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e-CFR data is current as of November 24, 2020

Title 13Chapter IPart 121Subpart A → Subject Group


Title 13: Business Credit and Assistance
PART 121—SMALL BUSINESS SIZE REGULATIONS
Subpart A—Size Eligibility Provisions and Standards


Size Eligibility Requirements For SBA Financial Assistance

§121.301   What size standards and affiliation principles are applicable to financial assistance programs?

(a) For Business Loans (other than for 7(a) Business Loans for the period beginning May 5, 2009 and ending on September 30, 2010) and for Disaster Loans (other than physical disaster loans), an applicant business concern must satisfy two criteria:

(1) The size of the applicant alone (without affiliates) must not exceed the size standard designated for the industry in which the applicant is primarily engaged; and

(2) The size of the applicant combined with its affiliates must not exceed the size standard designated for either the primary industry of the applicant alone or the primary industry of the applicant and its affiliates, which ever is higher. These size standards are set forth in §121.201.

(b) For Development Company programs and, for the period beginning May 5, 2009 and ending on September 30, 2010, for 7(a) Business Loans, an applicant must meet one of the following standards:

(1) The same standards applicable under paragraph (a) of this section; or

(2) Including its affiliates, tangible net worth not in excess of $8.5 million, and average net income after Federal income taxes (excluding any carry-over losses) for the preceding two completed fiscal years not in excess of $3.0 million. If the applicant is not required by law to pay Federal income taxes at the enterprise level, but is required to pass income through to its shareholders, partners, beneficiaries, or other equitable owners, the applicant's “net income after Federal income taxes” will be its net income reduced by an amount computed as follows:

(i) If the applicant is not required by law to pay State (and local, if any) income taxes at the enterprise level, multiply its net income by the marginal State income tax rate (or by the combined State and local income tax rates, as applicable) that would have applied if it were a taxable corporation.

(ii) Multiply the applicant's net income, less any deduction for State and local income taxes calculated under paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section, by the marginal Federal income tax rate that would have applied if the applicant were a taxable corporation.

(iii) Sum the results obtained in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) and (b)(2)(ii) of this section.

(c) For the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, an applicant must meet one of the following standards:

(1) The same standards applicable under paragraph (a) of this section; or

(2) Including its affiliates, tangible net worth not in excess of $19.5 million, and average net income after Federal income taxes (excluding any carry-over losses) for the preceding two completed fiscal years not in excess of $6.5 million. If the applicant is not required by law to pay Federal income taxes at the enterprise level, but is required to pass income through to its shareholders, partners, beneficiaries, or other equitable owners, the applicant's “net income after Federal income taxes” will be its net income reduced by an amount computed as follows:

(i) If the applicant is not required by law to pay State (and local, if any) income taxes at the enterprise level, multiply its net income by the marginal State income tax rate (or by the combined State and local income tax rates, as applicable) that would have applied if it were a taxable corporation.

(ii) Multiply the applicant's net income, less any deduction for State and local income taxes calculated under paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section, by the marginal Federal income tax rate that would have applied if the applicant were a taxable corporation.

(iii) Add the results obtained in paragraphs (c)(2)(i) and (c)(2)(ii) of this section.

(d) For Surety Bond Guarantee assistance—a business concern, combined with its affiliates, must meet the size standard for the primary industry in which such business concern, combined with its affiliates, is engaged.

(e) The applicable size standards for purposes of SBA's financial assistance programs, excluding the Surety Bond Guarantee assistance program, are increased by 25% whenever the applicant agrees to use all of the financial assistance within a labor surplus area. Labor surplus areas are listed monthly in the Department of Labor publication “Area Trends in Employment and Unemployment.”

(f) Concerns and entities are affiliates of each other when one controls or has the power to control the other, or a third party or parties controls or has the power to control both. It does not matter whether control is exercised, so long as the power to control exists. Affiliation under any of the circumstances described below is sufficient to establish affiliation for applicants for SBA's Business Loan, Disaster Loan, and Surety Bond Programs. For this rule, the Business Loan Programs consist of the 7(a) Loan Program, the Microloan Program, the Intermediary Lending Pilot Program, and the Development Company Loan Program (“504 Loan Program”). The Disaster Loan Programs consist of Physical Disaster Business Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and Immediate Disaster Assistance Program loans. The following principles apply for the Business Loan, Disaster Loan, and Surety Bond Guarantee Programs:

(1) Affiliation based on ownership. For determining affiliation based on equity ownership, a concern is an affiliate of an individual, concern, or entity that owns or has the power to control more than 50 percent of the concern's voting equity. If no individual, concern, or entity is found to control, SBA will deem the Board of Directors or President or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (or other officers, managing members, or partners who control the management of the concern) to be in control of the concern. SBA will deem a minority shareholder to be in control, if that individual or entity has the ability, under the concern's charter, by-laws, or shareholder's agreement, to prevent a quorum or otherwise block action by the board of directors or shareholders.

(2) Affiliation arising under stock options, convertible securities, and agreements to merge. (i) In determining size, SBA considers stock options, convertible securities, and agreements to merge (including agreements in principle) to have a present effect on the power to control a concern. SBA treats such options, convertible securities, and agreements as though the rights granted have been exercised.

(ii) Agreements to open or continue negotiations towards the possibility of a merger or a sale of stock at some later date are not considered “agreements in principle” and are thus not given present effect.

(iii) Options, convertible securities, and agreements that are subject to conditions precedent which are incapable of fulfillment, speculative, conjectural, or unenforceable under state or Federal law, or where the probability of the transaction (or exercise of the rights) occurring is shown to be extremely remote, are not given present effect.

(iv) An individual, concern or other entity that controls one or more other concerns cannot use options, convertible securities, or agreements to appear to terminate such control before actually doing so. SBA will not give present effect to individuals', concerns', or other entities' ability to divest all or part of their ownership interest in order to avoid a finding of affiliation.

(3) Affiliation based on management. Affiliation arises where the CEO or President of the applicant concern (or other officers, managing members, or partners who control the management of the concern) also controls the management of one or more other concerns. Affiliation also arises where a single individual, concern, or entity that controls the Board of Directors or management of one concern also controls the Board of Directors or management of one of more other concerns. Affiliation also arises where a single individual, concern or entity controls the management of the applicant concern through a management agreement.

(4) Affiliation based on identity of interest—(i) General. Affiliation may arise among two or more individuals or firms with an identity of interest. Individuals or firms that have identical or substantially identical business or economic interests (such as close relatives, individuals or firms with common investments, or firms that are economically dependent through contractual or other relationships) may be treated as one party with such interests aggregated. Where SBA determines that such interests should be aggregated, an individual or firm may rebut that determination with evidence showing that the interests deemed to be one are in fact separate.

(ii) Close relatives. Affiliation arises when there is an identity of interest between close relatives, as defined in §120.10 of this chapter, with identical or substantially identical business or economic interests (such as where the close relatives operate concerns in the same or similar industry in the same geographic area).

(iii) Common investments. Affiliation arises through common investments where the same individuals or firms together own a substantial portion of multiple concerns in the same or related industry, and such concerns conduct business with each other, or share resources, equipment, locations, or employees with one another, or provide loan guaranties or other financial or managerial support to each other. However, where an SBA Lender has made a determination of no affiliation under this ground, SBA will not overturn that determination as long as it was reasonable when made given the information available to the SBA Lender at the time.

(iv) Economic dependence. Affiliation based upon economic dependence may arise when a concern derived more than 85 percent of its receipts over the previous three fiscal years from a contractual relationship with another concern, unless:

(A) The contract (or contracts) does not restrict the concern in question from selling the same type of products or services to another purchaser; or

(B) SBA agrees that the terms of the contract (or contracts) do not provide the purchaser with control or the power to control the seller.

(5) Affiliation based on the newly organized concern rule in this paragraph (f)(5). Affiliation may arise where current or former officers, directors, owners of a 20 percent interest or greater, managing members, or persons hired to manage day-to-day operations of one concern organize a new concern in the same or related industry or field of operation, and serve as the new concern's officers, directors, owners of a 20 percent interest or greater, or managing members, and there are direct monetary benefits flowing from the new concern to the original concern. A concern may rebut such an affiliation determination by demonstrating a clear line of fracture between the two concerns. A concern will be considered “new” for the purpose of this paragraph (f)(5) if it has been actively operating for two years or less. However, where an SBA Lender has made a determination of no affiliation under this ground, SBA will not overturn that determination as long as it was reasonable when made given the information available to the SBA Lender at the time.

(6) Affiliation based on totality of the circumstances. In determining whether affiliation exists, SBA may consider all connections between the concern and a possible affiliate. Even though no single factor is sufficient to constitute affiliation, SBA may find affiliation on a case-by-case basis where there is clear and convincing evidence based on the totality of the circumstances. However, where an SBA Lender has made a determination of no affiliation, SBA will not overturn that determination as long as it was reasonable when made given the information available to the SBA Lender at the time.

(7) Affiliation based on franchise agreements. (i) The restraints imposed on a franchisee by its franchise agreement generally will not be considered in determining whether the franchisor is affiliated with an applicant franchisee provided the applicant franchisee has the right to profit from its efforts and bears the risk of loss commensurate with ownership. SBA will only consider the franchise agreements of the applicant concern. SBA will maintain a centralized list of franchise and other similar agreements that are eligible for SBA financial assistance, which will identify any additional documentation necessary to resolve any eligibility or affiliation issues between the franchisor and the small business applicant.

(ii) For purposes of this section, “franchise” means any continuing commercial relationship or arrangement, whatever it may be called, that meets the Federal Trade Commission definition of “franchise” in 16 CFR part 436.

(8) Determining the concern's size. In determining the concern's size, SBA counts the receipts, employees (§121.201), or the alternate size standard (if applicable) of the concern whose size is at issue and all of its domestic and foreign affiliates, regardless of whether the affiliates are organized for profit.

(9) Exceptions to affiliation. For exceptions to affiliation, see 13 CFR 121.103(b).

[61 FR 3286, Jan. 31, 1996, as amended at 66 FR 30648, June 7, 2001; 67 FR 3056, Jan. 23, 2002; 69 FR 29204, May 21, 2004; 70 FR 69047, 69052, Nov. 14, 2005; 70 FR 72594, Dec. 6, 2005; 71 FR 62208, Oct. 24, 2006; 73 FR 41254, July 18, 2008; 74 FR 20580, May 5, 2009; 74 FR 36110, July 22, 2009; 75 FR 48550, Aug. 11, 2010; 79 FR 33669, June 12, 2014; 79 FR 71296, Dec. 2, 2014; 81 FR 41428, June 27, 2016; 85 FR 7651, Feb. 10, 2020]

§121.302   When does SBA determine the size status of an applicant?

(a) The size status of an applicant for SBA financial assistance is determined as of the date the application for financial assistance is accepted for processing by SBA, except for applications under the Preferred Lenders Program (PLP), the SBA Express Loan Program (SBA Express), the Export Express Loan Program (Export Express), the Disaster Loan Program, the SBIC Program, and the New Markets Venture Capital (NMVC) Program.

(b) For PLP, SBA Express, and Export Express, size is determined as of the date of approval of the loan by the Lender.

(c) For disaster loan assistance (other than physical disaster loans), size status is determined as of the date the disaster commenced, as set forth in the Disaster Declaration. For pre-disaster mitigation loans, size status is determined as of the date SBA accepts a complete Pre-Disaster Mitigation Small Business Loan Application for processing. Refer to §123.408 of this chapter to find out what SBA considers to be a complete Pre-Disaster Mitigation Small Business Loan Application.

(d) For financial assistance from an SBIC licensee or an NMVC company, size is determined as of the date a concern's application is accepted for processing by the SBIC or the NMVC company.

(e) Changes in size after the applicable date when size is determined will not disqualify an applicant for assistance.

[61 FR 3286, Jan. 31, 1996, as amended at 64 FR 48276, Sept. 3, 1999; 67 FR 11880, Mar. 15, 2002; 67 FR 62337, Oct. 7, 2002; 69 FR 29204, May 21, 2004; 70 FR 72594, Dec. 6, 2005; 73 FR 41254, July 18, 2008; 75 FR 48550, Aug. 11, 2010; 79 FR 33669, June 12, 2014; 85 FR 7652, Feb. 10, 2020]

§121.303   What size procedures are used by SBA before it makes a formal size determination?

(a) A concern that submits an application for financial assistance is deemed to have certified that it is small under the applicable size standard. SBA may question the concern's status based on information supplied in the application or from any other source.

(b) A small business investment company, a development company, a surety bond company, or a preferred lender may accept as true the size information provided by an applicant, unless credible evidence to the contrary is apparent.

(c) Size is initially considered by the individual with final financial assistance authority. This is not a formal size determination. A formal determination may be requested prior to a denial of eligibility based on size.

(d) An applicant may request a formal size determination when assistance has been denied for size ineligibility. Except for disaster loan eligibility, a request for a formal size determination must be made to the Government Contracting Area Director serving the area in which the headquarters of the applicant is located, regardless of the location of the parent company or affiliates. For disaster loan assistance, the request for a size determination must be made to the Area Director for the Disaster Area Office which denied the assistance.

(e) There are no time limitations for making a formal size determination for purposes of financial assistance. The official making the formal size determination must provide a copy of the determination to the applicant, to the requesting SBA official, and to other interested SBA program officials.

§121.304   What are the size requirements for refinancing an existing SBA loan?

(a) A concern that applies to refinance an existing SBA loan or guarantee will be considered small for the refinancing even though its size has increased since the date of the original financing to exceed its applicable size standard, provided that:

(1) The increase in size is due to natural growth (as distinguished from merger, acquisition or similar management action); and

(2) SBA determines that refinancing is necessary to protect the Government's financial interest.

(b) If a concern's size has increased other than by natural growth, the concern and its affiliates must be small at the time the application for refinancing is accepted for processing by SBA.

§121.305   What size eligibility requirements exist for obtaining financial assistance relating to particular procurements?

A concern qualified as small for a particular procurement, including an 8(a) subcontract, is small for financial assistance directly and primarily relating to the performance of the particular procurement.

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