Recovery Startup Business ERC: Do You Qualify For The Tax Credit

Discover if your startup qualifies for the Recovery Startup Business Employee Retention Credit (ERC) and learn how to leverage it to fortify your business finances and fuel your growth.

Recovery Startup Business ERC: Do You Qualify For The Tax Credit

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, the Recovery Startup Business ERC is a remarkable tax benefit explicitly designed for newly established businesses that commenced operations after February 15, 2020. This provision aims to cushion startups during these trying economic times by offering a lucrative tax credit for retaining their employees, even in the face of potential financial adversities. By leveraging this tax credit, a recovery startup can significantly reduce its tax liabilities, improving its financial stability and boosting its growth trajectory.

Understanding A Recovery Startup Business

A Recovery Startup Business is a unique type of enterprise, distinct in its timing and establishment circumstances. Launched in a period of economic struggle following the COVID-19 pandemic, these businesses started operations after February 15, 2020. They represent courage and resilience in adversity, demonstrating innovation, adaptation, and a solid commitment to their missions despite the economic hurdles.

These businesses dared to dream and took the risk of launching during an uncertain time, further contributing to economic recovery by creating employment opportunities and infusing life into various industries. However, it's worth noting that to qualify as a Recovery Startup Business under the Employee Retention Credit, the business should not have existed before the stated date and must have annual gross receipts of less than $1 million.

Refundable Tax Credit Eligibility Requirements For Recovery Startup Businesses

To qualify for the Recovery Startup Business Employee Retention Credit, businesses must meet specific eligibility criteria set by the IRS. These requirements ensure that the tax credit is directed towards businesses needing financial aid to bolster their growth and retention during challenging economic times.

Requirement 1: Start Date

The first requirement to qualify for the Recovery Startup Business Employee Retention Tax Credit is that the business must have begun operations after February 15, 2020. It is important to note that an existing company cannot rebrand or change its structure to meet this requirement; the business must be genuinely new.

Requirement 2: Average Annual Gross Receipts

The second eligibility criterion concerns the average annual gross receipts of the business. To be eligible, a startup must have annual gross receipts of less than $1 million during any single tax year after the company was started.

Requirement 3: Employee Count

Another crucial eligibility requirement is the number of full-time employees a startup has. The business must have a minimum of one full-time employee on its payroll to qualify for the ERC.

Requirement 4: Business Operations

The business operations must not be significantly related to any trade or business before February 15, 2020. In other words, the startup must be in a new line of business.

Requirement 5: Economic Need

Lastly, to qualify for the Employee Retention Tax Credit, the startup must demonstrate that it has been affected by the economic hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The IRS will assess this based on specific criteria, such as a significant decline in gross receipts or a government-ordered full or partial suspension of the existing business due to COVID-19.

How to Calculate the ERC for 2020 and 2021

Calculating the Employee Retention Credit for 2020 and 2021 requires a detailed understanding of the allocated credit percentages and wage caps per year.

Calculations for 2020

For 2020, the tax credit is 50% of qualified wages and qualified health plan expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000 annually per employee, resulting in a maximum credit of $5,000 annually. Here's a simple equation to help you calculate:

ERC 2020 = Qualifying wages and health plan expenses per employee * 50%

However, the total credit should be at most $5,000 per employee annually.

Calculations for 2021

The calculation for 2021 is slightly more generous, reflecting the ongoing impact of the pandemic on startup businesses. In 2021, the tax credit is 70% of qualified wages and health plan expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000 per employee per quarter, resulting in a maximum credit of $7,000 per quarter, or $28,000 annually. This can be calculated with the following equation:

ERC 2021 = Qualifying wages and health plan expenses per employee per quarter * 70%

Again, the total credit for 2021 should be $7,000 per employee per quarter.

It's critical to remember that 'qualified wages' include not just the base salary or hourly rate paid to an employee but also particular healthcare costs the eligible employer pays on behalf of the employee. Businesses should consult with their tax advisor or CPA to ensure all qualified expenses are included in their calculations.

How ERTC Benefits Recovery Startup Businesses?

Financial Relief

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a substantial financial relief for recovery startup businesses, a welcome respite in an economically turbulent time. The funds saved from this tax credit can be redirected into other crucial company areas, such as product development, marketing, or further employee hiring.

Employee Retention

The ERC, by its very design, encourages the retention of employees. For startups, this is particularly important. Retaining skilled and experienced employees can be instrumental in maintaining business momentum, ensuring the consistency of operations, and fostering a positive workplace culture.

Business Sustainability

The ERC aids in the sustainability of startups. It provides a safety net that helps these businesses continue operating, innovating, and thriving despite economic challenges. This resilience is crucial in building a sustainable business model that weathers future challenges.

Catalyzing Growth

The ERC sets the stage for accelerated growth by reducing the financial burden on startups. Resources that would have otherwise been allocated for payroll taxes can now be invested in growth initiatives, customer acquisition, and scaling operations.

Encouraging Innovation

Last but not least, the provisions of the ERC indirectly foster innovation. Creating a conducive financial environment for startups encourages entrepreneurs to take risks, innovate, and devise new solutions and products, contributing to overall economic progress.

Qualifying Criteria For a Recovery Startup Business

Geographical Location

To qualify for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), a recovery startup business must be located within a qualified disaster zone designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The business's primary operations must also be conducted within this zone.

Industry Sector

The startup must operate within an industry sector significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is determined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Companies operating under the NAICS codes specified by the IRS to have been significantly impacted by the pandemic are eligible for the ERC.

No Other Tax Credits

The startup must not claim any other significant COVID-19-related tax credits or financial assistance for the same period they claim the ERC. This includes credits such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

Compliance with Health & Safety protocols

The startup must comply with all COVID-19-related health and safety protocols as federal, state, and local authorities dictate. This includes maintaining appropriate social distancing measures, ensuring regular sanitization of the workplace, and implementing telework protocols where feasible.

Financial Impact

The startup must demonstrate a significant financial impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be evidenced by a significant decrease in customer demand, an inability to access supplies or materials due to supply chain disruptions, or a substantial change in business operations due to mandated closures or restrictions.

These additional eligibility criteria aim to ensure that the ERC is targeted toward businesses most significantly impacted by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Special Rules And Limitations For Recovery Startups

Special Rules And Limitations For Recovery Startups

While the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) offers considerable benefits for recovery startups, it's essential to note that some particular rules and limitations apply. Understanding these can help businesses maximize their benefits while adhering to the legal requirements.

Limit on Creditable Wages

One such special rule pertains to the limitation on creditable wages. The amount of qualified wages for which an employer may claim the ERC cannot exceed what the employee would have been paid for working an equivalent duration during the 30 days immediately preceding the period of economic hardship.

Revenue Reduction Criteria

Gross receipts criteria is another special rule for recovery startups. An eligible employer must have experienced a decline in gross receipts by at least 20% compared to the same quarter in 2019. For new businesses that did not exist in 2019, the comparison quarter would be the same in 2020.

Full-Time Employee Threshold

Another fundamental limitation is the full-time employee threshold. For businesses with over 500 full-time employees, only qualified wages paid to employees not providing services are eligible for the ERC. For companies with 500 or fewer employees, all employee wages paid during economic hardship, whether the employees are working or not, are eligible for the ERC.

Aggregation Rules

Businesses must also be aware of aggregation rules. All persons treated as a single employer under the Internal Revenue Code aggregation rules are considered one employer for purposes of the ERC.

Claiming Process

There are also specific rules around the claiming process. Eligible employers claim the credit on their federal employment tax return by reducing their employment tax deposits in anticipation of the credit. However, if the anticipated credit exceeds the available employment tax deposits, the employer may apply for an advance credit payment from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

By understanding and adhering to these special rules and limitations, recovery startups can benefit from the ERC optimally while ensuring compliance with all applicable legal requirements. Consultation with an ERC firm like ERTC Express is advised to navigate these complexities effectively.