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The IRS on Wednesday warned employers to be wary of “too good to be true” tax savings promised by third parties advising businesses to claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) when they do not qualify.

Some third parties are taking improper positions related to taxpayer eligibility for and computation of the credit, the IRS said. These third parties often charge large upfront fees or a fee that is contingent on the amount of the refund and may not inform taxpayers that wage deductions claimed on federal income tax returns must be reduced by the amount of the credit.

If the business filed an income tax return deducting qualified wages before it filed an employment tax return claiming the credit, the business should file an amended income tax return to correct any overstated wage deduction, the IRS said.

“Businesses are encouraged to be cautious of advertised schemes and direct solicitations promising tax savings that are too good to be true,” the IRS said in a statement.

“Taxpayers are always responsible for the information reported on their tax returns. Improperly claiming the ERC could result in taxpayers being required to repay the credit along with penalties and interest.”

The ERC is a refundable tax credit designed for businesses who continued paying employees while shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic or had significant declines in gross receipts from March 13, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021. Eligible taxpayers can claim the ERC on an original or amended employment tax return for a period within those dates.

To be eligible for the ERC, employers must have:

The IRS also reminded employers that only recovery startup businesses are eligible for the ERC in the fourth quarter of 2021. Additionally, for any quarter, eligible employers cannot claim the ERC on wages that were reported as payroll costs in obtaining PPP loan forgiveness or that were used to claim certain other tax credits.

Go to IRS.gov to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to claim the Employee Retention Credit: