Comprehensive Analysis of Attribution Compliance for Claiming the Employee Retention Credit (ERC)

Attribution Compliance


In my capacity as a United States Tax Attorney with extensive expertise in the domain of U.S. tax credits, IRS regulations, Treasury Tax Codes, and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), I have dedicated over fifteen years to mastering the complexities of tax law, with a particular focus on the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). This document is meticulously prepared to provide an in-depth exploration of the tax codes, regulations, and legislative frameworks pertinent to Attribution Compliance in the context of claiming the ERC. It aims to distil the relevant IRS sections, Congressional laws, and Treasury Tax Codes, offering precise, authoritative guidance for businesses navigating this critical aspect of ERC compliance.

Legislative and Regulatory Framework

The ERC, established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020, and subsequently modified by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, represents a significant financial incentive designed to encourage employers to retain employees amidst the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Attribution Compliance is a nuanced area within the ERC framework, necessitating a thorough understanding of the interplay between ownership structures and eligibility criteria for the credit.

Understanding Attribution Compliance

Attribution Compliance refers to the set of rules governing the determination of an employer’s eligibility for the ERC based on the ownership interests and familial relationships that may influence the aggregation of businesses under common control. These rules are crucial for accurately assessing an employer’s qualification for the ERC, particularly in scenarios involving complex corporate structures or family-owned businesses.

Key Tax Codes and Regulations

  • Internal Revenue Code Sections 267(b) and 707(b): These sections lay the groundwork for understanding attribution among related parties, providing essential insights into how business interests owned by family members or entities can impact ERC eligibility.
  • Section 2301 of the CARES Act: This foundational section introduces the ERC, outlining the initial eligibility criteria and the basis for subsequent regulatory guidance on attribution and aggregation.
  • IRS Notice 2021-20 and IRS Notice 2021-49: These notices offer comprehensive guidance on the ERC, including detailed explanations of how attribution rules apply to the credit, particularly concerning the aggregation of entities for determining employer size and eligibility.

Compliance Strategies for Navigating Attribution Rules

To ensure adherence to Attribution Compliance when claiming the ERC, businesses should:

1. Analyse Ownership Structures: Conduct a thorough review of all ownership interests and familial relationships that could influence the aggregation of entities under the attribution rules. This analysis should encompass direct and indirect ownership stakes across all related businesses.

2. Evaluate Aggregation Implications: Determine how the aggregation of businesses, as dictated by the attribution rules, impacts the total number of full-time employees and, consequently, eligibility for the ERC. This includes assessing whether the aggregated entity count meets the small or large employer criteria set forth in the ERC guidelines.

3. Maintain Comprehensive Documentation: Keep detailed records of the analysis and rationale behind the determination of attribution and aggregation, including ownership percentages, family relationships, and any applicable exceptions or interpretations of the tax codes and regulations.

4. Consult Updated IRS Guidance: Stay informed of any updates or clarifications provided by the IRS regarding attribution and aggregation rules as they relate to the ERC, ensuring compliance with the most current regulatory standards.


Navigating the intricacies of Attribution Compliance is paramount for businesses seeking to claim the Employee Retention Credit accurately and effectively. By meticulously analysing ownership structures, evaluating the implications of business aggregation, and adhering to the detailed guidance provided by the IRS, employers can ensure compliance with the attribution rules, thereby securing their eligibility for this critical tax credit. Given the complexity of these regulations and the potential for significant financial impact, consultation with a tax professional or attorney specializing in this area is strongly recommended to optimize the benefits available under the ERC while maintaining strict adherence to the legal and regulatory requirements.

This document reflects a synthesis of the relevant legislative provisions, IRS guidance, and tax code interpretations as of my last update in April 2023. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, direct consultation with the IRS or a qualified tax professional is advised.

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The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal or tax advice. Consult a professional for tailored advice on ERTC Attribution Compliance.


1. What is Attribution Compliance in the context of the ERTC?

Attribution Compliance involves adhering to the rules that define how ownership interests are attributed between related parties or family members to determine ERTC eligibility.

2. How does the IRS apply attribution rules for ERTC eligibility?

The IRS uses attribution rules to assess whether entities are considered a single employer due to common ownership or family relationships, which can impact the amount of credit available.

3. What are the key considerations for family-owned businesses under ERTC?

Family-owned businesses must consider how ownership is attributed among family members, as this can affect their aggregate number of employees and thus their ERTC eligibility.

4. Can the attribution rules affect the calculation of qualified wages?

Yes, if businesses are considered a single employer under attribution rules, all wages paid across the grouped entities count towards the ERTC wage cap, affecting the total credit.

5. What documentation is needed for Attribution Compliance under the ERTC?

Businesses should maintain records of ownership structures, familial relationships among owners, and payroll records across related entities.

6. How do attribution rules impact businesses with complex ownership structures?

Complex ownership structures may require a detailed analysis to determine which entities are grouped together for ERTC purposes, impacting the credit each entity can claim.

7. What are the consequences of non-compliance with attribution rules under the ERTC?

Non-compliance can lead to disqualification from the credit, recalculation of the credit amount, or penalties and interest on erroneous claims.

8. Can attribution rules affect new businesses claiming the ERTC?

Yes, for new businesses, the attribution of ownership to existing entities can affect their status as a standalone employer or part of a larger group, impacting their ERTC eligibility.

9. What role do tax professionals play in ensuring Attribution Compliance for ERTC?

Tax professionals help analyse ownership structures, apply attribution rules accurately, and ensure that all compliance requirements are met to maximize ERTC benefits securely.

10. Where can I find resources to understand more about ERTC Attribution Compliance?

The IRS website, professional tax advisories, and legal consultants specializing in tax credits and business structuring offer resources and guidance on ERTC Attribution Compliance.

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