As a businеss ownеr,  you’vе undoubtеdly facеd thе unprеcеdеntеd challеngеs posеd by thе global pandеmic.  Onе lifеlinе that may bе availablе to you is thе Employее Rеtеntion Crеdit (ERC).  But what еxactly is this and how doеs it work?

You’rе in luck bеcausе wе’rе about to dеlvе into еvеrything you nееd to know about ERC.  We’ll explain its origin, the ERC tax credit Eligibility criteria, calculation method, application process, relevance

It’s crucial to understand these aspects to fully leverage this financial aid and mitigate some of your economic pressure. So strap in as we unravel the complexities of ERC in layman’s terms—no legalese or jargon involved!

Is ERC Real?

Absolutely, the ERC is real, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security – scams are rampant and it’s heartbreaking to see hardworking business owners fall for them.

The IRS has provided detailed guidelines on how the ERC works and who qualifies for it. It’s critical to review these guidelines thoroughly before attempting to claim this credit.

Be wary of promoters aggressively pushing ineligible businesses to file for large upfront fees or a percentage of the refund. Remember, if your tax professional questions the accuracy of your ERC claim, heed their advice.

Improperly claiming could lead to audits, criminal investigations, repayment of credit along with penalties and interest. Always verify information before filing an ERC claim; it will save you heartache in the long run.

What Exactly Is the Employee Retention Credit?

In essence, it’s a tax break specifically designed to encourage businesses to keep their staff on payroll during periods of operational disruption or significant financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit that offers relief for eligible employers who:

  1. Experienced full or partial suspension of operations due to governmental orders limiting commerce, travel or group meetings in 2020 or the first three quarters of 2021.
  2. Witnessed a considerable decline in gross receipts during these same periods.
  3. Were classified as a recovery startup business for the third or fourth quarters of 2021.

However, remember that wages reported as payroll costs while obtaining PPP loan forgiveness or used to claim other specific tax credits cannot be claimed under ERC.


Determining if your business qualifies for this unique tax relief can seem like navigating a maze, but it’s as simple as meeting certain criteria. If your trade or business was fully or partially suspended during any quarter of 2020 due to governmental orders related to COVID-19 – limiting commerce, travel or group meetings – you’re eligible. This extends even to tax-exempt organizations.

Experiencing a significant decline in gross receipts also puts you in the running for this credit for employee retention. It doesn’t matter whether you operate a small start-up or a well-established corporation; if these conditions apply, then so does your eligibility.

It is designed to provide some financial respite amid these challenging times, helping companies stay afloat while retaining their workforce.


Let’s dive right into the numbers and make sense of how to calculate this beneficial tax relief.

For 2021, if your business meets the financial setback criteria and has fewer than 500 employees, you’re in the game. The next step is to identify qualifying wages; remember these are capped at $10,000 per employee per quarter. Then apply a 70% rate to these wages – that’s your Employee Retention Credit (ERC).

For 2020, it works similarly but beware of two key differences: firstly, only businesses with fewer than 100 employees qualify; secondly, the calculation rate is halved from 70% to 50%.

Lastly, always file on time. Accurate calculations and timely filing will help avoid any potential problems down the line.

How to Apply

Applying for this tax relief involves a straightforward process that can provide significant financial reprieve during these challenging times. You,  as an еmployеr,  nееd to rеport your total qualifiеd wagеs and thе rеlatеd hеalth insurancе costs for еach quartеr on Form 941 of your quartеrly еmploymеnt tax rеturns. 

To simplify thе procеss,  lеt’s brеak it down: 

  • Start by calculating the total qualified wages and related health insurance costs for each quarter.
  • Report these amounts on Form 941, which is standard for most employers.
  • The credit then offsets against your share of social security tax.

Remember, any excess credit is refundable under normal procedures. This gives you an opportunity not only to reduce liabilities but also receive refunds if your credits exceed what you owe in social security taxes.

PPP Loan Holders

For businesses that have received a PPP loan, it’s crucial to understand the updated regulatory nuances to maximize potential tax benefits. The Consolidated Appropriations Act has altered previous stipulations, enabling the deduction of eligible expenses when such payments lead to loan forgiveness.

Under these amended guidelines, you won’t be denied a deduction or face reduced tax attributes and basis increases due to the exclusion from gross income of your covered loan’s forgiveness.

You’re now capable of claiming both the employee retention credit and PPP simultaneously. However, tread carefully as this practice has its pitfalls.

Always stay abreast with new regulations and consider professional guidance for accurate application and maximization of these relief measures. It’s key to strategize wisely for optimal fiscal outcomes in these challenging times.

Non Profits

Navigating the complexities of tax benefits can be a minefield for non-profits, especially when it comes to understanding eligibility and compliance. Take the employee retention credit, for example. As a non-profit, you’re just as eligible as any small business, but determining your qualification can be challenging.

There are two key tests: the government mandate test and the gross receipts test. You must meet these requirements to claim your credit.

When filing, use Form 941-X to declare your claim and include this amount on Form 990. Remember, the credit depends on your qualified wages and number of employees.

Understanding these nuances is crucial in successfully leveraging this benefit to support your organization’s mission while ensuring compliance with tax regulations.

Taxable Income

When it comes to taxable income, it’s crucial to remember that while ERC credits aren’t specifically classified as such, they do have an impact on your payroll deductions and thus your taxable profits.

This means that even though ERC isn’t directly taxed, its influence on the payroll deductions alters the overall amount you’ll declare as income for tax purposes. Therefore, understanding this relationship is vital in accurately reporting such information on relevant tax forms like 1120-S and 1065.

The effect of the ERC on your tax returns varies based on the credit claimed under it, the payroll expense deductions made during the fiscal year, and your business entity type.

This requires a strategic approach to ensure maximized benefits while maintaining compliance with taxation laws.


In conclusion, you’ve now got the lowdown on the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). It’s a legitimate, significant tax credit that you can leverage if your business has been affected by COVID-19.

From understanding eligibility, calculating your potential credit, to applying and navigating PPP loans or non-profit specifics, it’s all in your grasp.

Remember, this could significantly reduce your taxable income. Make sure you’re not missing out!