8 Myths That Keep Manufacturers From Claiming the R&D Tax Credit

Originally posted Mar 28, 2013 in Forbes.com.

The research and development (R&D) tax credit has never been more available to manufacturers. It’s a shame the majority of them don’t realize it yet.

At nearly $10 billion a year, the R&D tax credit is one of the biggest incentives available and can save manufacturing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars — yet only one out of twenty small- and medium-sized companies eligible for this credit takes advantage of it. Why, you ask? There are a number of self-censoring myths preventing developers from securing the credit. Taking advantage of these incentives for many companies can be the easiest way to get funding quickly. Avoid allowing your business to fall victim to the following myths:

One. The Research and Development (R&D) tax credit is only for companies that are inventing something brand new.

Nonsense. The R&D tax credit is not just for inventing something or getting a patent. It is also available (and most typically used by) companies that are improving or modifying an existing product or improving a manufacturing process — that is, making a product cleaner, quicker, greener or cheaper. As such, manufacturers are good candidates for the R&D tax credit.

Two. The R&D tax credit is only for companies with laboratories and test tubes.

Wrong. While companies involved in basic research are obviously prime candidates for the R&D tax credit, the credit is very much about encouraging applied science — solving a customer’s problem or a production issue using known scientific principles. For example, a manufacturer received $265,000 in federal and $16,000 in state credits for their work in improving their die casting, metal stamping and precision tools development processes — returns accrued by simply improving on the work the company did on a daily basis.

Three. The R&D tax credit isn’t for companies in my industry.

Think again. Thousands of manufacturers can secure the R&D credit for any number of eligible activities, including iron casting, sheet metal plating, hot stamping, injection molding, plastics, modeling and more. Self-censoring is the biggest roadblock to companies taking the R&D tax credit — you don’t need to put a person on the moon or work in a lab to be eligible for the credit.

Four. The R&D tax credit is only for the big companies.

That is exactly what too many small and medium businesses think. While the big guys, with their armies of tax lawyers, are all over the R&D tax credit, too often small and medium companies act as if there were a velvet rope barring them from taking the R&D tax credit. According to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, 60 to 80 percent of all new American jobs come from small- to medium-sized businesses. Given their role in expanding the American economy, isn’t it high time that small and middle market companies take advantage of the same perks offered to large corporations?

The R&D tax credit is available for small and medium businesses, but you do need to show up and apply to get it — the IRS isn’t simply handing out credits.

Five. The R&D tax credit won’t help me with my state taxes.

Au contraire. Thirty-eight states have a state R&D tax credit — and several states are looking this year to expanding their R&D tax credit or creating one. We have worked with companies that have been able to use their state R&D tax credit to eliminate or significantly reduce their state income taxes. For instance, a manufacturer specializing in high injection molded components was awarded not only $154,000 in federal credits, but also received an additional $178,000 in state credits for their work.

In most situations, if your company is eligible for the federal R&D tax credit, it will also be able to benefit from the state R&D tax credit.

Six. The R&D tax credit won’t help my bottom line.

Incorrect. The R&D tax credit was created with the manufacturing industry in mind to find federal and state tax savings from the tens of thousands of dollars, to well over a million dollars for these businesses. For instance, a steel ring manufacturer received $406,000 in federal credits for design improvements in their product while a molded plastics company received $116,000 in federal and $91,000 in state credits. Much black ink (and green dollars) has been realized for companies thanks to the R&D tax credit.

Seven. It’s all too good to be true — it must be snake oil.

The R&D tax credit benefits thousands of companies a year. The credit has been part of the Internal Revenue Code since 1981. While the IRS isn’t giving away this tax credit — you need to have proper documentation of your activities and correctly apply the law — it is certainly a credit that is widely recognized and utilized by a wide range and number of businesses every year.

Eight. We are going to have tax reform and the R&D tax credit is going to go away.

The R&D tax credit is a close third to motherhood and apple pie when it comes to support in Washington, D.C., and the credit is supported on a bipartisan basis in both houses and by the Obama Administration (and by every previous administration since it was first put in place in 1981). All indications are it will stay in place even with tax reform. In fact, a string of court cases have expanded the application of the R&D credit in recent years, further increasing its reach in the manufacturing industry. Of particular interest to manufacturers, the court ruling in TG Missouri Corp. v. Commissioner provided that molds and prototypes used for production, if not depreciable by the taxpayer, are eligible for the R&D credit, in turn making it easier for manufacturers to look at certain supply costs as qualifying for the credit. Recently proposed legislation seeks to expand TG Missouri even further by allowing businesses to classify a prototype or pilot model as R&D expenses, regardless of the ultimate use of the item.

The R&D credit has never been more available to manufacturers. In many cases your business may be eligible to file an amended return and claim the credit for the previous three years — meaning more money in your pocket to grow your business and create new jobs.
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Take Control Of Your Company’s Future: The R&D Tax Credit

Originally posted Jun 10, 2013

The manufacturing industry remains in a constant race to improve their products, as well as the process of making their products — all while dealing with tight budgets and low profit margins. These twin efforts push innovation to the forefront, in particular, applying innovation to the task at hand via research and development (R&D). Happily, the tax code rewards manufacturers who are engaged in these efforts to stay competitive with the R&D tax credit. Unhappily, far too many manufacturing companies, especially the small- and medium-sized, are failing to take advantage of the R&D tax credit.

The benefits of the R&D tax credit can be significant for the bottom line. For example, alliantgroup recently helped a specialty sheet metal company with annual revenue of $4 million receive over $70,000 in federal R&D tax credits and $91,000 in state credits for the testing and implementation of a new metal stamping process. Another manufacturer of precision tools with annual sales of $12.7 million acquired $281,000 in combined state and federal R&D credits for their efforts toward the testing and improvement of new modeling procedures.

The R&D tax credit is a lucrative government-endorsed incentive that many manufacturers are failing to utilize, either from lack of information or self-censorship (assuming their activities wouldn’t qualify). If your firm is in any way developing new or improved features or functionality through a development process, you should be taking advantage of the major tax benefits offered through this credit.

Isn’t R&D reserved for people in white lab coats?

No! You don’t have to be creating groundbreaking inventions and processes to be conducting qualified activities as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.

Throughout the years, Congress has reduced documentation and qualification requirements to make this credit more accessible to companies outside of the Fortune 1000. Eligibility has been boosted and much needed clarification of credit qualifications has been provided. Small- to medium-sized firms now have a clear, consistent and affirmative message toward estimation and costs that can be claimed.

Examples of qualifying activities for this credit include developing improved products or unique computer numerical control programs, designing innovative manufacturing equipment and developing or designing tooling and fixture equipment. A key benefit of the federal R&D credit is that a business can claim the benefit for all open tax years — generally the last three years plus the current year — and the credit may be carried forward up to 20 years, often resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars added to a business’ bottom line. In addition, many states now have a state R&D tax credit — increasing the tax savings for manufacturers.

The key is to throw out the old definition of R&D, which many believe is limited to developing products that are new to the industry as a whole. A new host of activities that many businesses might view as operating expenses are potentially eligible for qualification under the R&D credit. The research and design doesn’t have to be new to the world, just new to the company.

Self-censoring slows American innovation and job growth

While this incentive is rewarding and attainable, many manufacturers fail to take advantage of it. The Wall Street Journal reported that 19 out of 20 small and medium businesses that are eligible for tax incentives, such as the R&D tax credit, are not claiming the benefits to which, upon examination, they would find that they are fully entitled to.

This is overwhelmingly due to self-censorship. Small- and medium-sized business owners frequently think that only Nobel Prize winners and rocket scientists should bother applying. At $10 billion credits awarded a year, even if you did not think you qualified in the past, it is certainly worth a second look.

“The R&D tax credit is arguably one of the most important incentives our government has created to help support American businesses. Small- and medium-sized businesses account for 70 percent of jobs within the United States, and it’s imperative that they take advantage of the support being offered by our government,” said Mark W. Everson, former IRS commissioner and current alliantgroup vice chairman.

In the last 60 years, innovation in new products or new processes has been a central driving force to the nation’s economic growth, thus qualifying countless American businesses for these beneficial incentives. This effort needs to continue in order to keep up with a constantly changing market and stay relevant within the manufacturing industry.

Claim this credit now!

Congress and many state governments realize how critical innovation is to the future of America’s competitiveness in the world, and the R&D tax credit is an important incentive to nurture that innovation. They also know that the companies engaging in these activities are supporting millions of high-skilled, well-paying jobs.

For these and other reasons, the R&D credit doesn’t look as if it will be going anywhere anytime soon. Any manufacturer with relevant products or services would be smart to realize the benefits of this credit and take a strategic approach to allocate that to which they are fully entitled.

While this incentive can be of extreme benefit to manufacturers, it is also complex, and fully identifying the proper substantiation for capturing the credit requires a deep understanding of the tax code. For this reason, companies interested in pursuing this tax credit would be well served by securing the services of a third-party specialty tax firm with practical experience in the disciplines of manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical contracting, tool and die, and metallurgy, to work alongside and offer support to their CPAs, ensuring optimal results. By leveraging this expertize companies may be able to realize R&D tax credits that benefit their bottom line while also helping promote its overall strength and viability in the marketplace.

alliantgroup is the nation’s premier provider of specialty tax services. As such, they have one mission: to help CPA firms and the businesses they advise take full advantage of the many available federal and state tax credits, incentives, exemptions, and deductions — infusing cash to help their businesses compete successfully and grow. Learn more at www.alliantgroup.com.

Reprinted from: http://www.manufacturing.net