The COVID-19 virus has wreaked havoc across all businesses, forcing some to shut their doors or layoff employees.But there is a lifeline available to help businesses stay afloat: the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).
The ERC allows businesses to claim a tax credit on wages paid during a pandemic.It was designed to encourage businesses to continue to pay their employees even if normal operations are not possible.
The ERC can be very helpful to business owners who have been impacted. It will keep employees motivated and help your business stay afloat.If you want to know more about the ERC or how to claim it visit the IRS’ website, consult a tax advisor or continue reading below.
For a brief reading of what the Employee Retention Credit or ERC is, take a look at this video from the YouTube channel “ERC Specialists”. You can also continue below to read an in-depth explanation of ERC.
The Employee Retention CreditEmployee Retention Credit Eligible Wages
Employee Retention (ERC) Credit is a refundable credit that businesses may claim on wages paid during the COVID-19 pandemic.It was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March 2020 in order to help businesses retain their employees, even if it meant they could not operate normally.
Businesses of all sizes can apply for the ERC, even those that are tax-exempt.For a business to be eligible, it must have suffered a significant decrease in gross revenues or been partially or completely suspended by a government order related to COVID-19.
The ERC provides a financial boost for businesses that are affected by pandemic.It can help businesses to retain employees, pay for payroll, and invest in the future.
Why was ERC created?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a severe economic downturn, forcing many businesses to lay off employees or close their doors altogether.The ERC is designed to help keep businesses open and their employees working so that they can resume normal operations as soon as the pandemic subsides.
The ERC can provide a significant financial boost to businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.It can also assist businesses in retaining their employees. This is vital for a fast recovery.
The ERC can be claimed by businesses even if no taxes are due.Businesses can also claim the ERC for qualified wages paid to employees who are not working due to COVID-19, such as employees who are furloughed or quarantined. Employee Retention Credit Eligible Wages
Impact of ERCs on the Economy and Businesses
The ERC was able to keep millions of Americans working during the COVID-19 pandemic.It also helped companies to weather the economic storm and remain afloat.
ERC saved 10 million jobs. Thousands of businesses were prevented from closing.The ERC has also helped to boost consumer spending and investments, which have contributed to economic recovery.
The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a tax credit available to businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To be eligible, a business must have experienced a significant decline in gross receipts or have been fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19-related government order.
The only difference between ERC 2020 requirements and those of 2021 is the test for gross receipts.In 2020, a business must have experienced a significant decline in gross receipts of at least 50% compared to the same quarter in the previous year.In 2021 a business will have to experience a significant decrease in gross revenues of at least 20 percent compared with the same quarter last year.
There are two ways that businesses can qualify for ERC:
- ERC is available to businesses that have been suspended in whole or part by government orders due to COVID-19.The ERC is available to businesses that have been told to close or operate at reduced capacity.
- Significant decline in Gross Receipts: An eligible business who has suffered a significant decrease in gross receipts as a result of COVID-19 may also be eligible for ERC.Significant decline in Gross Receipts: A business that has experienced a significant decline in its gross receipts due to COVID-19 is also eligible for the ERC.
Examples and Scenarios
Here are some examples and scenarios to illustrate each eligibility criterion:
A government order can suspend a person’s rights in full or part
- A restaurant that is forced to close due to a government order is eligible for the ERC.
- ERC can be awarded to a fitness center that has to operate on a reduced basis due to an order from the government based on COVID-19.
Significant decline in gross receipts:
- ERC may be available for a retailer that suffers a drop of 50% in sales caused by COVID-19.
- ERC is available to manufacturers who are unable to run at full capacity because of supply chain disruptions.
Employee Retention (ERC) Credit is an income tax credit which businesses can claim in relation to wages that were paid during the COVID-19 Pandemic.The amount of the credit is dependent on the business’s quarter and employees.
Credits for 2020 are equal to 50% the qualified wages paid by employees, up to a maximum amount of $10,000 per employee.For 2020, a business may receive a maximum credit of $5,000 per employee.
The credit for the first three quarters of 2021 is 70% of the qualified wages paid by employees. This maximum amount per employee per quarter is $10,000.This means that a business could receive a credit of up to $7,000 per employee per quarter for the first three quarters of 2021, for a total of up to $21,000 per employee for the year.
Claim the Credit
How to Claim the ERC on Federal Employment Tax Returns
To claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) on federal employment tax returns, businesses must file an amended Form 941-X, Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund.This form can be filed for any quarter in which the business was eligible for the credit.
Claim the ERC in Advance
Businesses have three choices for claiming ERCs:
- Claim credit in advance. Businesses can claim credit in advance by reducing their quarterly deposits for employment tax.To do this, businesses must file Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits and Taxes, with the IRS.
- Businesses may also reduce their quarterly tax deposits on employment by the credit amount they expect.To reduce the deposits, businesses need to file IRS Form 941 and include the amount of credit that they expect to receive.
- Businesses who have already paid employment taxes may request a credit refund by filing IRS Form 941X.
Calculating the Amount of the Credit and Avoiding Double-dipping with Other Relief Programs
The amount of the ERC is calculated by multiplying the qualified wages paid to employees by the applicable credit rate.The credit rates for 2020 are 50% and 70% in the first 3 quarters of 2021.
Businesses should avoid double-dipping on other relief programs.Businesses cannot, for example, claim the ERC on wages they also claim as part of the Paid Family Medical Leave Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
Tips and Resources for Recordkeeping and Documentation
Businesses should keep detailed records of all qualified wages paid to employees during the ERC period.This will allow businesses to calculate accurately the amount of credit they are entitled to and support their claim in the event that it is audited. Employee Retention Credit Eligible Wages
Here are some tips on recordkeeping and documentation.
- All payroll records should be kept, including W-2s and Forms 941s.
- Keep track of every employee’s hours, including sick time, holiday, and vacation.
- Track all employee wages, including bonuses, overtime, and base pay.
- Keep track of any orders from the government that may affect your business.
The IRS provides a variety of resources to help businesses claim the ERC, including FAQs, fact sheets, and videos.Businesses can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 for assistance.
Examples of Eligible Businesses
Businesses impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for the Employee retention credit (ERC).These are some examples of businesses who may qualify for the Employee Retention Credit.
- Restaurants are forced to close by government order
- Retail stores that saw a significant fall in sales
- Supply chain disruptions prevent manufacturers from operating at full capacity
- Donations for nonprofit organizations are down
- Hotels and other hospitality enterprises
- Travel and Tourism Businesses
- Entertainment and Event Businesses
- Personal care businesses
- Gyms and fitness studios
- Salons and spas
- Stores that sell non-essential merchandise
- Businesses that have been required to operate in a reduced capacity
- Businesses that are forced to implement new safety protocols
- Businesses who experienced higher costs due to COVID-19
These examples are not the only ones that qualify. Any business that has been suspended in whole or part by an order of government or that has seen a decline in gross sales due to COVID-19 could also be eligible. Employee Retention Credit Eligible Wages
Here are a few examples of specific ways businesses have used their ERC:
- The ERC allowed a restaurant to retain its staff after it was forced to shut down for several months by government order.
- A retail store which experienced a drop of 50% in sales due COVID-19 could offset its payroll expenses by using the ERC.
- ERC can be used by a producer who is unable operate at maximum capacity due to disruptions of the supply chain. This allows them to keep their employees and continue producing essential products.
- The ERC allowed a nonprofit organization to continue providing essential services despite a decline in donations due to COVID-19.
If you are a business owner and you are unsure whether or not you are eligible for the ERC, I encourage you to contact a tax professional.They can help you to determine your eligibility and to claim the credit if you are eligible.
Risks of ERC Scams and Aggressive Marketing
Unfortunately, there are scammers who are trying to take advantage of businesses that are eligible for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).Scammers will use aggressive marketing techniques to get businesses to sign up, even if they are not eligible for ERC.
Warning Signs and Red Flags
Here are some warnings and red flags for identifying potential ERC fraudsters:
- The company promises to give you a full refund without reviewing any of your records.
- They charge high fees upfront or take a portion of your refund.
- They use high-pressure sales tactics. Employee Retention Credit Eligible Wages
- They are not affiliated to a reputable organization of tax professionals.
- The first thing they ask you for is your personal and financial information.
Reporting Suspicious Actors and Protecting Your Personal Information
If you are contacted by an ERC scammer, you should report the activity to the IRS.You can call 1-800-829-1040 for more information or go to the IRS web site.
Protecting personal information and financial data is equally important.You should not provide your personal information to anyone contacting you uninvited.If you want to know if a particular business is legit, check online reviews. Or contact the IRS.
In this article, the Employee Retention credit (ERC) is discussed. It’s a tax relief program that helps eligible employers retain their employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.We have explained the eligibility requirements, the claiming process, and the potential scams related to the ERC.
We also have some tips and materials for documenting your records.The ERC offers employers a valuable opportunity to reduce their tax liabilities, improve cash flow and support the workforce.If you qualify as an employer, please claim the ERC and get professional assistance if you require it.
Employee Retention Credit Frequently Asked Questions:
Employee Retention Credit Eligible Wages
What is ERC?
Businesses affected by COVID-19 can apply for a refundable income tax credit.
This credit is equal to 50% the wages paid by employees to qualified employees in 2020. And 70% of the wages paid by employees to qualified employees in their first three quarters in 2021.
Who can apply for the ERC program?
Businesses that have experienced a significant drop in gross receipts or those that were suspended or fully suspended by government orders due to the COVID-19 epidemic are eligible for the ERC.
What is qualified wage?
Qualified wages include wages, salaries, tips, and bonuses paid to employees.
Health insurance premiums paid by the employer are also considered qualified wages.
How can I claim my ERC?
The IRS will accept amended Forms 941 and 941-X from businesses to claim the ERC.The amended Form 941X must be filed no later than three years after the original Form 941.
Do I have to repay my ERC?
The ERC does not require repayment by businesses. It is a tax credit that can be used to offset future taxes.
Can I claim ERC even if I have received a PPP Loan?
Businesses can still claim the ERC if they have received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
Businesses can’t claim ERC on wages they used for PPP loans.
Can self-employed people claim the ERC?
Self-employed individuals can apply for the ERC.
Schedule C is the form that self-employed people can use to claim their ERC.
Can non-profit organizations claim ERC?
Nonprofit organizations can apply for the ERC.
Nonprofits may claim ERCs on their Form 990T.
Can companies that have a foreign subsidiary claim ERC benefits?Can companies who have a foreign branch claim ERC?
Businesses can claim ERC for wages paid by foreign subsidiaries to their employees.
That said, there are some additional requirements that must be met before they can claim it.
Are there any common mistakes made by businesses when claiming ERC that they should be on the lookout for?
You should be on the lookout for these common mistakes when businesses claim their ERC.
- Wrong calculation on credit
- Failure to include all qualified wages
- Failure to amend form 941 – X on time.