Technological innovations drive the most economic growth over time and raise living standards. Without investment in technology development, it is difficult to have continuous tech innovations.
Over time, U.S. research budgets have evolved. Compared to the 1980s, private-sector research and development investment has risen steadily while public sector investment declined. More than 2/3 of U.S. research and development are now funded by businesses.
Public research and technology development plays a key role in creating new technology.
In order to encourage the private sector to keep investing in R&D, the US government came up with the research and development credit that allow paying less taxes thus saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
In essence, we are talking about general business tax credit for companies that incur R&D expenses. The tax credits can be used to offset payroll taxes, income taxes, or alternative minimum taxes.
It's a valuable tool that can help reduce your payroll tax liability by up to $250,000 per year. If you are an early-stage startup that incurs mainly expenses, you may be eligible for tax credits.
This guide will discuss the eligibility requirements for the tax credits program and how to claim it successfully. We will also provide tips and advice on how to make the most of these valuable tax credits.
What is the R&D Tax Credit?
The R&D tax credit is a federal program available to businesses that incur expenses related to the research and development of new products or services. The program was created in 1981 to encourage companies to invest in R&D activities.
It has been extended and expanded several times since its inception. The most recent extension was enacted in 2015 and made the program permanent.
To be eligible for the tax credits, your company must have qualified research expenses. Qualified research expenditures are defined as activities that seek to discover information that is technological in nature and that results in a new or improved function, performance, or reliability of a product or process.
The tax credits can be used to offset payroll taxes, income taxes, or alternative minimum taxes.
5 Interesting Statistics about tax credit in the US (Source: OECD Study Published in 2021)
What are the benefits of the Tax Credit?
The tax credit can provide several benefits for businesses. Some of the key benefits include:
This program is a valuable tool that can help businesses reduce their tax liabilities and improve their financial stability. If you are an early-stage startup that incurs mainly expenses, you may be eligible for the R&D tax credit.
Who is eligible for the R&D Tax Credit?
To be eligible for the R&D tax credit, your business must meet the following criteria set by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and Treasury Regulations:
To be eligible for the tax credit, your company must also meet the following criteria:
If your business meets the criteria for the program, you may be able to claim a credit of up to $250,000 against your payroll tax.
Important note: You can claim up to five years back, so the total potential claim could get to an amount of $1.25M.
The tax credits are non-refundable and can be used only to offset payroll taxes, and income tax liability. If you have no tax liability, you will not be able to receive a refund.
Qualified R&D Industries
Several industries are eligible for the tax credit program. Some of them are:
- Information Technology
Qualified Expenses You Can Claim
The research and development tax credit can be applied to a wide range of expenses, including:
Please note that there are expenses that are not qualified for a tax return, such as:
In Which State Could You Claim Your Tax Credits?
The program vary by state. Some states offer a refundable R&D tax credit, while others provide a non-refundable R&D tax credit. A few states, such as Kentucky and Oklahoma, have both refundable and non-refundable R&D tax credits.
Some, like Connecticut and California have their own termination of Qualified Research Expenses (QREs) which you can use in your claim. In these cases, there are different requirements for how much money can be spent to qualify as research spending under section 174 of IRS code - depending upon which state you live within!
Choose your state to find out whether or not it supports the R&D Tax Credit program
How to Claim Your Credit?
The credit is claimed on your business's annual tax return. To claim it, you must complete Form 6765 and attach it to your tax return (Form 1120 - US Corporation Income Tax Return).
On the payroll tax form 941 (Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return), claim your tax credits; to make it easier for you, talk to your payroll processor and they will help you to submit the claim.
What are the documents you need for the claim?
To support your tax credits claim, you will need to provide documentation of your R&D expenses. This may include:
If you are claiming the R&D tax credit for the first time, it is advisable to seek professional help from an accountant or tax credit experts who are familiar with the claim process. They can help you to gather the required documentation and ensure that you meet the IRC guidelines.
How To Maximize Your Tax Credit Claim
There are several ways you can maximize your R&D tax credit. Some tips to consider include:
When Should You File The R&D Tax Credit?
The R&D tax credit form should be filed with your business's annual tax return. However, you may also file the form on a quarterly basis if you are claiming the credit against your payroll taxes.
Each year after you closed the previous year books, determine what your tax credit amount will be (you can use a professional to help you with that), and then add it to your annual tax return. 3 months following your tax return submission you can start claiming your tax return against your payroll taxes.
If you file your annual tax return by June 15th, for example, the first tax credit you would receive is for the following quarter, i.e July- September.
6 Reasons Companies Don’t Think They Qualify
Despite the R&D tax credit being available for over 35 years, there are still many misconceptions about the credit. As a result, many companies that could benefit from the credit do not claim it.
Below we dispel some of the most common misconceptions about the R&D tax credit:
Is the R&D tax credit worth it?
Using tax credit can help reduce federal and some states' tax income. It allows firms to pay for research and development expenses which could amount to about 10 to 15% of the return.
These tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your taxes so they can save your business significant money.
The R&D tax credit may be useful for firms investing in research and development. You can use the advice in this article to ensure that you are qualified for the program and can claim it successfully.
Please contact us with any queries regarding the claim or how to apply it. We'd be delighted to help you through the R&D tax credit claim process.
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