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Employee Retention Credit: Step-by-Step Example

With the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, millions of small-business owners like you now qualify for the employee retention credit (ERC), thanks to three big changes:

  1. You can now obtain the ERC and the Paycheck Protection Program loan, but not on the same wages.
  2. This new rule applies retroactively to 2020.
  3. The new law adds an enhanced ERC for 2021.

And thanks to the latest new law, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), the already enhanced 2021 ERC is extended for an additional six months, through December 31, 2021.

The ERC is a big deal. It can put tens of thousands of dollars directly in your pocket to help offset your cost of paying employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Say during the first quarter of this year (2021) your S corporation paid the following wage and health expenses.

 WagesHealth ExpensesTotal Qualified WagesMaximum Qualified Wages
You$30,000In wages$30,000$10,000
Employee 1$10,000$1,500$11,500$10,000
Employee 2$12,000$1,500$13,500$10,000
Employee 3$15,000$1,500$16,500$10,000

For the first quarter of 2021, the credit rate is 70 percent on up to $10,000 of W-2 wages per employee.

Your ERC for the first quarter of 2021 is $28,000, or 70 percent of $40,000. That’s a hefty chunk of change.