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Level 3

Employee Retention Credit Lookback period

Very confused ..............


When looking at 2nd Quarter 2021 (the one we are in now) what lookback period(s) can i use to see if we are over 20% down in  gross receipts?


Thank you

5 Comments 5
QuickBooks Team

Employee Retention Credit Lookback period

I'm here to share with you some information about the Employee Retention Credit Lookback period, @pt0609.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) evaluates your tax liability in a 12-month lookback period and determines whether you are a monthly or semiweekly depositor for the coming year. The IRs also use this reference period to figure out your federal tax payment due dates. For 2021, the lookback period is July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.


To learn more about the lookback period and how QuickBooks calculates your average monthly payroll costs, you can check out these articles:



You can also get more tips about retention credit through this link: Employee Retention Credit.


Aside from that, please feel free to review the topics from our help articles for additional resources while processing your payroll and employees' paychecks in QuickBooks Desktop. Here's the link: Help on common payroll topics.


If you have any other questions about the lookback period, please let me know by adding a comment below. I'll get back here as soon as I can to help you again. Wishing you a good one!

Level 3

Employee Retention Credit Lookback period

Your answer had nothing to do with my question.


 My question related to the lookback period for gross receipts to determine a 20% decrease in order to utilise the ERTC

Joesem M

Employee Retention Credit Lookback period

Thanks for the prompt reply, @pt0609


Let me route you to the best support available to address your concern. Contacting our Payroll Support Team can help you with the lookback period for gross receipts and determine the 20% decrease. They have tools that can pull up your account securely and further help you with the Employee Retention Credit.


Here's how to reach them:


  1. Open your QBDT, and then go to the Help menu.
  2. Select QuickBooks Desktop Help.
  3. On the pop-up screen, click Contact us.
  4. Enter your concern on the Tell us more about your question box.
  5. Click the Search button.
  6. Tap the Start a Message button.

You can also use this link to contact them directly outside QuickBooks. Then choose what edition of QuickBooks Desktop you're using. Refer to the screenshots below for visual reference. 

For more detailed information about the support we offer at Intuit and its availability, you can browse this article: Support hours and types


Also, you can consult with your accountant for additional assistance with the lookback period. If you're not affiliated with one, our Intuit Find-A-ProAdvisor site can help you to find certified professionals in your area.


I'm adding this article for understanding your payroll and how it's calculated in QuickBooks: Payroll 101.


Lastly, you can pull up payroll reports in QBDT. Simply navigate through the Reports menu, and then refer to the Employees & Payroll section.


Please let me know if you have more questions. I'll be here to assist you. Take care and stay safe.

Level 2

Employee Retention Credit Lookback period

You can only look back at the same quarter you are processing and looking back to the same quarter in 2019.

Level 3

Employee Retention Credit Lookback period

Agree that QBO really confuses the process on how to claim ERC.  For example, On July 7, 2021, I  have computed ERC for 2nd QTR 2021 ending June 30.  Have completed a IRS form 7200 and faxed to IRS.  The confusion now is how to claim my "earned" ERC in the QBO system. I use "time tracking" to build invoice's automatically. QBO has set up a ERC payroll item that makes no sense as if you have you employees charge their time to ERC it will not be counted as billable time charged to project for Invoicing (its like they are charging to PTO).  While the ERC you is already past accrued and creditable to you. So how does a business get credit for their earned ERC computed after the quarter is complete (which is the only time you will know if you can claim earned ERC if using the 20% reduction by quarter 2021 vs 2019 comparison method). It all makes no sense and if you call QBO payroll customer service there is no one that understands (its as if all the customer service folks are working their second shift jobs after their  fast food jobs and can read scripts but have no business accounting or system expertise to provide guidance on details like claiming your earned eligible computed ERC "AFTER" the quarter is completed. Still seeking a answer on this. (and yes to the any Moderators. I have seen all the QBO so called help links that provide no help how to do this)

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