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What Happens if I Default on My SBA Loan?

Article | April 13, 2019

What happens when you find yourself in default on your SBA loan? Here’s how to navigate this tricky situation.

An SBA loan document

An SBA loan is granted to small businesses that otherwise would not qualify for a loan through traditional business lenders. The business receives the funds because the lender’s risk is mitigated by the Small Business Administration’s guaranty. If the loan goes into default, the government will cover up to 90% of the lender’s loss. For this reason, the program does wonders for stimulating the economy and creating millions of jobs.

Because of the structure of these loans, they are riskier bets and more prone to default. If you find yourself in default on your SBA loan, you are certainly not alone. Second Wind has been helping clients navigate complicated business debt negotiations for decades. Here are our best tips and resources for navigating this tricky situation.

We have organized this page around the various stages of default that you may find yourself in so you can jump directly to the section that most pertains to your situation.

  • Early Default: What are My Options?
  • Which Assets are in Jeopardy? How do I protect myself when in default on my loan and a resolution is not reached?
  • Offer in Compromise (The SBA Debt Settlement Process)
  • Life After Default

Early Default: What are My Options?

If you are struggling to make your SBA loan payments, this could be a symptom of a much bigger problem in your business. Perhaps you never had the working capital you needed to reach your goals. Maybe a large customer is slow in paying, or you’re still recovering from a sales slump. Whatever the case may be, you should first start by making reductions in overhead, growing sales and managing your finances better. Understand the best way to prioritize your business debts and create a manageable debt repayment plan.

Lastly, if your lender denies any loan modifications or deferments then you need to consider a debt workout, restructuring or an exit from the business—preferably one that keeps you from losing everything. We offer free consultations and can walk you through this process step-by-step.

You should also consult with an attorney who specializes in these matters, but keep in mind that most legal defenses will fail. You borrowed the money and cannot pay it back, so your creditors will likely obtain a judgment against you no matter what you do. Learn more about loan default about the legal defense for SBA loan defaults and why legal defenses on SBA loan defaults fail.

Which Assets are in Jeopardy? 

When you enter default on your SBA loan, your business bank accounts can be jeopardized. If you have accounts in the same bank that is holding your loans, the lender has the “right of offset,” which allows them to take funds from your accounts to cover past-due payments. Consider moving these funds to a new bank, but be aware that lenders have other means of getting to your bank accounts, even in a different financial institution. Read the article below for an in-depth guide on protecting both your business and personal bank accounts.

Can Bank Accounts Be Garnished in an SBA Loan Default?

Many SBA loans require a lien on your personal residence. When you settle your SBA debt, you will want to make sure you follow the process for also obtaining a lien release on your home. When you are settling your debt, you want the bank out of your life forever, so do not make the mistake of settling your personal guaranty but leaving the liens in place. They could once again come back and bite you many years later when you have forgotten about them. Read this article about the process of getting these liens removed.

SBA lien on your house- am I going to lose my home in default?

What about your retirement accounts? Clients ask us all the time if their creditors can come after their retirement savings. There is no clear cut answer to this question as it depends on the laws in your State of residence, but most States have laws in place to protect your nest egg, but it is not the case everywhere. Definitely, do a little research and read our guide to understand if your creditors could attach to your retirement accounts.

Can a Creditor Take My Retirement Money?

Offer in Compromise (The SBA Debt Settlement Process)

The SBA has a particular process for helping borrowers who have defaulted and liquidated their business. You can settle your SBA debt by filing an offer in compromise directly with the lender who issued the loan. Based on our experience, the bank evaluates each settlement offer based on specific criteria that you must meet. If you meet their requirements for a satisfactory offer, it goes through several levels of approval before your settlement offer is accepted and you are relieved of further liability. You should know that IT IS POSSIBLE to settle your SBA debt for a fraction of the balance, we do it all the time for our clients. You can read more about the process by reading the two articles below:

SBA Loan Offer in Compromise Calculator

SBA Hardship Letter– What to include to achieve acceptance?

Life After Default

So you have successfully settled your SBA loan obligation. Congratulations! Time to move on with your life and rebuild your finances, credit and confidence as a business owner. But before you move on you need to make sure you clear any remaining SBA liens, judgments and that you will not have any remaining tax obligations.

There is a debt forgiveness boogyman known as debt cancellation income. The IRS once decided that if you are forgiven of $600 or more of debt that this is equivalent to your receiving income, so they have your account for the forgiveness as income on your tax returns. Yikes! This could be a massive tax bill if you receive forgiveness on a large business loan. But don’t worry, the majority of our clients never pay any taxes on their debt forgiveness. Read how we do this in the below article.

How does debt cancellation income affect your tax return?

Still Need Help?

Contact us for a free consultation and we will review your situation and provide an honest assessment of your current debt situation. We have seen almost every debt problem imaginable and can help you navigate these dire straights. Together we will design an effective strategy that will yield the best results for you.

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