How to Claim Employee Retention Tax Credit Retroactively (ERTC)

employee retention tax credit (ERTC)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses faced severe financial hardship, making it difficult to retain employees. In response, the government introduced the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to incentivize businesses to keep their workforce on payroll. While the program provided much-needed assistance to many businesses, others were unable to meet the eligibility requirements or faced difficulties in claiming the credit.

Even though the official end date for the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) program was in 2021, businesses still have the opportunity to retroactively claim this tax credit for qualifying wages paid in 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of how businesses can take advantage of this opportunity:

Eligibility Criteria for Claiming the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

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Experiencing Economic Hardship:

  • To qualify for the ERTC, businesses must demonstrate a significant decline in gross receipts compared to a comparable period in 2019.
  • Alternatively, businesses can qualify if they faced a government-imposed suspension of operations due to COVID-19 during the eligible period.

Payment of Qualified Wages:

  • Businesses must have paid qualified wages to their employees during the eligible periods to be eligible for the ERTC.
  • Qualified wages include compensation paid to employees retained during periods of economic hardship or when operations were suspended due to COVID-19-related reasons.

Non-Receipt of PPP Loan for Qualifying Wages:

  • Businesses cannot claim the ERTC for wages paid with funds from a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
  • If a business receives a PPP loan, it must ensure that the wages claimed for the ERTC are not the same wages used to qualify for PPP loan forgiveness.

Meeting these eligibility criteria is essential for businesses seeking to claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit. By fulfilling these requirements, businesses can access valuable financial relief and support to help mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations and workforce.

Key Deadlines to Claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Retroactively

Important Deadlines for Claiming the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Retroactively:

April 15, 2024:

Deadline to File Amended Form 941-X for Quarters in 2020: Businesses wishing to claim the ERTC for qualifying wages paid in 2020 must file an amended Form 941-X by April 15, 2024. This deadline applies to businesses seeking to retroactively claim the tax credit for eligible wages paid during the first year of the ERTC program.

April 15, 2025:

Deadline to File Amended Form 941-X for Quarters in 2021: For qualifying wages paid in 2021, businesses have until April 15, 2025, to file an amended Form 941-X. This deadline allows businesses to retroactively claim the ERTC for eligible wages paid during the second year of the program.

Meeting these deadlines is crucial for businesses looking to maximize their tax savings by claiming the ERTC retroactively. By adhering to these timelines, businesses can ensure compliance with IRS requirements and take advantage of available tax credits to support their financial recovery efforts.

Steps to Successfully Claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Retroactively:

  1. Assess Eligibility: Begin by reviewing the eligibility criteria outlined by the IRS and calculate your potential credit amount using available resources. Ensure your business meets the requirements related to gross receipts decline or government-mandated closures due to COVID-19.
  2. Gather Documentation: Collect essential documents such as payroll records, tax returns, and any additional documentation that supports your eligibility for the ERTC. This may include government closure orders, financial statements, or other relevant records.
  3. Complete Form 941-X: Prepare a separate Form 941-X for each eligible quarter in which you paid qualified wages. Accurately calculate your qualified wages for each quarter and ensure all necessary information is provided on the form.
  4. File Electronically: Electronically submit the amended Form 941-X to the IRS through an authorized e-filer. Filing electronically can expedite the processing of your claim and help ensure accuracy.
  5. Amend Income Tax Returns: After the IRS processes your amended Form 941-X and issues any applicable refunds, update your relevant income tax returns accordingly. This typically involves amending Forms 1120 or 1040 to reflect the adjusted income based on the retroactive ERTC credits claimed.

By following these steps diligently and ensuring compliance with IRS guidelines, businesses can effectively claim the ERTC retroactively, maximizing their tax savings and supporting their financial recovery efforts.

Additional Resources

  • IRS ERTC Information: The IRS provides comprehensive information about the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) on their official website. Visit the link to access detailed guidance, eligibility criteria, and instructions for claiming the credit. Link: IRS ERTC Information
  • Form 941-X Instructions: The Form 941-X is used to correct errors on previously filed Form 941. The IRS offers instructions to assist taxpayers in completing this form accurately, including specific guidance related to claiming the ERTC retroactively. Link: Form 941-X Instructions
  • Sample Form 941-X for ERTC: This sample form provided by the IRS offers a visual reference for completing Form 941-X when claiming the ERTC retroactively. It can serve as a helpful tool to ensure proper documentation and calculation of the credit. Link: Sample Form 941-X for ERTC
  • IRS Tax Topic – Employee Retention Tax Credits: The IRS Tax Topic dedicated to Employee Retention Tax Credits provides detailed information on eligibility requirements, qualified wages, and other essential aspects of the credit. Taxpayers can refer to this resource for clarification on specific ERTC-related inquiries. Link: IRS Tax Topic – Employee Retention Tax Credits

These resources offer valuable guidance and support for businesses navigating the complexities of claiming the ERTC retroactively. Whether you’re seeking eligibility criteria, detailed instructions, or sample forms, accessing these resources can enhance your understanding and facilitate accurate filing.


Claiming the ERTC retroactively can be complex. Consider seeking professional guidance from a tax advisor or accountant, especially for intricate situations. Double-check the deadlines and ensure you file before the applicable date. Keep accurate records of your calculations and supporting documentation for potential audits. By following these steps and utilizing the available resources, you can claim the ERTC retroactively and potentially recover valuable tax credits for your business. Remember, accurate filing and timely submission are crucial for a successful claim.

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