Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Tax Refund Program from the IRS

Quick Start Guide to Claiming up to $26,000 to $33,000 per Employee, Without Paying a % of Your ERC Refund.

July 19, 2024

From the Desk of:
Marty Stewart, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)
Disaster Loan Advisors™ – Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Division

Attention: Small Business Owners, CEOs, Principals, Company Executives, Entrepreneurs, Operations Managers, General Managers, Office Managers, and other Key Company Employees,

Before you engage with any company to evaluate and process your Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Tax Refund, watch the video above or read this important information below. It could save you $$$$$ tens of thousands of dollars in excessive percentage-based fees that many companies are charging. At the same time, give you piece of mind that your ERC / ERTC Claim is being done by-the-book per current IRS rules and guidelines.

My name is Marty Stewart, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Disaster Loan Advisors™ (DLA). We’ve proudly served over 1500+ business clients since Day 1 of the COVID-19 pandemic relief programs that started on March 27, 2020, almost three years ago.

And to date, have assisted over 700+ businesses with the IRS ERC Claim / Refund process. From businesses with as little as 1 W-2 employee on payroll, to those with over 550+ employees. We’ve had the opportunity to assist a diverse cross section of company types in many different industries, encountering quite a few unique situations expertly navigated on behalf of our clients.

We’ve been side-by-side with business owners in-the-trenches by helping them navigate the major specialty COVID Financial Relief programs from both the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Highly-Specialized Business Financial Relief Programs Such as the:

– SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
– SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
– SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).
– And now, the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) from the IRS.
– Also referred to as the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) from the IRS.

Even though it has only been 4 years, it feels like decades ago.  

From all the combined challenges, financial stress, worry, uncertainty, anxiety, and pressures many businesses have faced. Trying to stabilize losing cash-flow, revenue decline, lost contracts, lost customers, trying to stay afloat with little operating working capital, and all the other economic harm and financial uncertainty the pandemic has caused for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs).

With all of that substantial impact, it feels like we’ve all aged a decade from the financial stress and worry.

There is one last major COVID-19 financial relief program out there that may just help take the financial edge off, but only if your business qualifies.

The last thing you want or need to be worrying about now, is if your ERC Refund is being calculated and handled properly by a knowledgeable, experienced, and reputable company. And, if you are being overcharged with excessive fees by paying a % of your refund (*FYI: it is against IRS regulations for companies to charge a % or contingency fee of your ERC Refund).

Employee Retention Tax Credit is “The” Last Major Covid-19 Financial Relief Program Available for Small Businesses

What is “The” Last Major Covid-19 Financial Relief Program Available for Small Businesses?

It’s called the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) or Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), where you can claim up to $26,000 to $33,000 for each employee you had on past years payroll in 2020 and 2021. 

The Employee Retention Credit program is a business tax refund directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You have up to 3 years to claim the ERC Credit by filing the correct IRS Form 941-X for each quarter you are eligible.

To maximize your ERC Refund, it’s based on eligibility per quarter per employee, and calculating accurately. Any PPP Loans received, and any majority owners and their family members that work for the business, must be subtracted out.

It’s a Confusing, Complex, and Complicated Process!

More on this below.

Employee Retention Credit: Understanding the Basics

The Employee Retention Credit is an IRS tax refund for businesses. It’s a small business tax refund for past payroll from 2020 and 2021 that you already paid in.

The confusion for business owners is the use of the word “credit”. Done correctly, you receive an actual tax refund check directly from the IRS. You deposit the refund check into your business checking account and have new-found money in your business to use how you wish.

What the Employee Retention Credit is Not

– The ERC Credit is NOT a Grant.

– The ERC Credit NOT a Loan.

– There’s NO INTEREST to Pay for an ERC Credit.

– There are NO RESTRICTIONS on Use of ERC Funds.

What the Employee Retention Credit Is

– An ERC Credit is a Small Business TAX REFUND from the IRS.

– An ERC Credit is YOUR MONEY Already Paid in Past Payroll.

– ERC Credits / Funds are UNLIMITED.

– You have up to 3 Years to Claim the ERC Credit.

– It’s Based on Eligibility per Quarter per Employee, and Calculating Accurately.

– PPP Loans: even if You Received Round 1 and/or Round 2 of PPP Loans, You Can Still Claim the ERC Credit 

– Short Answer? It’s Complicated!

How Confusing and Complex is the Employee Retention Credit?

Recently, Disaster Loan Advisors™ was interviewed by major financial news media about the Employee Retention Credit program.

The news story appeared on Bloomberg News, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, Associated Press (AP News), and many others.

It was titled…

ERC Credit Causes Confusion For Many Business Owners

You can read the full news stories below on the confusion surrounding the Employee Retention Credit Program.

Yahoo! Finance
Bloomberg News
Business Insider
AP News

Employee Retention Credit FAQs on IRS.gov Website Are Not Current

Since the Employee Retention Credit program is a business tax refund from the IRS, and small business owners are wanting to stay compliant and follow IRS rules for the ERC program, a person would think the best place to go would be the IRS.gov website itself. 

After all, it is an IRS program. Makes logical sense, right?

Well, the unfortunate shock for small business owners researching the ERC Credit on the IRS website are several things.

On the IRS Employee Retention Credit FAQs page, it says: This Page is Not Current

Even still, it further states:
“These FAQs do not reflect the changes made by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act), enacted December 27, 2020, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act), enacted March 11, 2021, or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Infrastructure Act), enacted November 15, 2021. The Relief Act amended and extended the employee retention credit (and the availability of certain advance payments of the tax credits) under section 2301 of the CARES Act for the first and second calendar quarters of 2021. The ARP Act modified and extended the employee retention credit for the third and fourth quarters of 2021. The Infrastructure Act terminated the employee retention credit for wages paid in the fourth quarter of 2021 for employers that are not recovery startup businesses.”

Plus, the IRS has a legal disclaimer on all of the ERC FAQ pages, stating this information cannot be relied upon.

“This FAQ is not included in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, and therefore may not be relied upon as legal authority. This means that the information cannot be used to support a legal argument in a court case.”

Also, the IRS FAQ pages have not been updated for over 2 years (since November 2020).


The IRS has published five updated guidance reports on the  Employee Retention Credit totaling 179 pages. These reports are part of where the most current updated information is. 

Origins of the Employee Retention Credit Program

The ERC Tax Credit program was first introduced starting with the passage of the CARES Act in March 2020. 

In total, Congress has passed four Acts into law that affect the Employee Retention Credit.

Additional changes were added or subtracted from the ERC over the last three Acts that were passed into law.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has a total of 335 pages.

Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA)

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) has a total of 2126 pages.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has a total of 243 pages.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

And finally, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) has a total of 1039 pages.

Continued IRS Changes to the Employee Retention Credit Program

Besides the additional Acts that Congress has passed into law, the IRS has also made major changes to the ERC rules and regulations over the past almost 3 years.

Five key IRS ERC updates have been made…

IRS Notice 2021-20, ERC Guidance

IRS Notice 2021-20 has 106 pages providing Employee Retention Tax Credit guidance. Guidance on the Employee Retention Credit under Section 2301 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

IRS Notice 2021-23, ERC Guidance

IRS Notice 2021-23 has 17 pages providing more ERC Credit guidance. Guidance on the Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act for the First and Second Calendar Quarters of 2021.

IRS Revenue Procedure 2021-33, ERC Miscellaneous

IRS Notice 2021-33 has 12 pages of miscellaneous updates on the ERC Credit. 26 CFR 601.105 Examination of returns and claims for refund, credit or abatement; determination of correct tax liability. Also Part I, § 3134; § 2301 of Public Law 116-136.

IRS Notice 2021-49, ERC Guidance

IRS Notice 2021-49 has 34 pages detailing even more Employee Retention Credit guidance. Guidance on the Employee Retention Credit under Section 3134 of the Code and on Miscellaneous Issues Related to the Employee Retention Credit.

IRS Notice 2021-65, ERC Miscellaneous

IRS Notice 2021-65 has 10 pages of miscellaneous updates on the ERTC program. Termination of the Employee Retention Credit under Section 3134 of the Code in the Fourth Calendar Quarter of 2021 for Certain Employers.

Employee Retention Credit ERC Rules and Regulations = 3,922 Pages to Navigate

When you add up the four Acts from Congress (3,743 pages) that contain information affecting the Employee Retention Credit Program, and the five guidance updates from the IRS (179 pages), that’s over 3,900+ pages of ERC rules and regulations to read through and decipher.

What business owner has time to sift through all that information?

This only adds further confusion to everything surrounding the Employee Retention Credit Program.

No worries though. 

At Disaster Loan Advisors™, our Tax Advisors and Accounting Team stay up to date and actually read this stuff, so you don’t have to.

We’ve Cut Through the ERC Tax Credit Confusion for You

If you tried researching the Employee Retention Credit program, or even tried to do this yourself you are fully aware of the confusions and complexities. 

Much of the ERC information found on page 1 of Google may already be outdated by the time you read it.

Disaster Loan Advisors™ has created an entire Employee Retention Credit Financial Series to educate business owners with dozens of articles on how to navigate the ERC program. 

There has been news media and press coverage about Disaster Loan Advisors™ on how we have been assisting business owners to navigate these government relief programs.

To date, we’ve appeared in over 12 major news articles in major financial business publications.

You can review those here:

Claiming the Employee Retention Credit: How the Easy 7-Step Process Works With Disaster Loan Advisors™

Initial Conversation

It all starts with an initial conversation to make sure you qualify for the ERC program.


Assuming you do, we email you a simple checklist of documents needed.

Upload Files 

It will take you about 10 minutes to gather these documents and upload them to a secure file upload area from the link we provide you exclusively for your business. We take security very seriously.

Deep-Dive Analysis: Eligibility, Calculations, Maximum ERC Refund

Once we get those documents, our Tax Advisory Team will analyze every quarter to determine which quarters your business qualifies for.

Then, run the calculations per employee, per pay period, per quarter, and subtract out any PPP loans you may have received, and subtract out any majority owners and family members and family members related to the majority owner(s).

Everything we do is thorough and accurate to help you maximize the total ERC Refund you’re legally allowed by the IRS based on your numbers.

Please Note: This is a very simplified description of the process and workflow. However, there are many complex details, IRS rules and regulations, and unique circumstances that determine your company eligibility and total ERC Refund amount. There are some businesses that may not qualify for the Employee Retention Credit program after going through this deep-dive process.

Review Your ERC Refund

Then we present and review what your maximum ERC Refund will be. You will visually see exactly how it was calculated and fully understand it was done thoroughly and accurately by-the-book per IRS guidelines.

File IRS Tax Forms 941-X to Claim

And if you decide to move forward and engage, we then go ahead and prepare and file the ERC Claim forms for you, which are IRS Form 941-X, and they have to be filed for each quarter that you’re eligible for.

You Get Your ERC Refund Check from the IRS

You will receive your ERC Tax Refund check directly from the IRS. Actually, you will get one refund check for each quarter you qualified for. 

Here’s How We Can Work Together

Flexible Options in Working With You or Your Team

There are several flexible options to work with you. The most popular is the Done-For-You (DFY) where we handle it all for you from start to finish. 

Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

Have us review your work.

Done-With-You (DWY)

Let’s collaborate together.

Done-For-You (DFY)

We handle it all, from start to finish – MOST POPULAR OPTION.


Customize to your exact needs.

“If you’re looking for an ERC company that provides personalized attention and value, in exchange for a fair, reasonable, and ethical fee for the amount of work involved, then Disaster Loan Advisors™ is a good fit for you”

Marty Stewart, Chief Strategy Officer – Disaster Loan Advisors™ (DLA)

Case Studies: Over 1500+ Business Clients Served Since Day 1 of COVID 

Here are just a few of the case studies of companies that we helped throughout the pandemic.

The first one are Restaurant Owners with 3 locations that were ecstatic with the help we provided.

Next is a Restautant Franchisee Owner with 13 locations.

Another is a Regional Restaurant Group with 13 locations and a workforce of over 400+ employees.

Continuing, there is a Branded Chain Gas Station / Convenience Store Owner with 7 locations.

Yet another is a retired Certified Public Accountant (CPA), as well as Real Estate Investor. We helped him with 15 of his real estate entities after he was denied for 9 doing this on his own. We stepped in and assisted and at the time of his email, there were 5 of the 9 approved at that point.

Next is a Dental Group with 15 office locations and over 350+ employees on payroll. 

Finally, a truly Small Business Owner with only 10 employees. 

As the owner put it, they were lost and had given up all hope until they reached out to us for help. They went from being declined 2x’s by the SBA, and with our help, went from $0 to a $500,000 SBA EIDL loan.

This literally SAVED their business.

Not only that, we performed an audit on the PPP loan they received from Bank of America.

The bank calculated the numbers wrong! When the owners presented the facts to the bank that we prepared for them, Bank of America admitted their mistake and added another $40,000 to their PPP loan.

We Share These Case Studies With You to Say: You’re in Good Hands. 

Here’s How We Can Work Together. 

Do You Have 1 to 50 Employees?

In this case, there is no initial fee or risk to you for us to get started and dive in and run the numbers, even though there is still a lot of work involved on our end.

We’ll have an initial conversation with you and ask some specific questions to make sure your business qualifies.

We’ll email you a checklist of documents needed, 

This will take you about 10 minutes to gather and upload via a secure upload link we send you, 

Our Tax Advisors will methodically determine your eligibility quarter-by-quarter for 2020 and 2021, 

Then run the payroll calculations employee-by-employee for eligible Qualified Wages.

After subtracting out any PPP loans you may have received, and removing owners and family members from employee qualified wages, the final maximum ERC Refund you qualify for is completed. 

These numbers are checked 3x’s by 3 separate Tax Advisors to ensure we have the correct and maximum ERC Refund you qualify for.

This is accurate and by-the-book per current IRS rules and guidelines. 

At this stage, we review your ERC Refund amount with you, that is where you can decide if you want us to proceed ahead. 

We’ll quote you a reasonable flat-fee amount to finalize everything. Our fee is based on the amount of time, and is not based on an excessive percentage of your refund.

Most clients say YES at this point because we have already put in a lot of work, and our flat-fee to proceed ahead to finalize your ERC Claim is a fraction of what some companies are charging. 

NOTE: It is against IRS regulations for companies to charge a % or contingency fee based on your ERC Refund. Yet, there are many companies out there doing just that. Run the other direction. It is a flawed way to pay. You will be potentially over-paying by 500% to 1000% or more! 

More on that in a minute.

To finalize, you pay us half our fee to engage. 

Then, we take all the work done up to that point, and prepare and fill out the correct amended tax return forms to claim the ERC credit. 

These are called IRS Form 941-X, which has to be filed for each quarter your ERC Refund qualifies for. Form 941 is what your business already files each quarter for payroll, and the 941-X is an amendment to those prior returns.

We’ll present these finalized forms to you to sign and submit to the IRS. 

The balance of our fee is paid the same day of signing and submitting.

Once these are filed, you will then receive a check directly from the IRS for your ERC Refund.

Do You Have 50 to 500+ Employees?

Because there’s a lot more upfront work involved, companies with more than 50 employees, this is how we engage.

The same as you just saw, with the only difference being we’ll quote you our flat-fee to engage working together at the start.

To move forward, there would be 1/3rd down to engage due to the huge amount of work involved upfront.

We run through the same methodical in-depth process.

At the time we review your ERC Refund amount with you, another 1/3rd is due. 

Finally, we’ll present the finalized forms for you to sign and submit to the IRS. 

The final 1/3rd balance is due that day.

Once filed, you will then receive a check directly from the IRS for your ERC Refund.

Regarding our fees, as one of our case studies put it:
“By the way, your fee is too cheap.”

We like to say, we are very reasonable in comparison for what we bring to the table.

Buyer Beware of ERC Companies Charging 10% to 30% of Your Hard-Earned ERC Refund!

Small business owners should avoid these types of arrangements and need to be aware of the facts and potential consequences.

According to the IRS rules and regulations, companies may not charge a contingent fee, which is based on a percentage of your refund. See full details below.

You can read the full details about this directly on the IRS.gov website.

Also, The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), states that a CPA or Accounting Firm that is a member, shall not charge a contingent fee or percent of a refund.

You can read the full details about this directly on the AICPA.org website.

There are some BIG Problems for you as a business owner in paying a percent of your refund.

Besides this being against IRS rules, 

It’s a flawed way to pay.

The higher YOUR ERC refund is, the more THEY make. 

Some Companies might knowingly overlook, or over-calculate your eligibility and refund amount because of that.

This is Dangerous, because the IRS will also hold YOU liable. 

IRS Rules Prohibit Companies from Charging a Contingent Fee or Percentage % of a Tax Refund

Even though many companies out there performing ERC services are charging a percentage of a client’s Employee Retention Credit refund, they are knowingly, or unknowingly, running afoul of IRS rules and regulations.

The IRS is very clear on this point. It can be found on page 21 of the Regulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service, Treasury Department Circular No. 230 (Rev. 6-2014), Catalog Number 16586R, under Section 10.27 Fees.

The IRS states, “A practitioner may not charge a contingent fee for services rendered in connection with any matter before the Internal Revenue Service. A contingent fee includes a fee that is based on a percentage of the refund reported on a return, that is based on a percentage of the taxes saved, or that otherwise depends on the specific result attained.”

AICPA Rules Prohibit Charging a Contingent Fee or Percentage % of a Client’s Tax Refund

Accounting Firms, Accountants, and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) that are members of The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), must further abide by AICPA Standards and Practices.

The AICPA is also very clear on this point. It can be found on pages 117 and 118 of the AICPA Regulations and Governing Rules for Member Accounting Firms and CPAs, under Section 1.510.001 Contingent Fees Rule.

The AICPA states, “A member in public practice shall not A.) Perform for a contingent fee any professional services for, or receive such a fee from a client for whom the member or the member’s firm performs, B.) Prepare an original or amended tax return or claim for a tax refund for a contingent fee for any client.”

What is “Audit Protection” and Will it Protect You from an IRS Audit?

Many of the same companies charging these excessive percentage-based fees will throw around terms like “audit protection”. However, does this really protect you and guarantee you will not get audited by the IRS?

The short answer is no.

If the IRS flags your ERC claim for an audit, there is nothing that will stop the IRS, a federal government agency, from auditing an ERC claim or business tax return, if they chose to do so.

The term “audit protection” is more of a marketing and sales angle to confuse small business owners into thinking their Employee Retention Credit tax refund claim is somehow audit proof.

“If a client’s ERC Credit claim for a refund is done accurately, and by-the-book per current IRS rules and guidelines, they can be assured their ERC claim will be on solid ground and they would have nothing to worry about. It’s always best to follow the exact IRS rules when determining eligibility and filing amended 941-X returns for claiming an Employee Retention Credit tax refund.”

Marty Stewart, Chief Strategy Officer – Disaster Loan Advisors™ (DLA)

Just a few months ago, a large company, or “ERC Mill” that was performing ERC Claims was raided by the IRS. The IRS challenged and denied some claims for being overstated and over-calculated when the companies were not actually fully eligible.

You can see the full story at AccountingToday.com and other major news media.

There is NO NEED to Pay Excessive % Fees!!! 

Think about this for a minute.

When in the history of your business, have you used a CPA, an Accountant, Accounting Firm, a Tax Preparer, a Bookkeeper, or any other type of Financial Professional Services?

Probably monthly, quarterly, or even annually right? You are always paying them when they render professional services for you, correct?

When have you not had to not pay anything upfront, and then wait for you to get your tax refund check before you had to pay for the professional financial work that was done for your business? 

Probably never, right? You pay when the work is completed.

Well, many companies out there are doing this $0 down, no money upfront, and wait to pay a percentage % once you get your ERC Tax Refund Check.


Because they are masking the fact that they are price gouging you by taking 15% to 30% of your ERC Refund!!!!

Besides the IRS, there has been a massive government crackdown with COVID relief. 

Congress just passed a bill in August that extended the statute of limitations for 10 years, for EIDL and PPP loan fraud.

They’ve set up a large department to investigate and come after people that have cheated the system, and now have 10 years to do it.

To date, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has put out over 1800+ press releases about cases they’re prosecuting, or have successfully prosecuted. They are handing out sizable prison terms for this type of cheating and fraud.

This is no joke. And now we’re dealing with the IRS for the Employee Retention Credit Refund program. And, the IRS is already scrutinizing questionable ERC claims.

Stay Safe. Stay Compliant. Keep More of YOUR Refund™ 

Take the next step, and schedule a free ERC Consultation with us below.

Call us toll free at 877-463-9777 ext. 3

Email us at [email protected]

You can relax, and have peace of mind that you’re in good hands.

Thank you for reading / watching / listening.

We look forward to helping you navigate the ERC program!


Schedule Your Free No-Risk, No-Obligation, Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Tax Consultation Call Today!

Speak Directly to an Expert ERC / ERTC Advisor to Evaluate if YOUR Business Qualifies for the ERC Refund.