Beware of ERC Scams
ERC = Employee Retention Credit
While many eligible employers claimed and have already received the ERC, some third parties continue to widely advertise their services targeting taxpayers who may not be eligible for the ERC. Unfortunately, these advertisements, along with the increased prevalence of websites touting how easy it is to qualify for the ERC, lend an air of legitimacy to abusive claims for refund.
The IRS has been warning about this scheme since last fall, but there continue to be attempts to claim the ERC during the 2023 tax filing season.
Third party promoters of the ERC often don’t accurately explain eligibility for and computation of the credit. They may make broad arguments suggesting that all employers are eligible without evaluating an employer’s individual circumstances. For example, only recovery startup businesses are eligible for the ERC in the fourth quarter of 2021, but these third-party promoters fail to explain this limitation. In addition, some third parties do not inform employers that they cannot claim the ERC on wages that were reported as payroll costs in obtaining Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness.
Additionally, some of these advertisements exist solely to collect the taxpayer’s personally identifiable information in exchange for false promises. The scammers then use the information to conduct identity theft.
Properly claiming the Employee Retention Credit Eligible taxpayers can claim the ERC on an original or amended employment tax return for qualified wages paid between March 13, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021. However, to be eligible, employers must have:
Sustained a full or partial suspension of operations due to orders from an appropriate governmental authority limiting commerce, travel or group meetings because of COVID-19 during 2020 or the first three quarters of 2021,
Experienced a significant decline in gross receipts during 2020 or a decline in gross receipts during the first three quarters of 2021, or
Qualified as a recovery startup business for the third or fourth quarters of 2021.
Source: Internal Revenue Service