A couple who are restaurant owners

The ERC for church and non-profit organizations

Your church or non-profit organization may qualify for a significant refund through the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), even if it received PPP loans.

Determine Eligibility
A couple who are restaurant owners

The impact of the pandemic on religious organizations

The impacts of COVID-19 weren’t just limited to businesses. Churches and religious organizations were impacted greatly. In fact, life after the pandemic is still far from normal.

Here’s what our customers had to say:


reported suspending in-person worship services for some time, according to a November 2021 survey.


experienced a decline in attendance over the past two years in their place of worship, according to a March 2023 survey.


struggled to adapt to new government regulations.

This drop in parishioners likely means a drop in donations. Which means your budget could be stretched thin.

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"Innovation Refunds were pleasant to work with and you pay nothing until you receive a check."
Theresa Duncan, Arkansas Good Start, Inc.

What is the ERC?

Have you heard of the Employee Retention Credit (ERC)?

It’s a payroll tax refund that’s meant to help eligible businesses that kept employees on payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If your church or non-profit organization underwent either a significant decline in gross receipts and/or fully or partially suspended or reduced any significant part of its operations due to any local, federal, or state mandate during 2020 or 2021, then you could be eligible for a payroll tax refund from the U.S. Treasury.

The program was originally developed to encourage and support employers who retained existing employees throughout 2020 and for the first three quarters of 2021 by offering a generous payroll tax refund through the IRS. Eligible recipients can receive a refund of up to $5,000 per employee for all of 2020 and up to $7,000 per employee kept on the payroll for each quarter for Q1 through Q3 of 2021.

How much your religious or non-profit organization eligible to receive?

How was your church or non-profit affected*?

In the same way that supply chains have been drastically upended by the pandemic, so too have many congregational ministry systems been disrupted.

Did your church or non-profit experience these challenges?

Restrictions to operating hours

Capacity limitations - drastically reducing the congregations

Cancellation of events (church services, weddings, etc.)

Clergy and other employees forced to work remotely

In-person services had to be held online

Experienced a significant decline in gross receipts

Limited travel due to government order

The ERC is available to employers of any size, including tax-exempt organizations. Church organizations faced unique challenges during the pandemic and are still feeling the effects today. Let’s walk you through a few criteria that may help your business qualify for the ERC.

Success stories from businesses in the church and non-profit industries

Innovation Refunds was spot on with their service and patience. I'm extremely busy and was reluctant to jump into this for fear it was going take up a bunch of my time. Thankfully, my part was relatively simple and Innovation Refunds did the rest. I was impressed with their service and expertise.

Sam Brooks
Warren County YMCA

We chose to work with Innovations Refunds for our Employee Retention Credit opportunity. The company was very responsive and kept us informed through out the process. Knowing that this was a time consuming process, Matthew Tidman, our customer service representative made sure we were kept up to date along the way.

Avery Seanman Jr.
Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, Inc.

Chavis Keller was a pleasure to work with. He was very professional and kept up on things throughout the period from application to check receipts. Thank you for making the process non-stressful.

Richard Trouth
Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant) CDC, Inc.

We work for you, with no upfront fee

Our independent tax attorneys have extensive knowledge of ERC qualifications and IRS tax code to help eligible churches and other non-profits claim their refund.

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How can church organizations use the ERC refund?

For churches and organizations that qualify for and use the ERC, there are many uses for putting the refund to good use – things like paying debts, operating expenses, hiring and retaining employees, and more:

Financial relief

Eliminating debt

Investment in technology for remote congregational services

Boosting cash revenues

Offer pay increases and retain top talent

ERC qualifications for the church and non-profit sector*

A couple of quick points about qualifying for the ERC:

-You must be an eligible employer, which includes tax-exempt churches and other religious organizations.

-Qualified wages are defined under IRC Section 3121(a) for FICA taxes. While this code section works for most employers, it does not work well for religious organizations employing ministers. Wages paid to ministers are not wages for IRC Section 3121(a). (Wages to ministers must be omitted under this section.)

-Your religious or non-profit organization must have experienced a significant decline in gross receipts, typically defined as a drop of 50% or more compared to the same quarter in 2019. Note that gross receipts mean all contributions, investment income, sales of investments, royalties, rents, and fundraising income.

-You may also qualify if your operations were fully or partially suspended due to government orders. For example: A church is deemed an essential business, but the government orders it to limit its capacity to 50% of its worship facilities. This may meet the partial shutdown test.

How we’ve helped eligible businesses, including those in the church and non-profit sector, file for the ERC:


Qualifying them for government shutdown orders


Determining eligibility under limited commerce


Outlining COVID’s impact beyond reduced revenue

With the ERC, qualifying companies could receive a refund to help cover remote congregation services, offer competitive employment incentives, and expand services.

It’s easy to get started and see if you are eligible for the ERC*

If you’re in the church or non-profit sector and you haven’t heard of the ERC, you’re not alone.

Originally, the ERC was not accessible for businesses that took part in PPP funding. This means that many employers took out PPP loans in 2020 but skipped the ERC.

However, the program has undergone expansion, and under new rules, you can claim ERC and PPP. This was removed by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

If my church is deemed an essential business, can it still qualify for the ERC?
What should I know about a minister’s wages and the Employee Retention Credit?
Are 501c3 eligible for employee retention credit?
If your church does not file a tax return, is it still eligible for the ERC*?
If our church did not experience a significant decline in gross receipts, is it still eligible?
What are considered gross receipts?
What is limited commerce under the ERC?
Ready to start? Begin now and see if you qualify.
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