Understanding Eligibility for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) for Startups

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a fully refundable tax credit designed to benefit businesses that retained employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. This tax credit is a great way for businesses to obtain financial support to help them through the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. However, many startup businesses and entrepreneurs are unsure about whether they qualify for the credit. In this blog, we will explore the eligibility requirements for startups to claim the ERC and provide some helpful tips on how to navigate the process.

Understanding What the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Is:

Before delving into the eligibility requirements, it's important to understand what the ERC is and how it works. The ERC is a tax credit that can be claimed by eligible employers who retained employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible employers will receive a credit equal to 50% of qualified wages paid up to a maximum of $26,000 per employee. This credit can be used to offset the employer's share of Social Security taxes.

How to Determine Eligibility for the ERC:

To qualify for the ERC, startup businesses must meet certain eligibility requirements. Businesses formed after Feb 15th 2020 and have non officer or family member employees in Q3 and/or Q4 of 2021 may qualify for the startup credit. Eligible employers must have had operations that were fully or partially suspended due to Covid-19-related government orders. Alternatively, businesses that experienced a significant decline in gross receipts compared to the same quarter in the previous year can also qualify. For startups that were not in existence during the previous year, the alternative criterion is to compare the gross receipts obtained for the quarter to 80% of the gross receipts for the same quarter of the previous calendar year.

Special Considerations for Startups:

  • Your annual gross receipts don’t exceed $1 million for 2020 and 2021 tax years
  • You started your business after February 15th, 2020
  • You have one or more W-2 employees, not including owners or family members

Tips for Navigating the ERC Process:

The process of claiming the ERC can be complex, especially for startup businesses. It is essential to have a thorough understanding of the eligibility requirements and to maintain accurate records to support any claims made. It's also important to note that the ERC is a fully refundable tax credit, meaning that businesses can receive a tax refund even if they do not owe any taxes.

The ERC can be an excellent way for startup businesses to access much-needed financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility requirements may be challenging to navigate, but with some careful attention to detail and expert advice, startups can successfully claim the credit. By understanding the eligibility requirements and ensuring that necessary documentation is in order, startup businesses can take advantage of this valuable tax credit and achieve greater financial stability.

For startups, navigating the eligibility requirements can be challenging. However, by looking closely at the requirements and consulting with our ERC tax credit experts, startup business owners can determine whether they qualify and what documentation is necessary. By taking advantage of this valuable ERC tax credit, eligible startups can help ensure the financial stability of their businesses and weather the challenges of the current economic climate.


ERC Refund is a specialty CPA tax service dedicated to filing the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) for qualified businesses affected by COVID-19. Your business has up to three years to amend previously filed payroll taxes for 2020 and 2021 in order to claim your ERC refund. You may qualify to receive up to $26,000 per W-2 employee! Our ERC Specialists our here to help you file your ERC refund. No Advisory Content: The information presented on this website serves solely for informational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice in accounting, tax, or financial matters from a qualified accountant. Please note as a web based information resource we do not perform any unsolicited outreach activies such as "robo" cold calling or SMS messaging. Protect yourself and report spam here.

Skip to content