Employee Retention Credit 2023 Application: Key Steps and Guidance

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a valuable financial relief program aimed at helping businesses that continued to pay their employees amidst challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This refundable tax credit was available for eligible employers experiencing significant declines in gross receipts or shutdowns due to COVID-19 between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2021. As businesses continue to recover from the pandemic, understanding the application process for the 2023 ERC can significantly aid companies in maximizing their financial assistance.

The qualifications and eligibility requirements for the ERC encompass factors such as the decline in gross receipts, the employer’s status as a recovery startup business, and qualified wages for different financial situations. Familiarizing oneself with the different aspects of the ERC – from the amount of credit available to compliance and fraud detection measures – can greatly assist businesses in making the most of this crucial tax relief opportunity. Furthermore, staying informed about updates and changes, and seeking guidance or assistance when necessary can help employers navigate the complexities of this program.

Key Takeaways

  • The Employee Retention Credit offers financial relief for eligible businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Understanding eligibility, credit amounts, and application processes can help maximize this tax relief opportunity
  • Staying informed and seeking guidance is crucial in navigating through the complexities of the ERC

Overview of Employee Retention Credit

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit introduced to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to encourage employers to retain their employees on the payroll even when facing difficulties such as reduced operations or closures. The credit is available to eligible businesses that experienced a significant decline in gross receipts or were fully or partially suspended due to the pandemic.

In 2021 and 2022, businesses could claim up to $7,000 per employee annually under the ERC. However, for 2023, the credit amount has increased to $50,000 per quarter per employee, providing substantial financial relief to employers. Moreover, it covers 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an employer whose business was impacted by COVID-19, making it a valuable resource for businesses looking to maintain their workforce during these challenging times.

Businesses interested in applying for the ERC should be aware of the eligibility requirements to ensure they qualify for the credit. Employers should also be vigilant against aggressive marketing and scams related to the ERC, as the Internal Revenue Service has issued warnings to that effect.

When it comes to claiming the credit, there are various resources available to help businesses streamline the process, such as the IRS’s guidelines and other comprehensive guides that provide extensive information on navigating the ERC application process.

In summary, the Employee Retention Credit is a valuable financial aid mechanism designed to support businesses in maintaining their workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. By understanding the eligibility requirements and application process, businesses can confidently take advantage of this refundable tax credit, helping to alleviate financial burdens and sustain their operations.

Eligibility Requirements

In this section, we will cover the eligibility requirements for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) for 2023, detailing the eligible employers, qualified wages, and the decline in gross receipts.

Eligible Employers

To be eligible for the ERC, employers must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Sustain a full or partial suspension of operations due to government orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings because of COVID-19 during the relevant period1.
  • Experience a significant decline in gross receipts during the specified timeframes2.

Both for-profit businesses and tax-exempt organizations can qualify for the ERC, provided they meet the outlined requirements3.

Qualified Wages

Qualified wages are the amounts paid by eligible employers to retain their employees. The definition of qualified wages depends on the size of the employer and whether it is a recovery startup business or a severely financially distressed employer4. In general, qualified wages include:

  • Regular salaries or hourly wages are paid to employees.
  • Tips that make up a portion of an employee’s compensation.
  • Certain employer-paid health insurance expenses.

It is essential to review the specific rules and guidelines applicable to your business type to determine which wages are considered qualified for the ERC5.

A decline in Gross Receipts

A significant decline in gross receipts is another factor that can make an employer eligible for the ERC. The required decline depends on the time period for which the credit is claimed6.

To demonstrate a decline in gross receipts, employers must compare their gross receipts for a specific calendar quarter to the same quarter in the previous year. If the comparison shows a significant decline, the employer may qualify for the ERC based on this criterion.

In conclusion, employers seeking to claim the ERC in 2023 should carefully review the eligibility requirements, including the type of eligible employers, the definition of qualified wages, and the decline in gross receipts criteria. Ensuring that your business meets these requirements is crucial to obtaining this valuable tax credit.


  1. IRS.gov – Employee Retention Credit Overview
  2. IRS.gov – Employee Retention Credit | Internal Revenue Service
  3. IRS.gov – Frequently asked questions about the Employee Retention Credit
  4. IRS.gov – Employee Retention Credit | Internal Revenue Service
  5. IRS.gov – Frequently asked questions about the Employee Retention Credit
  6. IRS.gov – Employee Retention Credit | Internal Revenue Service

Employee Retention Credit Amounts

Calculation of Credits

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit designed for businesses that continued to pay employees during the COVID-19 pandemic or experienced significant declines in gross receipts. The credit is calculated based on the qualified wages paid to employees during the specified period from March 13, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021.

To determine the credit amount, employers can claim 50% of wages paid, up to $10,000 per employee, resulting in a maximum credit of $5,000 per employee. For instance, if an employer paid $6,000 in qualified wages to an employee, they would receive a tax credit of $3,000 for that employee. This credit amount is applied against the employer’s share of social security tax owed, and any excess credit is provided as a refund to the employer U.S. Department of the Treasury.

ERC Limitations

While the ERC offers valuable financial relief for many businesses, it is crucial to understand its limitations and eligibility requirements. Not all employers qualify for the ERC; rather, eligibility depends on specific facts and circumstances. Employers considering the ERC should remain cautious of promoters who claim that every employer automatically qualifies for the credit Frequently asked questions about the Employee Retention Credit.

Additionally, it is essential to keep in mind that the applicable period for claiming ERC is from March 12, 2020, to January 1, 2021. Employers who have not yet claimed the ERC should be aware of these deadlines to ensure they take advantage of this tax credit opportunity Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Application Deadline 2023.

In summary, the Employee Retention Credit offers businesses substantial financial assistance by claiming a percentage of qualified wages paid to employees. However, employers should be aware of eligibility requirements and limitations to ensure they properly calculate and claim these credits.

Application Process

IRS Forms

The application process for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) in 2023 involves submitting the appropriate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms. Employers who are eligible for the ERC can claim the credit using Form 941, the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

However, if you have already filed Form 941 for the qualified calendar quarters and haven’t claimed the ERC, you can still do so retroactively. To claim the ERC retroactively, submit Form 941-X, the Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund. Form 941-X serves as an amendment to your original payroll tax return, Form 941.

Filing Deadlines

Adhering to the filing deadlines for both forms is crucial for successfully applying for the ERC. The deadlines typically fall on the last day of the month that immediately follows the end of each calendar quarter. The calendar quarters and their respective filing deadlines are as follows:

  • Q1 (January – March) deadline: April 30
  • Q2 (April – June) deadline: July 31
  • Q3 (July – September) deadline: October 31
  • Q4 (October – December) deadline: January 31

For Form 941-X, keep in mind the three-year statute of limitations for claiming a refund or credit. This means that you have up to three years from the date the original Form 941 was filed to submit an adjusted return using Form 941-X.

When applying for the Employee Retention Credit, employers should ensure that they submit the correct IRS forms within the specified deadlines. This not only maximizes the tax benefits but also helps maintain compliance with IRS regulations. Remember to carefully fill out Form 941 or Form 941-X as appropriate and adhere to all official guidelines for a successful application process.

Relation to Other Tax Programs

In this section, we will explore how the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) interacts with other tax programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Grants, and Shuttered Venue Operators Grants.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan program designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. While both ERC and PPP aim to support employee retention, there are notable differences between the two. For instance, the PPP provides forgivable loans to eligible small businesses, whereas the ERC offers refundable tax credits.

Businesses that receive PPP loans cannot claim the ERC for the same payroll expenses. However, if a business has received both a PPP loan and has eligible payroll expenses not covered by the loan, it may still claim the ERC for those remaining expenses.

Restaurant Revitalization Grants

The Restaurant Revitalization Grant program offers funds to help restaurants and other eligible businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Similar to the PPP, this direct grant program’s primary goal is also to keep establishments open and staff employed.

While businesses receiving the grant can still claim the ERC, they must ensure not to claim the ERC for the same expenses covered by the grant. By carefully allocating funds and payroll expenses, businesses can maximize their benefits from both programs.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grants

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program aims to support live venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, and other related businesses affected by COVID-19. This grant program also serves to keep employees working during the pandemic.

Similar to the case with the other grant programs, businesses that receive funds from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant may still be eligible for the ERC, provided that they do not claim the ERC for payroll costs covered by the grant. Monitoring and allocating the expenses will allow these establishments to utilize both programs effectively.

It’s essential for businesses and tax-exempt organizations to understand the unique eligibility requirements, restrictions, and application processes associated with each of these programs. Doing so will enable them to take full advantage of the available relief measures and make informed decisions regarding the ERC and other tax programs.

Compliance and Fraud Detection

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is increasing scrutiny to minimize fraudulent and improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claims. Due to the rise in aggressive ERC marketing, tax-related illegal activities surrounding ERC claims have become a prevalent concern.

Fraud Detection Efforts

In response to the emergence of fraud, the IRS added the Employee Retention Credits as a new entry in the 2023 Dirty Dozen list of tax scams. This move aims to raise awareness and warn people, as well as businesses about potential tax fraud that may arise from ineligible claims for the ERC.

To fight the growing fraud risk, the IRS is implementing additional procedures for detecting dubious submissions. As part of their compliance efforts, the IRS is warning taxpayers to be cautious about scammers targeting Employee Retention Credit claims. These scammers may deceive taxpayers about their eligibility, charge extensive fees to facilitate fraudulent claims and create tax troubles for unsuspecting victims.

Aggressive ERC Marketing

Aggressive marketing of the Employee Retention Credit by promoters has led to a significant number of ineligible claims. People and businesses are urged to carefully review the ERC guidelines. By doing so, they can ascertain their eligibility before deciding to claim the credit, ultimately reducing the risk of compliance violations.

It’s crucial for taxpayers and businesses to be vigilant against disingenuous marketing tactics. If an offer appears too good to be true, investigate further to avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities. Adhering diligently to the IRS guidelines on ERC is essential for remaining compliant and avoiding any penalties that may arise from ineligible claims.

Updates and Changes


The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was initially introduced by the CARES Act in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It aimed to encourage businesses to retain their employees by providing a tax credit of up to 50% of qualified wages. The program had strict deadlines for the 2020 quarters, with applications to be submitted by April 15, 2024.

Consolidated Appropriations Act

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 extended the ERC program and altered some of the limitations. The act increased the maximum ERC claim per employee from $5,000 in 2020 to $7,000 per year for 2021 and 2022. It also introduced a quarterly eligibility requirement, making the process more complex for businesses to navigate.

American Rescue Plan Act

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2023 has brought about significant updates and changes to the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The maximum amount of ERC businesses can receive for 2023 has increased to $50,000 per quarter for each eligible employee, compared to the previous annual limit of $7,000. This substantial increase in the available credit has the potential to greatly benefit businesses nationwide.

Seeking Guidance and Assistance

When applying for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) in 2023, it’s essential to seek proper guidance and assistance to ensure eligibility and accurate credit claims. A good starting point is consulting with a tax professional or accountant who has expertise in the ERC application process. They can provide valuable insights into eligibility requirements, calculations, and documentation needed for a smooth and successful application.

For more detailed information and clarification, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has various resources available. One key resource is the official guidance provided by the IRS that addresses the ERC for qualified wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. While this guidance does not cover the 2023 application process, it serves as a helpful foundation for understanding the intricacies of the ERC.

Since the regulations and guidelines may evolve over time, it is crucial to stay updated on the latest additional guidance for the ERC issued by the IRS. This includes guidance on qualifications and miscellaneous issues that apply to the ERC for periods beyond 2021.

To further facilitate the application process, the IRS also provides instructions on various application-related forms and procedures. These instructions can help businesses and tax-exempt organizations ensure their applications align with the stipulated rules and requirements.

In summary, seeking guidance and assistance from tax professionals, accountants, and the Internal Revenue Service can significantly ease the ERC application process and improve the chances of a successful claim. Always refer to the IRS’s official channels, stay informed on the latest updates, and work closely with knowledgeable professionals to navigate the complexities of the Employee Retention Credit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility criteria for Employee Retention Credit?

The eligibility for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) depends on specific facts and circumstances of the employers. To qualify for the ERC, businesses must have experienced either a shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic or a significant decline in gross receipts during the periods of March 13, 2020, to December 31, 20211. It’s important to note that not all businesses are eligible, and promoters who claim otherwise are incorrect2.

How can I apply for the ERC grant?

Employers can claim the Employee Retention Credit by reporting the total qualified wages and related credits for each calendar quarter on their federal employment tax returns, typically using Form 9413. For more information, they can consult the FAQs on the IRS website.

How does the Employee Retention Tax Credit work?

The ERC is a refundable tax credit that helps employers who continued to pay their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The credit covers a portion of qualified wages paid to employees during the specified time frames. The amount varies depending on the specific year and quarter for which the employer is claiming the credit3.

Where can I find the ERC application form?

The ERC application form can be found by visiting the IRS website. Employers typically claim the credit using Form 941, the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return3. Additional guidance can be found in the IRS document on Employee Retention Credit.

What is the deadline for applying in 2023?

There is no specific deadline mentioned for 2023, as the current Employee Retention Credit covers qualified wages from March 13, 2020, to December 31, 20211. Employers should keep an eye on the IRS website for updates on any changes or extensions to the program.

Can I apply for the Employee Retention Credit by myself?

Yes, employers can apply for the ERC by themselves by reporting qualified wages and related credits when filing their federal employment tax returns. They may also consult a tax professional or advisor to help with the application process if desired1.


  1. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/employee-retention-credit 2 3
  2. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-employee-retention-credit
  3. https://www.cbh.com/guide/articles/employee-retention-credit-erc-faqs/ 2 3


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