CONCORD, N.C. — An IRS mix-up almost cost a popular small business thousands of dollars in much-needed COVID-11 relief.
"They basically said that the IRS reported that we were not a business prior to 2020," co-owner Emily Cordero said. "I thought, 'There's no way that's true.'"
Her SBA denial letter shows the IRS "reported no record found for a filing of a 2019 tax return" for the business owned by Cordero and her sister since 2019.
"It was pretty crushing to hear the news that we weren't going to get it," Cordero said. "We've been putting so many things on the backburner that we really need."
Cordero quickly secured proof they paid their taxes, but she said the federal government told her she couldn't appeal the decision.
"They basically just said, 'There's nothing you can do about it,'" Cordero said disappointed. "There's really no one to call or ask or get help from."
Desperate, she reached out to WCNC Charlotte for help, afraid the SBA incorrectly denied others too.
"This was kind of like our last hope to get caught up and catch a breath," Cordero said. "I think there are a lot of people like myself that have these errors."
WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing email@example.com.
Just weeks prior, WCNC Charlotte interviewed Small Business Administration Acting North Carolina District Director Michael Arriola. At the time, he assured WCNC Charlotte the agency was working in good faith to help businesses in need, so WCNC Charlotte asked him to get involved with Cardero's case.
In a matter of days, Cordero went from hopeless to hopeful.
"Wednesday, my sister called me at 7 a.m. screaming, crying," she said while smiling. " I think my sister and I were both in shock, for one, and ecstatic."
Cordero said the SBA didn't explain the mistake but did deposit $7,000.
"Honestly, after I saw the money was there, I didn't really care if there was an explanation," she said. "I feel so lucky as a small business to still be here through the pandemic and also just to be able to receive this relief from the SBA. We just can't explain how grateful and thankful we are."
SBA Public Affairs Specialist Karen Knapik told WCNC Charlotte she wouldn't call this an error. Instead, she said the SBA relies on other agencies to share whatever information is available, and, in this case, the IRS is working through a major backlog.
That said, she shared exactly how people can appeal denial decisions.
Targeted EIDL Advance Program appeal process
Business owners like Cordero, who applied for a Targeted EIDL Advance, can email the SBA at TargetedAdvanceReevaluation@sba.gov.
The subject line of the email should read "Reevaluation Request for (insert your 10-digit application number)"
In the body of the email, be sure to include identifying information for the application including application number, business name, business address, business owner name(s) and phone number.
Equally as important, you should include an explanation and any documentation (if available) that addresses the reason for the denial.
People who email this address will receive an auto-reply confirmation email, and the SBA will contact them if additional documentation is needed for the agency's review.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) appeal process
Business owners who applied for EIDL can email the SBA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The email should include the person's 10-digit application number, business name, business address, business owner name(s) and phone number along with any additional information for review.
Cordero hopes others denied by the SBA can also benefit from a second look.
"For a small business and a new small business, that is life-changing almost," she said of the $7,000 they received. "It feels amazing."
Cordero said she's thankful WCNC Charlotte took the time to listen to her plight.
"I honestly feel like this wouldn't have happened without your help," she said. "The fact that you took the time to just kind of get to know us and our business and realize you could be the stepping stone between us and a life-changing, business-changing sum of money, was just such a relief to get someone that finally wanted to help us and took the time to care to help us. It was what kind of saved us and made everything happen so fast."