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research and development

tech company research and development

Does Your Business Qualify for R&D Tax Credits?

By | Research and Development Tax Credit, Tax, Tax Credits | No Comments

The topic of Research and Development (R&D) is often associated with images of scientists gathered around a table to discuss complex formulas and space-age discoveries. But did you know that if your company’s staff employs personnel such as software developers, engineers, and machinists, your R&D expenses could qualify for tax credits

Many companies fail to take advantage of this tax credit, unaware that they have qualifying R&D expenses that are approved by the IRS. These do not have to be pioneering inventions or innovative undertakings. Rather, this credit is available to companies that create or improve products and trade processes.  

IRS Criteria for R&D Credits

The federal R&D tax statute provides a credit of up to 10% of qualifying expenses. However, many states also have this credit which can bring the total percentage to as high as 20%. Rules for determining what qualifies as R&D expenses are listed under Internal Revenue Service Code section 41. 

The IRS has a predefined set of criteria that determines what activities satisfy the requirements of qualifying R&D expenses. These are as follows:

  • The activity must have a purpose such as improvements in function, performance, reliability, or quality. Projects related to the appearance of a product do not qualify. 

  • Technical uncertainty related to the capability, methodology, or design of the business. The uncertainty must be attempted to be resolved with experimentation. This does not include any economic uncertainties.
     
  • The project must rely on hard science such as engineering, physical/biological sciences, or computer science. 

Once all the above criteria are met, then related expenses in wages, supplies, and contract research that were incurred during the project can be considered qualified R&D expenses. 

Technology R&D Expenses

According to Accounting Today, here are some of the most commonly overlooked technology expenses that can qualify as R&D expenses: 

  1. Cloud-Computing Costs
    Many companies have harnessed the power of cloud computing which provides an efficient way of storing, processing, and analyzing data. The server, platform, and Software as a Service (SaaS) technology costs included in cloud computing may fall under qualified research expenses (QREs) for both federal and state R&D credits. Development platforms and beta-testing of software are also included in this classification.  

  2. Migration Of System Platforms 
    The complex project of migrating systems to the cloud often involves technical uncertainty and failure, qualifying it as an R&D expense. 

  3. Replacement Of Obsolete Parts
    Should a part from a product become obsolete, redesigning and testing are necessary for a replacement. This process involves technical uncertainty and failures which can be considered R&D expenses. Expenses can include wages of engineers and other associates involved in the redesigning process so long as their contributions are clearly demonstrated. 

  4. Automation Expenses
    Technology that is developed to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process is considered a QRE. Robotic components are a good example of this as uncertainty exists as to where to place them and what they will do. The cost of the robot itself cannot be included, but the research into where and how they will fit into the process as well as the testing are qualified expenses. 

  5. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
    Artificial intelligence and machine learning are used to improve manufacturing efficiencies. As a result, the research expenses involved in these aspects would also qualify as QREs. 

Other Industries Eligible For R&D Credits

There are many other industries and applications where qualifying R&D expenses can be claimed. The CPA Journal lists several of these in various areas.

Restaurants, for example, may have qualifying expenses such as ways to improve nutrition, safety, and preservation of food. The construction industry involves designing new heating and air conditioning systems as well as new construction techniques. Agriculture involves researching and designing new irrigation systems, harvesting improvements, and new feeding techniques for livestock.

Many taxpaying companies can benefit tremendously from the R&D tax credit. However, millions of dollars go unclaimed yearly since businesses fail to recognize exactly what qualifies for this credit. 

Incentax can help identify and maximize qualifying R&D expenses for your business. Contact us for more information on how you can take advantage of these tax credits.  

tech research

3 Ways to Fund Your Tech Company’s Research Activities

By | Innovation | No Comments

Research plays a vital role in the evolution and success of tech companies because it promotes sustainability. As such, your tech company’s research can give it a competitive edge in the market by helping you develop plans that spearhead innovations. That implies that creating solutions for future problems that you can predict becomes a possibility through research.

So, if you want to speed up the growth and evolution of your tech company by introducing innovations and breakthrough products in the market, investing in research activities for your tech firm is critical. It is a fact that tech entities grapple with the highest expenses for research, and the cost can amount to billions of dollars for large organizations.

On the other hand, research expenses can be minimal for small tech businesses, yet they are still vital for the success of such establishments. The competitive nature of the tech marketplace is one of the reasons why it is difficult for individuals to finance research initiatives. Here are some of the funding options you can consider for your tech company’s research activities.

Approach Angel Investors

One of the reasons why you should consider seeking funding for your tech firm’s research initiative from angel investors is that these individuals have a high net worth, and their annual income is also huge. Most angel investors are open to new ideas. They typically operate alone, but may also join with others to form a fund.

Before approaching an angel investor, you must put together a solid business plan and a great pitch. Capturing the attention of an angel investor with enthusiasm and promising data points about the current situation and future potential of your tech business is what will help you secure the funds you need for your research activities.

Angel investors fund your company in exchange for a return on investment. You also need to ensure that your finances are in order and that your management team is competent. The reason is that these are some of the factors which determine whether an angel investor will invest in your tech operations or not.

Additionally, the personality of the angel investor you choose should be in sync with yours. That way, the two of you will get along for the benefit of the initiative you need to finance. Giving an angel investor as much information as possible allows them to make an informed decision regarding investing in your research operations.

Consider Crowdfunding

Online crowdfunding sites help individuals finance inventions, businesses, and projects. They make this possible by bringing various people together who are ready to cooperate and support organizations or entrepreneurs to attain a particular goal. In that case, you need to research such sites to understand the projects they finance.

When seeking funds from crowdfunding websites to finance your research, you need to consider publicizing your initiative to friends and family. The support you get from such persons can spur other people to contribute to your cause. You also need to assess traffic, payment methods, social networking provisions, and fees before opting for a particular crowdfunding site.

Seek Assistance from The Government

The federal government can step in and fund your tech company’s research initiative depending on the nature of your invention. For example, if your research project focuses on a positive impact on the environment or saving energy, you can approach the Department of Energy for funding. Remember to research the requirements of the program you are pursuing to gain insight into the guidelines that government agencies have put in place.

Accessing federal funding for your tech company’s research activities implies that you will be in a position to compete favorably with large firms.

Winning the confidence of the investors or the agency you are seeking funding from is paramount if you do not want your project to stall. If you need more information on ways to fund your tech company’s research activities, contact us today.

What Is the Research & Development Tax Credit?

By | Research and Development Tax Credit, Tax Credits | No Comments

There are many valuable economic incentives offered by the government to help businesses reduce current and/or future tax liabilities.  One incentive program in particular, known as the Research and Development Tax Credit, rewards businesses for their investment in domestic research.  Those that qualify can then use the additional source of revenue to stay competitive, hire additional employees, and enhance day-to-day operations.

WHAT IS THE R&D TAX CREDIT PROGRAM?

The R&D Tax Credit was first introduced in 1981 as a way to encourage innovation throughout the economy, create and retain technical jobs and increase global competitiveness.  It is available to any business that develops new or improved products, processes or software systems. This means that businesses of all sizes and in a variety of industries can be eligible to claim this tax credit, not just major corporations with research labs.  Taking advantage of the R&D Tax Credit can help taxpayers alleviate some of the financial burden in trying to remain competitive in their respective industries.  

WHAT ACTIVITIES QUALIFY?

Companies that invest money, resources and time towards improving a product, technique, formula, process or software, or inventing of a new product or process, likely qualify. Below are common qualifying research and development activities:

  • Designing or developing new or improved products, processes, or formulas
  • Developing new or improved software technologies
  • Evaluating and testing new concepts or materials
  • Developing models or protypes
  • 3D or CAD modeling
  • Beta testing

HOW DOES THE R&D TAX CREDIT WORK?

The R&D Tax Credit can apply to any business that incurs expenses for performing qualified research activities. The following are the types of qualified research expenses that the credit is comprised of:

  • Wages paid to employees directly working on, supporting, or supervising the R&D process
  • Supplies consumed during the R&D process (ie, for prototyping and testing purposes)
  • Payments made to outside contractors hired by the taxpayer to assist in the development process

RECENT CHANGES TO THE R&D TAX CREDIT

Although billions of dollars worth of R&D tax credits have been claimed, many taxpayers still faced hurdles in being able to take advantage of the tax credit despite having qualifying activities and expenses.  This was mainly due to the fact that companies losing money could not monetize the credit, and that the credit could only offset regular tax liability.  When the PATH Act was signed in December 2015, the R&D tax credit was not only made permanent, but it also removed some of the barriers that many start-up companies faced to claim the tax credit. 

The PATH Act now allows eligible small businesses to use up to $250,000 of R&D credits annually against payroll tax liability. 

WORKING WITH INCENTAX

Staying competitive by developing new or improved products or software systems can be extremely expensive and time consuming for businesses.  Such innovations often fail, leaving companies with no return on their investment.  By claiming the R&D tax credit, businesses are able to alleviate some of the financial burden associated with such risky initiatives.

It is important to mention that maintaining documentation related to a taxpayer’s R&D activities can form the basis of a successful R&D credit claim.  Therefore, it is important to work with tax credit professionals like Incentax who can assist with the process.  

Contact us today to conduct R&D study for your business.