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  • Robert Brown

Is Your Business a Victim of ERC Mills?

With the IRS intensifying efforts against ERC (Employee Retention Credit) fraud and issuing over 20,000 ineligibility notices to businesses, it's crucial to understand if ERC mills have victimized your company. As a law firm that protects employers against ERC-related audits and ERC fraud allegations through the ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program, we often encounter clients who have unwittingly worked with ERC mills. Read on to understand what ERC mills are, how to identify their targets, and learn what you can do to move your business forward.

Tax Paperwork Being Prepared by ERC Mills

What are ERC Mills?

ERC mills are tax service businesses that emerged to exploit the complexities of the ERC claims process. They typically focus solely on filing ERC claims, often neglecting the critical legal and financial details required for legitimate claims. These organizations are notorious for their aggressive marketing tactics across various media, aiming to lure businesses with the promise of easy and substantial tax credits.

What Kind of Employers Did ERC Mills Target?

The typical targets of ERC mills are small to medium-sized businesses that are less likely to have in-house or retained tax expertise. These companies, overwhelmed by the technicalities of ERC claims, were easily persuaded by the promise of significant returns, bypassing proper eligibility checks.

Why Businesses Fall Prey to ERC Mills

Businesses become targets due to a lack of understanding of ERC eligibility criteria and the appeal of obtaining substantial tax credits with minimal effort. ERC mills exploited this gap by offering streamlined services that often glossed over the critical operational and financial specifics necessary for valid ERC claims.

Red Flags of ERC Mills

If you think your business may have worked with an ERC Mill or are unsure, then read on to determine whether or not you may have worked with one.

Single-Purpose Existence

Many ERC mills are entities established exclusively for ERC claims, lacking a broader history or experience in tax services. This narrow focus is often a telltale sign of opportunistic operations rather than comprehensive tax expertise.

High-Pressure Marketing Tactics

ERC mills typically resort to aggressive marketing tactics. They often use sensational language, promising guaranteed large refunds without first assessing the business's circumstances.

Assurances Without Analysis

These companies frequently assure qualification for ERC credits without a detailed analysis of the business's eligibility. This approach overlooks the nuanced requirements set by the IRS for ERC claims.

Neglecting Detailed Eligibility Queries

A significant red flag is the absence of detailed questions about your business's eligibility. Legitimate ERC claims require an understanding of specific criteria, such as the degree of revenue decline or the impact of operational shutdowns due to the pandemic.

Lack of Documentation Request

ERC mills often do not request essential documentation to substantiate the ERC claim. Proper filing requires detailed employee records, payroll data, and other relevant documents.

Overlooking Employee Count and Relationships

ERC mills might ignore critical questions like the number of employees in 2019 or the nature of employee relationships, which can affect eligibility and credit amounts.

Partial Compliance in Filing

These entities may focus solely on amending payroll tax returns rather than appropriately adjusting the business income tax returns. Such partial compliance can lead to discrepancies and potential legal issues.

Moving Forward

For employers that have engaged with ERC mills, it is crucial to reassess their ERC claims to avoid potential legal ramifications:

Legal Consultation and Representation

Consult with legal experts specializing in tax law and ERC matters. Legal counsel can guide you on the implications of your ERC filings and represent you in case of any legal proceedings. Our law firm can conduct a thorough audit of your ERC claims.

Review Pending ERC Claims

Employers should also consider reviewing ERC refund claims that still need to be processed to identify whether the supporting documentation for eligibility and quantification of the credit is readily available.

Enroll in the ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program

If you believe your business has mistakenly received ERC relief or is pending a potentially fraudulent ERC claim, consider participating in the ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program. Through this program, we can help you mitigate penalties and resolve compliance issues before facing an IRS audit.

Long-Term Compliance Plan

Establish a long-term compliance plan that includes regular audits, ongoing education, and updates on tax laws and IRS guidelines. This proactive approach can safeguard your business against future risks associated with ERC claims. Our seasoned tax attorneys and professionals can assist you in creating a long-term tax compliance plan.

It’s not too Late to Be Compliant

Navigating the complex landscape of ERC claims requires vigilance and informed decision-making. Businesses must be wary of ERC mills and engage in thorough due diligence when seeking assistance with ERC claims. Our firm is dedicated to guiding businesses through these challenges, ensuring compliance, and safeguarding against potential legal issues. Remember, the allure of easy returns should never outweigh the importance of legal and financial integrity.

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