Employee Retention Credit Chart: Your Essential Guide

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a valuable financial relief measure aimed at helping businesses retain their employees amid challenging economic conditions. Established by the federal government, this refundable employment tax credit assists businesses in bearing the cost of keeping their staff employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ERC has undergone several updates since its inception in 2020, and understanding the changes and eligibility criteria is crucial for businesses looking to take advantage of this credit.

A comprehensive comparison chart has been provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help businesses easily understand the differences between the 2020 and 2021 versions of the Employee Retention Credit. From March 13, 2020, to December 31, 2021, the ERC has been an important tool for businesses experiencing significant declines in gross receipts or those forced to temporarily shut down due to the pandemic. As businesses navigate the complex financial landscape, being aware of the ERC’s provisions and guidelines can be immensely helpful in making informed decisions about retaining employees.

Key Takeaways

  • The Employee Retention Credit is a refundable tax credit designed to support businesses in keeping their staff employed during challenging economic times.
  • A comparison chart provided by the IRS helps businesses understand the differences and eligibility requirements for the 2020 and 2021 versions of the ERC.
  • The ERC has been a crucial financial relief measure for businesses experiencing declines in gross receipts or pandemic-related shutdowns from March 13, 2020, to December 31, 2021.

Employee Retention Credit Overview

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit introduced to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Established by the federal government, this credit aims to alleviate the financial burden on businesses in retaining employees while either being shut down due to the pandemic or experiencing significant declines in gross receipts from March 13, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021, 1.

In 2020, eligible employers could claim the ERC, which was equal to 50% of up to $10,000 in qualified wages (including qualified health plan expenses) paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021, 2. The IRS provided guidance to help employers understand and claim the ERC for the first two quarters of 2021, as the program was modified by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 3.

Some key differences between the 2020 and 2021 ERC include:

  • The maximum credit amount increased from 50% of $10,000 in wages to 70% of $10,000 in wages per quarter for 2021.
  • The required reduction in gross receipts was lowered from a 50% decline to a 20% decline for 2021 eligibility.
  • The definition of large employers was changed from those with over 100 full-time employees to those with over 500 full-time employees for 2021 4.

The ERC can be claimed by businesses whose operations were fully or partially suspended due to COVID-19 or experienced a decline in gross receipts. This broad-based refundable tax credit is designed to encourage employers to keep employees on their payroll during these challenging times 5.


  1. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/employee-retention-credit
  2. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-employee-retention-credits-overview
  3. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-guidance-for-employers-claiming-the-employee-retention-credit-for-first-two-quarters-of-2021
  4. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/employee-retention-credit-2020-vs-2021-comparison-chart
  5. https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Employee-Retention-Tax-Credit.pdf

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) depends on specific facts and circumstances in relation to the employer’s business operations. The following paragraphs provide an overview of the eligibility requirements to claim the ERC.

Eligible employers for the ERC include businesses that have experienced a full or partial suspension of operations due to a government order in connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. This suspension of operations criterion applies to cases in which the employer’s trade or business has been directly or indirectly impacted by the order, limiting their ability to continue regular operations.

A significant decline in gross receipts is another key factor in determining eligibility for claiming the ERC. Employers who have experienced a decline in gross receipts greater than 50% during 2020 and more than 20% in 2021, as compared to the respective calendar quarters from the previous year, are eligible for the credit. This decline in gross receipts is an indicator of the financial hardships faced by the employer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recovery startup businesses, which are employers that started their businesses after February 15, 2020, and have average annual gross receipts of less than $1 million, can also claim the ERC for wages paid after June 30, 2021, and before January 1, 2022. This provision provides a financial cushion for newly established businesses facing the economic consequences of the pandemic.

To further qualify for the ERC, employers must have full-time employees on their payroll. The ERC allows them to receive tax credits for wages paid to these workers while experiencing a partial or full shutdown of their business operations or a significant drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The credit amount varies depending on the specific circumstances of each employer, with a maximum credit of up to $5,000 per worker for 2020 and more substantial amounts for 2021.

In conclusion, meeting these eligibility requirements is essential for employers seeking to claim the Employee Retention Credit. Employers should carefully assess their business circumstances to determine if they meet the criteria and can benefit from this financial relief provision.

Calculating and Claiming the ERC

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit designed to help businesses continue paying their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. It applies to businesses that had either shut down or experienced significant declines in gross receipts between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 20211.

The process of calculating and claiming the ERC involves a series of steps. First, businesses need to determine their eligibility by evaluating whether they had employees in 2020 or 2021 and experienced a qualifying closure or a substantial decline in gross receipts2.

Qualified wages are a crucial part of the ERC calculation. The wages considered for the credit include those paid to employees during the time frame mentioned above. To determine the amount of qualified wages, businesses must assess their payroll data and consider wages, along with the cost of providing health benefits3.

The credit calculation differs based on the year, as the rules slightly changed for 2021. For 2020, the ERC rate is 50% of qualified wages per employee, with a maximum credit of $5,000 per employee. In contrast, for 2021, the rate increased to 70%, and the maximum credit rose to $7,000 per employee per quarter4.

In order to claim the ERC, eligible employers need to report their total qualified wages and related health insurance costs for each quarter on their employment tax returns (e.g., Form 941). If the calculated credit is greater than the total taxes due, employers receive a refund5.

Additionally, some businesses may be eligible for an advanced refund of the ERC6. In this case, employers can submit Form 7200, “Advance of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19,” to request a refund in advance of the employment tax return.


  1. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/employee-retention-credit
  2. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/taxes/employee-retention-credit-calculator/
  3. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/employee-retention-credit-2020-vs-2021-comparison-chart
  4. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-guidance-for-employers-claiming-the-employee-retention-credit-for-first-two-quarters-of-2021
  5. https://erctoday.com/employee-retention-credit-worksheet/
  6. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f7200.pdf

Interaction with Other Relief Programs

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a payroll tax credit designed to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ERC has seen several amendments since its inception through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020, including the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act), the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) 1.

When it comes to the interaction of the ERC with other relief programs, it is essential to be aware of any overlaps and restrictions. One significant interaction is between the ERC and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans introduced under the CARES Act 2. Employers who receive a PPP loan are generally ineligible to claim the ERC for wages paid during the loan period. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) retroactively allowed employers who received PPP loans to claim the ERC for wages paid in 2020, as long as those wages were not covered by the forgivable portions of their PPP loans 3.

To ensure compliance and avoid potential complications, eligible employers should carefully claim the ERC while considering other programs such as payroll tax credits and employment tax credits. Employers should also note that the ERC is meant to work in tandem with other relief options to maximize the benefits and help ensure the financial stability of businesses affected by the pandemic.

In summary, the Employee Retention Credit is designed to interact with other relief programs established during the pandemic, such as PPP loans, payroll tax credits, and employment tax credits. By understanding these interactions, employers can make the most of the available assistance and maintain their workforce amidst challenging times.


  1. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/employee-retention-credit-2020-vs-2021-comparison-chart
  2. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-guidance-for-employers-claiming-the-employee-retention-credit-for-2020-including-eligibility-rules-for-ppp-borrowers
  3. https://www.withum.com/resources/employee-retention-credits-and-how-they-interact-with-other-benefits/

Determining and Reporting ERC Amounts

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit that helps businesses cover the cost of keeping employees on payroll during specific periods related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To claim the ERC, employers must carefully determine and report the credit amounts on their business tax forms, ensuring they follow the latest guidance provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Employers report the ERC on their quarterly employment tax returns, typically using Form 941. In certain cases, employers may also use Form 943 for agricultural employees or the CT-1 form for railroad employers. The credit amount is calculated based on qualified wages, with specific limits set for the calendar quarters of 2020 and 2021, according to the IRS guidance provided in Notice 2021-20 and Notice 2021-49.

If an employer had already filed the employment tax returns and later determines that they are eligible for the ERC or that they need to adjust the ERC initially claimed, they should use Form 941-X to make the necessary corrections. Form 941-X is an adjusted employment tax return that allows employers to correct any errors on the previously filed Form 941.

In some situations, employers may also request an advance of the ERC by filing Form 7200. This form is used when the employer anticipates that the ERC will exceed the total employment tax liabilities for the quarter. It is important to note that Form 7200 cannot be filed once Form 941 for the respective quarter has been submitted.

When it comes to documenting qualified wages and calculating the credit, employers must maintain detailed records and supporting documentation. In addition to retaining payroll records, businesses should keep track of any government orders that impacted their operations during the relevant periods for the ERC.

Reporting the ERC accurately and promptly can help businesses quickly access the financial support they need while remaining compliant with IRS requirements. Familiarizing oneself with the necessary forms and guidance is crucial for successfully claiming the Employee Retention Credit.

Refund Process and Penalty Relief

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit aimed at supporting businesses in retaining their workforce during challenging times. Employers can claim this credit against the social security tax they owe. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the ERC was applicable to businesses that continued to pay employees while either shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic or had significant declines in gross receipts from March 13, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021.

The refund process for the ERC is streamlined by following the guidelines laid out in Notice 2021-23 and Notice 2021-65. These notices provide the necessary guidance to employers seeking to claim the credit while ensuring that interest and penalties are minimized.

To provide penalty relief, the IRS introduced Revenue Procedure 2021-33 which allows taxpayers who requested penalty relief due to deductions made to qualified wages to be reduced by the amount of a retroactively claimed ERC. This enables businesses to avoid fees that could have arisen from underpayment of income taxes.

In conclusion, the refund process and penalty relief associated with the Employee Retention Credit are intended to support businesses during challenging periods, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. By adhering to the guidelines outlined in the relevant notices and revenue procedures, employers can ensure that they take full advantage of the tax credits while minimizing interest and penalties.

Fraudulent ERC Claims and Reporting

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit designed to provide relief to businesses that retained employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, some individuals and companies have taken advantage of this program by engaging in fraudulent ERC claims and other tax-related illegal activities.

Tax professionals and taxpayers alike need to be vigilant and aware of the warning signs of scams involving the Employee Retention Credit. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has highlighted several red flags, including unsolicited calls or direct mail solicitations promising to obtain ERCs, as well as aggressive online and broadcast advertising targeting businesses with misleading claims.

To ensure the accuracy and legitimacy of ERC claims, it is essential for all parties involved to carefully review the eligibility criteria and seek guidance from trusted sources, such as official IRS publications or certified tax professionals. This will not only safeguard businesses from financial losses but also prevent potential legal penalties down the road.

The IRS is committed to combating fraudulent ERC claims and other tax-related illegal activities and encourages taxpayers to report any suspected fraud. To do so, individuals can complete and submit Form 14242, the “Report Suspected Abusive Tax Promotions or Preparers” form, to the IRS Lead Development Center. This form allows individuals to provide valuable information and evidence about suspected fraudulent activities, which can aid the IRS in its investigation and enforcement efforts.

In conclusion, the IRS is working diligently to protect taxpayers and ensure the integrity of the Employee Retention Credit program. By remaining vigilant, informed, and proactive, businesses, tax professionals, and taxpayers can work together to identify and report fraudulent ERC activities, ensuring the credit is reserved for those truly in need.

Industry-Specific Considerations

When evaluating the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) for different industries, it’s essential to compare specific aspects of the program that may affect businesses differently based on their size, scope, and unique circumstances. A comparison chart can provide vital information on how the ERC applies to various businesses and industries.

One industry highly impacted by the pandemic and eligible for the ERC is the food service sector, including restaurants, breweries, and cafes. These businesses often experienced reduced operations due to government-mandated closures or a significant drop in revenue during the pandemic. The ERC provides these food service entities a refundable payroll tax credit to help manage staff expenses and maintain their workforce.

For start-up businesses that launched during the pandemic, the ERC program plays an essential role in stabilizing their financial situation and supporting employee retention efforts. Start-ups can qualify for the ERC if they demonstrate that their trade or business was affected by the shutdowns or experienced significant revenue declines.

Industries that typically employ a large number of furloughed workers, such as the tourism and hospitality sectors, can also benefit from the ERC. By providing a refundable payroll tax credit, these industries have a financial incentive to reduce employee furloughs and maintain a stable workforce. This, in turn, helps in sustaining their operations and maintaining the overall industry structure during uncertain times.

In conclusion, industry-specific considerations are crucial when assessing the ERC’s impact on different businesses and industries. Foodservice companies, start-up businesses, and industries with many furloughed workers can all benefit from the program’s refundable payroll tax credit. This support enables these entities to better navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic and maintain their employee base, contributing to industry growth and economic recovery.


The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a valuable resource for businesses and tax-exempt organizations looking to maintain their workforce amidst challenging economic conditions. Examining the 2020 vs. 2021 Comparison Chart can be beneficial for understanding how eligibility requirements, credit calculation, and other factors differ between the two years.

Breaking down the ERC, it is important to note that it is a refundable tax credit, designed to help employers with the resource strides of keeping their staff employed. While eligibility criteria and parameters may vary depending on the time frame the credit is claimed, understanding these nuances can make a significant difference for businesses.

In navigating the complex waters of tax credits and regulatory compliance, it is essential to remain vigilant against potential scams. The IRS has released a list of warning signs related to ERC scams, which include unsolicited calls and fabricated documentation. Staying cautious and informed can ensure businesses reap the benefits of the ERC without falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

By familiarizing themselves with the ERC comparison charts and remaining vigilant for potential scams, business owners and tax-exempt organizations can successfully navigate and utilize this valuable tax credit to mitigate the challenges of staff retention during these trying times.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Employee Retention Tax Credit work?

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit designed to help businesses that continued to pay employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. It applies to businesses that either shut down or experienced a significant decline in gross receipts between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2021. The credit aims to assist companies in covering the cost of keeping employees on the payroll.

Who is eligible for Employee Retention Credit?

Not every business is eligible for the Employee Retention Credit. Eligibility for the ERC depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each company. Some businesses may be led to believe that all employers qualify for ERC, which is not the case. For accurate information regarding eligibility criteria, visit the IRS website.

What is the deadline for Employee Retention Credit in 2023?

As of now, there is no specific deadline for the Employee Retention Credit in 2023. The ERC applied to wages paid after June 30, 2021, and before January 1, 2022. For further updates regarding deadlines and extensions, it is advisable to monitor the IRS newsroom.

How does Employee Retention Credit affect tax returns?

The Employee Retention Credit directly impacts a company’s tax returns by providing a refundable credit against employment taxes. This reduces the amount of taxes owed by the business. In some cases, if the credit is greater than the taxes owed, the company can receive a refund for the difference.

What is the 10% rule for Employee Retention Credit?

The 10% rule for Employee Retention Credit is not mentioned in the search results provided. For accurate and up-to-date information, refer to the IRS guidelines or consult a tax professional.

Is there a worksheet for the Employee Retention Credit?

No specific worksheet for the Employee Retention Credit is mentioned in the search results provided. However, to get detailed guidance on calculating the ERC or reporting it on tax returns, it is advisable to refer to official IRS documentation or consult a tax professional.


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