State asks NH businesses that received COVID-19 grants to return excess profits

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New Hampshire businesses that received financial awards through the Main Street Relief Fund and the Self-Employed Livelihood Fund programs last year are being asked to return any excess profits. However, it isn’t clear how the state will use any of the money it recoups. 

The programs, which were both funded through the federal CARES Act, awarded nearly $600 million to small- and mid-sized businesses through multiple rounds of grants. The money was awarded based on expected financial losses due to the pandemic.

Between March 1 and April 15, all recipients of either Main Street Relief Funds or SELF are required to report their 2019 and 2020 revenues to the Department of Revenue Administration.   

According to the DRA, “If the sum of 2020 revenue plus the value of awarded state/federal COVID relief funds exceeds a recipient’s 2019 revenue, the State will recoup the difference.”

The CARES Act required state governments to distribute funds by December 31, 2020. It remains unclear what rules may apply to any funds the state claws back. The Department of Revenue Administration directed an inquiry from NHPR to the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery, or GOFERR. A GOFERR spokesperson didn’t respond to multiple requests for how the state could allocate any funds it recoups.

Last October, DRA reminded recipients that they would be asked to attest to their revenues and be prepared to return any awards.

“To be clear, the State does not want or intend to penalize success,” DRA wrote in an email. 

The Main Street Relief Fund awarded grants of up to $350,000 to businesses with revenues of under $20 million based on anticipated losses due to the pandemic. More than 5,300 companies were awarded funds in the first round of the program, with an additional 2,285 firms receiving awards in the second round.

An additional 5,700 self-employed individuals received awards capped at $50,000.

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