Last Updated: 1/26/2021
Employers now have more incentive to keep employees on their payroll during the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, certain employers (including tax-exempt entities) are eligible for employee retention tax credits (ERC).
Recently updated legislation now allows eligible employers to claim quarterly tax credits of 70% of any wages paid, for up to $10,000 in wages per employee. These tax credits expire on June 30, 2021, which means an employer may take tax credits for two quarters, adding up to as much as $14,000 per employee.
The new legislation also expands eligibility requirements and allows some businesses that received PPP loans to retroactively claim ERC from 2020.
To be eligible for these tax credits, a company must meet the following criteria:
Each quarter, the amount of the credit is 70% of qualifying wages of up to $10,000 per employee. “Qualified wages” include both cash payments and the cost of any employer-provided health care.
Depending on the size of your company, qualifying wages can vary. Note that the size of your company is based on the average number of employees a company had in 2019.
If a business did not claim ERC in 2020, they may now do so retroactively under the new legislation. Since companies were not previously permitted to participate in the PPP while claiming ERC, there many companies that are newly eligible to claim these tax credits (as long as their PPP loan has been forgiven).
Tax credits may be claimed for 50% of the wages of each employee, up to $10,000 in wages. That means it may be possible to claim up to $5000 in ERC per employee. Note that the 2020 tax credit maximum was for the entire year, while 2021 credits may be claimed quarterly before June 30, 2021.
Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages by the amount of the credit.
Eligible employers will report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly employment tax returns or Form 941. If the employer’s employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19.
Eligible employers can also request an advance of the Employee Retention Credit by submitting Form 7200.
For updates and more detail, take a look at the IRS Employee Retention Tax Credit FAQS and find additional, up-to-date information on the IRS Coronavirus page. This article will also be updated as the Treasury Department issues new information and guidelines. For additional information about CARES, FFCRA, and how your business can respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.
If you have questions about how the CARES Act or FFCRA impacts your business, please consult your legal advisor or tax professional.