Revenue / 06.23.21
Why Is Federal COVID Relief for Music Venues and Indie Cinemas Taking So Long? Blame Past Fraudsters
The Wrap (06/15/21) Fuster, Jeremy
Lobbyists are blaming fraud concerns for the sluggish pace of applicants receiving relief funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) $15 billion grant program for entertainment venues. Following congressional approval of the Paycheck Protection Program to provide immediate relief to businesses closed by COVID-19, media reports of fraud prompted President Biden to promise a crackdown, with the grant program developed for closed entertainment venues designed with this in mind. The SBA said last week that only 90 applicants had been approved for grants out of 4,600-plus requests, and only a handful of those applicants have actually received a grant check, according to the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), the National Independent Venue Association and several other indie venue lobbyists. NATO general counsel Jackie Brenneman cited Form 4506-T as the biggest roadblock to funding. "4506-T is a form that basically says the applicant gives permission to the SBA to ask the Internal Revenue Service for tax return information," she said. "It's meant to allow them to verify that the company is legitimate and that they are being honest about their reported profits and financial losses from the pandemic." However, 4506-T requires interagency communication with the IRS, which is facing a staff shortage thanks to long-term budget cuts, and venue lobbyists are now asking the SBA to waive this requirement so that venues in need can get the grant money faster. Brenneman added that multiple levels of fraud protection are unnecessary, as the number of applications received have matched the levels projected by lobbyists during discussions with the association.
Read the full story from The Wrap.
Tags: News , Venues , COVID-19 , Coronavirus