Despite rhetoric around partisan gridlock and polarization, bipartisan legislation has become increasingly common over the last decade. In fact, seven significant pieces of bipartisan legislation were passed in 2021 alone, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, and Protecting Moms Who Served of 2021.
Now is the time for Congress to continue building on bipartisan goodwill by passing legislation that fixes how R&D expenses are treated for tax purposes and reinstates the Child Tax Credit.
Fixing R&D Expenditures Post TCJA
Originally touted as a Republican success, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Acts (TCJA) altered how research and development (R&D) expenses were to be treated starting in 2022. Going forward, businesses can no longer expense all of their current-year investments in R&D in the current tax year, and thus reduce their tax burden as previously done.
Instead, beginning January 1st, 2022, businesses are now required to amortize their R&D expenses over five years, for on-shore expenditures, and over fifteen years, for offshore expenditures. For many businesses, this creates taxable income out of thin air, where no such income exists to actually pay the taxes for that “income”, therefore substantially discouraging or delaying investments in innovation and software, hardware, manufacturing, and other critical industries.
This is expected to result in substantial job cuts; layoffs and reduced new hires within the R&D-related industries and roles, as well as related roles, and within the industries and services that support those roles. From recruiters to janitors and home builders, the downstream impact is feared to have a domino effect on an economy already teetering on the brink of recession due to unprecedentedly fast interest rate increases imposed by the Fed, in response to inflation.
Tax industry and business leaders had hoped the accounting treatment of expenses would be fixed before impacts of amortization were felt by businesses, but with tax year 2022 coming to a close, there have yet to be any solutions signed into law. However, it’s not too late to change the law before the tax filing deadlines early next year, thereby averting significant harm to the economy and America’s global competitiveness.
Now, business leaders and Republicans look like they are ready to finally fix the R&D portion of the TCJA. By combining pro-business legislation with the Child Tax Credit, Congress could move through bipartisan legislation that is a win-win for both parties.
Creating a Win with the Child Tax Credit
Democrats used the American Rescue Plan to expand the Child Tax Credit. American parents that qualified received $300/mo per child under the age of six and $250/mo per child between the ages 6-17. Parents were able to receive this cash in advance, and the Supplemental Poverty Measure credits the Plan with decreasing the child poverty rate 46%, from 9.7% in 2020 to 5.2% in 2021.
The expanded Child Tax Credit expired at the end of 2021, and while there have been talks about taking it up again, so far the talks have gone nowhere. In the meantime, almost 4 million children have fallen back into poverty.
This is the chance for anti-poverty Democrats and pro-business Republicans to work together to create a win-win solution for American families and companies.
The question, as always, is how Congress will pay for these tax credits without worsening inflation or upsetting voters. Adjusting the corporate tax rate or applying the SALT cap to businesses could offset the initial cost of the tax credits. Allowing the federal government to negotiate healthcare costs could also reduce the impact of these valuable credits.
At Strike, we know that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. We stay up to date on R&D legislation so you can be confident that your claims are filed correctly. Contact your legislator today to encourage them to work on passing bipartisan legislation that benefits families and businesses.