How to Apply for Employee Retention Tax Credit

Last Updated on May 18, 2024 by Ben

The federal government established the Employee Retention Credit (or ERC) to assist small firms that retained staff throughout the pandemic. The credit is available for the tax years of 2020 and 2021, and eligible employers may apply retrospectively using Form 941-X. Here is the pertinent information, including ERC dates for 2023 and beyond.

The ERC is unavailable for tax years 2023 and beyond; however, you may apply retrospectively if you have yet to utilize this credit. In 2020, businesses earn a credit of up to $5,000 per employee; in 2021, they could receive up to $7,000 per quarter.

Each fiscal year has its deadline. This allows you to focus on one application at a time, as each tax year requires a separate form to satisfy the various eligibility conditions.

ERC Credit Deadline

Firms that continued to pay employees while closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic or had severe losses in gross receipts between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2021. Employers who qualify may claim the ERC on an original or amended employment tax return for a period falling between these dates.

During the fourth quarter of 2021, the ERC is restricted to recovery-startup firms.

What is the Employee Retention Tax Credit?

The employee retention tax credit is a comprehensive, refundable tax credit that incentivizes firms to retain staff.

The credit equals 50% of the qualifying wages paid, up to a maximum of $10,000. It applies to wages earned between March 13, 2019, and December 31, 2020. The definition of qualifying salaries changes depending on whether a firm has more or fewer than 100 employees on average in 2019 fewer than 100. If the firm had 100 or fewer average employees in 2019. In other words, the company receives credit even though the employees worked full-time and were paid for full-time employment.

More significant than one hundred If the firm averaged more than 100 employees in 2019, the credit is limited to wages paid to non-working employees during the calendar quarter.

In both instances, “wages” includes a percentage of the cost of employer-provided health insurance.

Essential Questions in Learning About The Employee Retention Tax Credit

If you are the owner or manager of a small to medium-sized firm, you may have heard of “payroll tax credit” and other terms in the headlines within the previous year or two.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a federal scheme that pays business owners for retaining workers during the pandemic. Your organization could get a six-figure return if you are an eligible employer.

How does employee retention credit work?

As a result of the coronavirus’s detrimental impact on businesses across the nation, the government created the Employee Retention Credit to assist employers and mitigate the effects of the epidemic.
Employers can use various coronavirus-related payroll tax benefits to help them manage their businesses during this time. This credit is a fully refundable tax credit that employers can claim as a CARES Act relief mechanism to maintain their employees on the payroll.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021 has been modified. Employers can now recover 70% of eligible salary paid up to $10,000 per employee, with a maximum of $7,000 per employee.

Who qualifies for the employee retention credit?

Eligible employers for the employee retention credit in 2020 include:

Entirely or substantially ceased operations during any calendar quarter due to directives from an appropriate government body prohibiting trade, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19; or experienced a significant drop in gross receipts during the calendar quarter.

The eligibility requirements have been revised for 2021.

More than a minor fraction of the employer’s business operations must have been interrupted for the credit to be considered. A portion of an employer’s business is deemed more than a nominal portion of operations for the employee retention credit if either the gross receipts from that portion of business operations are not less than 10% of gross receipts (determined by the same calendar quarter in 2019).

What is the deadline for ERC or employee retention credit?

There are only two dates by which applications must be submitted to the ERC: April 15, 2024, for all 2020 quarters and April 15, 2025, for all 2021 quarters.

The ERC is responsible for filing Form 941-X every quarter. A new Form 941-X is required for each calendar quarter ERC is being claimed. While most revisions to federal modified payroll tax forms must be completed within three years of the original due dates, and initial Forms 941 were required by the final, the filing requirement is slightly different for 941-X modifications.

According to Form 941-X instructions:

The third quarter was due on October 31, 2020. The fourth quarter was due on January 31, 2021, all of these returns were filed on April 15, 2021, and the three-year statute of limitations for amending any of these returns is April 15, 2024. (According to the instructions for Form 941-X, any corrections to the employee retention credit between March 13, 2020, and March 31, 2020, must be reported on Form 941X filed for the second quarter of 2020.

The Employee Retention Credit expiration date has been pushed from 12/31/21 to 9/30/2021, and you can still file retrospectively if you match the qualifying standards.

Is the employee retention credit taxable income?

Employee contribution to the ERC is not considered taxable income. This means employees will not be required to pay additional taxes on ERC-covered qualified wages paid. The ERC is regarded as a Business Expense for employers and can be used to offset taxes due. The ERC is a vital tax relief tool for businesses and employees, and it can aid in retaining critical personnel during these challenging times.

Can you claim employee retention credit and PPP?

Absolutely. Initially, if you obtained a PPP loan, you were ineligible for the ERTC. In December 2020, however, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) was passed, allowing smaller enterprises to take advantage of both chances if they met the eligibility conditions and obeyed the restrictions. Firms cannot claim the same payroll expense as an ERTC wage.

What can you spend the employee retention credit on?

The ERC is a reimbursement, meaning that you cannot spend the money you choose. However, it is considered a fully refundable tax credit. If you qualified and were severely affected by the epidemic, you can receive up to 50% of $10,000 in wages every quarter for each employee.

Can you still claim the employee retention credit?

A startup business may still qualify for the ERC for wages received between July 1, 2021, and January 1, 2022. You may also claim the ERC for earlier quarters by filing the appropriate employment tax return, as modified, by the due date.

What are the eligible wages for the employee retention credit?

Wages paid to employees between March 12, 2020, and January 1, 2021, are qualified wages. All wages given to employees by enterprises that have experienced a significant drop in gross receipts or a closure owing to COVID-19 are deemed qualifying wages. The ERC grant can restore up to $26,000 per employee (the average is $11,000) based on salary, health insurance, and other staff expenses that business owners have previously incurred. The ERTC is available to enterprises of all sizes and in all industries.

Do you have to pay back the employee retention credit?

No. The employee retention credit is viewed as a refund in the form of employer credits, so it’s as if the government owes you money — as if you’re being rewarded for surviving as a firm over the past many years. It is considered a loan, yet repayment is never required.

How much is the employee retention credit in 2023?

The employee retention credit is a grant that reimburses employers up to $26,000 per employee (the average is $11,000) for payroll taxes, health insurance premiums, and other employee-related expenses incurred during the qualifying period.

When does the employee retention credit end?

The ERTC is claimable for earnings paid between March 12, 2020, and January 1, 202. To be eligible, employers must have endured a full or partial shutdown owing to a COVID-19-related mandate or a significant fall in gross receipts.

How long must you wait to get an employee retention credit refund?

In most recent IRS data, forms that have already been submitted might anticipate a refund within six to ten months of the filing date. If a business qualifies for the ERTC but desires to receive its reward sooner than six to twelve months, it may be eligible for an ERC advance payment in the form of a business loan. Once the IRS has successfully certified the award and dispersed the monies, this debt is repaid.

Best Employee Retention Credit Service

If you missed the deadline, there’s still time to claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit. You can turn to a company specializing in ERC funding to avoid going through the effort of completing an updated return yourself.

With ERC financing, you can receive up to $26,000 per employee retained during the COVID-19 epidemic. These organizations offer ERC services for a fee that assist you in calculating the amount of your tax credit, completing tax forms, applying for the credit, and submit them to the IRS as an ERC refund claim. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top ERC funding businesses that can assist your company in recovering your employee retention tax credit.

If you want to remove the guesswork from claiming the ERC retrospectively, you can seek the advice of an expert.

There are numerous choices available for ERC financial services. Some of the most popular options to consider include the following:

  • CPAs Payroll tax administration
  • Tax preparation companies
  • Legal firms
  • Tax credit professionals

You can claim the ERC by filing a revised quarterly tax return using Form 941-X. Calculating your ERC and accurately completing the form can be time-consuming and difficult for many small business owners.


Many businesses cannot afford to wait up to a year to receive their ERC return, but Omega Accounting Solutions has small businesses covered with its ERC bridge loans. In addition to getting ERC refunds for over 2,000 clients, the company offers ERC advances so that your business can obtain quick cash flow.


  • Prep & file amended documents
  • ERC bridge loans for immediate cash flow
  • Easy & secure application process


  • Non-transparent pricing


Lendio, a well-known provider of small business loans, also provides a straightforward ERC funding marketplace to assist you in finding the proper ERC service for your business.


  • No hidden fees
  • Competitive rates
  • Pay when you receive your refund


  • It may take 25+ days to file your ERC application.


Innovation Refunds simplifies the ERC procedure by matching you with a dedicated refund expert. Innovation Refunds provides experienced ERC refund services, from confirming that your business qualifies to submit your claim to the IRS with the assistance of independent tax attorneys and CPAs.

Furthermore, Innovation Refunds provides audit help if the IRS audits you in the future.


  • Dedicated ERC refund specialist
  • Pay when you receive your refund.
  • Audit protection


  • Expensive rates


ERC Specialists, as its name suggests, specializes in ERC refunds. ERC Specialists has been able to provide clients with the most credit refunds because its team of professionals has payroll tax knowledge and a thorough understanding of the ERC program. ERC Specialists provides a straightforward, streamlined application process that removes the element of uncertainty from requesting an ERC refund.


  • Free analysis to see if you qualify
  • Discount for paying fees upfront
  • Easy application process


  • Non-transparent pricing


Stenson Tamaddon is not limited to ERC refunds; it can also help you claim other tax credits you were previously unaware of. Stenson Tamaddon may also determine your eligibility for Research & Development Tax Credits, Work Opportunity Tax Credits, and ERC. Stenson Tamaddon has secured over $3.4 billion in tax credits for more than 4,000 businesses and can help your company determine if it is eligible for these cost-saving incentives.


  • Easy & secure application process
  • Can assist with claiming other tax credits
  • Offers $1M protection per filing


  • Non-transparent pricing


ERC Today is another platform that provides a quick and straightforward method for claiming your ERC refund.

ERC Today does not charge a cost for determining your eligibility for the ERC and submitting your claim to the IRS immediately. With a user-friendly, secure client site and a staff of devoted customer service representatives, it’s easy to see why this provider has received such excellent marks from its customers.


  • Streamlined application process
  • Dedicated client support reps
  • Free analysis to see if you’re qualify


  • Non-transparent pricing


Customers who now utilize Paychex for payroll processing are lucky, as the company offers ERC refund services. You can anticipate receiving a free eligibility evaluation, a report including all calculations for your ERC, and tax form preparation and filing. And if you are not a client? You can enroll in Paychex and speak with a Paychex representative about ERC refund processing.


  • Free analysis to see if you qualify
  • Dedicated ERTC experts
  • Prep & file amended tax documents


  • Only available to Paychex users
  • Non-transparent pricing

Benefits of using ERTC Express to meet ERC Credit Deadline

A tax credit was initially implemented as a temporary coronavirus-relief measure to aid firms in retaining personnel. Since then, the ERC has vastly increased. The ERC has been extended for 2021 – excellent news for employers and employees.

Things to Know Before Filing Your Employee Retention Credit in 2023

How to claim Employee Retention Credit

Employers wishing to claim the Employee Retention Credit must submit Form 941, Schedule R. The credit equals fifty percent of each employee’s qualifying earnings earned through the end of 2021. To qualify for the ERC credit, an employer must have experienced either an interruption in business operations or a decline in gross receipts. In addition, firms must retain the same worker numbers as before the outbreak.

In contrast to PPP loans, there is no requirement to demonstrate a decline in revenue to qualify for an ERC grant; nonetheless, the grant is automatically awarded if a decline in revenue is explained.

How to calculate Employee Retention Credit

The credit is equal to fifty percent of the qualifying wages paid to qualified employees, up to ten thousand dollars per employee per quarter. If an employee earned more than $10,000 in eligible wages during a quarter, only $5,000 will be applied to the credit.

To calculate the employee retention credit, double the total earnings qualifying for the credit by fifty percent. For instance, if a firm has ten eligible workers and pays each worker $10,000 in qualifying wages for a quarter, the employer would be eligible for a credit of $50,000 ($10,000 x 10 employees x 50%).

How much is the Employee Retention Credit

The credit equals fifty percent of the eligible earnings paid to employees by the business. The maximum qualified wage per employee is $10,000. Hence the full credit a company can receive per employee is $5,000.

In addition, the firm must have retained its employees and paid them at least $600 in qualifying earnings during the qualifying period. Eligible wages include salary, hourly pay, commissions, and other compensation types. Credit for employee retention is available for wages paid between March 13, 2020.

Is the employee retention credit (ERC) still available in 2023?

Yes. The (ERTC) applies to wages and benefits paid out between March 13, 2020, September 30, or December 31, 2021; however, businesses can still submit applications for the ERTC. Companies have until April 15, 2024, to file for a refund if they are eligible and in compliance.

How to file for employee retention credit

Before claiming the ERC tax credit, firms must apply to the IRS. Businesses must disclose essential company and employee information and prove that the pandemic affected them. Start here to submit your ERC credit application.

The IRS will then evaluate the application and determine if the business qualifies for the credit. The ERC can provide much-needed financial assistance to firms trying to retain their personnel.

How to start an Employee Retention Credit 2023 application

Employers must file Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, to initiate the ERC credit. The credit may be claimed for each eligible quarter between January 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021. Visit the IRS website or contact an Employee Retention Credit agency.

What are the employee retention credit rules?

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is intended to effectively compensate and reimburse businesses for surviving the pandemic and the subsequent economic uncertainties. Therefore, a refundable tax credit is given to employers who can demonstrate that their business was adversely affected by partial or whole shutdowns in 2020 or 2021 or a drop in gross receipts.

What are the aggregation rules for the Employee Retention Credit?

For Employee Retention Credit purposes, an Eligible Employer comprises all consolidated group members classified as a single employer under section 2301(d) of the CARES Act. When enterprises are controlled by common ownership, the group firms are aggregated for ERC reasons and classified as single employers if they are a parent-subsidiary controlled group of corporations (in which a single entity owns at least 50% of all entities), a brother-sister controlled group of corporations.

Do employers have to repay the ERTC or Employee Retention Tax Credit?

Employers are not required to reimburse the Employee Retention Tax Credit. (ERTC). This IRS-issued refundable payroll tax credit gives some businesses financial assistance for Covid-19-related expenses. To be eligible for this excellent credit, companies must comply with specific Internal Revenue Service-established standards and show proof of their losses. The refundable credit exceeds the payroll taxes paid in a credit-generating period for most taxpayers.

What is an eligible employer: ERC program?

To qualify for the ERC, a firm must show that its quarterly gross receipts have dropped by at least 50% from the previous quarter.

How will you record the employee retention tax credit?

According to the IRS, this credit must be recorded as a reduction in deductible payroll costs. To accomplish this, classify the ERC line item as Payroll Gross Pay in the journal entry. Following these procedures may guarantee that your tax paperwork is correct and current.

Is there any ERC tax credit employee limits?

No limit on the number of employees eligible for the credit; nonetheless, it is easier for small enterprises to claim the honor due to the accounting and logistics involved. Consideration should be given to collaborating with an outside firm that specializes in the ERC tax credit.

Are there ERTC program wage limits?

The wage cap for all employees stays at $10,000 every calendar quarter while their credit rate increases to 70%. This measure has been implemented and has proven incredibly beneficial for all who have participated thus far.

Final Thought – How to Apply for Employee Retention Tax Credit

In conclusion, the Employee Retention Credit can provide small firms significant relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic. By learning the 2023 deadlines, eligibility requirements, and how to calculate and file for the credit, small company owners may ensure they can claim the credit and obtain the necessary financial support. However, claiming credit can be a complicated and perplexing process.

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