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

How to survive a tax audit

NEW YORK (CNN Money) Originally posted April 24, 2013

Tax season has finally wrapped up, but audit season is just about to begin.

The chances of being dealt an audit are low — about one in 100. But if you happen to be selected, you can take certain steps to make the process a little less painful.

1. Know what to expect.

Envisioning a visit from a suit-clad IRS agent with a briefcase? That’s not usually how an audit plays out. The vast majority, or 76%, are correspondence audits, meaning the IRS requests information by mail instead of questioning a taxpayer in person.

These tend to focus on specific items on a return — like itemized deductions for medical expenses — and simply ask for documentation, said John Lieberman, CPA at Perelson Weiner LLP. In-person field audits are broader inquiries about a tax return and often involve verifying income, he said.

In either case, you’ll likely receive a notification by mail explaining which parts of your return the IRS has questions about.

2. Don’t ignore the letter.

Shoving the letter you get from the IRS in a drawer and pretending it’s not there won’t make it go away. You’re usually given 30 days to respond, so make sure to write back promptly or certain items may be disallowed or automatically corrected. The IRS will then begin collecting on any extra tax it believes you owe, said Lieberman.

3. Get documentation together.

Once you find out what parts of your tax return are in question, you should start collecting any relevant paperwork.

The rule of thumb is to keep tax-related documents for three years from the date a return was filed. If you can’t find the documentation you need in your files, you can usually get another copy elsewhere. If you’re missing the bill for a medical expense you claimed, for example, you can contact your doctor’s office. If you donated money to a charity but lost your receipt, the charity will probably be able to send you a duplicate.

If you’re unable to get the proof the IRS is asking for, any unsubstantiated claim or deduction on your return will be disallowed, said Lieberman.

4. Stay calm.

Spending time with the IRS may not be your idea of a fun time, but it won’t help to be rude or difficult.

“Make sure you show respect for the individual on the other side,” said Mark Everson, vice president of tax service firm alliantgroup and former head of the IRS. “It’s not something you look forward to, but it’s going to go better if you’re respectful and friendly, recognizing that he or she is just trying to do their job.”

Hiding information is another obvious no-no.

“If you think you’ve made an error on your return, don’t try to cover that up — figure out why that happened and what needs to be done to correct it,” Everson said.

Lieberman recommends pointing out any mistakes — and explaining why they occurred — in a cover letter replying to your audit notification.

Continue reading the entire article here.