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The ERC: Our Unlikely COVID Hero

The ERC: Our Unlikely COVID Hero

by Greg Howell

The COVID pandemic had a massive impact on businesses across the country, and many of us are still rebounding or worse, scrambling to stay afloat. Here at cj Advertising, I’ll never forget the ominous uncertainty we were feeling in those first weeks of the 2020 lockdown.

Luckily, help soon became available in the form of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). Like many other companies, we were quick to apply. PPP was great for plugging the immediate leaks, but there were other areas we needed to address to help us get back on track.

What we didn’t know at the time was that we may have qualified for another option that’s still available to this day: the ERC.

The ERC (Employee Retention Credit) is an IRS program that is separate from PPP but provides a lot of the same game-changing benefits. Yet few businesses have considered taking advantage of the ERC, and even fewer have applied. In 2020 and 2021, you could only apply for PPP or ERC but not both. But thanks to newly changed laws, companies in 2022 can still get retroactive COVID relief through the ERC – up to $26,000 per full-time w-2 employee – even if they’ve already received PPP.

Our Experience with ERC – So Far So Good

One of the barriers that prevents many companies from applying for the ERC is the perception that it’s a long, convoluted process. When you throw in the fact that the program is managed through the IRS, it’s no surprise that so many opted for PPP.

But when our team went through the ERC application process, we found it to be fast and seamless—primarily because we worked with a third-party tax law firm that had extensive experience in IRS dealings. All we had to do was go through the law firm’s checklist and pull the requested data. This included items like:

• Quarterly 941 filings
• Payroll spreadsheets
• and 3508 forms (if applied for PPP)

Total time invested on our end? About two hours for our accounting team. Our tax attorney handled everything from there. Our application was officially underway in about a week, and it takes six months to a year for the funds to arrive. And, bonus: We can spend the money however we wish; unlike PPP, there are no restrictions.

Aside from efficiency, there are additional benefits to working with a tax law firm. They will support our claim if the IRS denies our application, challenges any of the information provided, or requests an audit. So it’s nice to know we have that protective element in our back pocket. And because most tax law firms work on a contingency basis, we won’t pay for legal services until the ERC money arrives.

Relief Is Still Available

We are confident that our ERC relief will significantly strengthen our financial health, and the process was far easier than we anticipated.

If you’re seeking additional COVID relief – even if you’ve already received PPP – the ERC is a great option to consider. You can learn more at Employee Retention Credit | Internal Revenue Service ( You may also wish to visit a few tax attorney sites (such as Fair Share Lawyers), which contain additional useful information.

It’s been one of the best post-COVID business decisions we’ve made.

Greg Howell

Chief Operating Officer

CJ Advertising

p: 615.296.1067

[email protected]

Pam Vetter

Pam Vetter


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