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Dear UMA Members,
 
The day so many of you have waited for has finally arrived.
 
Tonight the US Department of Treasury has opened the CERTS Portal. The link is on the page where they previously published program guidelines, an FAQ, and information about ID.me requirements. Please note the guidelines have been revised since they were first published.
 
The deadline to apply is July 19.
 
 
UMA will provide a briefing for Members this coming week.
1. Help for operators: Troubleshooting ID.me's registration process
by Ken Presley
June 2, 2021 - Treasury is requiring each company that intends to complete a submission under the CERTS Act to register for credentials using the online service ID.me, and many operators have reported difficulties with the process.
 
A UMA survey last week revealed about one-half of registrants have experienced some difficulties. We have discussed some of the challenges you are experiencing with representatives of Treasury and they assure us they are working to make the experience as seamless as possible.
 
If you review the May 6, Guidelines for the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Grant Program, please note on page 9, prospective registrants are directed to:
“…https://portal.treasury.gov/cares and click on the option “Or create an ID.me account.”
 
This is considerably more direct than going through the ID.me webpage and should solve many if not most registration difficulties.
 
Treasury suggests that registrants who continue to have difficulties should visit Accessing Treasury with ID.me and/or send an email a detailed description of the problem they are incurring to CERTS@treasury.gov.
 
Eventually, everyone seems to be obtaining credentials. Hopefully, the portal opens this week for submissions. Stay tuned!   
Sign up for CERTS email updates from Treasury
The U.S. Treasury announced today that interested parties can now register for email updates regarding the CERTS program.
 
To register for updates click the button, go to the Treasury website and fill out their form. 

CERTS recap and updates: Treasury expects portal open by end of May

by Ken Presley
 
After participating in a couple of conference calls with U.S Treasury, some updates and review are warranted.
 
Apparently, Treasury staff appear to be making timely progress, so barring any unforeseen circumstances they anticipate having the portal open and ready to receive (not yet released) completed applications by the end of May.
 
Later this week, Treasury will post a link where operators can request email updates and announcements. Click here to link to the Treasury “CERTS” page. 
 
As previously mentioned in last week’s UMA Town Hall, the application period will be four weeks long. Applicants will be able to check the status of their submitted application by logging into the portal, which will display various codes indicating the progress of the application in the review process. Treasury is advising that their officials will not respond to emails or calls from applicants or any third parties seeking information on Treasury’s deliberation over an application.
 

Treasury staff advises they have anticipated the deluge of submissions and concluded their system should handle the initial rush. They do not anticipate delays due to a crashed website.  

Successful applicants will be notified by email as soon as they are determined to be eligible for a grant. However, Treasury will not advise the amount of any grant until after the four-week application period closes. To ensure the funds allocation to industries is evidence-based and equitable, Treasury will perform the allocation to industries after the grant application period closes so that actual data from the known pool of all eligible applicants across industries is the basis for the allocation. 
 
What is a non-competitive grant?
As previously mentioned in UMA correspondence and Town Halls, CERTS grants are formula grants and are non-competitive. Typically, “competitive” grants require a narrative as applicants compete for funds based on their need, how they will apply funds if awarded, and how their award will meet the goals set out by Congress. Generally, in a formula grant, all eligible companies that submit a complete application are approved. Treasury assures that all eligible applicants will be offered a grant that is a share of the $2 billion appropriated for the CERTS program.
Treasury will publish the formula and other considerations for calculating individual grant awards as soon as possible after the application deadline. An applicant’s lost revenues from 2019 to 2020 will be the primary factor in the grant-sizing formula used to determine the grant amount offered to an individual approved applicant.
To ensure access by small businesses in accordance with the CERTS Act, the formula may include a minimum grant size to ensure all approved applicants receive a basic amount and/or a maximum grant size to provide for a deeper distribution of available funds to all approved applicants.
 
Treasury staff intends to release a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) to be posted on the CERTS/Treasury website.  
 
Eligible Use of Funds
Subject to other rules and conditions in the CERTS statute and grant agreement, grantees may use grant funds for operating expenses, including but not limited to:
  •  Payment of payroll costs (see the definition of “payroll costs” above) and compensation of returning employees for lost pay and benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The acquisition of services, personal protective equipment, and other measures needed to protect workers and customers from COVID–19 operations.
  • Maintenance of existing capital equipment and facilities, such as rent, leases, insurance, and interest on regularly scheduled debt service (Example: funds may be applied to coach payments interest only – not principal).

Ineligible Use of Funds

  • Grantees may not use grant funds for:
  • Any payment or prepayment of principal on a debt obligation, except for any principal on a debt obligation incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic for the purpose of maintaining the payment of payroll costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Capital expenditures. (Example: funds used by a company to acquire, upgrade, and maintain physical assets such as property, plants, buildings, technology, or equipment.)
  • Delinquent taxes.
  • Any compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annualized salary rate of
  • $100,000, i.e., any compensation in excess of $8,333 per month, $3,846 per bi-weekly period, $1,923 per week, etc.
  • Any tax imposed or withheld under chapters 21 (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), 22 (Railroad Retirement Act Tax), or 24 (Collection of Income Tax at Source on Wages) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
  • Any compensation of an employee whose principal place of residence is outside the United States.
  • Any qualified sick leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7001 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (26 U.S.C. § 3111 note, Public Law 116–127)
  • Any qualified family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7003 of that Act (26 U.S.C. § 3111 note, Public Law 116–127).
  • Any bonus, raise in excess of inflation, or other form of additional employee compensation.
  • Any expense for which funding or financing has been awarded, sub-awarded, or otherwise provided through another Federal program.
 
Notifications and Amount of Grants
 
Eligible applicants will be notified of the grant amount for which they are eligible and will be sent a set of documents to execute. Applicants will be required to certify under penalty of perjury that (1) the information and certifications provided in the application and its attachments are true and correct, and (2) the applicant has documentation to support amounts and figures entered into the application form. Anyone who knowingly submits a false claim or makes a false statement is subject to criminal and/or civil penalties, including confinement for up to 5 years, fines, and civil penalties. Upon receipt of completed documents, Treasury will deposit funds electronically.
 
Finally, Federal grants are considered taxable income and will need to be reported as such. Check with your state revenue office to determine you obligation to your state(s). As always,  UMA consistently recommends the inclusion of your accountant and/or CPA regarding the CERTS grant.
 
In summary, the guidelines provide the majority of the requirements you will need to submit as well as conditions. You still have time to coordinate with your accountant and make sure you are prepared. 
 
Successful applicants will be notified by email as soon as they are determined to be eligible for a grant. However, Treasury will not advise the amount of any grant until after the four-week application period closes. To ensure the funds allocation to industries is evidence-based and equitable, Treasury will perform the allocation to industries after the grant application period closes so that actual data from the known pool of all eligible applicants across industries is the basis for the allocation. 
What is a non-competitive grant?
As previously mentioned in UMA correspondence and Town Halls, CERTS grants are formula grants and are non-competitive. Typically, “competitive” grants require a narrative as applicants compete for funds based on their need, how they will apply funds if awarded, and how their award will meet the goals set out by Congress. Generally, in a formula grant, all eligible companies that submit a complete application are approved. Treasury assures that all eligible applicants will be offered a grant that is a share of the $2 billion appropriated for the CERTS program.
Treasury will publish the formula and other considerations for calculating individual grant awards as soon as possible after the application deadline. An applicant’s lost revenues from 2019 to 2020 will be the primary factor in the grant-sizing formula used to determine the grant amount offered to an individual approved applicant.
To ensure access by small businesses in accordance with the CERTS Act, the formula may include a minimum grant size to ensure all approved applicants receive a basic amount and/or a maximum grant size to provide for a deeper distribution of available funds to all approved applicants.
Treasury staff intend to release a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) to be posted on the CERTS/Treasury website.  
Eligible Use of Funds
Subject to other rules and conditions in the CERTS statute and grant agreement, grantees may use grant funds for operating expenses, including but not limited to:
·      Payment of payroll costs (see the definition of “payroll costs” above) and compensation of returning employees for lost pay and benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
·      The acquisition of services, personal protective equipment, and other measures needed to protect workers and customers from COVID–19 operations.
·      Maintenance of existing capital equipment and facilities, such as rent, leases, insurance, and interest on regularly scheduled debt service (Example: funds may be applied to coach payments interest only – not principal).
Ineligible Use of Funds
Grantees may not use grant funds for:
·      Any payment or prepayment of principal on a debt obligation, except for any principal on a debt obligation incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic for the purpose of maintaining the payment of payroll costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
·      Capital expenditures. (Example: funds used by a company to acquire, upgrade, and maintain physical assets such as property, plants, buildings, technology, or equipment.)
·      Delinquent taxes.
·      Any compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annualized salary rate of
·      $100,000, i.e., any compensation in excess of $8,333 per month, $3,846 per bi-weekly period, $1,923 per week, etc.
·      Any tax imposed or withheld under chapters 21 (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), 22 (Railroad Retirement Act Tax), or 24 (Collection of Income Tax at Source on Wages) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
·      Any compensation of an employee whose principal place of residence is outside the United States.
·      Any qualified sick leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7001 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (26 U.S.C. § 3111 note, Public Law 116–127)
·      Any qualified family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7003 of that Act (26 U.S.C. § 3111 note, Public Law 116–127).
·      Any bonus, raise in excess of inflation, or other form of additional employee compensation.
·      Any expense for which funding or financing has been awarded, sub-awarded, or otherwise provided through another Federal program.
Notifications and Amount of Grants
Eligible applicants will be notified of the grant amount for which they are eligible and will be sent a set of documents to execute. Applicants will be required to certify under penalty of perjury that (1) the information and certifications provided in the application and its attachments are true and correct, and (2) the applicant has documentation to support amounts and figures entered into the application form. Anyone who knowingly submits a false claim or makes a false statement is subject to criminal and/or civil penalties, including confinement for up to 5 years, fines, and civil penalties. Upon receipt of completed documents, Treasury will deposit funds electronically.
Finally, Federal grants are considered taxable income and will need to be reported as such. Check with your state revenue office to determine you obligation to your state(s). As always,  UMA consistently recommends the inclusion of your accountant and/or CPA regarding the CERTS grant.
In summary, the guidelines provide the majority of the requirements you will need to submit as well as conditions. You still have time to coordinate with your accountant and make sure you are prepared. 
  •  
 

Get ready for the CERTS grant process now

May 17, 2021 - The Department of Treasury is not yet taking applications, but operators can ensure that they are ready to begin the process whenever that day comes by gathering pertinent information and taking some simple steps.
 
Gather the following:
  • Income statements (2019 and 2020)
  • Payroll information (2019 and 2020)
  • Total of ANY prior aid (PPP, EIDL, Main Street Lending Program, grants, etc.)
Take the following actions
In preparing for CERTS funding, remember to review 'Conditions of Receipt' for federal funds
 
In the guidelines for CERTS, near the end there is some very good advice: “Prospective grantees should review section 421(c)(6), “Conditions of Receipt” and section 421(c)(8), “Additional Conditions of Certain Receipts” for more details on the statutory conditions on the receipt of CERTS grant funds. 
 
As operating companies that received “ADA Accessible” and “Security” grants in the past will tell you, acceptance of a Federal grant comes with some very large responsibilities and anyone thinking they may fall through the cracks is likely very mistaken. Funds must be spent precisely in the manner dictated and complete reports often referred to as “Certifications & Assurances”. Federal audits are routine. 
 

 

 
2. Learn what 'ID.me' is and the role it will play in CERTS grant application process
 
 
From the CERTS Guidance:
Application Credentials. To gain access to the application portal and submit an application, a company representative must be registered with a username and password through the ID.me identity service. ID.me is an approved service provider for Treasury, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other Federal agencies. ID.me offers a one-time identity verification process to safeguard company data and authenticate users prior to accessing Treasury systems.
 
Motorcoach operators poring over the recently-released guidance for the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act might be wondering about the identity verification service known as, ID.me. For the purpose of this grant program, the Department of Treasury will require an applicant to register with ID.me. UMA's Ken Presley urges those who intend to apply for CERTS grants to create an ID.me account as soon as possible because it is one thing operators can do right now to prepare for when applications and the portal are available.
 
 
 
December 28, 2020
The CERTS Act is law
by Ken Presley
 
Dec. 28, 2020 | Washington, DC  President Trump signed the bill containing the CERTS Act last night bringing to rest uncertainty over a threatened veto.
 
The President had threatened to veto the legislation despite his staff having been part of the negotiations, and assurances he would sign the omnibus bill. After passage in the House and Senate, President Trump insisted on inclusion of $2,000 per person stimulus instead of the $600 contained in the bill.
 
Already working on the CERTS portion of the bill, the President’s signature triggers an actual proposed rule regarding the requirements and application process.
 
The bill also includes $284 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), providing a critical second forgivable loan to businesses with a sizable reduction in gross sales (25% or more).
 
By signing the bill, the President also averted a potential government shutdown. 
 
 
Resources you need: Review Dec. 23 special Town Hall slides and recordings to prepare to get funding
 
Download the slides and watch the recording for full information. The next UMA Town Hall will take place Thursday, January 7 at 2 p.m. ET.

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Tool

You can find the new PPP forgiveness resource at PPPForgivenessTool.com. Any business that took out a PPP loan can use the tool free, regardless of whether they worked with a bank or a non-bank lender.