How to calculate the Employee Retention Credit
For 2020, the Employee Retention Credit is equal to 50% of qualified employee wages paid in a calendar quarter. The credit applies to wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. Eligible wages per employee max out at $10,000, so the maximum credit for eligible wages paid to any employee during 2020 is $5,000.
For 2021, the Employee Retention Credit is equal to 70% of qualified employee wages paid in a calendar quarter. Eligible wages per employee max out at $10,000 per calendar quarter in 2021, so the maximum credit for eligible wages paid to any employee during 2021 is $28,000.
The calculations can be tricky. Our Tax Credit Estimator above takes care of the estimation for you. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Confirm whether you had employees at some point in 2020 or 2021.
If you have not employed any workers in 2020 or 2021, you’re not eligible for the ERC. You may still qualify for paid leave credits. Keep going!
2. Establish whether you experienced a qualifying closure.
If your business was fully or partially suspended during a calendar quarter of 2020 or 2021 as a result of orders from a governmental authority limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for ERC for that quarter. If not, you may still qualify based on a decline in gross receipts. Keep going!
3. Compare business revenue in 2019 to the period for which ERC is claimed.
To help determine if you qualify for the ERC, the tool will ask you to compare your business revenue in each relevant quarter of 2020 or 2021 to the same calendar quarter in 2019. For quarters in 2020, your revenue must have dropped by more than 50%. For quarters in 2021, your revenue for the current or preceding quarter must have dropped by more than 20%. If you’re not sure, the tool will help you estimate this.
If revenue hasn’t dropped by more than 20%, you may still qualify for the ERC if your business operation has been partially or fully suspended due to government orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19.
If revenue hasn’t sufficiently dropped and your business operations haven’t been partially or fully suspended for these reasons, you’re not eligible for the ERC. But you may still qualify for paid leave credits. Keep going!
4. Enter qualified wages and health plan expenses paid during the period for which you qualify.
Next, enter qualified wages paid to all employees for the period of your full or partial suspension of operations, or the quarter for which you experienced a qualifying decline in gross receipts. not working due to COVID-19 between March 13 and June 30, 2020. Qualified wages include wages and health plan expenses paid for the period of your economic hardship. For larger employers, qualified wages will generally be limited to wages and health plan expenses for the period of time that an employee is not working due to the economic hardship (and, for 2020, may not take into account increases in wages after the beginning of the economic hardship).
5. Learn more about your estimated Employee Retention Credit.
And find out how you can claim your credit.