There is still relief money on the table from the 2020 COVID relief bill, just waiting for businesses to claim.

During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, government-offered relief funds were critical to the survival of many businesses. The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) program, established in the same 2020 COVID relief bill as PPP loans, is a payroll tax refund credit.

While companies could not previously claim both PPP and ERC funding, guideline changes now allow businesses to apply for ERC funding regardless of past PPP participation.

“A business can qualify for up to $26,000 per employee through this tax credit program,” says Andy Pohlman, First Fed’s director of retail sales. “And it’s not a loan. If a business qualifies, they are getting refunded from payroll taxes that they previously paid. And they can spend it however they want to based on their business needs.”

First Fed Director of Retails Sales Andy Pohlman. Photo courtesy First Fed

Local businesses impacted by COVID have a good chance of qualifying for the program, Pohlman adds, and a wide range of business types are eligible candidates. This includes those in food, manufacturing, construction, and healthcare, as well as schools and even museums. 

The basic qualification for ERC funding is that gross receipts for 2020 or 2021 be at least 20 percent lower per quarter than the same quarterly period in 2019.

To help businesses figure out if they qualify, First Fed has partnered with Innovation Refunds, a fintech partner with legal and tax expertise. As of the end of 2021, Innovation Refunds has helped more than 6,000 businesses receive $450 million in cash incentives from state and federal governments, Pohlman says.

By clicking a link on First Fed’s website, a business can begin a roughly 12-minute application to determine their eligibility for ERC funding. Innovation Refunds invests an average of 14 hours — at no cost to the business — in figuring out ERC eligibility and projected refunds. Once a business files and receives money, Innovation receives a small percentage of that refund.

While the ERC program money isn’t about to necessarily run out, Pohlman points out that it’s uncertain how much longer these funds will be offered before possibly being reallocated for another purpose by the federal government.

Funding for both the PPP and Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) essentially ran out abruptly and without notice, Pohlman notes, meaning that acting fast is your best bet.

“It’s best to get your applications in as soon as possible,” he says. “The program funding could change at any time.”

The impact of ERC funding can be a huge boost not only to the businesses and their employees, but to those who patronize such businesses. With large amounts of money still available, and at no cost to obtain, there’s zero reason not to see if the Employee Retention Credit could make a difference to your business.

To see if your business qualifies, visit and start your application today.

First Fed is a member FDIC and equal housing lender. Learn more at


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