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Treasury launches Employee Retention Credit to encourage employment
On March 31, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched the Employee Retention Credit, a resource designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll during the Covid-19 outbreak. The resource is a refundable tax credit of 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by Covid-19. Employers of all sizes, including tax-exempt organizations may qualify to receive the employee retention credit if either: (i) the employer’s business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to Covid-19 during the calendar quarter; or (ii) the employer’s gross receipts are below 50 percent of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80 percent of a comparable quarter in 2019 they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter. State and local governments and their instrumentalities, and small businesses who take Small Business Loans are not eligible for the employee retention credit. The credit applies to wages paid after March 12, 2020 and before January 1, 2021, and cover both cash payments and a portion of the cost of employer provided health care.
Justice Department Recovers Over $4.7 Billion From False Claims Act Cases in Fiscal Year 2016
On December 14, the DOJ announced that it has obtained more than $4.7 billion in settlements and judgments in civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government in fiscal year 2016 (ending September 30). Of the $4.7 billion recovered, $2.5 billion came from the health care industry, including drug companies, medical device companies, hospitals, nursing homes, laboratories, and physicians. The DOJ also recovered $1.6 billion from housing and mortgage settlements and judgments this past fiscal year – the second highest annual recovery in the history of the federally insured mortgage program.
There were 845 new False Claims Act suits in 2016, one of the largest totals in history. Of those, 143 were initiated by the government and 702 were brought by whistleblowers. Approximately $100 million was recovered in cases handled exclusively by whistleblowers and their attorneys—a sharp drop from the record $1.1 billion recovered in 2015, but an amount comparable to the averate amount recovered in previous years. Notably, the $4.7 billion recovered in 2016 does not include state shares. Such shares were significant in 2016 because of payouts involving the federal-state Medicaid program, with the top three health care settlements alone resulting in distributions of approximately $500 million to states.