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5 Common myths that may be affecting your business credit score

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Your business credit score is critical

Balboa Capital, a leading independent financing company that specializes in equipment leasing and small business loans, announced the results of its mid-2014 small business survey that was sent to over 450,000 small business owners and more than 35,000 equipment dealers throughout the United States. The July survey reveals that concerns about the US economy have decreased and that small business owners and equipment dealers plan to invest in their operations during Q3 and Q4.

That’s great news, but what are these companies doing to help or hurt their credit score so they can actually make those investments?

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Balboa Capital has offered the following commentary, outlining the five common myths they say could be affecting your business credit score:

Not everyone understand how business credit works

As we all know, a good credit score is one of the most important aspects of financial stability. Lenders, landlords, insurers, and utility companies all examine this rating; therefore, failing to maintain a good credit score could put a strain on one’s financials. With so many misconceptions surrounding what helps or hurts a credit score, it can be difficult to separate fact from myth.

Even the most well-informed consumers do not fully understand how credit scores work and may still believe in some of the most common myths about them. The following guide will help clear up some of these credit score myths and provide tips to keeping your score in the best shape possible.

Myth 1: Checking your credit hurts your credit score

One of the most common beliefs about credit scores is that checking your own credit will lower your credit score. Fortunately, requesting a copy of your own credit report will not have an effect on your credit score. Your credit score is only impacted when the credit check is made for credit cards or loans.

This myth can be very dangerous to your credit score as it discourages you from monitoring your credit report. It is important to review your credit report periodically to identify and address any inaccuracies. Keeping an eye on your credit report will allow you to confirm that your payment performance is accurate and will enable you to remove any accounts that are falsely reported. Errors on your credit report can put a damper on your credit score and impact how lenders evaluate your credit worthiness.

Myth 2: Paying your bills on time is all that’s necessary to keep a good credit score

Many consumers believe that all they must do to keep a strong FICO score is pay their bills on time, but there is more to a good credit score than just a good payment history. Paying your bills on time accounts for just 35% of your credit score. The other 65% is comprised of the amount owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%) and type of credit (10%). It is important to take all of these components into account when reviewing your credit profile.

It is also important to note that your credit score is impacted by both positive and negative information on your credit profile. Late payments will have a negative effect on your score; however, if you improve your payment habits and consistently pay on time, you may see an increase in your credit score.

Myth 3: Lowing your credit limits helps your credit score

Asking your lenders for lower limits does not necessarily improve your credit score. In fact, maintaining substantial credit limits can actually help your score so long as you do not run up the debt to the maximum limit. When reviewing your credit profile, most lenders look for a fairly wide gap between the limit available and the actual amount of credit you are using.

As you know, your FICO score is based on a number of calculations. How much debt you owe makes up 30% of your score and can be calculated using your debt-to-available credit ratio. Debt is how much money you owe on all your credit cards, and the available credit is the sum of all the credit lines that are open. The lower your debt-to-available credit ratio the better your score. Therefore, if you reduce your credit limits but maintain the same debt, your debt-to-credit ratio will increase and can reflect negatively on your credit score.

For example, if you have $3,000 debt on your credit card with a limit of $10,000, you’re debt-to-available credit ratio is 30%. If you were to lower your credit limit to $7,500, you’re debt-to-available credit ratio

Myth 4: Closing a credit account can help your credit score

Closing credit cards does not help your credit rating. In fact, when you close an account your credit score may take a hit. Because the length of your credit history makes up roughly 15% of your FICO score, closing a credit card with a long payment history could be detrimental to your score.

If you stop using one of your oldest credit cards over a period of time, the card issuer may stop reporting updates on the account to the credit bureaus or close the account altogether. Even if the account still appears on your credit report, this long-standing credit account will not positively impact your score as much as it would if it were actively being used. The longer your credit history, the better. So it may be good for your score to keep an older account open and use the card at least once a month.

If you feel you must close an account, it is better to close the most recently opened cards first. For example, if you recently opened up a credit card to receive a discount, this would be the account to consider closing first.

Myth 5: Opening many credit cards is good for my credit score

Very often, many consumers believe having several active credit cards help improve their FICO score. However, the truth behind this myth depends on a number of factors. Depending on your overall credit history, opening several credit card accounts can actually hurt your credit score. For instance, having several credit cards with either high balances or high credit limits can have a negative effect on your credit score.

Regardless of the number of credit cards you have, whether 5 or 25, maintaining high balances can hurt your FICO score. To lenders, having high balances on credit cards indicates you may be a higher risk and this can impact whether credit is extended to you. Furthermore, having high debt-to-credit ratios on your open credit accounts will not help your credit score either. Overall, opening too many credit cards only affects your credit score if you don’t handle them properly.

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Business Finance

Politicians reconsider PPP rules too cumbersome for small businesses

(BUSINESS FINANCE) The PPP loans may have some changes coming soon, to help small businesses even more by extending the time they have to spend the money.

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Congress has reported talks over fixing parts of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a key program designed to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Changes could range between small tweaks to an overhaul of program requirements. Congress remains divided over a phase four relief bill (passed in the House last week) which includes several of those PPP changes.

The PPP was created to provide forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Although the Treasury is continuing to offer updated guidance, any significant changes will require approval from Congress.

One of the major potential changes is an extension to the eight-week time frame for businesses to spend their loan money. Senator Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.) is advocating the change. He told reporters “I think the more important thing to change is the time frame in which they can use it for,” Rubio told reporters. “We do need to give them more time to spend those monies.” The hope is to pass those changes before the first PPP loan recipients reach their deadline in early June.

Other changes proposed in the House bill include extending the spending time period to 24-weeks and eliminating the requirement for 75 percent of loan spending on payroll in order to qualify for full forgiveness. The flexibility could allow recipients to allocate money towards rent, another challenge facing small business owners. While Senate Republicans haven’t shot down that option, they’ve voiced concern on the spending rule which was originally designed to keep workers employed. Meanwhile, Democrats argue for flexibility which could support businesses with fixed costs. Both sides are open to discussing a 50 percent payroll and 50 percent additional cost breakdown in a new PPP changes.

The Small Business Administration has reported $195 billion from the $310 billion of the second tranche of PPP has been approved. With no defined plan to reopen the country, small businesses are counting on relief programs. Senior White House advisor Kevin Hassett has said the government can’t continue to lend money to businesses indefinitely. “It is something we can do through Jun, I would, guess if there’s enough cash for that.”

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Business Finance

Unless you call your representative, the IRS will be forced to screw PPP recipients

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Small business owners, can your Covid-19 loans really be forgiven? “Free money” never sounded so good…or bad. The CARES act missed a vital tax hole.

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The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was hailed as a revolutionary life line to small businesses that had to shutter their doors against the plague.

Basically, the Feds said: Keep your expenses up, pay your staff so they don’t have to go on assistance, and not only will we loan you the cash to do so, so long as you can prove it was spent stimulating your business, we’ll not only forgive the loan, it won’t be taxed as income.

Right said, Fed. But some sharp-eyed readers of the letter of the law say they’re too savvy for these loans, and here’s why.

It was announced on April 30th that anything paid with PPP payments won’t be tax deductible.

Specifically, the IRS says, expenses that qualify a business owner loan forgiveness cannot be deducted from 2020’s tax filings, in order to keep people from getting “double tax benefit[s].” You can read up on the tax code citations and legal precedents right here, straight from the tax horse’s mouth.

So what’s happening here is you can “enjoy” free money from the government, but if you were counting on it being non-taxable income, then you’d best count again.

I may be a simple country (adjacent) April, but is the purpose of handing out money somehow… NOT to put business owners AHEAD?

This move strikes me as a ship throwing someone in the water a life-vest… then sailing off without reeling them in.

‘Well you don’t want people to double-dip,’ is a rebuttal I’d expect. Or ‘that’s how the CARES Act was written,’ but right now we’re dealing with people and their businesses needing EXTRA. Not ‘a bit,’ not ‘enough,’ but quantifiably EXTRA help in order to do better than just tread water. We NEED that extra dip… and individual bowls for everyone while we’re at it.

“No half measures,” as a wise, narcissistic fictional criminal once said. Brian Cranston won an Emmy for delivering that line, so I figure it’s stand-by-able.

As of right now, there’s not much that can be done except for business owners to gather and lobby their representatives en masse to alter the language of the CARES Act, or add an amendment to it that allows the IRS to let the deductions business owners need to slide.

As is, strict interpretation of the law doesn’t give our beloved agents enough wiggle room to LET this money be deducted. And I’m guessing that the IRS isn’t really the type of agency to DO interpretative judgements as a matter of course so… the ball is in Congress’ court on this one.

Fortunately, it seems like they’re taking it and running with it!

On May 12, a bill aptly named the HEROES Act was proposed in the house, and it clarifies: “For purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and notwithstanding any other provision of law, any deduction and the basis of any property shall be determined without regard to whether any amount is excluded from gross income under section 20233 of this Act or section 1106(i) of the CARES Act.”

They’re reaching past the last stimulus bundle (that I haven’t received my share of yet by the way, cough cough) with a total of three trillion as a distribution goal. That’s a three followed by twelve zeroes, sweeties. And this is all cold, hard, tax free, DEDUCTIBLE cash.

My advice here? Get your letter-writing hands ready, business owners! It’s not a law YET, so keep pushing your politicians as best you can, and telling your friends, (and sharing our articles) And best of luck.


Sidenote from the Editor: Research for this story includes insights from Caleb Ellinger at Ellinger Services (CPA wizard (our word, not his) in Austin who is very well known as serving startup and freelance communities).

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Business Finance

Companies seek brownie points by returning PPP cash they shouldn’t have applied for

(BUSINESS FINANCE) It turns out some large national companies received millions of dollars of the PPP loans that were pitched as for small businesses, what gives?

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The CARES Act, passed last month in response to the COVID19 pandemic, allocated over $370 billion to small businesses in the form of PPP loans. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was hastily ran through Congress, with many of the small details left for the SBA, IRS and other entities to iron out, even though the legislation was over 800 pages.

Now, Bloomberg is reporting that many small businesses are returning loans as the Trump administration issues new guidance for these loans.

PPP loans- confusion over eligibility, rules and restrictions

The PPP was designed to incentivize employers to maintain payroll through the pandemic. The law’s intent was to help small businesses, non-profits and smaller organizations without other resources.
Within just a few days, the money was exhausted.

As Congress allocated more money for the program, it came to light that many larger businesses made requests for the money. Shake Shack, a national chain, received $10 million. Ruth’s Chris steakhouse received $20 million. Even the Los Angeles Lakers received about $4.6 million through the PPP. It should be noted that each of these entities returned the money. Technically, each of the entities qualified under the PPP, too.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the SBA announced that all PPP loans over $2 million will be reviewed to ensure borrower eligibility. The SBA continues to provide guidance for the PPP loans. One financial expert likened it to building the plane while it was still in the air. Some companies are receiving guidance that no publicly traded companies qualify, even though these companies have received PPP funding, and some intend to keep it.

If a company doesn’t qualify for the PPP, they could face criminal charges for making false certifications on their loan applications. This could include statements that indicate the PPP funding is necessary to support ongoing operations.

Return the PPP money or not?

The SBA is giving borrowers a deadline of May 14 to return PPP loans without any legal trouble. Some companies are returning the money, not only because of public backlash, but to avoid problems. The government is sending a message that it will be vigilant over the use of PPP funding. There are still so many questions about how the loans will work and will be forgiven, it pays to tread carefully if you’ve received more than $2 million in funding under PPP.

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