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Real Deadline to Apply for the ERC

September 29, 2022 by Max Shenker

Deadline to Apply for the ERC

Some tax advisors are misstating the rules related to deadlines for Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claims. They may say that amendments can be filed up to three years from each quarterly payroll tax filing date, resulting in a separate deadline to apply for the ERC for each calendar quarter. They say, for example, that the deadline to amend the second quarter of 2020 is July 31, 2023 (i.e. three years from the filing deadline of 7/31/2020). In one instance, an advisor claims that, “The ERTC deadline is March 12th, 2023.” Others are making the erroneous statement that, “The program could run out of allocated funds at anytime [sic],” while also urgently warning, “Time is of the essence.”

What are the actual deadlines for filing an ERC claim?

There are only two deadlines: For all quarters in 2020, the deadline to apply for the ERC is April 15, 2024, and for all quarters in 2021, the deadline is April 15, 2025.

The ERC can only be filed using an IRS Form 941-X, “Adjusted Employer’s quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund.” A separate 941-X will be filed for each calendar quarter for which ERC is being claimed. While original Forms 941 are due by the last day of the month that follows the end of each quarter, and amendments to federal tax returns generally need to be filed within three years of the original due dates, 941-X amendments are a little different.

The instructions to Form 941-X state:

  • Is There a Deadline for Filing Form 941-X? Generally, you may correct overreported taxes on a previously filed Form 941 if you file Form 941-X within 3 years of the date Form 941 was filed or 2 years from the date you paid the tax reported on Form 941, whichever is later. You may correct underreported taxes on a previously filed Form 941 if you file Form 941-X within 3 years of the date the Form 941 was filed. We call each of these time frames a “period of limitations.” For purposes of the period of limitations, Forms 941 for a calendar year are considered filed on April 15 of the succeeding year if filed before that date.

That last sentence is the key, “For purposes of the period of limitations, Forms 941 for a calendar year are considered filed on April 15 of the succeeding year if filed before that date.” This rule is derived from Section 6513 of the Code in which subsection (c) “Return and payment of Social Security taxes and income tax withholding,” includes the rule that, “(1) If a return for any period ending with or within a calendar year is filed before April 15 of the succeeding calendar year, such return shall be considered filed on April 15 of such succeeding calendar year.”

This means that while the Form 941 for the second quarter of 2020 was originally due on 7/31/2020; the third quarter was due on 10/31/2020; and the fourth quarter was due on 1/31/2021, all of those returns are considered filed on 4/15/2021, setting the three-year statute of limitations for amending any of those returns as 4/15/2024. (The instructions to Form 941-X explain, “any corrections to the employee retention credit for the period from March 13, 2020, through March 31, 2020, should be reported on Form 941‐X filed for the second quarter of 2020.”)

All of this being said, it’s not advisable to wait until the very end. Learn more about our solutions for tax credits including the ERC.