Please note: As of 12:00 am PDT on April 9, 2024, we are no longer accepting applications for tax year 2020. Any completed applications (with supporting documentation) submitted on or after 12:00 am PDT on April 9, 2024, will be prepared and filed for tax year 2021 only. By continuing to utilize our service, you acknowledge and agree that SmartERC will not prepare nor file your Forms 941X for any quarter of tax year 2020.

Former IRS Auditor Reveals 7 Tips for a Successful ERC Application

September 25, 2023

ERC Application: Former IRS Auditor Reveals 7 Successful Tips

2023 presented its unique set of challenges, particularly when it comes to understanding the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). With terminology like “Complex Qualifiers” and an array of intricate IRS forms, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You’re also tasked with the meticulous collection and collation of information, but worry not.

I’m Alejandra Astudillo, a former IRS Auditor and now a trusted advisor at Smart ERC. I’m here to help you understand the intricacies of the ERC application process. Let’s get started simplifying the process for you.

Gross Receipts Test & Impacts from Government Orders

To be eligible based on the gross receipts criterion, businesses must demonstrate a substantial reduction in revenue compared to previous financial years. However, this reduction doesn’t need to be as severe as the previous year.

Documentation, such as bank statements or other financial records that show sales figures for both years will be necessary for comparison.

Apart from the ‘Gross Receipts’ test, there’s another way to qualify: if your business had to partially shut down due to government orders related to COVID-19 safety measures, you’re more than likely eligible.

Documents Required for ERC Application

When applying for the ERC, certain documents need to be prepared ahead of time. These documents are crucial for verifying your eligibility and calculating the amount of credit you can claim.

Utilizing IRS Form 941-X

The primary document is the IRS Form 941-X, which is the Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund. This form allows businesses to amend their previously filed quarterly federal tax returns to claim your ERC.

This adjustment accounts for any changes made after the initial filing of an employment tax return.

It’s important to accurately report all wages paid during qualifying quarters when completing this form, as this will determine the amount of ERC refund you receive.

Other documents to include, but may not be limited to:

  • Quarterly Profit and Loss Statement (2019, 2020, 2021)
  • Your company’s most recent IRS Form 941
  • Monthly Payroll Ledger per employee to include: gross pay, hours worked, itemized deductions / itemized taxes & net pay (2020, 2021)
  • Group Healthcare Statement per month (If applicable, 2020, 2021)
  • PPP Form 3508 for both 1st and 2nd rounds (If applicable)

Understanding Payroll Costs

In addition to Form 941-X, understanding your payroll costs is crucial since these constitute qualified wages that are considered when applying for the ERC.

Detailed records of all salaries, commissions, and other compensations should be meticulously maintained and provided at the time of applying for the ERC to maximize the chances of receiving a higher benefit.

Paying attention to these details ensures that no eligible cost is overlooked under “qualified wages”, which may increase your chances of receiving a higher ERC benefit.

Whether it’s full-time or part-time employees’ payrolls, every dollar counts towards securing more relief funds through the ERC program.

Navigating the Application Process

Applying for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) may seem like a daunting task, but with a good understanding of IRS regulations and appropriate guidance, it can be done smoothly.

Handling the ERC Claim Process

Firstly, it’s important to know how to handle your ERC claim. It’s not as simple as just filling out a form; it requires careful calculation of qualified wages paid during specific calendar quarters affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Each quarter must be evaluated separately when claiming credits. So, even if one quarter doesn’t qualify, others may still be eligible.

Determining Qualified Wages

The next challenge is determining what counts as “qualified wages.” The rules vary based on company size and whether operations were fully or partially suspended due to government orders – so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

If your business had more than 100 employees in 2020 but had to shut down due to COVID-19 mandates, only wages paid while operations were halted would typically count towards the credit.

Determining ERC Qualifying Quarters

To determine if your business qualifies for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) in a specific quarter, you need to assess two main factors: gross receipts and government orders. A clear understanding of these aspects is crucial.

The first criterion is a substantial drop in gross receipts. For 2020, businesses had to experience a decline of more than 50% in gross receipts during any calendar quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019.

However, in 2021, this threshold was lowered to a decrease of more than 20%. This means if your business was particularly affected by COVID-19 restrictions or other related impacts on demand or supply chain disruptions, it could be eligible for some relief through the ERC.

The second qualifying condition relates directly to government orders leading to operations being fully or partially suspended.

If your company was affected by mandatory shutdowns or capacity limits imposed by federal or state governments – then it could potentially qualify as well.

In addition, wage considerations should not be overlooked when determining qualification quarters. Qualified wages play an important part. They must exceed what would have been paid during regular times without Covid-induced interruptions; anything less may disqualify them from being considered qualified under tax laws.

Claim the Maximum ERC You’re Entitled to with Smart ERC

To ensuerc applicationre you reap the maximum possible benefits from the ERC, it’s advisable to engage the services of seasoned IRS experts, such as our dedicated team of former IRS Auditors.

We’ve processed thousands of files over the years, providing us with unique insights to optimize your ERC returns. Plus, we’re of the few companies that meet Forbes criteria for selecting an ERC professional:

  1. Thorough documentation demonstrating your ERC eligibility
  2. Comprehensive government order research to support your claim
  3. Over two decades of experience and thousands of satisfied clients
  4. No upfront fee to see if you qualify

Don’t miss out on the funding your business deserves. If you’re interested in having our team of former IRS Auditors determine your ERC eligibility before the deadline, click here. If you prefer to speak with us directly, you can reach us any time by calling 800-707-0524.


Apply Today

“Having served as an IRS Auditor for over 13 years, I have acquired a deep understanding of the tax-related challenges that business owners encounter. My primary goal is to ensure that we deliver accurate and dependable information. We aim to provide you with peace of mind as we expertly guide you through the entire process.”

– Alejandra Astudillo, Former IRS Auditor

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