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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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How Do I Know If I’m a Victim of Employee Retention Tax Credit Fraud?

By Spodek Law Group | October 18, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 07:49 pm


How Do I Know If I’m a Victim of Employee Retention Tax Credit Fraud?

The employee retention tax credit (ERTC) is a refundable tax credit that encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, some dishonest businesses are taking advantage of this program by falsely claiming the tax credit when they don’t qualify. If you suspect you may be a victim of ERTC fraud, here’s what you need to know.

What is the Employee Retention Tax Credit?

The ERTC, which was part of the CARES Act passed in March 2020, provides a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 per employee for eligible businesses. It was intended to help companies that experienced losses or temporary closures retain employees during the pandemic. The credit has been extended and modified several times, most recently by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November 2021.

How Could the ERTC Be Abused?

While the ERTC has provided vital relief for many businesses, some companies are wrongly claiming credits they don’t qualify for. Here are some of the ways this tax credit could be abused:

  • Claiming the credit without experiencing a significant decline in gross receipts
  • Claiming the credit for employees who weren’t retained
  • Claiming the credit for furloughed employees
  • Claiming the credit after receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans
  • Claiming the credit for non-eligible employees like relatives
  • Claiming the credit for employees who don’t exist or work reduced hours

Some common signs your business may be a victim of ERTC fraud include seeing unexplained tax documentation, employees on the payroll you don’t recognize, or tax credit claims that seem excessive.

Am I Eligible for the ERTC?

To qualify for the employee retention tax credit, your business must have experienced a significant decline in gross receipts or been temporarily closed or operating at reduced capacity due to a COVID-19 government order. Additional eligibility requirements apply depending on the specific provisions in place when the credit is claimed. The IRS has detailed guidance on ERTC eligibility requirements.

How to Tell if You’re a Victim of Fraud

Here are some signs that your business may be the target of an ERTC scam:

  • You received an unexpected or amended tax form claiming ERTC credits
  • The form shows excessive ERTC amounts claimed compared to your business’s situation
  • Employees are listed that don’t work for your company
  • The form was filed without your knowledge or authorization
  • You’re contacted by an unknown tax preparer asking for information to claim the ERTC

Trust your instincts – if something seems suspicious about ERTC claims connected to your business, it probably is. Don’t ignore any questionable documentation.

What To Do if You’re a Victim

If you suspect your business is the victim of an ERTC scam, take action right away:

  1. Contact the IRS and report the suspected fraud
  2. Notify your state workforce agency if false unemployment claims are involved
  3. Consult your tax professional about amending any fraudulent tax returns
  4. Change passwords and security procedures to protect your business
  5. File an identity theft affidavit with the IRS
  6. Contact law enforcement to report the suspected fraud

Acting quickly can help minimize the damage from ERTC scams and prevent further fraudulent claims. The IRS treats identity theft and refund fraud seriously, so be proactive in reporting it.

Avoiding ERTC Scams

Here are some tips to protect your business from employee retention tax credit fraud:

  • File taxes early before a scammer can
  • Use a reputable tax preparer you trust
  • Review any tax documentation thoroughly before filing
  • Secure your business’s payroll and tax records
  • Educate employees on potential scams
  • Enable multi-factor authentication for online accounts
  • Keep software updated and use strong passwords

Remaining vigilant makes it harder for fraudsters to take advantage of you. Acting quickly if you suspect anything irregular can help minimize damages.

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, dishonest businesses are exploiting the ERTC program meant to help companies retain employees. Be alert for signs your business is being targeted for employee retention tax credit fraud. Report any suspicious activity and consult experts right away if you suspect you’re a victim. With quick action, you can prevent further damage and help authorities stop the scammers.


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