If Frank Iannelli, managing director for strategic consulting services for Whitley Penn, pays you or your company a visit, he may have good news.

The good news is that your business likely qualifies for money from a somewhat obscure government program called the Employee Retention Tax Credit program. 

Now about eight months into taking the program out to companies, Iannelli said, Whitley Penn is just now starting to get phone calls back from companies that have received a check. 

“We just got one today from somebody who got $600,000,” he said. “Yesterday, someone got $40,000. I’ve never seen anything like it.” 

The tax credit program refunds a percentage of wages paid in each quarter that a business has qualified, Iannelli said. Credits are available to business entities, nonprofits and start-ups, he said.  Any business structure with five W-2 full-time employees in 2020-2021 can potentially qualify, he said. 

“In reality, it’s almost any company that qualifies,” he said. 

Originally, businesses that had taken the more well-known paycheck protection program loans could not apply for the tax credit program, but that stipulation was waived several months ago, Iannelli said. The PPP program was funded through the U.S. Small Business Association, in an attempt to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the 2020-2021 COVID-19 crisis. The tax credit program is funded through the Internal Revenue Service.

The only catch – if you can call it that – is that many people and companies don’t know about it, Iannelli said. 

The process is also slow, Iannelli said. 

“It’s about seven to eight months from the time you apply until a business gets a check, so it’s not a fast process, but it can be critical for a business,” he said. 

Applying is fairly straightforward, usually just standard tax information, he said. 

“It’s information most companies should have on hand anyway,” he said. 

Iannelli leads the strategic consulting services group at Whitley Penn, a division focused on assisting companies, investors, boards and management teams to improve operating and financial performance. 

For Iannelli, the tax credit program is the best door-opener he’s ever had. 

“This is usually something people want to talk to me about,” he said.

The Texas Restaurant Association has been urging its members to apply for the program and has been lobbying legislators to speed up the process. 

The restaurant association helps restaurants throughout the state get assistance in navigating the tax credit program through a partnership with Adesso Capital — a firm which specializes in tax and lending resources for small- and medium-scale businesses. 

The program has been vital to Texas restaurant owners hard hit by the pandemic, said Joe Monastero, chief operations officer. 

From February to the end of April, Monastero said, 35 restaurant operators have brought in $13.7 million back to their restaurants. 

“There’s no grant program out there that can match this,” Monastero said.

Iannelli wants businesses in Fort Worth and North Texas to take advantage of the program while it is still available, he said. 

“You never know when a program like this may not get funding, so I’m out there trying to sign people up as quickly as possible,” he said. 

The money is available, and he wants local businesses to have it. 

“When businesses start spending the money on new hiring, new equipment, new locations, it’s going to help everyone, it’s going to lift the whole economy,” he said.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Bob Francis

Bob Francis is business editor for fortworthreport.org. He has been covering business news locally and nationally for many years. He can be reached at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org