Employee Retention Credit

The world of business is a rapidly changing one, and with it comes the need for new strategies to help keep employees engaged. Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is one such strategy that has become increasingly popular among businesses looking to retain their top talent while also reducing costs. This article will provide an overview of ERC – from its basic concepts to its potential benefits – in order to give readers a better understanding of this innovative approach to employee retention and motivate them to consider implementing it within their own organizations.

Employee Retention Credit was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was passed by Congress in March 2020. It offers eligible employers up to $5,000 per employee in refundable tax credits if they are able to maintain certain levels of pay throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the program, employers must commit not decrease wages below pre-pandemic levels between March 12th and December 31st 2020. They must also agree not reduce employment levels or limit hours worked during the same period.

The idea behind Employee Retention Credit is relatively simple: By offering a financial incentive for employers who choose not reduce wages amid economic downturns, it encourages them take advantage of cost savings without compromising on employee satisfaction and loyalty. In turn, this can lead greater job security for workers while helping employers avoid hiring challenges associated with high turnover rates or increased recruiting expenses later down the line.

Overview Of The Credit

The Employee Retention Credit is a tax credit applied to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s designed to help companies retain and pay employees during this crisis. The purpose of the credit is to incentivize companies to keep their payrolls intact, even when revenues are down due to the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The Employee Retention Credit applies for wages paid after March 12th, 2020 and before January 1st, 2021. It can be claimed on up to $10,000 in qualified wages per employee in any given quarter. Businesses must have experienced one of two scenarios: either a full or partial shut down as a direct result of government orders limiting commerce; or they had a 50% decrease in gross receipts compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, employers with more than 100 full-time employees prior to February 15th, 2020 may only claim credits for those who were not providing services due to reduced hours or due solely because of governmental orders that impacted operations.

Businesses will receive an immediate refundable credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50 percent of eligible wages paid between March 13th, 2020 and December 31st, 2020 (up to $5,000). Eligible wages include payments made for healthcare benefits such as health insurance premiums and other forms of compensation including vacation days and sick leave. For businesses with fewer than 500 full-time employees, all wages qualify – regardless if they are offering services at all or just partially during the shutdown period – making it easier for them to access these funds quickly without having separate calculations done each quarter. With this information in mind we move onto qualifying businesses…

Qualifying Businesses

The Employee Retention Credit is available to businesses who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To be eligible, a business must either 1) experience a full or partial suspension of operations due to governmental orders related to COVID-19, or 2) experience a significant decline in gross receipts year over year. Eligible employers are considered those that experienced at least a 50% reduction in quarterly gross receipts compared with the same quarter in 2019 or 2020. Businesses may also qualify if they had average annual wages below certain thresholds and met other criteria established by the IRS.

In addition, an employer must meet requirements regarding their size and employee count as detailed by the CARES Act: Employers with more than 100 employees can receive up to $7,000 per employee for qualified wages paid during any period between March 12th 2020 and January 1st 2021; while employers with fewer than 100 employees can receive up to $5,000 per employee for qualified wages paid during any period between March 13th 2020 and December 31st 2021.

Businesses that are part of the same group filing under common ownership rules will be combined when determining eligibility for this credit. This includes owners who file taxes on Schedule C forms such as small sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs (limited liability companies), trusts and estates which all fall under this category. Additionally, tax-exempt organizations whose income is only subject to unrelated business income tax are also eligible for this program if they meet all other qualifications outlined in the legislation.

Eligible Employees

Having determined the characteristics of a qualifying business for an employee retention credit, it is also important to understand who qualifies as an eligible employee in order for an employer to receive this credit. Based on IRS guidelines, an eligible employee is any worker employed by the qualified employer whose wages were reduced or services interrupted due to COVID-19 related circumstances. This includes full-time and part-time employees, independent contractors, seasonal workers, and other temporary staff that are treated as employees under federal tax law.

In addition, employers may claim the credit on behalf of all non-citizen employees including those with nonresident alien visas such as H1B and L1 visa holders. However, business owners or shareholders with more than a 50% stake in their company are not considered “employees” and thus do not qualify for the credit even if they have been affected financially by COVID-19 related interruptions or reductions in services.

Employers must be aware that there may be different requirements depending on whether they offer health insurance benefits provided through another party like a third-party administrator (TPA). In these situations, certain rules apply regarding how much of the benefit costs can be included when calculating wages paid to eligible employees during 2020 period covered by the program. Employers should review both state and federal laws carefully before determining what payments are eligible for inclusion when calculating their employee retention credits.

Calculating The Credit

Employee retention credit is a valuable tool for businesses to incentivize their employees and ensure they keep them engaged during difficult times. Calculating the amount of the employee retention credit that a business may be eligible for requires careful planning and attention to detail.

First, it’s important to understand what types of expenses are qualified for the credit. Generally, this includes wages paid after March 12th, 2020 and before January 1st, 2021. These include salaries or hourly wages and any employer-provided health care benefits. Businesses must also make sure that these payments do not exceed $10,000 per quarter (or $21,500 annually) in order to receive the full credit.

Next, employers need to determine if they qualify for reduced eligibility under certain circumstances such as experiencing significant declines in gross receipts from one quarter over another during 2020. If so, there are specific rules about how much of the total wage expense can be used when calculating the credit – with 10% being the maximum allowed for most businesses. Additionally, employers who have experienced less than a 50% decline in gross receipts should use an alternative method based on payroll costs instead of total wages paid out when determining their eligibility amount.

To accurately calculate employee retention credits due to a business’ unique situation requires careful consideration of all factors involved and an understanding of various tax laws related to such calculations. It is recommended that businesses seek assistance from trained professionals or consult IRS guidelines regarding this topic prior to filing taxes and claiming any applicable credits.

Claiming The Credit

Having calculated the employee retention credit, businesses can now move on to claiming it. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides an online portal for employers to apply for and receive this tax break. It requires that a business proprietor provide information regarding their employees, including their Social Security numbers, wages they were paid during the period of time in question, and any other relevant data requested by the IRS. Furthermore, businesses must also have documentation to verify their eligibility for the credit as well as proof of payment for certain types of expenses incurred due to COVID-19.

In order to claim the Employee Retention Credit, employers are required to file Form 941 with the IRS each quarter along with supporting documents such as invoices or receipts showing payments made towards specific eligible expenses. Additionally, if an employer has already claimed credits from other sources such as Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness or Coronavirus Aid Relief Fund disbursements, then these amounts should be subtracted from the total amount being claimed through this credit program. Employers will not only need to include all pertinent financial information when filing Form 941 but also accurately report how much is owed in payroll taxes so that appropriate adjustments may be made accordingly.

When submitting Form 941 electronically via e-file services providers like TurboTax®, companies must ensure that they give accurate answers when asked about related items pertaining to potential unemployment insurance liabilities since those could potentially decrease their overall liability associated with this particular tax credit program. After completing the form and attaching any necessary supporting evidence, employers may submit it directly to the IRS or forward it on to their bookkeeper or accountant who’ll handle final preparation before submission. Upon approval of the application, employers should expect a notification letter from the IRS detailing what was approved and how much money was credited back onto their account.

Reporting Requirements

The reporting requirements for employee retention credit are paramount to its success. From the moment of implementation, employers must be cognizant of the records that need to be maintained throughout the duration of their business’s eligibility period:

• Records verifying wages paid and qualified health plan expenses incurred or paid;
• Copies of quarterly payroll tax returns (Form 941) filed with IRS;
• Documentation supporting information reported on Form 941;
• Documentation to support any adjustments made to previously filed Forms 941; and
• All relevant statements related to credits claimed.

Organizational accuracy is pivotal in ensuring accurate calculations when claiming credits. Any miscalculations can result in costly penalties and interest charges due upon examination by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Moreover, there may also be state specific filing requirements depending on where a company’s headquarters is located. Therefore, it is essential that employers understand their obligations before they begin taking advantage of this incentive program. It is also important to note that failure to adhere to these regulations could also lead to criminal prosecution against both the employer and employees responsible for submitting inaccurate claims or failing to file required forms with the IRS. As such, companies should take all necessary precautions prior to utilizing this incentive program as part of their overall employee recruitment efforts.


In conclusion, the Employee Retention Credit is an important part of any business’s budgeting and planning process. It can provide a much-needed boost to businesses that are struggling financially due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Qualifying businesses must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for the credit, including having experienced at least a 50% decline in gross receipts from one quarter over another. Eligible employees include those who were employed prior to February 15th, 2020, and have not had their wages reduced more than 25%. Calculating the credit involves subtracting certain expenses from total qualified wages paid out during the year. Once calculated, businesses can claim this credit on their annual tax return. Furthermore, there are reporting requirements set forth by the IRS that must be met in order to fully benefit from this credit.

At its core, the Employee Retention Credit offers financial assistance to businesses facing extreme hardship as they navigate through these difficult times. While it may require some extra effort upfront to get everything ready for filing season, taking advantage of this valuable opportunity could make all the difference when it comes time to file taxes next year. By recognizing its importance now and getting started early on implementation procedures, employers will be able to reap maximum benefits once tax season rolls around again.