FAQs on coronavirus relief fund payments to states, local governments (COVID-19)

FAQs on coronavirus relief fund payments

The IRS today released a set of “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) concerning the treatment of “coronavirus relief fund” payments.


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The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) established and appropriated $150 billion to the coronavirus relief fund. The fund is to be used to make payments for specified uses to states and certain local governments; to the District of Columbia and U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands); and to tribal governments. The CARES Act provides that payments from the coronavirus relief fund may only be used to cover costs that:

  • Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19
  • Were not accounted for in the state or local government’s most recently approved budget (as of March 27, 2020, the date of enactment of the CARES Act)
  • Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020

Read the FAQs (dated July 6, 2020). Text of the FAQs is provided below.

Q. If governments use Fund payments as described in the Fund Guidance to establish a grant program to support businesses, would those funds be considered gross income taxable to a business receiving the grant under the Internal Revenue Code (Code)?

A. Yes. The receipt of a government grant by a business generally is not excluded from the business's gross income under the Code and therefore is taxable. However, a grant made by the government of a federally recognized Indian tribe to a member to expand an Indian-owned business on or near reservations is excluded from the member's gross income under the general welfare exclusion.

Q. If governments use Fund payments as described in the Fund Guidance to establish a loan program to support business, would those funds be considered gross income taxable to a business receiving the loan under the Code?

A. Generally, the receipt of loan proceeds is not included in gross income. However, if the government forgives all or a portion of the loan, the amount of the loan that is forgiven is generally included in gross income of the business and is taxable unless an exclusion in section 108 of the Code or other Federal law applies. If an exclusion applies, an equivalent amount of any deductions, basis, losses or other tax attributes may have to be reduced in accordance with the Code or other Federal law.

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