How To Calculate Employee Retention Tax Credit

How To Calculate Employee Retention Tax Credit

Calculating employee retention tax credit (ERTC) can be a complicated and time-consuming process. But if you understand the rules and regulations, you can maximize your savings while staying compliant with the law.

In this article, we’ll walk through how to calculate ERTC so that business owners like yourself are able to take advantage of all the money you’re entitled to.

The CARES Act made it possible for employers to receive an Employee Retention Tax Credit based on certain criteria related to wages paid during 2020. This includes eligible wages paid after March 12, 2020 and before January 1, 2021 in order to obtain an income tax credit of up to $5,000 per employee.

Understanding exactly what is required will help ensure that businesses don’t miss out on this valuable benefit.

Eligibility Requirements

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is an excellent way for employers to save money while incentivizing their employees. According to statistics, around 20% of businesses have taken advantage of this credit since it was established in March 2020.

To be eligible for the ERTC, employers must meet certain job requirements and pay structures. Businesses must employ fewer than 500 full-time or equivalent workers on average during the calendar year; they are not eligible if they laid off more than 20% of their staff between February 15th and June 30th.

Additionally, companies must pay salaries at least equal to what they paid before the COVID-19 crisis began – generally 80 percent of wages from 2019 – with some exceptions for seasonal businesses. Furthermore, these wages must also meet federal guidelines for minimum wage compliance.

Understanding these eligibility criteria is key for any employer hoping to receive the ERTC. By meeting all of these requirements, employers can maximize their savings potential through tax credits that could potentially cover up to 50 percent of employee wages.

Calculating Eligible Wages

Now that you understand the eligibility requirements for employee retention tax credit, it’s important to know how to calculate eligible wages. This process is essential in order to take advantage of payroll taxes and hiring incentives.

To determine your eligible wages, start by subtracting any qualified health plan expenses from your gross wages paid after March 12th, 2020 and before January 1st, 2021.

You can then use this figure as a starting point for calculating the amount of employee retention credits available under section 2301 of the CARES Act.

Additionally, if you have rehired or reinstated employees who were employed prior to February 15th, 2020, their wages may also be included when determining total eligible wages.

To ensure all applicable taxes are accounted for accurately, it’s best practice to consult with an accountant or other tax professional familiar with filing employer forms such as Form 941 or Form 8974.

Calculating The Credit Amount

Employers who offer employee retention tax credits may be eligible for a refundable credit of up to $5,000 per employee. It’s an interesting statistic worth noting that this is the largest employer-side benefit available under the CARES Act.

The eligibility requirements include:

  • Employer must have experienced either fully or partially suspended operations during any quarter in 2020 due to orders from government authorities limiting commerce, travel or group meetings due to COVID-19; OR

  • Experienced significant decline in gross receipts when compared with same period 2019.

  • Employee wages/compensation are limited (wage caps) and are based on average hours worked between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

  • Credits can be applied against Social Security taxes only – not other payroll taxes such as Medicare or Federal Income Tax Withholding.

  • Certain employers are excluded including churches, governmental entities, non-profits and foreign organization with U.S.-source income.

In addition to wage caps mentioned above which determine amount of credit allowed, there are also limits placed on what kind of expenses qualify for the credit and how much employers can receive as maximum allowable refundable credit per employee ($5k). These rules should be examined carefully before claiming the credit to ensure proper calculations and understanding of all IRS guidelines related to ERTC.

Claiming The Credit

For employers looking to calculate their employee retention tax credit, there are several important factors that must be taken into account.

It is essential to understand the various tax implications associated with this type of incentive and how it can benefit both employees and employers alike.

It is also important for employers to consider the impact on job satisfaction when implementing a new employee retention program.

In order to accurately calculate an employee retention tax credit, employers will need to take into consideration not only the wages paid during the year but also any other benefits or incentives included in the package.

Additionally, special care should be taken when evaluating the amount of time each employee was employed during the period in question as it has a direct effect on total qualified wages paid out.

By taking all these factors into account, employers can ensure they are maximizing their available credits while providing meaningful compensation packages that promote job satisfaction among their workforce.

Documenting The Credit

Now that you’ve learned how to claim the employee retention tax credit, it’s important to understand the paperwork and documentation requirements associated with this credit.

To ensure compliance with all applicable tax credit rules, taxpayers must keep accurate records of their wages paid during each quarter they are claiming the employee retention tax credit. Additionally, employers should document any payroll-related expenses used when calculating the amount of the eligible wage expense for purposes of the credit.

To help record keeping efforts, there are a number of documents which can be used to properly document both wages paid and qualifying payroll-related expenses incurred:

  • W2 forms
  • Payroll registers
  • Quarterly wage reports filed with state agencies
  • IRS Form 941 (Employer’s quarterly federal tax return)
  • Other payroll related documents such as proof of health insurance premiums or retirement plan contributions

Taxpayers should retain these documents in case an audit occurs in order to demonstrate eligibility for the credit.

By understanding and following these steps, businesses can successfully take advantage of the employee retention tax credit while staying compliant under current tax laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Receive The Employee Retention Tax Credit?

Receiving the employee retention tax credit is like a breath of fresh air in times of financial difficulty.

Once you meet the qualifying criteria and pay taxes, the process to get your refund can take as little as two weeks.

The IRS has made it easier than ever before for businesses to determine their eligibility and access this valuable resource quickly.

Is The Employee Retention Tax Credit Available For Part-Time Employees?

Yes, the employee retention tax credit is available for part-time employees.

The credit applies to wages paid between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021 that are eligible for the credits based on taxable wages.

To be eligible for this tax credit, a part-time employee must have worked or been paid for at least 120 hours through December 31, 2020.

Employers can claim up to $7,000 in qualified wages per part-time employee who meets the eligibility requirements.

What Are The Minimum Qualifications For An Employer To Be Eligible For The Employee Retention Tax Credit?

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is available for employers who have seen a decline in their taxable wages and covered expenses during the pandemic.

To be eligible, employers must have seen at least a 20% reduction in either of these categories on a quarter-to-quarter basis when compared to 2019.

These reductions can also occur between one quarter time period to another within 2020.

Employers should consult with their tax professional or accountant before filing for this credit as there are certain qualifications that need to be met in order to take advantage of it.

Are There Any State-Level Employee Retention Tax Credits Available?

Yes, there are state-level employee retention tax credits available.

Requirements vary by state, but typically the employer must meet certain job requirements and have a good record of paying their taxes to be eligible for these credits.

Depending on the individual state’s laws, employers may qualify for additional taxpayer relief related to their employee workforce.

It is important that businesses understand their local regulations when it comes to employment tax implications in order to ensure they take full advantage of any available incentives or credits.

Does The Employee Retention Tax Credit Apply To Self-Employed Individuals?

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is available to businesses of all sizes, including self-employed individuals.

Whether you are eligible for the ERTC depends on your specific taxation rules and eligibility criteria.

Depending on the size of your business, certain requirements must be met in order for you to take advantage of this tax credit.

It’s important to consult with a tax professional if you have any questions about whether or not the ERTC applies to your situation.


The employee retention tax credit is a valuable way for employers to reduce their taxable income. Employers must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible, but doing so can provide substantial savings.

As an example, one small business was able to utilize the credit and put thousands of dollars back into their business that they would have otherwise had to pay out in taxes.

For those looking to take advantage of this important tax break, it is essential that you thoroughly research your eligibility and the exact calculation method used by your state or local government before filing any paperwork.

With careful planning, the employee retention tax credit could be just what your business needs to stay afloat during difficult times.

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