A Guide to Understand Employee Retention Credit Calculation Spreadsheet 2021 (revised 2024)

The Employee Retention Credit is more accessible to small business owners as well as recovery startup businesses who are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employee Retention Credit calculation spreadsheet 2021 can help businesses understand the impact of employee retention on their tax liabilities.

Businesses can use Employee Retention Tax Credit calculation spreadsheet to make their job easier. On pages 22 and 23 of the IRS Form 941 instructions, there is a spreadsheet for calculation of the ERC for 2021 that can be used to compute the ERC amount once wage totals for the quarter have been determined.

Key ERC Credit Takeaways You Will Learn:

  • Understanding ERC: Grasp the concept of Employee Retention Credit and its purpose.
  • ERC Calculation: Learn how to accurately calculate the Employee Retention Credit.
  • Calculation Spreadsheet: Master the use of the 2021 ERC Calculation Spreadsheet.
  • ERC Deadline: Discover the crucial deadlines associated with the Employee Retention Credit.
  • Full-Time ERC: Learn to calculate ERC specifically for full-time employees.

See Important 2024 Employee Retention Tax Credit Deadline Information at the Bottom of This Article.

What Exactly is Employee Retention Credit?

The Employee Retention Credit is a tax credit meant to encourage businesses to pay their people on the payroll and minimize coronavirus’s pandemic effect. The wages per employee and refundable credit for 2020 and 2021 of qualified business owners are calculated as follows as per the Paycheck Protection Program:

For 2020, the tax incentive is equivalent to eligible individuals’ eligible income in a month for qualified health plan expenses and health insurance costs, up to $5,000 per worker as well as refundable payroll tax credits.

Check out What are the Owner Wages For Employee Retention Credit?

The tax incentive for 2021 is comparable to 70% of qualified salaries paid to employees by eligible businesses as credit per employee for business operations in the 3rd quarter, with a monthly ceiling of $7,000 (or $28,000 annually) for eligible businesses. Read full employee retention credit fast food restaurants details here.

How to Calculate the Employee Retention Credit?

For calculating the Employee Retention Credit, you should follow the below steps:

Confirm whether you’ll have employees in 2020 or 2021:

If you did not employ somebody in 2020 or 2021, you are not eligible for an employment tax return for the ERC as per eligibility requirements. You could still be able to get paid time off.

Verify if you had a qualified finality:

If your company was entirely or partially closed down as a result of COVID-19 during a quarter in 2020 through 2021, then you may be eligible for ERC.

Contrast 2019 earnings to the Previous time frame:

The calculator would ask you to analyze business earnings in 2020 or 2021 to almost the same calendar quarter in 2019. This will assist you in determining whether you are qualified for the ERC. Your revenue must have declined by much more than 20% in the previous quarter for quarters in 2021. If you’re certain, the tool can assist you in calculating a value loan forgiveness and wages eligible.

For qualified salary and health-plan expenditures paid during the specified number of days, fill in the information.

Then, for the quarter in which you experienced a qualifying reduction in gross sales, enter eligible salaries paid to all personnel during the time of your whole or partial suspension of operations.

COVID-19 was banned from working from March 13 and June 30, 2020.

Qualified earnings include salary and health-plan expenses earned during your financial hardship.

Learn more about 5 Ways to Calculate the Employee Retention Credit.

Employee Retention Credit Calculation Spreadsheet 2021

It’s that season of the year when you have to fill out your Form 941 for the current quarter. There are still no significant changes to Form 941 next quarter; there is one key modification to be aware of as given below;

Companies used a new Worksheet to compute the refundable and non-refundable portions of the Employee Retention Tax Credit in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

Employers are no longer required to complete form 941 Worksheet 2:

  • Worksheet 2 is definitely from the previous quarter! Worksheet 4 has the same structure as Worksheet 2, except it’s for calculating the ERC on eligible salaries earned after June 30, 2021.
  • Employers must utilize Worksheet 4 this quarter and next quarter; otherwise, they will have inaccurate numbers on some lines of Form 941.
  • Employers requesting credit for sick as well as family leave payments for the third quarter must complete Worksheet 3 before moving on to this worksheet.
  • Employers who have completed Worksheet 3 can, for example, add the cost from Worksheet 3, phase 1, column f on column 1a of Worksheet 4, skip the remainder, and proceed to step 2.
  • Worksheet 4’s Step 1 assists employers in determining their Medicare tax share. Step 2 then assists them in determining the Employee Retention Credit.

Worksheet 4’s most essential lines are:

  • Line 2h: Amount of Employee Retention Credit that is not refundable.
  • Line 2i: The fraction of the Employee Retention Credit that is refundable.

On your Form 941, you must include both of these amounts. The adoption of the Form 941 worksheets has proved difficult for many companies.

Check out How To Fill Out 941-X For Employee Retention Credit.

Employee Retention Credit 2021 Qualifications

To be regarded as an eligible business for the ERC, your company must be regarded as a qualified employer. There are two methods to qualify, although the requirements shift from 2020 to 2021.

In 2020, you can qualify by demonstrating that your sales decreased by more than 50% in any calendar quarter compared with the same period in 2019. Alternatively, you may have been shut down completely or partially as a result of a compulsory order from a national, state, or municipal govt body rather than for volunteer reasons.

You may be eligible for the Employee Retention Credit ERC in 2021 if you can demonstrate a 20% decline in revenue in any calendar quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019.

The alternate qualifying approach is the same as in 2020, and it is based on whether you were shut down completely or partially due to a necessary order from a federal, state, or municipal government body rather than for voluntary reasons.

This video will show you a guide to understand employee retention credit calculation spreadsheet 2021.

Employee Retention Credit Example

In the year 2021, let’s say you run your dental office as an S company. You own the entire company. Your three workers are not related to you. This perk is tax-free for the employees.

For the entire first quarter of 2021, your state has COVID-19 business limitations in effect. However, because your dental practice is a necessary business, it was not harmed by the governmental decree.

Step 1: Determine your eligibility.

To begin, establish if your first quarter qualifies for the Employee Retention Credit by fulfilling any of the following criteria.

  • Fully or Partially suspended business.
  • Loss of Revenue.

Check out 5 Ways to Determine Eligibility for the Employee Retention Credit.

Step 2: Wages that are qualified

An eligible business can credit up to $10,000 in qualifying salaries per employee for each quarter in 2021.

Step 3: Determine the Credit Amount

The credit rate for the quarters of 2021 is 70%. For the first quarter of 2021, your ERC is $28,000, or 70% of $40,000.

Step 4: Making a Credit Claim

Because your company had 500 or fewer full-time workers in 2019, you must pick one of the choices to claim the credit for the 2021 quarters.

Step 5: The Impact of Tax Returns

Taxable earnings: You cannot deduct earnings equivalent to the ERC. As a result of the credit, your net business income increased by $28,000 in the tax year 2021.

What is the ERC Deadline?

The deadline for the Employee Retention Tax Credit was set for the end of 2021. You don’t want to face the risk of the deadlines being extended until 2022 again, so take advantage of the credit now.

It’s impossible to predict which assistance initiatives will continue and which will end. You must have likewise gone through a complete or partial shutdown due to government directives. The ERC deadline was set for December 31, 2021, although recovery startup businesses and firms can claim it for up to three years after submitting their eligible employer return.

Other FAQs on A Guide to Understand Employee Retention Credit Calculation Spreadsheet 2021

Is There a Worksheet for the Employee Retention Credit?

Companies must use a new Worksheet to calculate the refunded and non-refundable portions of the Employee Retention Credit in the final three months of 2021. (ERC). Employers no longer need the form 941 Worksheet 2.

Can I Claim Employee Retention Credit in 2021?

The IRS issued Notice 2021-49 on August 4, 2021, which gives more information on claiming the Employee Retention Credit ERC for firms who pay eligible wages after June 30, 2021, but before January 1, 2022. The ERC was slated to expire after December 31, 2020.

Eligible businesses can claim credit for wages paid from March 12, 2020, through October 1, 2021, or until the time limit on Form 941 expires. In most cases, these revised employment tax returns are on time by April 15, 2024, for 2020 benefits and April 15, 2025, for 2021 credits.

Check out more about 8 Strategies on How to Claim the Employee Retention Credit.

How Do I Calculate Full-Time Employee Retention Credit?

In 2020, the Employee Retention Credit is half of the qualified employee wages received in a fiscal quarter. The credit is available for wages paid after March 12, 2020, but before January 1, 2021. So because the system will send for any employee’s qualified income in 2020 is $5,000, the maximum credit for any owner’s eligible salaries in 2020 is also $5,000.

Conclusion and Summary on A Guide to Understand Employee Retention Credit Calculation Spreadsheet 2021

By understanding how to use the employee retention credit calculation spreadsheet, qualifying employers can make more informed decisions about how to best retain their employees. A spreadsheet is a valuable tool for organizations that want to keep track of their employee retention credits and ensure that they are getting the most value out of their investment in their workforce.

To calculate your credit, you can refer to the IRS Form 941 instructions, pages 22 and 23, which provide the ERC Spreadsheet for 2021. The Employee Retention Credit Calculation Worksheet can make the hard work for you.

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Receive Up to $26,000 Per Employee for Your Business: Claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERC / ERTC)

Disaster Loan Advisors can assist your business with the complex and confusing Employee Retention Credit (ERC) and Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) program. 

Depending on eligibility, business owners and companies can receive up to $26,000 per employee based on the number of W2 employees you had on the payroll in 2020 and 2021. 

The ERC / ERTC Program is valuable tax credit you can claim. This is money you have already paid to the IRS in payroll taxes for your W2 employees.

Schedule Your Free Employee Retention Credit Consultation to see what amount of employee retention tax credit your company qualifies for.

ERC Deadline Urgency in 2024

April 15, 2024 Deadline for the 2020 ERC Tax Year

The deadline is coming up for the final opportunity to retroactively claim your business Employee Retention Credit for the past 2020 tax year. With the April 15, 2024 deadline fast approaching, we urge you; don’t let this final chance pass!

While not all businesses will qualify, as it depends on multiple factors per IRS Rules and Guidelines, you might be leaving significant financial relief on the table from prior COVID impact to your business during the past 2020 and 2021 business operation years.

Last year, in September 2023, the IRS temporarily paused processing ERC Claims for the remainder of last year. We at Disaster Loan Advisors (DLA) predicted this over one year ago when we made this ERC video warning business owners. See the ten-minute mark of the video for details. 


Even though the IRS has temporarily paused processing, you will still want to check eligibility and file now (if you qualify) because once the IRS will resume processing, ERC tax credit claims are processed in the order they are received.

If you haven’t previously filed for the ERC Credit, it is worth scheduling a phone call to at least explore your possible eligibility from both the past 2020 and 2021 business tax years. Contact us today for a deep-dive analysis to determine if your business qualifies one or more quarters from the 2020 and / or 2021 tax years.

Cover Image Credit: 123RF.com / Deagreez / Disaster Loan Advisors.

Mark Monroe