Now you can claim both! Congress, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021, removed the limitation on only claiming one or the other. PPP will only account for 2.5 times your monthly payroll expenses and is meant to be spread out over 6 months. This leaves plenty of uncovered wage expenses for claiming ERC.
The CAA has changed the qualifications so that a reduction of 20% now qualifies. BUT remember there are also many other ways to qualify for the ERC, one of them is if your business has been subject to a partial or full suspension due to a government order – see the next point.
Even a partial suspension order by the government (federal, state or local) of your business could potentially qualify. The key considerations are – due to the government ordered partial (or full) suspension is/was your business not able to continue its activities in a comparable manner, and did that result in a more than nominal impact on business operations. The partial or full suspension is an alternative way to qualify for the ERC - separate from the reduction in gross receipts test.
Even if your business is deemed essential, an impact or change in your business may still qualify you. For example, even if you were open but your vendors were closed down or you can’t go to a client’s job site, you may still qualify. Or if part of your business was considered non-essential and was impacted by a government-ordered suspension – you may also qualify. The scenarios discussed above in number 3 could apply here as well.
Overall growth is only a small factor, there are many other qualifying factors in the current guidance.
This is a refundable credit. In practice, this means that any credit overage above tax liability is sent to the taxpayer/business owner as a refund.
The employee count restriction is based on full time equivalent (FTE) employees, which is a more involved calculation than just counting everyone in the office. We helped a business with 640 employees and the FTE calculation put them at under 500. Furthermore, if you paid any employees to NOT work, or to work less than the hours for which they were paid, then the employee count restriction would not apply for those employees.
The ERC also may provide significant benefit to charities – churches, nonprofit hospitals, museums, etc. Charities can be particularly good candidates for the ERC.
To avoid headaches and heartaches down the road, businesses, churches, and non-profits need to have expert counsel to properly and fully document how the business qualifies for the ERC. Determining the amount of credit you can claim is not nearly as simple as the PPP, and that's why you need a CPA that specializes in the Employee Retention Credit.
Asking your bookkeeper or staff member to apply will likely be a nightmare for them and for you. The IRS directives are complex, and many CPAs are not even equipped to handle your ERC unless that is their speciality.