WASHINGTON D.C. (Associated Press) – The Internal Revenue Service said Thursday it will pause accepting claims for a pandemic-era tax credit until 2024 due to rising concerns that an influx of applications are fraudulent.

The tax credit, called the Employee Retention Credit, was designed help small businesses keep paying their employees during the height of the pandemic if they were fully or partly suspended from operating.

The credit quickly became a magnet for scammers that targeted small businesses, offering them help to apply for the ERC for a fee — even if it wasn’t clear that they qualified.

About 3.6 million applications have been received.

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