In the year since COVID-19 changed the business landscape overnight, few industries have been as devastated as Retail and Hospitality, which saw massive declines in revenue and were forced to pivot to stay alive. With cash flow still more critical than ever as uncertainties continue, businesses should take full advantage of the various relief provisions and programs that can provide a form of much-needed liquidity.
A key component of the most recent relief provisions is the extension and expansion of the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).
Created by the CARES Act and revised most recently by the American Rescue Plan Act, this fully refundable federal payroll tax credit is now available for all four quarters of 2021 for employers whose trade or business was fully or partially suspended due to COVID-19 or that experienced a significant decline in gross receipts.
There is now a potential maximum ERC of $7,000 per qualifying employee per quarter, or $28,000 per employee for the entire 2021 calendar year, on top of the $5,000-per-employee maximum for 2020. Eligibility requirements have been relaxed from a gross receipts reduction of greater than 50% for the 2020 ERC to greater than 20% for 2021 ERCs. And the threshold for large/small employer status – key to calculating credit amount – has been eased for 2021 from 100 to 500 2019 full-time employees.
Also noteworthy is that the ERC and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are no longer mutually exclusive – employers can take advantage of both initiatives, subject to certain restrictions. Those that were previously ineligible for a 2020 ERC due to having a PPP loan can now claim these benefits retroactively. (In case you missed it, the PPP has been extended to May 31, 2021; visit our recently updated PPP overview for details on this program.)
And, additional eligibility opportunities are coming in Q3 and Q4; guidance is forthcoming, and we will provide more information as it becomes available.
Read our ERC overview for full details – including downloadable “decision trees” to walk you through your 2020 or 2021 eligibility – or reach out to our team for assistance.