May 31, 2023

What is the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)?

Employee retention tax credit is a great way for businesses to save money and keep their employees on the payroll. It’s an incentive created by Congress to help employers during tough economic times, like we’re in now due to Covid-19. But what is it exactly? In this article, we’ll discuss what employee retention tax credits are, who qualifies for them, and how they can be used as part of your business strategy.

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The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) was established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). This act provides eligible employers with a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50% of qualified wages paid from March 13th 2020 through December 31st 2020. The maximum amount of credit available per employee is $5,000. So if you have any qualifying wages that exceed that amount then no additional credit will be provided beyond the first $5k.

To qualify for ERTC benefits there are specific criteria set forth by the IRS that must be met. An employer must show that its operations were fully or partially suspended due to government orders related to COVID-19 or experienced at least a 50 percent decline in gross receipts compared to the same quarter in 2019. Additionally, all payments made after March 12th 2020 up until January 1st 2021 may qualify for the benefit if they meet other requirements such as whether or not wages are paid to current employees versus new hires and whether or not those wages were already covered by PPP funds received earlier in the year. That being said, let’s take a closer look at how employers can use this program as a strategic tool to retain staff while still saving money!

Definition Of Employee Retention Tax Credit

The Employee Retention Tax Credit is like a beacon of hope for struggling businesses. It’s a refundable tax credit that helps employers come out ahead while they experience financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The credit allows companies to offset up to 50% of their employee wages, with an upper limit of $5,000 per employee in 2020 and 2021. The amount of the credit increases if wages are paid after March 12th, 2020 or December 31st 2021. This makes it possible for eligible employers to receive up to $7,000 per employee annually over these two years.

To be able to take advantage of this opportunity, certain criteria must be met – including how many employees you have on staff and your business’ overall income level. Companies also need to satisfy qualifying requirements set forth by the IRS before being able to utilize the ERC program. Understanding what those qualifications entail is key in order to maximize potential savings from the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

Qualifying Requirements

The Employee Retention Tax Credit is designed to help employers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The credit can provide eligible employers with a fully refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50% of qualified wages, including health care costs, paid to employees after March 12 and before Jan 1 2021. To qualify for this tax credit, an employer must meet specific criteria as outlined in the CARES Act.

First and foremost, businesses must experience either full or partial suspension of operations due to COVID-19 related governmental orders limiting commerce or operation restrictions imposed due to health concerns; OR suffer gross receipts that are less than 50 percent of their corresponding quarter from 2019. Any business whose gross receipts exceed 80 percent of the same quarter in 2019 are not eligible for the credit. Additionally, any business classified as a “publicly traded” entity on an established securities market (like NASDAQ) does not qualify for this program.

In order to be able to take advantage of this benefit, businesses must also confirm qualifications during each calendar quarter they plan on claiming it. Businesses will need to demonstrate that they have suffered economic harm caused by the coronavirus impact on their industry or sector and/or sufficient drops in revenue compared to previous quarters or years prior. Furthermore, employers must maintain records regarding total wages paid and hours worked by each employee while taking advantage of the credits so they may be validated if necessary.

Eligibility and limitations vary based on how much money was received under certain programs like PPP loans; further details about these requirements will be discussed next.

ERTC Eligibility And Limitations

The employee retention tax credit (ERTC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for employers that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It applies to wages paid after March 12, 2020 and before January 1, 2021. This section will discuss eligibility requirements and limitations on claiming this credit.

To be eligible for the ERTC, an employer must show that their business was suspended by government orders due to COVID-19 or had significant gross receipts decline in any calendar quarter of 2020 compared to 2019 gross receipts. The employer’s quarterly year-over-year decline in gross receipts must exceed 20%. If the employer meets these qualifications, they can claim up to 50% of qualified wages up to $10,000 per employee; however, if the employer does not meet either requirement but still experienced some decline in gross receipts then they may claim up to 40% of qualified wages with no maximum limit on employees’ wages.

There are several limitations when it comes to taking advantage of this tax credit. Eligible employers cannot receive both payroll tax credits through the CARES Act as well as the Employee Retention Credit at the same time; instead, employers must choose one or the other – whichever provides them with greater benefit overall. Additionally, employers who received Paycheck Protection Program loans are excluded from receiving ERTC benefits until those funds run out or December 31st 2020 which ever happens first. With all this said, there is still great potential for businesses affected by COVID-19 to take advantage of this potentially beneficial tax credit opportunity despite its limitations…

Calculating The Employee Retention Credit

Continuing on from the prior section, employers are eligible for a refundable Employee Retention Credit (ERC) if they have experienced certain losses due to COVID-19. Calculating the amount of credit is not as difficult as it might seem. Generally, the maximum ERC an employer can claim is equal to 50 percent of wages paid up to $10,000 per employee in 2020 or 2021. However, there are several key components that must be considered when determining exactly how much of the credit you will qualify for and receive.

The first factor to consider is whether your business has been fully or partially suspended due to government orders related to COVID-19. If so, then you may be able to calculate the ERC using pre-shutdown wages instead of current wages. This means that businesses who had employees before the shutdowns but were forced to reduce their operations could still be eligible for some form of relief through this tax credit.

In addition, another key component in calculating the ERC involves understanding what type of wage expenses count towards this calculation. For instance, only qualified wages paid after March 12th and before December 31st are taken into consideration when figuring out your eligibility for this tax incentive program. Furthermore, these qualified wages include both cash payments and health benefits paid by employers during that time period. Finally, if you’re self-employed with no employees (or one common law employee), then you’ll need to take into account net earnings from self-employment income when calculating your potential ERC benefit amount.

Once all relevant information has been gathered and analyzed properly, employers should have a good idea about how much money they stand to gain from claiming this tax credit – providing them with yet another way to manage costs associated with operating their businesses during these turbulent times caused by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and regulations imposed by governments across America.

Claiming The ERTC Tax Credit

The employee retention tax credit (ERTC) is a valuable tool for businesses to help retain and support their employees during the pandemic. This credit, available through the CARES Act, provides an incentive of up to $5,000 per employee in qualifying wages. In order to claim this credit, there are a few steps that employers must take:

First, they need to determine whether or not they qualify based on their business activity and number of full-time employees. Employers will also need to calculate how much money they have spent on qualified wages and health care benefits during the period covered by the ERTC program.

Second, employers must file Form 941 with the IRS claiming all applicable refundable credits. They should input Line 14g with the total amount of ERTC eligible wages paid out in each quarter and then attach Schedule R with details about which workers were eligible for the credit as well as how much was paid out in each category.

Third, employers can use Form 7200 Advance Payment Request to receive advance payments from the IRS if desired. This form can be filed at any time throughout the year but must be submitted before filing your quarterly return in order for it to count towards your taxes due for that specific quarter.


In conclusion, the employee retention tax credit is a valuable tool for businesses to help them retain their employees and keep their business running smoothly. It provides an incentive for employers to keep workers on staff by allowing them to claim a refundable tax credit against payroll taxes equal to 50 percent of qualified wages paid during 2020 or 2021. To be eligible, companies must have experienced either significant revenue losses in specific quarters due to COVID-19 or have had operations partially suspended due to government orders. Calculating the credit can be complicated and involves several factors that should be considered before claiming the credit.

When it comes down to whether or not taking advantage of this tax credit is worth it, there are many considerations that need to be taken into account such as how much money you would save compared with other methods of keeping your employees employed.