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  • John Plocharczyk, Jr.

The IRS Determined what "nominal is", so what is it?

Solely for purposes of this employee retention credit, a portion of an employer’s business operations will be deemed to constitute more than a nominal portion of its business operations if either (i) the gross receipts from that portion of the business operations is not less than 10 percent of the total gross receipts (both determined using the gross receipts of the same calendar quarter in 2019), or (ii) the hours of service performed by employees in that portion of the business is not less than 10 percent of the total number of hours of service performed by all employees in the employer’s business (both determined using the number of hours of service performed by employees in the same calendar quarter in 2019).


If all, or all but a nominal portion, of an employer’s business operations may continue, but the operations are subject to modification due to a governmental order (for example, to satisfy distancing requirements), such a modification of operations is considered to be a partial suspension of business operations due to a governmental order if the modification required by the governmental order has more than a nominal effect on the business operations under the facts and circumstances.


Example 1: Employer F, a restaurant business, must close its restaurant to on-site dining due to a governmental order closing all restaurants, bars, and similar establishments for sit-down service. Employer F is allowed to continue food or beverage sales to the public on a carry-out, drive-through, or delivery basis. On-site dining is more than a nominal portion of Employer F’s business operations. Employer F’s business operationsare considered to be partially suspended because, under the facts and circumstances, more than a nominal portion of its business operations—its indoor and outdoor dining service—is suspended due to the governmental order.


Example 2: Same facts as Example 1, except that two months later, under a subsequent governmental order, Employer F is permitted to offer sit-down service in its outdoor space, but its indoor dining service continues to be closed. During this period, Employer F isallowed to operate only its outdoor sit-down and carry-out service in accordance with the order. Indoor dining is more than a nominal portion of Employer F’s business operations. Employer F’s business operations are considered to be partially suspended because, under the facts and circumstances, more than a nominal portion of its business operations–its indoor dining service–is suspended due to a governmental order. The following month, under a further governmental order, Employer F is permitted to offer indoor dining service, in addition to outdoor sit-down and carry-out service, provided that all tables in the indoor dining room must be spaced at least six feet apart. This spacing constraint has more than a nominal effect on Employer F’s business operations. During this period, even though Employer F resumed all categories of its business operations, Employer F’s business operations continue to be partially suspended because, under the facts and circumstances, the governmental order restricting its indoor dining service has more than a nominal effect on its operations.

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