The IRS has recently intensified its efforts to combat improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claims. In response to a surge in questionable claims, the IRS has taken several actions. In this article, we will delve into these actions and their implications for businesses seeking ERC relief.
1. Temporary Halt on New ERC Claims:
On September 15, 2023, the IRS announced a temporary stop in processing new ERC claims, effective until the end of the year at the earliest. This decision stems from the IRS’s concern about the rising number of improper ERC claims. While some tax experts and associations support this measure, there are differing opinions. Some believe that all valid claims should be addressed promptly, especially for businesses facing ongoing financial hardships. Despite the processing delay, it’s advisable to submit your claim now to secure a spot in the queue.
2. Slower Processing of Existing Claims:
The IRS faces a backlog of over 600,000 ERC claims, causing delays in processing. The standard processing goal of 90 days has been extended to 180 days, with even longer processing times for claims requiring further review or audit. For legitimate ERC claims, patience is essential, and having proper documentation is crucial. Those with questionable claims should consult IR-2023-169 and engage with their tax professionals to explore options.
3. New IRS Q&A Document:
The IRS released a new Q&A document with a headline that some find problematic. The document aims to provide clarity on ERC eligibility, but its wording may discourage eligible businesses. Clear guidance on qualification and non-qualification is essential. The IRS’s primary mission should be helping taxpayers pay the correct tax, not intimidating them.
4. Watch Out for Red Flags:
The ERC is a legitimate tax credit, but it has become a target for aggressive marketing to businesses that may not qualify. In a September 2023 news release, the IRS warns businesses to be cautious of improper assistance in claiming credits. The example of paying hefty fees to promoters, only to have claims disallowed, serves as a cautionary tale. The rule of thumb is to ensure the validity of your claim.
5. IRS’s Recruitment of 3,700 New Employees for Audits:
The IRS’s latest hiring effort includes the recruitment of 3,700 new employees, primarily for audit purposes. This expansion of the audit workforce will focus on high-income earners, partnerships, large corporations, and promoters. For promoters, the IRS aims to investigate those involved in peddling abusive schemes.
The IRS’s actions against improper ERC claims signify a commitment to ensuring that tax credits are granted to those who genuinely qualify. Businesses seeking ERC relief should be cautious, patient, and well-prepared to navigate these changes and protect their interests. Additionally, the IRS’s efforts to crack down on promoters of abusive schemes aim to maintain the integrity of the tax system.