Recovery Startup Business Employee Retention Credit: Are You Qualified?

Discover if your startup qualifies for the Recovery Startup Business Employee Retention Credit and how it could significantly boost your business growth amid the pandemic recovery phase.

Recovery Startup Business Employee Retention Credit: Are You Qualified?
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The Employee Retention Credit for Recovery Startup Business is a valuable lifeline extended by the U.S. government to help startups navigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This credit is part of the more prominent Employee Retention Credit (ERC) program under the CARES Act 2020, similar to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It is designed to incentivize businesses to keep their employees on payroll during these challenging times. As a startup, your business may be eligible for this credit if established after February 15, 2020, and your gross receipts are at most $1 million.

As a startup, the value of these benefits shouldn't be underestimated. If eligible, your startup could receive a credit of up to $50,000 per quarter, adding up to a substantial $200,000 per year. This cash inflow can make a significant difference in stabilizing your young business, helping to cover wages and keep your talented team intact. Ultimately, the ERC for recovery startups could be the key to your survival and growth as we emerge from the pandemic.

What is a Recovery Startup Business?

A Recovery Startup Business is a unique business classification introduced as part of the Economic Aid Act and a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are businesses that sprung into existence amidst the pandemic-era economic turmoil. Recognizing that startups born in this period face unique challenges, the U.S. government created a support scheme under the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).

The intention behind this provision is twofold. Firstly, to facilitate the survival of these pandemic-era startups that, despite unfavorable economic conditions, have dared to innovate and contribute to the economy. Secondly, it aims to preserve jobs that these startups have created, thus mitigating the risk of a rapid rise in unemployment.

Recovery Startup Businesses, therefore, are not just a symbol of entrepreneurial resilience but also beneficiaries of a specifically designed government support program to help them thrive in challenging economic conditions.

Qualifying Criteria For a Recovery Startup Business

To fully leverage the benefits of the Employee Tax Retention Credit, it's crucial to understand whether your recovery startup business meets the qualifying criteria. Here, we will delve into the specific requirements that eligible businesses must satisfy to be eligible for this advantageous credit.

Founded after February 15, 2020

The Employee Retention Credit for recovery startup business is designated for existing business after February 15, 2020. This date has been set as a benchmark to target companies that have faced the brunt of the pandemic's economic impact right from their inception.

Average Annual Gross Receipts under $1 Million

To qualify for the credit, your startup's gross receipts for the year must be at most $1 million. This threshold ensures that the assistance is aimed at smaller, emerging businesses that need the most support.

Operates in the United States

The startup must be conducting business within the United States. This requirement is in place to ensure that the funds allocated by the U.S. government are employed to stimulate the domestic economy.

Adheres to Employment Regulations

Startups seeking to qualify for this credit must adhere to the stipulations laid out in the Fair Labor Standards Act. This means businesses must pay at least the federal minimum wage, offer overtime pay to eligible employees, and follow child labor rules.

Retains Employees on Payroll

A crucial requirement for qualifying for this credit is that your startup must retain its employees on the payroll. The primary objective of the ERC is to help eligible employers keep their staff employed during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Therefore, companies that have laid off their staff or significantly cut down their workforce may not meet the qualifications.

Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and it is crucial to refer to the official guidelines or ask a piece of advice from a financial advisor to ensure your startup meets all the necessary qualifying criteria.

Special Rules And Limitations For Recovery Startups

While the Employee Retention Tax Credit delivers substantial benefits to recovery startup businesses, it's crucial to remember that specific rules and limitations govern its applicability. In this section, we'll explore these guidelines, which are critical to understanding to maximize your startup's chances of successfully qualifying for the ERC.

Limited Credit Amount

The Employee Retention Tax Credit for recovery startup businesses has a restricted maximum amount. A recovery startup business can only avail of up to $50,000 in credit per calendar quarter, even if the qualified wages paid to the employees during that period exceed this limit.

Restrictions on Double Dipping

The ERC has strict rules against "double-dipping." This means that for any wages used to calculate the refundable tax credit for recovery startup businesses, those same wages cannot be used to calculate other tax credits, such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit or the Research & Experimentation Tax Credit.

Quarter-Based Eligibility

Your startup's eligibility for the Employee Retention Tax Credit for recovery startup businesses is determined quarter by quarter. This means your startup must meet the qualifying criteria each quarter to claim the refundable payroll taxes credit for that quarter.

Refund Limitations

While the Employee Retention Tax Credit for recovery startup businesses is refundable, there are limits to this. If the total credit amount exceeds the startup's share of the social security tax owed, the excess is considered an overpayment and is refunded to the startup. However, this refund is subject to the limitations of the Internal Revenue Code.

No Retroactive Claims

The Employee Retention Tax Credit for recovery startup businesses cannot be claimed retroactively for already filed quarters. If a startup fails to claim the credit in a particular quarter, it cannot be declared later.

Eligible Expenses For ERTC

Identifying eligible expenses for the Employee Retention Credit (ERTC) is vital for startup businesses striving to leverage this financial aid fully. When properly accounted for, these costs can significantly boost the credit a startup can claim under the ERTC scheme.

Wages and Compensation

The primary component of eligible expenses under the ERC includes salaries, wages, commissions, or similar employee compensations. These payments must be taxable to qualify.

Health Plan Expenses

Employer contributions to health plans, which are not subject to the employee's choice to participate, also fall under eligible expenses. This includes both group health plans and individual health insurance policies.

Qualified Sick and Family Leave Wages

Wages paid by the startup under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act qualify. This includes paid sick leave and expanded family medical leave related to COVID-19.

Certain Severance Payments

Certain severance payments may be eligible as part of the ERTC. This includes payments to employees laid off or terminated, provided these payments are considered wages.


Reported tips can be eligible for the credit. If an employee gives recommendations to the employer, these tips can be included in qualified wages.

Remember, while these categories broadly cover the eligible expenses for the ERTC, the specific eligibility and calculation of the credit may be complex. It is recommended to consult with a tax advisor to ensure accurate calculation and claiming of the credit.

Benefits of ERC To Recovery Startup Businesses

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) offers a financial lifeline to startups, helping them weather the storm during uncertain economic times. Below are the benefits of the refundable tax credit to the recovery startup businesses

Improved Cash Flow

One of the key benefits of the ERC is that it offers an immediate source of cash flow for startups. This is because the credit is advanced through reductions in payroll tax deposits, and the credit can be received in advance.

Enhanced Business Stability

By easing financial pressures, the ERC promotes business stability. Startups can use the credit to cover essential operational expenses, fostering a more stable and sustainable business environment.

Boost Employee Morale

The ERC aims to support employment during economic downturns. Enabling startups to maintain their workforce boosts employee morale and job satisfaction.

Flexibility in Expenditure

The ERC comes with no restrictions on how the funds can be used. This means that startups can utilize the funds in a manner that best supports their business needs.

Encourages Hiring

The credit's substantial value incentivizes startups to hire more employees, contributing to the growth and development of the business.

Each of these benefits plays a significant role in supporting the growth and success of startup businesses, ultimately contributing to the overall development of the economy.

How To Claim ERTC For A Recovery Startup Business?

Claiming the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) for a recovery startup business involves a series of steps, which are outlined below:

  1. Determine Eligibility: First, ascertain if your startup qualifies for the ERC. Ensure the business meets the criteria set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), such as experiencing a significant decline in gross receipts or facing full or partial suspension due to governmental orders.
  2. Calculate Qualified Wages: Identify and calculate the total qualified employee wages. This includes base salaries, health plan expenses, certain severance payments, and particular sick and family leave wages.
  3. Determine Maximum Credit Amount: Calculate the maximum credit amount for your startup. It's important to remember that the credit is capped at $50,000 per calendar quarter.
  4. Fill Out the Appropriate IRS Form: Complete Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, to file for ERC. Ensure you complete all details about your qualifying wages and health plan expenses accurately.
  5. Submit the Form: Submit the completed Form 941 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can send the letter through mail or electronically. Be sure to meet all filing deadlines to avoid penalties.
  6. Track Your Refund: After successfully claiming the ERC, keep track of your refund status on the IRS website. This can help you plan your cash flow effectively.

Remember, the process of claiming the ERC can be complex. It's advised to seek advice from a tax professional to ensure all steps are followed correctly. If you need help with your application, ERTC Express can assist you!