Kewal Krishan & Co, Chartered Accountants
Tax Compliance Tax Credits Tax Filing

Leveraging Tax Credits for Pandemic Relief

As the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, the U.S. government introduced several financial measures to mitigate its impact on businesses and their employees. Key among these were the tax credits for qualified sick and family leave wages, aimed at easing the burden on employers while ensuring that workers did not suffer financially when ill or needing to care for family members. This in-depth analysis will unpack the details of these tax credits provided in 2020 and 2021, delving into their benefits, implications, and how businesses strategically utilized them during these turbulent times.

2020: Initial Pandemic Response Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

In March 2020, as the pandemic began to disrupt lives and livelihoods globally, the U.S. Congress passed the FFCRA. This legislation was crucial in providing financial mechanisms to support both businesses and employees facing economic distress due to the pandemic. Notably, it introduced two critical tax credits:

Qualified Sick Leave Credit:

– Purpose: To offset the cost for employers who provided paid sick leave to employees affected by COVID-19, covering situations such as illness, quarantine, or symptom diagnosis.

– Benefits: Employers could claim a credit for up to 80 hours (or two weeks) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular wage rate, up to a daily limit of $511 and a total of $5,110 per employee.

Qualified Family Leave Credit:

– Purpose: To assist employers who provided paid family leave to employees needing to care for family members under quarantine or children due to school closures.

– Benefits: The credit covered up to 10 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay, up to a daily limit of $200 and a total benefit of $10,000 per employee.

Strategic Considerations for 2020

The introduction of these tax credits required businesses to adapt quickly. Key considerations included:

– Operational Adjustments: Many businesses had to shift to remote work setups or adjust their staffing models to maintain productivity while accommodating employee absences.

– Financial Planning: Employers needed to leverage the tax credits effectively to maintain cash flow and mitigate the financial impacts of providing paid leave.

– Compliance and Documentation: Keeping detailed records was essential for justifying the tax credit claims. This involved tracking employee absences, payments, and ensuring all claims were adequately documented and supported.

2021: Sustained Support Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

Recognizing the prolonged nature of the pandemic, the government extended and expanded these tax credits with the enactment of the ARPA in 2021.

Enhancements Under ARPA

– Extension of Credits: The tax credits were extended through September 30, 2021, providing continued relief as businesses and employees faced ongoing challenges.

– Expansion of Eligible Reasons: The scope of eligible leave was broadened to include time off for obtaining vaccinations and recovering from the side effects of immunization.

– Increase in Limits: The aggregate cap for the family leave credit was raised to $12,000 per employee, reflecting the extended duration and broadened scope of the credits.

Strategic Implications for 2021

With these enhancements, businesses were prompted to:

– Reevaluate Leave Policies: Updating leave policies to reflect the expanded eligibility ensured that employees could benefit from new health-related leave reasons, particularly for vaccinations.

– Revise Financial Forecasts: Financial plans needed adjustments to incorporate the extended timeline and increased benefits of the tax credits, helping businesses plan for continued support.

– Enhance Employee Communications: It became crucial to clearly communicate the changes and availability of enhanced sick and family leave benefits to employees, fostering a supportive and informed workplace culture.


Looking back on 2020 and 2021, it is evident that the strategic application of sick and family leave tax credits played a pivotal role in helping businesses navigate the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic. These credits not only offered immediate financial relief but also highlighted the critical importance of agile, empathetic, and strategic financial planning in times of crisis. As businesses continue to recover and rebuild, the lessons learned from utilizing these tax credits will undoubtedly influence future strategies for managing employee welfare and organizational financial health in challenging times.

Need Assistance?

For personalized guidance on how to leverage tax credits effectively in your business operations, contact our COO, Anshul Goyal, at Our team at KKCA is ready to assist you with expert advice tailored to your specific needs.

Conclusion: Navigating Pandemic Challenges with Tax Credits

Tax credits for sick and family leave have provided essential support for businesses navigating the pandemic. By strategically utilizing these credits, companies have managed to maintain financial stability while supporting their employees through unprecedented times.


This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. The information provided reflects the current understanding of federal tax laws which are subject to change. Always consult with a professional tax advisor or accountant for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.


1. What is the FFCRA?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) introduced tax credits to help employers manage the cost of providing COVID-19 related sick and family leave.

2. Who qualifies for these tax credits?
Employers who provide paid leave according to the guidelines set by the FFCRA and later extended by the ARPA qualify for these credits.

3. What are the financial limits for these tax credits?
For sick leave credits, the limit is up to $511 per day, while family leave credits are capped at $200 per day.

4. Can these credits be applied to all employees?
The credits apply to employees unable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons as specified under the FFCRA and ARPA.

5. How were these credits extended into 2021?
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) extended these credits and expanded the eligibility criteria to include vaccine-related leaves.

6. Are the tax credits refundable?
Yes, both the sick leave and family leave tax credits are refundable against certain employment taxes.

7. How does an employer claim these credits?
Employers can claim these credits on their federal employment tax returns, usually on Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

8. What records do employers need to keep?
Employers should keep detailed records of wages paid under qualified leave, employee health statements, and hours of leave.

9. Can self-employed individuals claim these credits?
Yes, self-employed individuals can claim similar credits on their personal tax returns based on equivalent criteria.

10. When do these tax credits expire?
The tax credits were available until September 30, 2021, as per the last extension granted under the ARPA.


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