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It’s hard to imagine that a small business does not qualify for some or all of the employee retention credit (ERC).

And remember, this is a tax credit—one of the very best things that tax law has to offer. True, it’s not as valuable as some other tax credits, because you have to reduce your payroll income tax deductions for the credits, but the ERC certainly puts you ahead.

And you can be looking at big bucks. The possible ERC is $5,000 per employee for 2020 and $28,000 per employee for 2021. That’s $33,000 per employee.

For 2020, you have two ways to qualify:

  1. You had a gross receipts drop during a 2020 calendar quarter of more than 50 percent when compared to the same calendar quarter of 2019. The more than 50 percent test is the trigger for the ERC, and you automatically qualify for that quarter and the following 2020 quarter.
  2. You suffered from a federal, state, or local government order that fully or partially suspended your operations (under this rule, you qualify for the ERC on the days you suffered the full or partial suspension, even if you did not lose any money).

For 2021, you have three ways to qualify:

  1. You suffered a federal, state, or local government order that fully or partially suspended your operations (under this rule, you qualify for the ERC on the days you suffered the full or partial suspension, even if you did not lose any money).
  2. Your gross receipts for a 2021 calendar quarter are less than 80 percent of gross receipts from the same quarter in calendar year 2019.
  3. As an alternative to number 2 above, using the preceding quarter to your 2021 calendar quarter, your gross receipts are less than the comparable quarter in 2019.

You can see by the rules that the government wants to help your small business. Take advantage.

One final note. You may not double-dip. Wages you use for the ERC may not be used for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), family leave credit, or similar COVID-19 programs.

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