What is Employee Retention Credit and How to Get It

What is the Employee Retention Credit?

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act), contains a business relief provision. It is known as employee retention credit. It is a refundable payroll tax credit, especially for ‘qualified wages’. The motive behind the provision is to encourage employers to keep employees on the system of payroll. It should happen even if the employees are not working due to the outbreak of coronavirus. In this article, we have shared details about the Employee Retention Credit and how to get it.

How to Qualify as an Eligible Employer to Receive the Credit

To receive the credit, the eligible employee may carry on a business or a trade-in 2020. He or she may also have:

  • Partially or fully suspended business operation during the calendar quarter in 2020. This could have happened due to the orders of the government.
  • Faced a significant decline in gross receipts. This should be compared with the calendar quarter of 2019 to the present year.

For example: If you own a restaurant, you might not be working the inside restaurant’s operations. However, you can continue partial operations by delivering food through doorstep delivery methods. These criteria make you eligible, and you are qualified to get the employee retention credit.

Qualified Wages

The average number of full-time employees you employed in the past year, i.e., 2019, determines employee you can credit this year. If you averaged over and above 100 employees, then only wages for those you retain can be claimed. However, in case you employed 100 or fewer employees, the wage of all the employees can be claimed. In this case, the claim is qualified even if the employee is not working.

Amount of the Credit

The credit will be equal to 50% up to the highest of $10,000 in qualified wages. The qualified wages will be available for full-time employees for all eligible calendar quarters between March 13 to December 30th. This can be calculated out to a maximum of $5,000 per employee.

How to Get the Employee Retention Credit

You may immediately be reimbursed for the amount of your credit. You may also request an advancement from the IRS. This also depends upon the total amount of the credit. It is essential to follow the given steps carefully:

Step – 1 

Calculate the amount of your credit from the preceding quarter. You may also reduce your Form 941 and can deposit the employee’s quarterly federal tax return by that amount.

Step – 2

From the beginning of quarter 2020, if your credit of Q1 exceeds the amount withheld for payroll taxes, you can receive the advanced payment. The payment can be collected from the IRS by submitting Form 7200 advance payment of employee credit due to Covid-19. You may submit Form 7200 during the month following the quarter for which the claim has been made.


You may receive your employee retention credit by deducting it completely from the withholding amount. It should include federal income taxes, employee FICA taxes, and shares of FICA taxes for all employees.