What is the R&D Tax Credit?

Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions our team receives about R&D tax credits

What is the R&D Tax Credit?

The Credit for Increasing Research Activities (the “R&D Tax Credit”) is a government-sponsored tax incentive that rewards companies who conduct research and development in the United States and its territories. The R&D Tax Credit is a federal and state (most states) tax credit that can result in dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes owed at year end. For startups that meet qualifying criteria, the R&D Tax Credit can be used to offset payroll taxes. Originally enacted in 1981 under the Economic Recovery Tax Act, the credit expired eight times and was extended 15 times until it was made permanent in 2015 under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH Act). Primarily a labor-based incentive, the R&D Tax Credit aims to promote U.S. innovation by creating positive cash flows and reducing taxes.

Typically, “Research and Development” implies laboratories, test tubes, and white lab coats. However, the IRS’s definition of R&D is rather broad, and can be applied to many industries including manufacturing, engineering, architecture, food & beverage, and software development. Any business of any size can claim the R&D Tax Credit if their R&D activities satisfy the 4-part test and the associated expenditures qualify under IRC Section 41.

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