know, the branch of government that couldn’t agree on the date for a New Year’s Eve party — did not reach an agreement on a larger infrastructure bill that included a five-year reauthorization of the trust fund. So it’s only renewed until Oct. 1, 2021.

While many in our industry may not be very familiar with the benefits we realize, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund supports a wide variety of programs that directly benefit boaters and anglers. For example, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation is primarily funded through the trust fund. The $12 million annual appropriation RBFF receives goes for such programs as the national Take Me Fishing initiative; contributes direct support to the industry’s Discover Boating program; conducts extensive boating and fishing participation research; and much more.

Additionally, the trust fund benefits our industry by providing grants to states for fish and wildlife agency fishery projects, boating development and access, and education. This long-established program dates to a 1950 startup.

The money comes from excise taxes on fishing equipment voluntarily imposed by the industry; powerboat and small engine federal fuel taxes; import duties on equipment; and earned interest. These funds are subsequently apportioned to states and territories based on a formula that includes land area, the number of paid license holders, and some minimums and maximums.

Overall, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund is one of the most successful user-pay, user-benefit programs in existence today. And it’s why it will be a top priority for all boating and fishing interests until it’s reauthorized for a five-year term. That will not likely happen until well into 2021.otection Program loans could be on the horizon, while the boating and fishing trust that is so important to our industry lands at least one-fifth of a loaf from Congressional action.

The idea of a simplified government program is an oxymoron. But it may actually be happening for dealers who took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program last spring. The Treasury Department claims it’s finally about to begin approving requests for PPP loan forgiveness.

In response to complaints from borrowers and their banks that the forgiveness process under the $670 billion program was far too complex, Treasury says it will begin forgiving PPP loans granted to small-business owners in an easier process. Notably, the PPP program has delivered more than 5 million loans totaling $525 billion, although it was authorized by Congress to loan $670 billion.

More specifically, the government says it expects to rapidly approve all loan forgiveness applications with the exception of loans for more than $2 million, which will be subject to additional review. It’s believed that marine dealers that took advantage of the program would likely be well under that extra scrutiny benchmark.

But remember, the PPP funds were a loan, not a grant. Forgiveness is not automatic; application is required. In the event an application isn’t filed, the PPP reverts to a low-interest loan that must be paid back. Dealers with a PPP loan should contact the lenders through which their PPP was granted to carry the ball in the forgiveness process.

Trust Fund Extended

It’s good news and bad news. The good news is one of the most beneficial federal programs for our industry, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, was renewed for one year as part of a stop-gap measure to keep the government from shutting down. The bad news is it should have been renewed for an expected five years.

A stop-gap measure was passed to keep the government from shutting down because Congress — you know, the branch of government that couldn’t agree on the date for a New Year’s Eve party — did not reach an agreement on a larger infrastructure bill that included a five-year reauthorization of the trust fund. So it’s only renewed until Oct. 1, 2021.

While many in our industry may not be very familiar with the benefits we realize, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund supports a wide variety of programs that directly benefit boaters and anglers. For example, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation is primarily funded through the trust fund. The $12 million annual appropriation RBFF receives goes for such programs as the national Take Me Fishing initiative; contributes direct support to the industry’s Discover Boating program; conducts extensive boating and fishing participation research; and much more.

Additionally, the trust fund benefits our industry by providing grants to states for fish and wildlife agency fishery projects, boating development and access, and education. This long-established program dates to a 1950 startup.

The money comes from excise taxes on fishing equipment voluntarily imposed by the industry; powerboat and small engine federal fuel taxes; import duties on equipment; and earned interest. These funds are subsequently apportioned to states and territories based on a formula that includes land area, the number of paid license holders, and some minimums and maximums.

Overall, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund is one of the most successful user-pay, user-benefit programs in existence today. And it’s why it will be a top priority for all boating and fishing interests until it’s reauthorized for a five-year term. That will not likely happen until well into 2021.

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