Simplifying ERC Qualifications 2022: A Closer Look

Navigating the ERC qualifications in 2022 can seem taxing, but with the proper guidance, you can leverage these benefits to retain valuable employees and boost your business growth.

Simplifying ERC Qualifications 2022: A Closer Look

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a pivotal tool for businesses navigating the challenges and uncertainties of 2022. As part of the CARES Act, the ERC was designed to support employers who retained employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Understanding the ERC qualifications for 2022 can seem labyrinthine, but fret not; we're here to simplify it for you.

In 2022, the ERC Qualifications have seen significant updates intended to extend benefits to a broader range of businesses. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just getting wet in commerce, understanding these changes is crucial for capitalizing on this tax credit. Refrain from letting the intricacies dishearten you - we have the insights you need to comprehend these qualifications and use them to your advantage. Let's dive in!

Is There An Employee Retention Credit For the 2022 Tax Year?

In a nutshell, there is no specific credit for the 2022 tax year. However, the employee retention credit is still available in 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025. This helpful refundable tax credit has been expanded and improved, encouraging firms to keep their employees despite economic uncertainties.

Changes to the Employee Retention Credit in 2022

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) underwent some transformations in 2022, making it more versatile and beneficial for businesses. The adjustments aim to provide increased support to employers committed to retaining their workforce amid economic turbulence. In 2022, the ERC eligibility criteria have been expanded, and the credit calculation has been refined to make it more advantageous for employers.

Eligible businesses can now claim the credit based on a percentage of their employees' qualifying wages. This percentage has been increased, resulting in a more substantial credit. Additionally, the definition of 'qualified wages' has been broadened, encompassing a more significant portion of employee compensation.

The ERC is no longer just a pandemic response measure; it has evolved into an ongoing economic recovery tool to bolster business sustainability and workforce stability. With an understanding of these changes, businesses can effectively utilize the ERC to its fullest potential in 2022 and beyond.

Employee Retention Credit Eligibility Criteria In 2022

While we delved into the changes to ERC in 2022, it's essential to understand the specific eligibility criteria. With the evolution of ERC, the requirements have been fine-tuned to benefit a broader spectrum of businesses, so let's explore the specifics to ensure your business can seize this opportunity.

To be able to qualify for the Employee Retention Credit in 2022, your business must fulfill the following criteria:

Full or partial suspension of business operations

A government order must have fully or partially suspended your business operations due to COVID-19 during a calendar quarter.

Significant decline in gross receipts

Your business has undergone a significant decline in gross receipts. This means there should be a drop to at most 50% of the gross receipts compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Full-time employees

You employed 100 or less full-time employees in 2019. All employee wages could be counted if this criterion is met when calculating the credit.

Qualified wages

Wages and compensation, including health insurance costs, paid to an employee count as 'qualified wages.' The 'qualified employee wages' also depend on the average number of full-time employees you had during 2019.

Exclusion of specific employers

Certain employers, including federal, state, and local government entities, are excluded from qualifying for the ERC.

CARES Act loan recipients

You are still eligible for the ERC if you received a small business loan under the CARES Act, specifically the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, you cannot claim the credit for wages paid with the PPP loan proceeds that have been forgiven.

What Is Recovery Startup Business?

A Recovery Startup Business is a particular category that was introduced in the ERC tax credit qualifications framework for 2022. This category was created to support businesses that began operations after the pandemic hit and could not meet the original qualifications based on a decline in gross receipts or a shutdown due to a governmental order.

In the Employee Retention Credit context, a Recovery Startup Business is defined as an entity that began carrying out its trade or business after February 15, 2020. It must have annual gross receipts of up to $1 million. This provision allows new firms to avail of the ERC, even if they don't meet other qualifications.

As a Recovery Startup Business, you could be qualified for a maximum credit of $50,000 per quarter, regardless of your number of employees. This provides a significant boost, especially for new businesses still navigating their way in a post-pandemic economy.

The Recovery Startup Businesses provision embodies the spirit of the ERC – to retain jobs and support businesses during uncertain times. If you started your business amidst the pandemic and strive to keep your employees on the payroll, you could benefit significantly from understanding and leveraging this new ERC qualification.

What Are Qualified Wages And Eligible Employees?

An eligible employer must achieve specific requirements involving qualifying wages and employees to claim the Employee Retention Credit for 2022. Here's what you should know:

Qualified Wages

The credit is only available for qualified earnings earned between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2021. The credit applies to all wages paid for enterprises with up to 500 full-time employees during this period. Only salaries given to employees who are not working may be eligible for larger enterprises that suffered a considerable reduction in gross receipts in any quarter of 2021 in contrast to the same quarter in 2019.

Eligible Employees

Employers must retain their employees to qualify for the credit. The credit cannot be used for any employee related to the company or holding more than a specified percentage of the business. Furthermore, enterprises that obtained PPP loans may still be eligible for the ERC but not for the same wages used as payroll costs under Paycheck Protection Program.

Employee Retention Credit Refund

The ERC is a refundable payroll tax credit that can be claimed on Form 941 or, if applicable, by filing an amended Form 941-X. Any surplus credit after it has been applied to employment taxes is refundable.


Businesses must keep records demonstrating how they determined eligibility for each employee and what qualifying wages were paid during each quarter claimed on Form 941 or an amended quarterly payroll tax return.

Maximum Credit

The maximum credit amount per employee is $7,000 per quarter for the first and second quarters of 2021 ($14,000 total) and $10,000 for the third and fourth quarters of 2021 ($28,000 total). In 2019, there is no cap on qualified wages paid for enterprises with up to 500 full-time employees on average.

Small to medium-sized business owners can claim Employee Retention Credit (ERC) and obtain a refundable tax credit for maintaining their employees during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic by comprehending these qualifying pay requirements and standards for qualified employees.

How To Compute The Employee Retention Credit (ERC)?

Calculating the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) requires a step-by-step approach. Here's how it works:

Step 1: Determine the Applicable Percentage

The credit rate starts at 50% for 2020 and increases to 70% for 2021. Determine the applicable percentage for the year you're calculating.

Step 2: Establish Qualified Wages

Next, identify the 'qualified wages.' This will be based on the number of employees you had in 2019 and the period you claimed. For 2020, if the eligible employer had 100 or fewer employees, all wages paid (up to $10,000 per employee per year) during eligible quarters would qualify. For 2021, this threshold increases to 500 employees with a qualifying wage limit of $10,000 per employee per quarter.

Step 3: Apply the Credit Percentage

Apply the credit percentage (50% or 70%) to the 'qualified wages.' This calculation will provide the amount of ERC you're eligible to claim.

Step 4: Consider Wage Caps

Be sure to consider the wage cap. For 2020, the highest credit for each employee is $5,000 ($10,000 in qualified wages * 50%). For 2021, the maximum credit for each employee is $7,000 per quarter, amounting to a potential $28,000 for the year ($10,000 in qualified wages per quarter * 70%).

Step 5: Factor in Health Plan Expenses

In addition to wages, certain health plan expenses can also be included as 'qualified wages.' This consists of the part paid by the employee and the part paid by the employer with pre-tax salary reduction contributions. However, it does not have amounts that the employee paid with after-tax contributions.

Remember, the ERC is a complex provision with many nuances. Always consult with a tax professional to ensure accurate calculations and maximum benefits.

Claiming the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

To claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Collect Necessary Documentation

Before starting the claim process, gather all necessary documentation. This includes payroll records to verify 'qualified wages' and the number of full-time employees, evidence of business interruptions due to COVID-19, and documentation showing a significant decline in gross receipts.

Step 2: Complete the Appropriate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form

The ERC is claimed on the employer's federal employment tax return, typically Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return. Complete all sections of Form 941 that apply to the ERC, following the instructions provided by the IRS.

Step 3: Calculate the Credit

Using the calculation method outlined in previous sections, compute the total credit you are eligible for. Make sure to consider both the applicable percentage and the wage cap.

Step 4: Enter Calculated Credit on the Form

Enter your calculated credit on Form 941, Line 11c (2020), or Line 13d (2021).

Step 5: Submit Form

Once completed, submit Form 941 to the Internal Revenue Service. If you are amending a previous quarter to claim the ERC, use Form 941-X (also known as Adjusted Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund).

Step 6: Await Refund or Apply to Future Employment Taxes

Once the IRS processes your claim, any excess credit will be refunded to you. Alternatively, you can elect to have the credit applied to future employment taxes by checking the box on Form 941, Line 14.

Remember to follow IRS guidelines closely and consult a tax professional if you have any questions. The IRS also provides online resources and FAQs to assist in claiming the ERC.

Note: The guidance on claiming the ERTC is subject to changes by the IRS. Refer to the latest IRS guidelines or consult a tax professional to ensure compliance.

Advantages Of Applying For Employee Retention Tax Credit

  1. Liquidity Boost: The ERC can provide much-needed financial relief to businesses facing operational challenges in the wake of the pandemic, helping to enhance cash flow and sustain business continuity during tough times.
  2. Expanded Workforce Retention: By offsetting some of the cost of retaining employees, the ERC can help businesses preserve jobs and maintain a skilled workforce, ready to bounce back when normal operation resumes.
  3. Tax Savings: The ERC can significantly reduce a business's federal tax liability as a tax credit. This can result in substantial tax savings, freeing up more business investment and growth resources.
  4. Potential for Retroactive Claims: Businesses that did not initially claim the ERC but were eligible can file a modified return to claim the credit retroactively. This provides an opportunity to recoup costs from previous quarters.
  5. Greater Flexibility: Unlike some forms of government assistance, there are no restrictions on how ERC funds must be used. Businesses can use the funds where they are most needed, be it payroll, purchasing equipment, or reinvestment into the company.
  6. Simplicity and Accessibility: While the ERC has complexities, the process is generally straightforward and accessible for most businesses. The required forms and guidance are readily available from the IRS, and with the help of a tax professional, claiming the credit can be a relatively uncomplicated procedure.

What Are The Risk Of Applying For Employee Retention Credit (ERC)?

  1. Compliance Risk: Please apply for the ERC tax credit to avoid compliance issues with the IRS, leading to penalties or fines. Ensure all calculations and eligibility criteria are correctly met before submission.
  2. Audit Risk: Claiming the ERC may increase the likelihood of an IRS audit. Ensure all necessary documentation is kept and easily accessible to mitigate this risk.
  3. Opportunity Cost: Time and resources spent applying and maintaining compliance for the ERC could be used elsewhere in the business. It's essential to weigh this against the potential benefits of the credit.
  4. Incorrect Refund: There is a risk of receiving a lesser amount than expected if the credit needs to be corrected. Always double-check calculations or consult with a tax professional to avoid this.
  5. Funding Delays: While the ERC can provide a significant financial boost, there could be delays in receiving the funds, impacting cash flow.
  6. Regulatory Changes: The regulations and guidelines surrounding the ERC are subject to change. Eligible businesses must stay updated to ensure continued eligibility and compliance.
  7. Repayment Risk: If the IRS determines the credit was claimed incorrectly, companies could be required to repay the credit amount, plus penalties and interest.

Ask Help From A Trusted Employee Retention Credit Specialist

Navigating the intricacies of the Employer Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) can be a complex task, and this is where ERTC Express comes into play as your trusted specialist. ERTC Express boasts a team of experienced tax professionals who are well-versed in the nuances of the ERTC, ensuring accurate calculations, adherence to eligibility requirements, and highest credit claim. Their comprehensive understanding of the ever-evolving IRS guidelines enables them to provide up-to-date advice, mitigating the risk of compliance issues and potential penalties.

ERTC Express' specialists offer an invaluable objective perspective, their expertise safeguarding against common pitfalls such as incorrect refunds or audit risks. They guide eligible employers through every step of the claim process, from gathering the necessary documentation to completing and submitting the appropriate IRS forms. This meticulous and systematic approach leaves no room for error and increases the likelihood of a successful claim, sparing businesses unnecessary stress and potential financial repercussions.

Moreover, using ERTC Express' services allows businesses to focus on their core operations, saving valuable time and resources that would otherwise be spent navigating the tax credit process. By entrusting the ERTC claim to dedicated professionals, businesses can ensure their claims are in capable hands and use their resources more effectively elsewhere. This blend of expertise, meticulous approach, and time-saving makes ERTC Express an invaluable ally for eligible employers aiming to claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit.