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Is There a Limit to the Amount of Research Credits that can be Claimed?

There is no set maximum amount that you can claim.

If the federal R&D credit can’t be used immediately or completely, then any unused credit can be carried back one year or carried forward for up to 20 years. Each state has its own carryover rules.

While tax reform, often referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), introduced many new changes for businesses, the R&D Tax Credit continues to provide reliable opportunities for reducing income tax liabilities—often saving companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The R&D Tax Credit was created to provide a tax incentive for U.S. companies to increase spending on research and development in the U.S. Each year more and more companies take advantage of the R&D tax credit. Additionally, in 2015, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, made the R&D tax credits permanent, while also extending the benefit to startups.

Companies of all sizes and across many industries meet the federal government’s test for qualified innovation activities and can claim Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits. However, many companies are not aware they qualify. There are thousands of companies that are leaving money on the table and not taking advantage of significant federal and state R&D Tax Credits.

Many people used to think R&D tax credits only applied to those that wear lab coats or create new best-in-class products. This is not the case – R&D credit is much more expansive and far-reaching than most people realize. Research & development tax credit industries include manufacturing, software, engineering, financial services, and many others.

If you’re improving or enhancing products and processes to remain relevant and profitable, you may qualify for R&D Tax Credits. Often times, the activities that qualify for the R&D Tax Credit are the same ones driving growth in your business.

Ensuring that you understand the rules for qualification is an essential first step in claiming the R&D Tax Credit. This is normally done during a feasibility analysis, also referred to as Phase 1. R&D activities are explored and identified at a high level along with related qualified research expenses (QREs). This information is then used to estimate your federal and state R&D Tax Credits. Education is key and provides the ability to identify qualified activities and QREs so a more accurate benefit estimate can be determined.

The expenses that qualify for research activities within your company typically include employee compensation, materials, and contracted services. Various forms of documentation are sufficient to support your qualified expenses and may include payroll records, financial records showing supply or contract research expenses, and vendor invoices.

On average, companies are typically able to claim 7-10% of their qualified expenses as a federal R&D Tax Credit. For example, a single software developer, engineer, or lab technician who receives a W2 of $100,000 a year may generate a tax savings of up to $10,000.

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