CERTS Portal: What operators need to know before the July 19 deadline

The good news is the CERTS Portal is open. The bad news is some operators have had hiccups with the online application process.

Ken Presley

As operators meet challenges in the process or find themselves unsure how to answer certain questions, Ken Presley, United Motorcoach Association Vice President, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO, is providing answers. 

After listening to operators’ concerns at the recent UMA Town Hall along with calls and emails for others, Presley met with U.S. Treasury Department officials on Friday to get answers to operators’ questions.

“For those that have gotten through,” Presley said, “it’s taken an hour or less to put in a submission.” And he noted that the CERTS information page now has much more detailed information to help with the ID.me authentication process.

Complete CERTS Portal app ASAP

He is urging UMA Members to complete their application as soon as possible, because the portal is scheduled to close at 11:59 ET on July 19.

After the deadline, the portal will not accept new applications, and users will not be able to finish draft applications in the portal. 

Presley said if there are additional requirements, submissions, or explanations required, operators should have sufficient time to address those with the Treasury. 

“So far, there have been just a few hiccups about which we are currently seeking clarification,” said Presley.  “The new clarification for ID.me has been very helpful as has the updated guidance. Remember, as soon as your application is accepted, you will be notified.”     

Members who have successfully filled out the form have reported the process takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

Reach out to Treasury, UMA

Those who hit a roadblock or technology glitch should reach out to the Treasury, which has set up a CERTS hotline. The telephone number is 877-398-5862, or you can send an email to CERTS@Treasury.gov. 

UMA is also available for assistance. Call 703-838-2929 or email Presley at kpresley@uma.org. Presley is also asking Members to let him know if they have a confirmed submission. So far, he has received dozens of messages with this good news. 

Presley is providing the following answers to common inquiries UMA has received regarding CERTS applications and funding. 

“While we have made our best attempt at providing answers to common questions, any conflicting information provided by the Treasury certainly prevails,” Presley said. 

He recommends that operators check the CERTS FAQs daily for frequent updates.


Is anyone getting a fatal error on the CERTS app asking for “proof of student transportation”? We do not have school buses, nor did I put anywhere in the app anything about school buses. NAICS code is 485510 — Charter. The School Bus code is 485410. Could there be an issue here?

This issue was corrected last night, and UMA Members are now reporting successful submissions. Please try again.

2. I am still having trouble registering with ID.me!

Treasury has released a step-by-step guide with photos that should remedy the issue.

3. The application requests an IRS Form 941, but our holding company does not have one. How do I satisfy the application requirement?

Treasury is currently making an allowance and will be updating the provision. 

4. We are a small fleet operator, and all our drivers are 1099 employees. Should 1099 personnel be reported as employees?

No. However it is likely 1099 compensation will count toward your 60% payroll requirement. Look for additional clarification from Treasury as they update the FAQs.

5. Will UMA, through communications with Treasury, be able to monitor or report the statistics related to the volume of CERTS submissions?

Most likely yes. Very early, preliminary numbers indicate approximately 1,300 applications; approximately 400 of those applications are reported complete. The overwhelming majority of applications so far are from motorcoach companies.

6. Does the question regarding unemployment payments refer to the owner applying for CERTS funds or to the owner’s employees?

The only time an applicant will receive this question is if they indicate they are a sole proprietor. Sole proprietors must disclose the total amount of federally funded unemployment benefits they have received, if any, in response to COVID-19. Sole proprietors do NOT need to disclose the receipt of traditional unemployment Insurance benefits funded by a state government. 

7. How do we report paying employees through a professional employer organization (PEO)?

Companies that do not have an IRS Form 941 to upload in their own name and Tax Identification Number (TIN) because they use a third-party payroll processor or PEO must complete and upload a standard form letter in lieu of Form 941. The form letter must be completed and signed by an authorized representative of the third-party service provider. The form letter is available here for download. NOTE: This question is now answered in the updated FAQs.

8. Will my previous federal aid (Paycheck Protection Program, PPP; Economic Injury Disaster Loans, EIDL) reduce the amount I am eligible for under CERTS?

Not likely. The primary purpose in requesting the amount of previous federal aid is to conform with the congressional mandate to ensure that your total revenue and federal aid in 2020 do not exceed your 2019 revenue.

9 a. How would a company that has two corporate entities with the same ownership submit? 

Company A is the equipment holding company and Company B is the operating company. The buses (and debt) are owned by Company A, which leases them to Company B (the operating company) and holds all the revenue. 

9 b. In reference to the previous question, since the application is asking for both revenue loss as well as debt, should the applicant use the affiliation to show that they are really the same corporate entity? 

In this instance, there is no umbrella holding company and both companies’ tax returns reflect the same ownership and being reported on the owner’s tax return. Treasury advises such applicants to report debt under the operating company. 

10. Under PPP input, the portal allows for only one PPP application number. If we received both rounds of PPP, do we put the total amount and just one app number? Or do we include just one app number and the first-round amount?

All amounts received from PPP and EIDL must be reported as federal assistance. There is no distinction between “forgiven” and “loan.” 

11. What if my second round of PPP was not funded until 2021?

You must report all federal assistance received prior to your submission for CERTS aid, including any federal assistance received in 2021. 

12. Do I report all of the EIDL (grant and loan)?


13. I paid off my EIDL in full when I received a Main Street Lending Program loan. Do I still report the EIDL? Main Street Lending Program? 

Yes, the EIDL assistance must be reported. However, the loan under the Main Street Lending Program is not considered federal assistance and is not reportable. 

14. Are CERTS funds received considered taxable income?

Yes, grant funds are considered taxable income on your federal tax return.

15. Our company’s fiscal year ends June 30, 2021, so we have not filed yet and it’s unlikely we can have everything prepared to file with IRS before the CERTS submission deadline.  

Complicating the matter further is the fact that in calendar year 2020, our revenue loss is substantial when compared to calendar year 2019. Inasmuch as the spring in 2021 reflects some recovery, our FY year 2020 will not truly reflect our actual 2020 calendar year loss. It seems unfair to “penalize” a company simply because their fiscal year filing is different.  

Treasury is taking this under advisement and will advise their decision under the FAQs.

16. How soon can I expect to receive funds?

Ideally, Treasury would like to disburse funds as early as late July or early August. You can help by submitting now or as early as possible, as they are already reviewing the applications. As the applications are approved, you will receive an email notification.

17. How much will I receive?

That is unknown at this time as Treasury anticipates the program will be oversubscribed, and they must wait until the period for submissions has ended (11:59 PM EST July 19) to determine how funds will be distributed.

18. Is there any provision for making submissions after July 19?

No, not at this time. It would likely be unwise to procrastinate.  

19. What if I get stuck?

Treasury has set up a CERTS hotline. The telephone number is 877-398-5862, or you can contact them via email at CERTS@Treasury.gov. 

Of course, you are always welcome to call or email us here at UMA. Also, send us an email letting us know that you have made a confirmed submission. We have received dozens and love to hear the good news.

Please check the CERTS FAQs daily for frequent updates.

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