For immediate release
A sampling of COVID-19 Business Relief Program recipients will be audited in the coming weeks, according to the Wyoming Business Council. Entities chosen for the audit pool will receive an email notification on Friday, Nov. 20, with instructions on the next steps.
The Business Council contracted with a third-party auditor, McGee Hearne & Paiz, LLP (MHP), to help establish risk criteria for choosing recipients of the Interruption, Relief, Mitigation, Agriculture, and Endurance funds for audits. MHP will also conduct the audits, which will be handled at the business level, not application or program levels.
To help fund recipients prepare for these audits, the Business Council created a video tutorial to walk through the process, as well as information about what types of documentation are needed. This video is available here.
“We have made it clear since program inception in May that recipients of these grants may be audited,” Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said. “As the end-of-year federal CARES Act deadline nears, now is the time for recipients to be ready with the documentation they utilized in their calculations in the event they are audited. Because the programs’ calculations were based on straightforward, common accounting principles, the information required in the audits will be easy for business owners to produce.”
Entities that received money from any of the Business Relief Program funds should be prepared to produce documentation used to complete their applications. This information can be uploaded to your account, and more instructions will be available for those entities selected for audit.
“We recognize this has been a very challenging year, and conditions have changed rapidly, so we are providing a safe harbor for businesses and nonprofits to return funds if necessary,” Business Council COO Amy Grenfell said. “This is in line with other governmental entities that provided business relief this year, like the Small Business Administration, and we have established a streamlined process for entities to proactively return funds, either in partial or full.”
Any entity wishing to return money received from one of the funds should log in to their account at wyobizrelief.org, navigate to the relevant business profile, then click on the “Voluntary Returns” tab and follow the steps outlined. Returning complete funds will remove you from the third-party audit list, and you will not need to provide any supporting documentation. Funds must be returned by Nov. 30 to be removed from the audit pool. The final deadline for returning funds is Dec. 18.
If you return partial funds, please provide an explanation regarding the partial fund calculation. The State Auditor’s Office will issue updated 1099 statements for 2020 tax purposes for anyone returning funds in a timely manner.
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A list of frequently asked questions is available at wyobizrelief.org/audit-info.
ABOUT THE COVID-19 BUSINESS RELIEF PROGRAM AUDITS
Per COVID-19 Business Relief Program rules, the Business Council may conduct and contract for audits of entities receiving funding under this program to ensure awarded dollars are expended in compliance with state and federal law. Anyone knowingly making a false statement to obtain funding under these programs may require total or partial repayment of the funds and is punishable under the law. Current rules may be found online at rules.wyo.gov.
At a special meeting of the Business Council Board of Directors on Nov. 12, the Wyoming accounting firm McGee Hearne & Paiz, LLP (MHP) of Cheyenne was selected to conduct third-party financial audits on businesses that received pandemic assistance through the COVID-19 Business Relief Program.
“The Business Council is pleased to work with MHP, LLP on these audits and continue a relationship that began this spring,” Grenfell said.
Last March, Business Council staff released a request for proposals for auditing services with a proposal due date of April 22, 2020. Two Wyoming accounting firms responded to the proposal and, after formal scoring and review by the Business Council Board, MHP was selected as the recipient of the Business Council fiscal year 2020 financial audit.
The MHP contract was amended in August 2020 to include the financial audit of the CARES Act funds distributed by the Business Council in fiscal year 2020, and the Business Relief Program audits were addressed in a new contract with MHP at the Nov. 12 meeting.
The Business Council also established an anonymous tip form to collect information from anyone concerned about Wyoming businesses and nonprofits that received funds as reported on the State Auditor's website at www.wyopen.gov. Concerns can be shared at wyomingbusiness.org/covid19.
ABOUT THE COVID-19 BUSINESS RELIEF PROGRAM
In May 2020, the Wyoming Legislature created three programs to distribute $325 million in federal CARES Act funding to Wyoming businesses and nonprofits that experienced hardship related to the COVID-19 crisis. The Wyoming Business Council is distributing these dollars through the COVID-19 Business Relief Program, which consists of five funds: the Interruption, Relief, Mitigation, Agriculture, and Endurance funds, all of which are now closed. For more information, visit wyobizrelief.org.
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